The Jury Talks Back

11/30/2008

Stop fixing it!!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 8:36 pm

This post could also be titled “Where did I put my effigy of George Lucas?” or “Scott proves what a complete geek he is”.

Seriously, wtf George?  I just watched the “Green slave girl” scene from Return of the Jedi…  You know, the part right before Chewie shows up, and we find out about the trap door to the Rancor pit…

The little green “harmonica” player I could forgive, but what the hell is with the rapping fraggle, and the jazz ensemble that plays now while the green chick tries to kill Jabba?

Since I’ve been told my swearing is bothering people, take a moment to imagine the profanities I would like to use, but shouldn’t.  Now imagine them again, only louder, and with that vein on my forehead clearly visible.

Each time he tries to make these classics “more in line with his vision”, he rapes a little more of my childhood, stealing what little joy I still get from Star Wars.  And it isn’t just the “fixes”, like Han not shooting first, or the replacement of Boba Fett’s original voice with the voice of the guy who played Jango Fett in the prequels.  The “new” stuff from episodes one through three cause me to plot Lucas’s doom.

Midichlorians?  Anakin built Threepio?  JarJar?  EMO VADER???

Leave Star Wars alone, you talentless hack!  The crappiness of the new trilogy and his “creating” it (more like he crapped it out after a night of beans and tacos that were left out for a few days) proves he had not a single hand in writing the original trilogy.  There’s no way he could create something as good as Ep IV thru VI, and write the crap-fest that is Ep I thru III…

Ok, I’m gonna go stomp around my house screaming obscene things, and hope my hate can cause George Lucas to burst into flame…

Oklahoma in, Texas out

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 3:14 pm

The college football BCS Standings have just been released, and Oklahoma (11-1) is ranked ahead of Texas (11-1) – in spite of the fact that the Longhorns defeated the Sooners 45-35 in the Red River Shootout.  Consequently Oklahoma will play Missouri for the Big 12 Conference title next week.  If Oklahoma wins, the Sooners will likely receive a berth in the BCS Championship Game, and Texas would have to settle for the Fiesta Bowl.

Don’t feel too bad for Texas getting snubbed in the BCS standings.  If you don’t know the history of the BCS, this Wall Street Journal article (written before this weekend’s games) explains why many feel that the Longhorns are finally getting what they deserve.

Why the Jewish Center?

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 2:42 pm

On Thursday during CNN’s coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks, a CNN security analyst couldn’t understand why the terrorists targeted a Jewish Center:

And we still – but we still do not know a motive.  You know, you look at the Jewish center. Why did they hit the Jewish center? You know, and you look at the other places, you know, big icons where there are going to be a lot of people.  And that’s what terrorists do. They hit places that they consider soft targets where they can have the most bang for the buck, if you will, and where there are a lot of people – hotels, train stations, those kind of things.

Analyst Mike Brooks figured that the terrorists wanted to kill as many people as possible.  He didn’t understand why the they would attack a building with just a few potential victims.  I looked at the TV set in amazement — that  a CNN analyst in 2008 would wonder why the terrorists would attack a Jewish target.

Ask Not What This Blog Can Do For You

Filed under: Uncategorized — JRM @ 9:42 am

Why do we blog? What are we trying to accomplish?

And why do we read and comment?

I’m not sure what all the main reasons are, honestly. These are my best guesses:

Why do we blog?

1. To change people’s minds through information or argument.

I don’t think this is anywhere close to the primary reason, but if you take a look at the relentless politeness of The Volokh Conspiracy you can see that they’re trying to move people to their libertarianish-conservative position.

Not everyone has the DRJ-like serenity when posting, and it’s not necessary to do that, but it probably helps.

Informational additions, like the host’s many posts on the LA Times’ bias are good ways to do this; having some expertise in one’s field can also help.

While this is a very good use of blogs, I’m pretty strongly convinced most people’s primary goal is different. That doesn’t make it wrong; people who are providing free content don’t have obligations to the content-reader.

2. To have a place to talk to like-thinking people.

Some very popular blogs make no effort whatsoever to engage people of different viewpoints; PZ Myers discusses his hard-left rationalist viewpoint by throwing f-bombs at those who disagree with him and saying he doesn’t trust any Christians. This isn’t likely to make friends, even though on science part of this scienceblog, Myers is just plain right. (Evolution happened. Ben Stein’s movie was wildly dishonest.)

