Quote of the Day

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon says, really, everything that needs to be said on the policy end of VBL Day:

The two possible reactions to 9/11 were to exploit the situation to start conducting a bunch of fruitless wars that would only instigate more hatred towards the U.S. as we racked up civilian casualties, and to limit our response to police actions to nab important terrorist leaders while supporting democratic movements throughout the Middle East.  Liberals have always supported the latter (except for a few featherheads who really did suggest a do-nothing strategy, but they were always a teeny tiny minority), and we were right.  We told you so.  We were right.  And I’m not going to let pointless scolding about “civility” stop me from saying so.  We were right.  Our preferred strategy got Bin Laden.  Our preferred strategy is what is causing change in the Middle East.  We’re not getting what we want by conquering nations, but by recognizing the autonomous desires and abilities of people all around the world.  We were right.

If you read one thing I wish I’d written on Libya

Really, it’s very much worth reading the whole thing. It’s balanced and interesting. This graf, though, is worth printing out and taping up somewhere.

This is particularly a problem because there is no good option in Libya: with respect to UN intervention, both “nothing” and “something” are completely terrible. And you need to understand that I understand that, because otherwise — no matter how I say what I will eventually say about it — you may mistake me for someone who is in the business of not only predicting the future, but of demanding that a particular course of action, based on my particular insight into events, is the right one. You will mistake me for someone who is under the illusion that “if I were president” is a useful premise for commentary. It’s not, and I’m not doing that. I’m watching the news day-by-day, reading aboutthepast and revising my opinion as I get more information. “When the facts change, I change my opinion,” as Keynes supposedly said; “What do you do, sir?”

Please, though, do go on and read the whole thing. That’s just a teaser from the introduction, and I mostly quoted it because “there are no good options” is my political philosophy in a nutshell.

Whites-only Marijuana.

I didn’t ever actually go back and blog more about the The New Jim Crow, which I mentioned here, but I’d like to bring it up again for a second. The general thrust of this book is that the War on Drugs created a permanent underclass in much the same way that Jim Crow laws and black codes did after the civil war. The statistics and stories presented in the book, as well as the description of how the broad police powers granted by anti-drug legislation and SCOTUS decisions on them have significantly damaged civil liberties, will make you sick at heart.

So for the past few days, I’ve been thinking about medical marijuana. In the early days of this blog, I made some embarrassingly naive comments about medical marijuana. I talked some about American views on poverty, and mentioned race only in passing. Looking at medical marijuana, I think I was wrong to leave out race.

I believe that widespread adoption of medical marijuana laws at the state level, without corresponding decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level, will in effect create a whites-only space to use pot. Consider, for example, the already existing disparities in the way medication is prescribed. Also, see Joe Klein’s “The boomers like it, and really, who else matters” argument in Time from a few years ago. There’s a movement for the reform of marijuana laws in this country, but it’s by and large a movement for the reform of marijuana laws for relatively-affluent whites, rather than a movement aimed at any sort of justice.

Intravenous Platitudes

Greeting Cards for the Dreary (c)

Make the pictures in your mind
drawings could be difficult

Insert Image Here x13

1. Some people live life through telescopes
and some through microscopes
but most live through toilet paper tubes.

2. What’s your STDatus?


4. Say “no” a thousand times.

5. If you tread water long enough
you’ll drown later

6. Take me to your feeders

7. Tell me you love me
but take your time

8. I miss your glancing blows.

9. Happy Birthweek.

10. Stop following me.

11. If you’d only stop reminding me
you’re pregnant.

12. Go home and fall asleep.

13. We cream as we cry
with foam.

Donald Trump, what the fudge?

He ‘screwed‘ Gadhafi?o_O

Is this 4 realz? Is this guy actually going to be a contender for the Republican nomination? FOX News sure is giving him plenty of opportunities to express his “beliefs”:

And by the way, I can tell you something else. I dealt with Gaddafi.

I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land.

That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed’, but I screwed him.

That’s what we should be doing.

What an incredible display of foreign policy cred: his dealings with other heads-of-state consist of selling real estate for “tremendous amounts of money” and making ingenuous deals with dictators for funsies. And he thinks that this is how all of American foreign policy ought to be conducted.

Hopefully primary voters will recognize him for the pandering know-nothing that he is.

Need to bone up

Who among you can recommend me some good books to get up to speed on the following topics:

  • International Relations Theory
  • History of Africa from ~1800 onward
  • History of Asia (outside of China), from about the same time frame

I’m keenly feeling my deficits in these areas, and want to improve.

ETA: Also, any human-readable books on computer science or cryptography would be appreciated.

Today, cell phone; tomorrow, tricorder

The first MacGuyver-esque cell phone microscope is here! Though not the first iteration of such technologies, this is the first that literally anyone can assemble: all you need is about $20 worth of rubber bands, tape, and a small glass ball, and voilà! you can image blood cells!

This type of laboratory-grade technology available on consumer products platforms could truly globalize medical science. The article mentions being able to transmit a sample to a pathologist in a lab halfway ’round the world and get an accurate diagnosis sent back to the site in real time. Basically, it’s one step closer to having tricorders, and that is a development that would be good for everybody.