As long as I’m linking to io9, I might as well recommend this. No point summarizing, just go read. And chat about whatever.
Archives for April 2012
April 30 , 2012: the first day that I heard a space lawyer talk about the legal complications of asteroid mining not in a science fiction movie or at a futurist conference but in a regular news item about potential current(ish) events.
On Tuesday, plans were unveiled for Planetary Resources Inc., a company founded by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson and financed by Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page and chairman Eric Schmidt. Planetary Resources expects to launch robotic prospectors within two years.[…]
If those daring plans succeed, von der Dunk said, it would create its fair share of confusion about mining rights in space – from who owns what to how business interests beyond Earth’s orbit would be specifically protected.[…]
He cited the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forms the basis of international space law and to which all space-faring nations are a party. The treaty says that outer space constitutes a “global commons.”[…]
The problem, von der Dunk said, is that specific international legal parameters have not been sufficiently established to protect legitimate public or private concerns beyond very general, vague considerations.
“This prompts several questions: What rights of protection would the mining company have against others wishing to ‘intrude,’ given that a global commons is in a principled fashion open to everyone?” Von der Dunk said. “And, who is going to be held liable – and to what extent – when mining activities cause damage to other space activities or are harmed by them?”
Gonna mark my calendar for this one.
… but the politically engaged conservatives mostly are. Thomas Edsall, at the NYTimes, on “Finding the Limits of Empathy“:
… Ravi Iyer, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Southern California who analyzes the differences in the moral outlook of conservatives and liberals, has posted an exceptionally interesting collection of data on his “Politics and Moral Psychology Blog.” (Iyer’s research is reinforced by the work of Philip E. Tetlock at Wharton and Linda J. Skitka of the University of Illinois.)…
Politically engaged liberals and conservatives exhibit strikingly different levels of empathy. The following chart, constructed by Iyer, illustrates this beautifully:
The more interested in politics a conservative is, the lower his (or her) level of empathy. Liberals move in the opposite direction: the more interested in politics they are, the more empathetic. Empathy, in case you’re wondering, is measured by responses to 28 statements in the “Davis Interpersonal Reactivity Index,” including “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me,” “I sometimes find it difficult to see things from the ‘other guy’s’ point of view,” and “Sometimes I don’t feel very sorry for other people when they are having problems.”
In the 2010 election, 42 percent of voters identified themselves as conservative; 38 percent said they were moderate; and 20 percent said they were liberal. If that division obtains in 2012 and beyond, the proportion of conservative to liberal voters in the electorate should give liberals pause, especially insofar as they expect elected officials to propose and pass legislation the underlying purpose of which is to help those most in need…
I’m a little suspicious of the sudden rush to “prove” that if our political process is irretrievably borked, it’s all down to what’s broken in our individual brains. But there is a certain logic, if you accept the theory that people mostly get interested in politics — in spending precious time and energy on elections that could otherwise go towards work, family life, getting more use out of that expensive gym membership, or keeping up with the local sports franchise — when they perceive that something is “wrong” with the existing order. For conservatives, that “wrongness” is hardly likely to be an overwhelming sense that Tha Gubmint just isn’t doing enough for those people who are… unlike the aggreived conservative.
Via reader D and many others, no one could have predicted that even a liberal former Republican (and svengali to closet case Republican Senatorial candidate Michael Huffington) turned pageview pimp would back Mitt Romney:
“I think it’s one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the Situation Room,” the media mogul (Arianna Huffington) said on “CBS This Morning.” “All that, to me, is perfectly legitimate. But to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”
The thing is this: one of the big foreign policy differences between Obama and McCain was Obama’s belief in going into Pakistan to get Al Qaeda. Given the civilians who died in drone strikes and the fact that I don’t know how important killing Osama bin Laden was, I’m not sure who I agree with in retrospect.
But saying that a Republican president wouldn’t have gone into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden…well, that’s probably true. If you can’t accept that, you’re calling war hero John McCain a liar, you tree-hugging punk. He said he wouldn’t do it, and I take him at his word.
