The GOP and KKK retool their selling pitches

by Djerrid

While the Republican Party is closing its ranks and entrenching itself in their ideology, the White Power movement wants you to ‘come see the lighter side‘ of racism and is hoisting its own “Big Tent”. It looks like the Grand Ol’ Party isn’t the only one playing with rebranding.

First, President Obama got the jump on the republicans by making a big show of courting their votes and then, after almost every single one of them voted against his stimulus and just about everything else the democrats put up, he successfully tarred them with being the Party of No.  Since then they have retreated into their “base”, the core of their ideologically rigid fans, and lost a senator in the process. Continue reading

Author Orson Scott Card: Gays not "acceptable, equal citizens"; "I will act to destroy that government and bring it down"

Orson Scott Card is a barking fascist asshat. Let me illustrate.

I always marveled at how some of my friends worshiped the writing of Orson Scott Card. Maybe, I thought, it’s because we’re North Carolinians and he’s from Greensboro. From my perspective he was nothing special, at best, and has in the last couple of decades evolved into perhaps America’s most overrated science fiction author. Ender’s Game was prescient in its way – in a world where weaponry is so technologized that war is a video game, of course kids can be uber-warriors. But when the boy is made into some kind of equally uber moralist and philosopher (or whatever the hell Speaker for the Dead was about) I smelled the pungent aroma of self-indulgence that so often attends SF writers of a certain stripe.

The Alvin Maker series was even less bearable. We were doing fine in Seventh Son, clipping through an interesting enough little story (assuming you could get past the inexplicably patronizing treatment of Native American names) and then – the damnedest what the fuck passage in all of known literature. Continue reading

NYT Public Editor dances around 'Brutal Truth' of torture

(updated below: updates I-II)

by Brad Jacobson

Clark Hoyt’s New York Times public editor column on Sunday, “Telling the Brutal Truth,” brings the ongoing “debate” over whether waterboarding is torture to brave new heights of absurdity.

Hoyt opens the column:

A LINGUISTIC [all caps are Hoyt’s] shift took place in this newspaper as it reported the details of how the Central Intelligence Agency was allowed to strip Al Qaeda prisoners naked, bash them against walls, keep them awake for up to 11 straight days, sometimes with their arms chained to the ceiling, confine them in dark boxes and make them feel as if they were drowning.

Reading this, you might think, “Finally, in its news pages, the Times is going to call waterboarding what it is and what it always has been since its first recorded use during the Spanish Inquisition — torture. Plain and simple.” Yet you would be gravely disappointed.

For Hoyt then writes:

Until this month, what the Bush administration called “enhanced” interrogation techniques were “harsh” techniques in the news pages of The Times. Increasingly, they are “brutal.” (On the editorial page, they long ago added up to “torture.”) Continue reading

Republicans are "rebranding": round up the usual suspects

You have to love the headline: GOP set to launch rebranding effort

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Coming soon to a battleground state near you: a new effort to revive the image of the Republican Party and to counter President Obama’s characterization of Republicans as “the party of ‘no.'”

CNN has learned that the new initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will be announced Thursday.

It will involve an outreach by an interesting mix of GOP officials, ranging from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the younger brother of the man many Republicans blame for the party’s battered brand: former President George W. Bush. Continue reading

The profound effects of redefining success—Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

wordsday_bar

outliersIt sits at the core of the American Dream: the idea that, through pluck and hard work, anyone can succeed. Horatio Alger called that kind of person the “self-made man.”

And according to Malcom Gladwell, it’s all a bunch of malarkey. 

In his latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell explodes the myth of the self-made person. “No one makes it alone,” he says.

“We tell rags to riches stories because we find something captivating in the idea of a lone hero battling overwhelming odds,” Gladwell says. While inspiring, such stories are deeply flawed because a person’s success has less to do with what they’re like than with where they’re from.

“The values of the world we inhabit, and the people we surround ourselves with, has a profound effect on who we are,” he says. Continue reading

Chemistry: FAIL

I’m good with “carbon neutral.” No problems with “no greenhouse gases were emitted in the production of this product.” But there’s a small problem with the following image (taken by my wife at a local natural grocer). I’ll give you a hint – the chemical formula for sucrose, aka sugar, is C12H22O11:

carbonfreesugar
Continue reading

Buff News: Find foot. Take aim. Fire.

