All entries by this author

Resistance is confirmation

Sep 6th, 2017 4:53 pm | By

I’m reading Frederick Crews’s Freud, and plan to share observations from it over the coming weeks. Laura Miller reviews it in Slate.

Crews goes gunning for two distinct Freuds: the doctor/scientist and the man. The former, as Crews acknowledges, has suffered a steep fall in reputation over the past 45 years. The biological model on which psychoanalysis was based has been superseded by newer discoveries, particularly in neurochemistry. Freud published the works that would establish his reputation as a savant of humanity’s unacknowledged inner life in the early 1900s; over the subsequent century, it has become ever harder to ignore the lack of empirical evidence for the effectiveness of psychoanalysis as a therapy. Our growing understanding of the

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Republican leaders were visibly annoyed by Ivanka’s presence

Sep 6th, 2017 4:26 pm | By

This is a small thing, and yet…it’s so infuriating.

There was an important White House meeting today with Congressional leaders to discuss raising the debt ceiling. (Trump, probably confused, did what Pelosi and Schumer wanted instead of what Ryan and McConnell wanted. The latter two are not best pleased. Trump was probably composing a tweet at the time and lost track of which party was which.) It was serious grownup government business.

Another aide briefed on the meeting said that toward its conclusion, Ivanka Trump entered the room to say hello to the leaders and the discussion veered off-track. “Republican leaders were visibly annoyed by Ivanka’s presence,” the aide said. (A Ryan spokeswoman replied: “That’s not true.”)

To say Read the rest

Automated propaganda

Sep 6th, 2017 3:33 pm | By

Facebook. Russia. Ad buys. Bot accounts. Business Insider:

Facebook on Wednesday said it has found evidence that fake accounts “likely operated out of Russia” bought thousands of ads during the US presidential election that were designed to amplify divisive political messages.

Facebook said the ads were part of elaborate “information operations” in which “organized actors,” including governments, use social media to deceive the public and distort political sentiment.

The social network discovered roughly $100,000 in ad buys between June 2015 and May 2017 “associated with roughly 3,000 ads” and connected to nearly 500 affiliated fake accounts.

“Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex

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Checking IDs

Sep 6th, 2017 12:13 pm | By

Grady Judd, Florida’s Joe Arpaio.

Florida sheriff is telling certain members of the population in Polk County that they won’t be welcome at shelters in the area, and his statement has spurred controversy as Hurricane Irma barrels towards the state.

The Polk County Sheriff Twitter account tweeted Wednesday that law enforcement officers would be checking IDs at every shelter in the county. The purpose, the account said, was to turn away sexual predators.

The sheriff of Polk County, whose photo is on the Twitter account, is Grady Judd.

Of course sexual predators aren’t the only people who will be scared off by that announcement.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida spoke out against his language, saying Judd was

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To fill up with water and to fill up with batteries

Sep 6th, 2017 9:53 am | By

Rush Limbaugh is telling his listeners that Irma is fake news, faked in a plot to get people to go out and stock up on batteries.

“These storms, once they actually hit, are never as strong as they’re reported,” Limbaugh claimed on his syndicated radio show. He added that “the graphics have been created to make it look like the ocean’s having an exorcism, just getting rid of the devil here in the form of this hurricane, this bright red stuff.”

Why would the media exaggerate the threat of a hurricane? Here’s Limbaugh’s theory:

There is symbiotic relationship between retailers and local media, and it’s related to money. It revolves around money. You have major, major industries and businesses

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How to know a thing

Sep 6th, 2017 8:37 am | By

Lindy West on the feminist awesomeness of Ivanka Trump:

Ivanka Trump, first daughter, strode into Washington back in January with big promises: She was passionate about helping “working women,” she said, and she was going to close the gender wage gap even if it killed her.

Well, not if it killed her, not literally, but even if it mildly inconvenienced her, she was on it 110 percent, for the women. Well, not if it mildly inconvenienced her, she’s very busy, but definitely if there was a wage transparency policy already in place, she would not openly and glowingly support overturning it.