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this per se. At some point, getting together with internet friends to bemoan the idiot lefties/righties/Muslims/left-handed freaks/non-virgins is a community-organizing method. It won’t bring new people in, but it may add some depth to the views of people who are already on your side. And you can even do this (if you’re boring) without ripping on the other side.

If you want to change people’s minds, though, this isn’t all that successful.

3. To show our erudition. There’s nothing wrong with expertise; I’ve had conversations with economists who know more than I do on the subject, and I’ve learned. People learn about the ins and outs of prosecution from me sometimes, and I’m convinced that really helps.

Of course, there are presentation methods; sometimes even pedantry has limits, and stops being productive. While I know what “erudition,” means, you pawns, and this makes me better than you, I might have used a substitute word.

4. To challenge ourselves, and feel an active part of the discussion.

If you allow comments, you’re engaging the populace in a discussion about ideas. Some members of the populace are irretrievable idiots, and this won’t help. But writing clear posts and engaging others in the marketplace of ideas can have a personal payoff. Sometimes, even, that payoff can be a recognition that one was mistaken about their original idea.

5. Because it’s fun.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everything needs an explanation.

Why do we read?

1. To be entertained.

All those f-bombs can be entertaining.

2. To read things that agree with our pre-existing views.

I’m absolutely convinced that these two things are what draw people to most blogs. Learning isn’t key; confirmation bias is key. I admire folks like aphrael or SEK who post or drop by even though they disagree with the general tenor of this blog, but they’re rare.

It’s vital to get your information from other sources than, say, Drudge and Fox News if you’re on the right. I talked to a politically knowledgeable conservative site-surfer who never heard about the lost pallets of money in Iraq. Lost pallets of money are new, folks, and you’ve got to get knowledge from sources that don’t agree with your worldview. If you think the budget inflation of the Bush administration is the Democrats’ fault, there’s no saving you.

3. To be informed.

Scott Jacobs post on Carleton College’s CF fundraiser was fascinating, and I didn’t know the glitch in the election law that aphrael pointed out. I love posts like this, which give both some information I didn’t know and have a take on this information.

I think most of the blogosphere only wants information that supports their pre-existing views, though. That’s because the blogosphere is part of humanity, and humans generally only wants information that supports their pre-existing views; confirmation bias is strong in almost everyone.

4. To challenge ourselves.

Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I don’t know something. People read and comment to engage in the discussion and challenge. Mostly, again, people read to hear people who agree with them.

Anyone have other reasons or theories for the popularity of blogs and blogging? Anyone think I’ve gone seriously awry in my analysis?

–JRM

11/28/2008

Open thread: Republicans for Governor?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 9:58 am

Who’s the best Republican candidate to replace Arnold? Why? (Democrats feel free to point out the defects.)

Open thread: Democrats for Governor?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 9:57 am

Who’s the best Democrat candidate to replace Arnold? Why? (Republicans feel free to point out the defects.)

11/27/2008

The Problem with Abortion Polls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 12:54 pm


Many abortion polls are uninformative. Either they are biased (e.g. “The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe versus Wade decision, or not?“) by misstating the question, or they are so limited as to be useless (“In general, do you favor permitting a woman who wants one to have an abortion in all circumstances, some circumstances or no circumstances?“). Few ask detailed questions, and the devil, as usual, is in the details.

Here is one of the few polls to actually break down the issue on clear boundaries (from PollingReport.com).
(CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. Jan. 10-12, 2003. N=1,002 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3)

Now I am going to read some specific situations under which an abortion might be considered. For each one, please say whether you think abortion should be legal in that situation, or illegal. How about [see below]?”

Legal
%

Illegal
%

Depends
%

Unsure
%

“When the woman’s life is endangered”

85

11

2

2

“When the woman’s physical health is endangered”

77

17

4

2

“When the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest”

76

19

2

3

“When the woman’s mental health is endangered”

63

32

3

2

“When there is evidence that the baby may be physically impaired”

56

37

4

3

“When there is evidence that the baby may be mentally impaired”

55

39

3

3

“When the woman or family cannot afford to raise the child”

35

61

2

2

“Thinking more generally: Do you think abortion should generally be legal or generally illegal during each of the following stages of pregnancy? How about [see below]?”

