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User Journal

Journal Journal: Liberal web sites that are trash

I take www.commondreams.org as prototypical of liberal web sites. This site is basically a liberal national enquireer - long on hot button, simplistic articles, short on facts and reason.
(need to add specifics here)
Many times, they publish a "story" which is based on a press release (no url given) which in turn is based on a not yet published study (no url given)....

They have hundreds of articles about how bad the bush admin is to the poor, yet no links to statistics to back up the arguments.
Compare the avg commondreams article to a Frank Rich Sunday NY times op ed: what makes rich so good is that he weaves a lot of facts and specifics into his column, something that looks easy and is really hard.
Cockburn, where are you when we need you

User Journal

Journal Journal: henry kissinger - war crimminal

Imagine you and your spouse, with your young children, are sleeping peacfully in your hut.
For some reason, an american soldier lobs napalm at you, and you watch in horro as the burning jellied gasoline burns a hole through your childs body.
The question I have for all those who think Dr. Kissinger, or Sens Kerrey or McCain, are not war crimminals is
As you look at your child burning to death, which is worse - the small of burning flesh or your child's pain.

Kissinger, and all the other evil white men responsible for Vietnam, are responsible for these crimes as surely as if they had stood there and lit the napalm iwth their own two hands

User Journal

Journal Journal: Exspensive travel coffee mugs and thermoses

Why is it so hard to buy an exspensive stainless steel thermos or travel coffee mug ?
All the ones we have are seriously defective in design.
My son likes to take hot soup to school for lunch so we bought him this very exspensive pint thermos.
The stainless steel thermos, probably strong enough to stop a D9 bulldozer (1) had a 50 cent plastic screw cap, and this had a 1C plastic disc held by 1/2 cent of glue
The plastic disc fell off, and my son, being young, lost it, and now the thermos is worthless, as it leaks.

And as for the travel mugs - the lids are hard to sip out of without spilling, they have lots of crevices that are hard to clean and the useless stainless steel exterior put there entirely for show is not sealed to the plastic, so water gets between,and as we all know standing water grows things.

China ? most of the teapots from china are clearly defective and probably dangerous - just look INSIDE after a month carefully at the joints; corrosion indicates stuff leaking into your tea.

User Journal

Journal Journal: bad web design

1) pdfs in portrait instead of landscape. Since most screens will display a complete page in landscape, why do the morons make pdfs in portrait, so you have to scroll and scroll, or even worse, two column portrait so you have to scroll from the end of column 1 at the bottom of the page to the start of col2 at the top of the page ?

2) multiple clicks - don't get me started on this one, two or even three clicks to get to a pdf

3) white text on black background, or green text on blue, or whatever. For 3 thousand years, the std has been black text on white background. IF something persists for 3,000 years there is probably a reason.

4) Typos - quite common on the english language sites of japanese firms, I guess they consider Americans not worth the effort, but surprisingly common on american and european sites as well.

User Journal

Journal Journal: why are the media so bad

Boston Globe, sunday 21 oct 200, page one - side bar "in the news" short summarys
"Mitt Romney narroly beat Mike Huckabee in a straw pol among evangelical activist. But the vote drew controversy because sponsers allowed anyone worldwide to vote online for $1. Nation, A18."

why does the globe not headline this, Rommney buys votes cheap and wholes sale ?

If you know psychology, you know that once you put in someones brain the "romney beat.." idea, it will tend to stick.

User Journal

Journal Journal: wisdom of crowds

This wisdom of crowds thing is really overblown.
If you give a crowd a multiple choice question with n choices, where ~ 100/n know the answer, of course the crowd will appear wise.
But if you give the crowd a question they don't know - like how to solve a bessel function, there is no wisdom in crowds.

The harder case is questions that appear difficult, but are influenced by the crowd itself, like the close of the tomorrows stock market.

also, many seemingly hard questions are easier then they look: if you don't have agred upon criteria for a correct answer beforehand, it is not clear what a good answer is.

Also, many questions relate to things that are trends that don't change much, like economic questions - say the quarterly consumer price index, which doesn't change all that much, most quarters - since it don't change much, it is easy to guess at

User Journal

Journal Journal: why are bush supporters not upset about body armor

I can understand why bush supporters are not upset about his lying about why we went to war in iraq; if foreign policy lies were a problem, FDR for WWII and Jefferson for the Lousiana purchase would be in trouble.
I can also understand why they think it is ok to use 9/11 as an excuse for their right wing programs; politics is a rough biz, if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

I can even understand why they think a war to provide cheap gas for their suvs (altho this backfired) is ok; no one ever lost money underestimating the greed and callownes of the american voter.

And, altho it took me a while, I can understand why not paying the troops while you ovepay private contractors is ok: this is a mercenary army that is getting paid very well, and many of its members are from the military, so Bush is essentially buying off the military and creating a praetorian guard.

What I don't understand is why it is OK for bush to not supply body armor and armored vehicles to the troops - why do the military families support a commander in chief who should be court martialed for dereliction of duty.

Can you imagine what the rightwing would be saying if a Democratic president failed , as Bush, to supply body armor and armored vehicles ?

This ties in with the whole cargo cult religious aspect of the right wing: they have this myth that things were better in the 50s, but they are unwilling to confront what that means - blacks in the back of the bus, women dying of backroom abortions, and very high taxes on the rich.

User Journal

Journal Journal: why are the buses used in mass transit so bad 1

Most americans are familiar with the buses used by mass transit systems.
And surely most people know that they are very noisy and smelly.
One can understand that the companies that produce these products produce crap; there is a reason Detroit has lost so much of the American car market to the japanese.
However, how can the elected and unelected people with responsiblity for purchase and oversight allow this to go on ?
The only reasonable answers are (a) they are being bribed; (b) they never ride the buses themselves so they don't care; (c) only poor people ride the buses, so who cares.

User Journal

Journal Journal: why the religous hate evolution

1)The moral aspects of religion - thou shalt not steal - are as reasonable as any other system of morals
2) The supernatural aspects - there is a god, and he did and does all this stuff - is as silly as thinking that the tooth fairy is a real, living, physical thing that comes into your childrens bedroom, or that the earth is flat.
3) Since belief in supernatural things is silly, the religous have a problem with how to defend themselves.
        a) Fanaticism - agree with me or I will shun you, or excommunicate you or kill you
        b) The only not totally bad argument is the unexplained wonder of the universe: surely thunder and lightning is so mysterious and wonderfull that no other explanation exists, but that Zeus is throwing thunderbolts.
        c) this is obviously very poor logic; if you don't understand something it could be for a number of reasons, and it is hard to defend one over the other.
4) However, since 3b is the only halfway decent argument that the religious have, they need to defend it. PArt of this defence is maintaining that whatever is unknonw is mysterious and supernatural.
5) This is why the religious hate science: every adance in science removes another wonderful thing they can point to.
4) Evolution is, to anyone, a wonderful an dmysterious thing, therefore perfact for the argument in 3b; if it is reduced to cold science the religious have one less ting they can point to.
6) Many scientists are arrogant, and they do condescencd, and they do a terrible job of explaining.

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