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    • A Great Idea About Capitalism That Was Wrong
      So, back in the 80s, when I was young, green and wet behind the years, one of the great thinkers about how to help poor people was a guy named Hernando DeSoto. (Great name, aces on parents!) DeSoto, who was mostly concerned with Latin and South America had one big idea: the reason that poor people were fucked is they didn’t have clear ownership of what they […]
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Friday Night Cookout Open Thread


What are your favorite recipes? Here’s one of mine:

COLON CLEANSER TACO SAUCE

5-6 tomatillos

7-8 dried red chiles

1/2 of a medium onion

1/8 bunch of cilantro

Boil the tomatillos until soft and brown the chiles in olive oil in a frying pan.  Toss everything into a blender and puree.  Add water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.  Apply generously on tacos.

Have at it.



Speaker’s Corner


Wikipedia:

 

A Speakers’ Corner is an area where public speaking, debate and discussion takes place. The original and most noted is in the north-east corner of Hyde Park in London, England. Speakers there may speak on any subject, as long as the police consider their speeches lawful, although this right is not restricted to Speakers’ Corner only – the same right to free speech applies everywhere else in the UK. Contrary to popular belief, there is no immunity from the law, nor are any subjects proscribed, but in practice the police tend to be tolerant and therefore only intervene when they receive a complaint or if they hear profanity.

[…]

Although many of its regular speakers are non-mainstream, Speakers’ Corner was frequented by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, George Orwell, C. L. R. James, Ben Tillett, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah and William Morris. Its existence is frequently upheld as a demonstration of free speech, as anyone can turn up unannounced and talk on almost any subject, though they are likely to be heckled by regulars.

The Confluence is not a speaker’s corner. It is but a single soapbox in the largest speaker’s corner in human history, an agora of epic proportions. This particular soapbox belongs to Riverdaughter, and she shares it as she sees fit.

She graciously chose to share it with a number of other people including me.  I’ve been ruining her blog for over two years now.

“Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition…But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas…that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution.” – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Everyone who comes here is entitled to their own opinion. But if they choose to express that opinion they may get heckled by the regulars. The blogosphere is not a hothouse for delicate flowers, it is a marketplace of ideas. You can’t get all butt-hurt just because someone rejects your ideas. Even lots of someones.

Humans are social animals. Throughout our existence we’ve grouped up with each other. Conformity, peer pressure and tribalism are hardwired into us, some more than others. We also have a tendency to engage in group think:

Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. It is a second potential negative consequence of group cohesion.

Irving Janis studied a number of American Foreign policy ‘disasters’ such as failure to anticipate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941); the Bay of Pigs fiasco (1961) when the US administration sought to overthrow Cuban Government of Fidel Castro; and the prosecution of the Vietnam War (1964–67) by President Lyndon Johnson. He concluded that in each of these cases, the decisions were made largely due to the cohesive nature of the committees which made them. Moreover, that cohesiveness prevented contradictory views from being expressed and subsequently evaluated. As defined by Janis, “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action”.[1].

Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.[citation needed] During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, in hindsight. Additionally, it is difficult to assess the quality of decision making in terms of outcomes all the time, but one can almost always evaluate the quality of the decision-making process.

The surest way to achieve group think is to impose a moratorium on dissent and alternative views and opinions. In computer geek-speak they say “GIGO” meaning “garbage in, garbage out.” If you only allow certain pre-approved points of view into the discussion then the outcome will be similarly constricted.

I am a liberal and I have faith in my ideology. I will passionately argue my beliefs.

If you tell me I’m wrong I will disagree with you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t convince me you’re right.

Just don’t expect changing my mind to be easy.


 

War on Teachers I: GIGO

(The title is inspired by Historiann’s excellent post. Also a note: unlike most of the things I blog about, teaching is what I’ve done professionally for decades. I taught in universities, not schools, but the two aren’t totally unrelated.)

Every time you turn around, there’s a new front opened in the war on teachers. They don’t work hard enough. They get paid too much They’re not accountable. They can’t be fired. Their unions protect dead wood.

If we could just find the right stick to smash the cabal, the teachers would have to be good workers. Then, like good workers, they’d produce what they’re supposed to, which is good students.

So various fixes have been tried over the years. Continue reading

Friday News: Things I don’t have time to read (but you should)

protein art. See foldit below

Running late again, sports fans.  I’ve been quizzing Brooke on lipids vs fatty acids vs trigycerides this morning.  Gahhh!  Make it stop!

So, anyway, I have a small compilation of news but I haven’t had much time to read them all the way through.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

1.) Myiq has already touched on this.  The New York Times has a big headline that reads:

Bill Clinton Urged Democrat to Quit Senate Bid

!!!

Jeez, the White House must really hate the guy(s).  Who do they hate more?  The beloved ex-president who is busting his ass campaigning for Democratic candidates or the Democratic senate candidate who supported the Big Dawg’s wife for president?  Damn, does this make sense?  Why would the White House cripple two important candidates 5 days before the election?  And why does the rest of Congress put up with it?

2)  Obama is a piss poor socialist.  According to Politico (always take with a grain of salt), under Obama Corporate profits have climbed magnificently.  Note to the socialists: this guy is giving you a bad name.

3.) Ted Strickland is toughing it out in Ohio.  Seems like a pragmatic guy.  The Big Dawg campaigned for him.  But it looks like Obama has the most to lose if Strickland loses:

Even as party leaders in Washington leave some vulnerable Democrats to fend for themselves in the final days of the campaign and scramble to shore up incumbents who might be more viable, one candidate is being given particular assistance: Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio, who is in a difficult battle for re-election.

