Saturday, January 5, 2008

Where do I apply?

If I really try, I think I could manage to completely ignore logic. If so, I should be a first-class candidate for a job as a major columnist on anything from politics to sports.

Here's a sample of what I, or anyone, could do with such a skill. ESPN's Howard Bryant, writing about Roger Clemens, says--

History has shown during the early years of steroid fallout that no player who has famously resisted the allegations has ever come out clean on the other side.
The handful of individuals of whom that can be said all have one thing in common: they are not Roger Clemens. Which means that their guilt or innocence has nothing whatever to do with his. Nor is there some established pattern, such as noting that apples always fall down from a tree, not up: there is no cause-and-effect relation between claiming innocence and being innocent, or claiming it and being guilty.

Personally, I have no idea of whether Clemens took steroids, and I strongly suspect no one will ever know, there being no hard information available (and how could there be?). But to say that because other, utterly unrelated persons claimed innocence then were found not innocent strongly implies that the next person to claim innocence must also be guilty is simply jaw-dropping.

With Sony's surrender, the stupid idea of DRM (Digital Rights Management) has taken another body blow. It is famously said that generals are always preparing to fight the previous war; the music industry is right up there with them. Protection of intellectual-property rights is an important subject, and one that needs some careful consideration by all involved. To try to simply circle the wagons and utterly ignore the factual changes in the world that have made concepts appropriate for and applicable to hard-copy media largely irrelevant to electronically duplicable material is ostriching of the worst sort.

And, as anyone with an IQ over their hat size could have told the RIAA and fellow jerks, their hardass "all your musics is belong to us" reactionary approaches only made the final job very much harder for the adults who will have to clean up those kids' messes.

Here's an interesting oddity: subliminal images of one's national flag tend to moderate the political views of subjects. Folk with definite right- or left-wing views, after exposure to such subliminal images, not only expressed more moderate views, but were prepared to vote them.
Why this exposure to a national symbol should have what appears to be a surprising moderating effect remains yet to be studied and analyzed.
How about this idea? Even goofballs know, in their heart of hearts (or whatever part of them subliminal messages reach) that extremism is not as good for their country as reason. Might that fly?

As Paul Krugman notes,
Almost all the foreign policy talk in this presidential campaign has been motivated, one way or another, by 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Yet it’s a very good bet that the biggest foreign policy issues for the next president will involve the Far East rather than the Middle East. In particular, the crucial questions are likely to involve the consequences of China’s economic growth.
The ability of the American public, and its politicians, to keep their eye on the wrong ball is positively breathtaking.

The news continues to look grim for the mechanics of Election 2008. The New York Times has another long article--important reading--whose title says it all: Can You Count on Voting Machines? Um, no.

Meanwhile, our famously impartial and non-partisan Supreme Court is readying itself to pronounce on a slew of state voter-identification laws, which sane observers understand are Republican obstacles to voting for the poorer sort of folk who tend not to vote Republican. None of the states can show even one single fraudulent vote that such measures would have stopped, but the proposed measures--requiring photo ID--would be a burden on those who do not have, for example, a driver's license. In theory, they could apply for a special ID card, but how many people are going to go through that hassle (and you'd better believe it would be Hassle with a capital H) just to vote?

Any day now someone will seriously propose a return to property-ownership requirements for voting.

Here's a surprise: the Bush economy is back in the dumpster. The unemployment rate is up to 5% nationally; while that's not terrible as historical trends go, it's a big jump up at a time when lots of other things are looking bad.

Ah, I know: let's lower taxes on the rich! That always solves all economic problems (at least if you're rich).

And in fact (more surprise) George Bush's last remaining year (hold it down, please), a time presidents leaving office typically try to establish their "historical heritage", is looking pretty bad.

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