I had been the scheduled guest today on “IMportant People” (sic), an online collaboration between students in a course taught by a colleague and The Buffalo News on Buffalo.com. “IMportant People,” according to a house ad in today’s News, is “a weekly lunch hour, live-chat interview series featuring some of Buffalo’s best and brightest …” Yep, I had been scheduled to appear today.

My colleague told The News that his class had scheduled a media critic from Scholars and Rogues as a guest. He invited The News to send a representative to join in as a co-guest. It would have been a wonderful opportunity for The News — and me — to talk about western New York’s largest newspaper in the context of the larger turmoil surrounding the industry. But The News yanked the microphone, er, the keyboard, out of my hands.
Continue reading

Specter and looming political identity crises

specter022Senator Arlen Specter’s announcement yesterday that he was defecting to the Democratic Party surprised a lot of people—but not me.

His move was a loooooooong time coming.

Specter ran into trouble with Conservatives in his own party way back in 1987 when he joined Democrats in defeating Ronald Regan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.

One of those Conservatives happened to be my grandfather. Continue reading

Bicycle woes

by Terry Hargrove

We recently had the Cruel Weekend here in Connecticut. The Cruel Weekend is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs every March, when the temperature flirts with 60 and everybody gets out and walks or jogs or washes the car. The forecast for tomorrow is rain and snow, but the Cruel Weekend has put spring in my mind, and once the idea of spring gets inside, there is no getting rid of it. Lord, how I want spring! Green grass, leaves, flowers, a pond I can wade into rather than walk over. And I want it all to be really slow.

The worst thing about this year’s Cruel Weekend is how I squandered it. I went to the movies! I know I should have been outside, but I’ve waited a whole year to see Watchmen fail to live up to my expectations, so I had to go on opening weekend to get the disappointment over with quickly. The extended Director’s Cut comes out in June, so I‘ll get to be disappointed all over again. When I came home, there sat Joey on the couch, looking sad.

“What’s wrong, buddy?” I asked. Continue reading

Seven names

by Dawn Farmer

On 9 September 1944 seven people penned their names to a sheet of paper in hopes of being remembered. Sixty years later builders working near the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp discovered this precious message in a bottle.

We know the names of the evil ones, but for today we know seven other names, six from Poland one from France. Let us honor that request to be remembered.

Bronislaw Jankowiak
Stanislaw Dubla
Jan Jasik
Waclaw Sobczak
Karol Czekalski
Waldemar Bialobrzeski
Albert Veissid

Continue reading

Tournament of Rock: Gogol Bordello vs. Epsilon-Zero

UPDATE: Epsilon-Zero fans, you better step up to the plate, because as of the moment (Tuesday morning, 8am) your band is getting poleaxed by Gogol Bordello, 89%-11%. Voting closes Thursday night, and it would be nice to see one of my favorite darkpop bands at least make a run at it between now and then.

_____

In last week’s Match #3 face-off between Brit wunderkins, Paul Steel defeated Adele by a tally of 60%-40%. Thanks to those who listened and voted. Steel moves on to round 2 where he will face the winner of this week’s match.

That match represents perhaps the biggest clash of styles in all of round 1. Up first, New York Immigrant Diaspora/Gypsy Punkers Gogol Bordello. Continue reading

Evolve

Kevin Kelly has published a 13,000 word essay on evolution at The Technium.  It is engaging, interesting and well worth your time to read.  He makes two assertions; one evolving from the other.  First, he says that evolution is directional, towards complexity and becoming optimal.  Evolution is then “ordained-becoming”.  His second assertion is much less developed, but states that technology follows the same path as biological evolution towards complexity with, apparently, pre-ordained outcomes.  You may have learned from the likes of Stephen J. Gould that if we rerun the great experiment of life, it would not bring about the same results that surround us today.  Kelly disagrees.