The reason is not simply that he still has a chance of winning. For Mr. Obama, the fate of Mr. Strickland could be very much tied to his own, since a Republican in the Ohio governor’s seat could make his re-election to the presidency in 2012 that much more complicated.

Ohio is one of nine states where Mr. Obama expanded the Democratic map in the last presidential election, and his advisers believe the electoral votes here are likely to be among the most critical to assure his return to the White House. Republicans do not disagree and have used that argument in the final stages of the midterm election campaign as a motivating factor.

Wow, that’s a tough one.  Vote for the guy Bill Clinton endorses or vote for the Republican to exact revenge on the president you were pressured to vote for instead of the candidate you actually voted for in the primary of 2008.  I’d be asking myself, can I survive four years of a Republican governor?  Well, we in NJ are suffering through it.  It’s not pleasant and for sure the guy’s no long term thinker…

Ehhh, go with Strickland.  Obama’s not savvy enough to save his own ass in 2012.  And anything can happen.  He might even be challenged by a better presidential candidate from his own party.  (Hint to party: you only have *one* viable alternative)

4.) Charles Krauthammer is not really in David Brooks league as the Saruman of the right.  He doesn’t know how to finesse his words as finely as Brooks in such a way to make you think you have absolutely no hope of prevailing against the masters of the universe so why don’t you just bow down or slit your throat now, you helpless underlings?  Still, Chuck gives it the old college try and attempts to wrangle the obvious- that voters are pissed as hell at Democrats for a variety of reasons- into some kind of reason to celebrate the Reagan revolution?  Ehhh, I don’t get it.  Nevertheless, Chuck is taking the anger part seriously in a way the Democratic party is not:

The beauty of this year’s campaign, and the coming one in 2012, is that they actually have a point. Despite the noise, the nonsense, the distractions, the amusements – who will not miss New York’s seven-person gubernatorial circus act? – this is a deeply serious campaign about a profoundly serious political question.

Obama, to his credit, did not get elected to do midnight basketball or school uniforms. No Bill Clinton he. Obama thinks large. He wants to be a consequential president on the order of Ronald Reagan. His forthright attempt to undo the Reagan revolution with a burst of expansive liberal governance is the theme animating this entire election.

Democratic apologists would prefer to pretend otherwise – that it’s all about the economy and the electorate’s anger over its parlous condition. Nice try. The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in 12 Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in 10 think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic Party is falling apart. Democrats are four points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates, giving lie to the ubiquitous liberal conceit that the Republican surge is the revenge of lumpen know-nothings.

Yeah, he’s not in Brooks’ league.  It must be maddening.

5.) Anglachel has a trio of new posts.  I haven’t had time to dig in but don’t let that stop you.

Marketing and Sales

Clouds and Clarity

Plebian Acts

Hypergraphia:  It’s not a bug- it’s a feature!

And now for something completely different.  Have you ever had a secret desire to fold a protein but didn’t know where to start?  What would your friends think?  Does that mean you have to start wearing pocket protectors and a calculator on your belt?

Well, worry no more, secret protein folders.  You can get in on the game with no experience necessary.  In fact, you might even have an advantage if you know absolutely nothing about science and if you’re a female who works well with others in cooperative teams  (there’s a study that says so.  I’ll add the link later).  The game is called Foldit: Solve puzzles for science.  Check it out.  I expect The Confluence to have the winning team.  Let’s kick some tertiary structure ass!!!

Bill-Bash II

Bill Clinton and Kendrick Meek


This is the kinda stuff that pisses me off. Andrew Malcolm at Top of the Ticket:

 

Once again, Bill Clinton tries unsuccessfully to nudge an inconvenient Democrat from a Senate race

Bill was asking one of the few African-American candidates in the country to quit? That sounds pretty bad. Are there more details?

Well, now after campaigning several times for Rep. Kendrick Meek in the crucial Florida Senate seat race, BC is back at it. He’s trying — perhaps on his own, perhaps not — in these last desperate days to convince Meek to quit, give up, abandon his hopeless Sunshine State struggle.

See it would work like this: Meeks drops out and endorses (former Republican now independent) Charlie Crist, who then can defeat Mad Hatter Marco Rubio.

The expectation is that an supposedly independent Sen. Crist (he of the huge economic stimulus Obama hug onstage last year) would caucus in Washington with Harry Reid’s crowd, albeit a diminished one. Think Joe Lieberman and Bernie Saunders.

The story is a disaster for Meek’s effort to claim continuing viability for Tuesday’s voting. It broke late Thursday on Politico, saying Clinton and go-betweens came ever so close to convincing Meek to become a martyred hero last week.

That’s some pretty cold-blooded politics, and it sure don’t sound like the Big Dawg I know. Wait, what’s this paragraph two-thirds of the way down the article say?

A Meek spokesman said: “The article is not true. Kendrick Meek was never dropping out of this race, is never dropping out of this race, and will never drop out of this race.”


 

Studies have shown that people reading articles in magazines and newspapers tend to stop reading after the first few paragraphs. So we have an article that makes it sound like it is totally undisputed that Bill Clinton did a shitty thing, and they buried the denial near the bottom.

This way Andrew Malcolm and the LA Times can truthfully say they presented both sides of the story. But they’re still lying.

I’m guessing this story is going to be made into one more of those political urban legends “everybody knows” about the Clintons that just ain’t true.

CDS never dies.


“Home, home on deranged . . . “