Well, unless her dad wanted to overturn it because doing so satisfied two of his top 10 vindictive

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We’re done here

Sep 5th, 2017 4:06 pm | By

You’ve probably seen the video of the Salt Lake City cop losing his temper when a burn unit nurse explained why she couldn’t give him a blood sample from an unconscious patient. You’ve probably seen how he arrested her with considerable violence because she was doing her job.

Salt Lake City cops now have to stay out of patient contact areas and away from nurses at that hospital.

Gordon Crabtree, interim chief executive of the hospital, said at a Monday news conference that he was “deeply troubled” by the arrest and manhandling of burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26. In accord with hospital policy and the law, she had refused to allow a Salt Lake City police

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A fierce critic of Hindu nationalist organisations

Sep 5th, 2017 2:58 pm | By

The Guardian has more on the murder of Gauri Lankesh.

Gauri Lankesh was the editor of a Kannada-language tabloid that has frequently been critical of Hindu extremists.

Police said Lankesh, who was in her 50s, was shot by three assailants as she was entering the property on Tuesday evening and died shortly after. Officers said it was too early to speculate on the motive.

A small group of protesters formed outside her home as news of the killing spread.

Lankesh was known as a fierce critic of Hindu nationalist organisations in her state and was convicted of defamation last year for a piece accusing members of the Bharatiya Janata party of theft. She was appealing against the decision.


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Ultimately, this is about basic decency

Sep 5th, 2017 2:40 pm | By

Obama responded.

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know

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He used the aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists

Sep 5th, 2017 2:27 pm | By

Trump went ahead with ending DACA, of course – because if there’s a mean thing to do and Trump has the choice, he’ll do it.

President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era executive action that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling the program an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to replace it with legislation before it begins phasing out on March 5, 2018.

“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Mr. Trump said in a written statement. “But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”

The statement was released shortly after Mr. Trump, who

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A chin-jutting, screw-you sort of conservatism

Sep 5th, 2017 11:20 am | By

An Economist writer tells us the historiography of Gettysburg the site has changed.

When war memories were still fresh, that Pennsylvania town was a shrine to Union suffering. Confederate troops under Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania to bring terror to Union territory. They seized farmers’ property and—in a monstrous touch—kidnapped free blacks and escaped slaves, sending scores southward into captivity. The war was still raging when Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg address to dedicate a Union cemetery there, months after the pivotal battle outside town. So eager were locals for martyrs that Virginia “Jennie” Wade, a young seamstress shot by a stray bullet while baking for Union soldiers and the only civilian casualty of the battle, was pressed into

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Gauri Lankesh

Sep 5th, 2017 10:17 am | By

Outlook India reports:

Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh has been shot dead at her residence in Bengaluru.

NDTV reports that unidentified men shot at her seven times from close range and that three bullets hit her on the neck and chest, following which she collapsed on the spot.

“There has been a shootout at  Gauri Lankesh’s house this evening; she is no more. Her body was found in her veranda,” said M.N. Anucheth, DCP, West Bengaluru according to ANI.

Lankesh was the editor of the weekly ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’ and had been under attack for her views on communalism. She had been convicted in two defamation cases for articles critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party written in January 2008.

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Ranking the leagues

Sep 4th, 2017 5:53 pm | By

I found this by accident – via a discussion of the annoying stereotypes on The Big Bang Theory that was in my Twitter feed. I follow about half the population of Earth on Twitter so it’s always very random what I see – this time I happened to see a discussion of the annoying stereotypes on The Big Bang Theory. One of the discussers linked to a ScienceBlogs post from 2007, about a trailer for the show, which hadn’t made its debut yet. What’s entertaining about it is that the post got Bill Prady’s attention – he’s the co-creator – and he put quite a lot of effort into explaining and defending it in comments.

Confession first: I agree … Read the rest

Wrong question

Sep 4th, 2017 4:12 pm | By

Shermer is trolling again.

