Just why do nations fail, anyway?

Way back in 2002, when George W. Bush was trying to muster an international military force to take out the Taliban from Afghanistan—how’d that work out, by the way?—one of the arguments he used was that Afghanistan was a “failed state.” As I recall, he tried to use that argument for Iraq as well, although he used others that had a bit more persuasion at the time—WMD. We do know how that turned out. But he was was actually on more solid ground with his failed state argument—Afghanistan, by any number of measures, has not been a state worth emulating for some time. It was a classic failed state by any measure—economic, political, legal, educational.
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Nota Bene #123: Behold the Chickenosaurus

“There ought to be limits to freedom.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can't cure us

You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

– U2

Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.

It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Continue reading

Another couple of journalists who don't understand basic science

by JS O’Brien

Yesterday, I wrote about a Florida columnist who’s so poorly educated and ill-read that she could neither construct a cogent argument nor recognize a ridiculous misstatement about Newton’s second law of thermodynamics that would be obvious to my middle-schooler.   Today, I find this report from Reuters that completely misses the story, and for the same reason:  a fundamental misunderstanding of science and the most basic scientific terminology.

The real story here is that those in favor of teaching evolution won an even bigger victory than they could have hoped for, and they won it because their opponents also don’t understand scientific basics. Continue reading