Legal
%

Illegal
%

Depends
%

Unsure
%

“In the first three months of pregnancy”

66

29

3

2

“In the second three months of pregnancy”

25

68

4

3

“In the last three months of pregnancy”

10

84

4

2

“Next, do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals. How about [see below]?”

Favor
%

Oppose
%

Unsure
%

“A law requiring doctors to inform patients about alternatives to abortion before performing the procedure”

88

11

1

“A law requiring women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours before having the procedure done”

78

19

3

“A law which would make it illegal to perform a specific abortion procedure conducted in the last six months of pregnancy known as a ‘partial-birth abortion,’ except in cases necessary to save the life of the mother”

70

25

5

“As you may know, in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a landmark decision on abortion known as Roe versus Wade. Do you think that decision was a good thing or a bad thing for the country?” Options were rotated

Good Thing
%

Bad Thing
%

Unsure
%

53

30

17

The public clearly has a bright-line test for legality, which is quite different than the judge-imposed one.

  • Overwhelmingly the public believes that abortion should be available in the first trimester and only then
  • Believes that abortions should be discouraged and that alternatives should be offered.
  • Believes in waiting periods.
  • Disapproves of “partial-birth” abortions.
  • Disapproves of abortions for economic reasons
  • Believes that the life and health of the mother is more important than that of the fetus.
  • Has an unclear understanding of what Roe v Wade did, since they strongly disagree with many particulars, and agree with the ruling.

Yet the question is almost always “Are you pro-choice or pro-life?” The majority is neither and both.

An Interesting Parallel (That I’m Sure Hillary Clinton Wouldn’t Appreciate)…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leviticus @ 8:12 am

First of all: hello, everyone.  It’s been a while.

This will be a brief post, because I need to get up and go help out with the Thanksgiving preparations, but it’s a post better suited to a discussion between you all than an oration from me to you anyway.

I was thinking about Obama’s selection of Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State (unofficial as that selection may be) – mulling over Clinton’s qualifications for such a post, lamenting the fact that Obama hadn’t selected New Mexico’s Prodigal Son (who is extremely well-qualified, in my opinion), and (finally) thinking how strange it was for Obama to select as his Secretary of State a politician with whom he butted heads over the most important foreign policy issue of our time – the war in Iraq.

Clinton refused to renounce her initial support for that war – she stuck to the “Bush is an evil genius who tricked me” line (which is funny, considering how many people opposed the war in spite of Bush’s evil ingenuity, but whatever).  The point is, that was the deal-breaker for a lot of people when it came to voting for Hillary Clinton – myself included (although there were other reasons as well).

And this is to be the foreign policy face of an Obama administration?

I was immediately reminded of another politician who chose a popular female politician who didn’t agree with him on some core issues as his right-hand…person: John McCain. And that reignited an internal debate over the following question (which had lain dormant since the selection of Sarah Palin):

Where do you draw the line between a pandering (but doubtlessly effective) political selection and a prudent (but boring) policy selection (that is, someone whose policies are in direct alignment with your own on the issue relevant to their position)?  Where does it become dangerous to play politics in selecting your cabinet (or your vice-president, for that matter, assuming the VP isn’t a member of the cabinet, which may or may not be the case)?

11/26/2008

Some Criticism for Both Sides of the Abortion Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 11:13 pm

Alternate title: aunursa attempts to walk a tightrope.  Oh well, here goes…

Abortion Rights Supporters

Pro-choice.  Stop calling yourselves that.  The majority of you are, ironically, anti-choice on an amazing number of issues.  Many of you want to decide what foods I may not eat, what cars I may not drive, and what words I may not say.  You want to decide (through government mandate) how my money is spent and what my children are taught.  You don’t get to call yourselves “pro-choice” based on just one issue.  No euphemisms — don’t be afraid to use a term that actually includes the “A” word — you know, the issue you’re contesting.