Which is worse, Alt-Right or Alt-Left, Neo-Nazis or Antifa? Wrong question. Is violence a practical or moral means of social change? No.

Wrong question according to whom, bub? In what conversation? In order to discuss what issue?

Of course it’s not the wrong question. It’s a goddam urgent question right now, with Mr “on many sides, on many sides” in the White House. Racism is worse than anti-racism, even when some anti-racists get violent. Resistance to racism and fascism is better than racism and fascism even though many of the resisters are bullies and egotists. You can’t have a large political movement with no assholes in it, that’s just not an option, but … Read the rest

He chose shellfish

Sep 4th, 2017 3:23 pm | By

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And do you know what she said to him about them?

Sep 4th, 2017 12:45 pm | By

The EPA press release attacking the AP reporters is also, in addition to the authoritarian aspect and the lying aspect, strikingly amateurish. It does not read like something you would expect to see from a federal agency staffed by grownups.

I mean really –

Good afternoon –

Yesterday, the Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker wrote an incredibly misleading story about toxic land sites that are under water.

That sounds like a couple of teenagers gossiping, not a civil servant informing the public about emergency pollution management.

Despite reporting from the comfort of Washington, Biesecker had the audacity to imply that agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Not only is this inaccurate, but it creates panic and

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EPA joins Trump in maligning journalists

Sep 4th, 2017 11:58 am | By

More authoritarian excess:

President Donald Trump’s habit of singling out reporters for attacks is being adopted by his federal agencies, with the Environmental Protection Agency excoriating an Associated Press reporter in unusually personal terms on Sunday after the reporter wrote a story that cast the agency in an unfavorable light.

“Yesterday, the Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker wrote an incredibly misleading story about toxic land sites that are under water,” the statement began. “Despite reporting from the comfort of Washington, Biesecker had the audacity to imply that agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Not only is this inaccurate, but it creates panic and politicizes the hard work of first responders who are actually in the

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By arguing that the president has the authority

Sep 4th, 2017 11:34 am | By

Here’s a foundational question. From a piece by Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider that discusses Trump’s lawyer’s badgering of her over her reporting of That Letter:

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump’s legal team was trying to fend off an obstruction-of-justice charge from Mueller’s investigators by arguing that the president has the authority to fire whomever he wants, and that Comey is an unreliable witness.

My question is this: what’s their point? Or, what difference does that make? Or, what is the relevance? It can be the case that a president has the authority to fire anyone he wants and still also be the case that a particular firing is evidence of obstruction of justice.

Maybe it’s … Read the rest

Oh no, an agenda

Sep 3rd, 2017 5:44 pm | By

Houston’s always been soggy. It probably wasn’t a very good place to build an enormous city, when you get right down to it.

No city could have withstood Harvey without serious harm, but Houston made itself more vulnerable than necessary. Paving over the saw-grass prairie reduced the ground’s capacity to absorb rainfall. Flood-control reservoirs were too small. Building codes were inadequate. Roads became rivers, so while hospitals were open, it was almost impossible to reach them by car.

Harvey is a humanitarian disaster. Ordinary Texans were defenseless against rising waters contaminated by sewage and dotted with floating colonies of fire ants. The confirmed death toll, 20 as of Aug. 30, is expected to rise as rescuers

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Asking the perp for help

Sep 3rd, 2017 2:41 pm | By

Some wonky thinking here.

President Donald Trump met with leaders of the Christian community in the Oval Office and urged the nation to pray for the survivors of Hurricane Harvey and for the response and recovery efforts on Sunday. He also pledged $1 million of his personal money to help victims in Texas and Louisiana.

“From the beginning of our nation, Americans have joined together in prayer during times of great need to ask for God’s blessing and God’s guidance,” President Trump told the christian leaders Friday. “When we look across Texas and Louisiana, we see the American spirit of service embodied by countless men and women.”

But we also see a fuck-ton of water, and ruined houses, schools, … Read the rest