I disagree with Kelly, not because his train of thought is faulty but because it seems incomplete and because his thesis requires overlaying the evidence with value statements and judgments.  It’s amazing that the eye has evolved independently on multiple occasions, but i’m not ready to say that life must evolve eyes…which may, or may not, have been Kelly’s assertion.
Continue reading

Nota Bene #63

Hot links from recent days: “I breastfeed my dad” … Station’s merger with Fox costs Denver its Cinco de Mayo parade … Damn those Mayans and their calendar! … Jeff Huber on sticker shock and awe … Imagine, if you will, an all-female society that reproduces by cloning … David Broder on Obama’s first 100 days … Ye olde medieval astronomie … Bill O’Reilly meets his match … Speaking of simple forms of life, slime molds surprise scientists … Lost Benjamin Franklin letters discoveredEarth II: Electric Boogaloo … Nate Silver: When hope’s the enemy of change … Arbor Day links: Lost forests of America; forest fighters of Peru; how does climate change affect trees? … “My bullied son’s last day on Earth” … Breakthrough could shrink computer chips … James Dobson: Forget family, let’s focus on the Beltway … Time for a new theory of gravity? … Paul Woodward on power, humiliation and torture … Tons of released drugs taint US water … Sy Hersh breaks a sad new story … The “Achilles’ heel” of aging … South Africa’s at a crossroad, writes Shashank Bengali … Aiming for 800 MPH—on land … Drudge goes into hiding … Afghanistan’s first national park … A Tampa kid’s pitched 4 straight no-hitters; he goes for no. 5 tomorrow … Andy Worthington’s terrible truths about CIA torture memos … The Sun is the dimmest it’s been in a century … Famed legal scholar doubts his faith in the free market … Female anchors pan the Fox-ification of MSNBC … Gen. Petraeus: What I learned in Iraq and how it will help me become president … The US and China signed billions in business deals today … Sean Penn applauds a president tough enough to smile … Neil Jackson discusses peak oil with Dr. Colin Campbell … And its father smelt of elderberries … Would Reagan share today’s Republican obsession with gay marriage? … Space-based solar power is coming … Obama governs, Drudge screams, everybody wins, says Steve Kornacki … A black hole spewing water vapor? … The general who probed Abu Ghraib says Bush officials guilty of war crimes … Gitmo torture memos—for kids! … And finally, if you’re craving grilled meats and quality footrubs, step on over to Jones’ Good Ass BBQ. ∞

Brave New World Order

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

by Jeff Huber

A new world order began when the Berlin Wall came down in late 1989.The next new world order began when the U.S. Army staged the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue after the fall of Baghdad in late 2003.A brave new world order, the one we’re now in the early stages of, began in late 2008 when the U.S. economy dropped down a rabbit hole that may go all the way to China.The trajectory should look familiar; it traces a path taken by hegemons throughout the ages, straight to the cliff they fell from.As with great powers before us, the military might that created our empire has become became the instrument of its downfall.

Continue reading

The Deproliferator: Not missile — but prevent — defense

deproliferatorAt Rethinking Nuclear Weapons, independent nuclear scholar Ward Wilson wrote about the recent Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference. Even though it began the day after President Obama’s Prague speech. . .

What surprised me was the number of speakers who talked about the difficulties of “getting to zero.” This year [almost] everyone seemed to see some serious problem that lay ahead and was anxious to expand on it. … many seemed suddenly to be gripped by fears and doubts about a world without nuclear weapons. There seemed to be a widespread desire to set lots of complex and difficult-to-achieve preconditions. [Two years ago] most of the speakers were anxious to make a world without nuclear weapons at least a stated goal. This year it seemed as if everyone was anxious to distance themselves from that goal.

I don’t know how this makes me feel about the disarmament establishment. Continue reading

The dance of the butterflies

by Terry Hargrove

I’m having a crisis of faith. No, not that kind. The Big Guy is still number one in my book, and I hope I’m in His… somewhere. I mean I’m losing faith in the power of literature. Am I just bitter because I can’t find a literary agent? Maybe. But I have come to believe that in a very real sense, literature fails us. A novel has a beginning, a setting, a few agreeable characters (usually not too interesting) and some bad folks (usually very interesting), an unfortunate situation that needs to be resolved in the middle, a theme and a last page. The finished product sits on a shelf nice and neat and tidy, just the way real life isn’t.

Real life is far more complicated, with too many twists and turns and unlikely coincidences. Continue reading

Scrogue blogues

Our favorites, that is.

To your left on our home page is our somewhat, uh, quirky blog roll. We’ll now endeavor to attribute the listings to specific Scholars & Rogues staff members and add their other personal favorites. Some are just listed; others, annotated, as well. Remember: Blogs only — no websites, as such, allowed.

Ann Ivins:
Go Fug Yourself: Pure unadulterated (and funny) bitchiness on one of my favorite topics: fashion.
PhotoShop Disasters: Where reality meets Photoshop meets insanity. Continue reading