15 Mar 2015

Period Three Implies Chaos, political discourse edition

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. In James Gleick’s book Chaos he writes about a paper titled Period Three Implies Chaos. Very roughly, the idea is that even seemingly simple systems can start behaving unpredictably by the third iteration. The responses to David Brooks’ column Tuesday makes it seem like there

27 Feb 2015

Patricia Arquette, Harriet Christian, and opportunities to listen

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. As someone who hits for the privilege cycle (white, male and heterosexual) I have had many opportunities over the years to realize I’ve inadvertently offended someone. It’s always a bit of a shock – I thought I was being complimentary/helpful/sensitive! – but I think I’ve

07 Feb 2015

The hazards of abandoning reason

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. NOTE: Much of this post concerns Jonathan Chait’s terrible judgment on the Iraq War. I understand the impulse to say: that was a long time ago, let’s move on already, what else ya got? But the Iraq War was the most important foreign policy issue

30 Jan 2015

‘Ad hominem’ is not Latin for ‘I cannot rebut your argument’

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. Jonathan Chait’s latest adventure in pointless contrarianism has already been wrestled to the ground and noogied, with Alex Pareene doing an especially delightful job. The short version is this. With the exception of the incident at the top of the article (about which: intimidation, violence

03 Jan 2015

Will the collapse in oil prices diminish fracking activism?

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. The dramatic fall in oil prices of late comes across as a pleasant surprise at first blush. Anyone who drives has presumably noticed the lower prices at the pump, and I don’t expect to hear much complaining about it. There’s also a certain schadenfreude in

23 Dec 2014

Citizen audit of Ohio wells: Doing the regulators’ jobs for them

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. Earlier this year I wrote about the challenge activists face in working with structured data. In short, public agencies increasingly make systematized information like well inspection reports available for download as very large database files. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has a page

05 Dec 2014

Best Music of 2014

Introduction If you dig these songs please consider buying them. Most can be had for less than a buck. They will also be hosted at Pruning Shears until Wednesday, so you can try before you buy over there. Some lyrics may be NSFW. Listen at your own risk. Here are

23 Nov 2014

The NSA and Utah: Is Any Win a Good One?

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. Late last year a group called the Tenth Amendment Center proposed model legislation designed to give states new methods to oppose the National Security Agency (NSA). It included a proposal to cut off the water supply at the NSA’s Utah data center, and at the

16 Nov 2014

The politics of #shirtstorm: Don’t wear it or get over it?

The head of PR at @esa when he saw that shirt… #ShirtGate pic.twitter.com/Y1UCSMA7TA — Ryan Bromley (@RSBromley) November 12, 2014 Cross posted from Pruning Shears. The big news from the European Space Agency (ESA) over the last day or two hasn’t been of the Philae lander (current prognosis: dicey) but

02 Nov 2014

Political realignment and the environmental movement

Cross posted from Pruning Shears. The conventional wisdom about Democrats’ and Republicans’ racial politics over the last century or so seems to go something like this: Lingering hostility towards Republicans over the Civil War created a “solid South” for the Democrats. The GOP’s more business-friendly stance also sent working class