Buffer zones.  Stop calling for them.  Certainly anyone who threatens, harasses, or obtructs patients or workers should be prosecuted under existing trespass and assault (and related) laws.  That said, the fact that some opponents are disruptive should not allow the government to curtail the First Amendment rights of all of your opponents in a manner not applied to other disorderly partisans (Prop. 8 opponents, for example.)  Be honest — are the sensitivities of workers and patients really so fragile that they require protection from a peaceful protest?

Late-term abortions.  Don’t restrict them.  If it’s about bodily autonomy, as you claim, then a woman should be able to exercise her reproductive freedom at any point during the pregnancy.  Yet some of you are willing, for political expediency, to agree to a ban in the 3rd trimester.  What happens during the 27th (or 30th … or 35th) week that suddenly provides the fetus with a right to be born?

Abortion Opponents

Pro-life.  Stop calling yourselves that.  The term actually covers a broad range of issues, including opposition to euthanasia, assisted suicide, population control, and capital punishment.  Since many of you support at least one of them, you don’t get to imply a false consensus.  Use a term that includes the “A” word, and don’t be afraid to define yourselves in opposition to the issue you’re contesting.

Rape and incest.  Don’t allow exceptions for them.  If abortion is murder, as you claim with pious certainty, why would some of you allow the innocent baby to be killed based on the circumstances of the conception?  Here, too, it’s for political expediency, one that you wouldn’t accept for other situations you consider life-threatening.  Makes me wonder how serious some of you are about equating the “A” word with the “M” word.

Posters of aborted fetuses.  Don’t use them.  You may think that they’re effective, but they actually turn off the ones you most want to convince.  Most observers become disgusted, not with the concept of abortion, but with your shocking tactics.  Want to draw people to your side?  Display giant posters of beautiful, healthy, in-utero babies.

Rush Limbaugh and the story of the First Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 10:16 pm

The story of The first Thanksgiving, as told by Rush Limbaugh…  I’m out of contact for probably all of Thursday, if not through Friday morning, so take care, folks.  If I get back in time Thursday night, I’ll post some classic stuff from Presidents past.

Pray for me.  I’m spending time with 95% Dems, many of whom possess depressingly high levels of White Guilt.  Have a great holiday, folks.  Enjoy time with friends and family, or at least enjoy the food.  Take care, and stay safe.

And now, Rush Limbaugh.

(more…)

Oh, by the way…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 8:20 pm

Ron Prince is OUT as the head coach for K-State football.  Thank god.  Man was as bad a recruiter as could be possible.

“Who’s in?” you ask?  You mean the swearing from every other coach didn’t tell you?

Coach Bill Snyder is on a 5-year contract.

Weep, oh ye pathetic opponents…  Wail and gnash thy teeth in anguish!!  Your days are numbered.

No, I’m not thrilled about this at ALL!  :)

Well, they almost HAVE to say it, don’t they?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 10:11 am

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand just in time for the holidays, we have our regular threat of violence from AQ.

This time, it is NYC subways that are the target.  This is amid reports of explosions, shootings, and hostage-takings in Mumbai, which authorities ARE calling terrorist attacks…  As I find actual links to news stories about it, I’ll update this post.

UpdateBest I can find is a short article at SkyNews

Update x2 – Ok, it seems that several bombs have gone off (most recent report I heard also includes a car bomb in a taxi lighting off at a “domestic airport”), and several sites are either held hostage by gunmen or are under siege.  Al Jazeera and the UK Telegraph both have good articles regarding what’s going on.

Update x3 – Reports say that 40 brits and Americans are being held inside the Taj Hotel in Mumbai.  It has also been reported that the terrorists were targeting people with USA or UK passports.

Update x4 – Officials in India are saying 40-80 dead, 200 wounded in attacks…

Update x5Photo and info here (thanks EricPWJohnson) and there’s more at the India Uncut blog (thanks Kevin Murphy)

Also, the US has condemed the attacks.  Thank god, for a second I thought we might be fans…

Idiots.

As a personal note, if there is even one US citizen held hostage (and it appears thatthere are at least several US and UK citizens), we need to have the SAS, SEALs, and FBI Hostage Rescue Team (the breachers, these guys don’t do the talky-talky stuff) throw dice, and the winner go clear this place.  India has a problem with us taking care of this problem…

Well, they can go fornicate themselves with the garden implement of their choice…

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