Arianna just likes attention. That’s why I don’t read HuffPost, and it’s why I don’t listen to anything she says. It’s great that she pulls more pageviews than Drudge, but she lost me at the vaccines cause autism, if not earlier.
I’m still basically on my work/life-compelled blog hiatus, but I could not so abandon the BJ community as to fail to bring to your attention serious-charismatic-megafauna-gettin’-busy video.
Hence, Ladles and Jellyspoons, may I present some awesome rhino porn (h/t ScientificAmerican.com):
<div align=”center”><iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/4kSv7sHpp7Y” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe></div>
Do read the story framing the clip. There is the suggestion of some significant insights into animal behavior that may — emphasize the tentative there — have real bearing on other conservation/species restoration efforts.
Oh, and I suppose you could consider this the most open-minded of open threads. (And I suppose it is too much to ask to keep it more or less clean in the comment thread? Ah, well.)
PS: Here’s a bonus video of rhino courtship:
<div align=”center”><iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/jgqzjHMTOdA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe></div>
I realize that Ryan is ballot box poison for Republicans, but mostly this just makes me mad:
ABC News actually compared Ryan with Kevin Kline’s character from the 1993 movie Dave—an endearingly naïve Everyman who accidentally finds himself president and does battle with cynical forces to scrub the federal budget of waste. After showing a clip from the film, reporter Jonathan Karl cut to footage of himself in Ryan’s office attempting to re-create the scene. Karl opens a budget tome to a random page and looks on in awe as Ryan explains the dense prose and the savings to be had.[….]
Seeming genuine is something Ryan does extraordinarily well. And here is where something deeper is at play, more than Ryan’s charm and winning personality, something that gets at the intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary Washington. The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his position in facts and figures, he seems like an encouraging candidate to strike a bargain. But the thing to keep in mind about Ryan is that he was trained in the world of Washington Republican think tanks. These were created out of a belief that mainstream economists were hopelessly biased to the left, and crafted an alternative intellectual ecosystem in which conservative beliefs—the planet is not getting warmer, the economy is not growing more unequal—can flourish, undisturbed by skepticism. Ryan is intimately versed in the blend of fact, pseudo-fact, and pure imagination inhabiting this realm.
Ryan’s adoring fans inside the beltway will make sure Americans never find out that Ryan is a nut. But they won’t be able to keep people from finding out that he would end Social Security and Medicare, and that’s the important thing. Voters don’t know c-razy, but they know c-at food.
Representative Paul D. Ryan strolls the halls of Capitol Hill with the anarchist band Rage Against the Machine pounding through his earbuds.
At 6:30 every morning, he leads an adoring cast of young, conservative members of Congress through exercise sessions in front of a televised trainer barking out orders. For fun, Mr. Ryan noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats.
He may be, as a friend described him, “a hunting-obsessed gym rat,” but Mr. Ryan, 42, of Wisconsin, has become perhaps the most influential policy maker in the Republican Party, its de facto head of economic policy, intent on a fundamental transformation of the federal government.
Ed Kilgore (I have my doubts him too) nails it:
Wow. Half-Wonk, Half-Jock. Half-Objectivist, Half-Catholic. Half-Punk, Half-Wall Street. Paul Ryan is like a projected fantasy of what every high school Young Republican wants to be when he grows up. No wonder GOPers and reporters alike are writing his name all over their notebooks
Put me in mind a bit of something I read on gendered marketing:
All Bran for Women. Feeling bloated? Sluggish? All Bran will give you the energy to cope with all that tricky multitasking. Why not try it with some yoghurt?
All Bran for Men. MAN BRAN! MASSIVE CHUNKS OF BRAN SO HUGE YOU CAN BARELY FIT THEM IN YOUR GOB! THIS CEREAL TRULY IS A CHALLENGE!
I don’t think this is offensive at all. There’s lots of crazy stuff in the bible that everyone ignores. Why NOT ignore the anti-gay stuff too? Dan Savage:
People often point out that they can’t help it, they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans that being gay is wrong. We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people.
I’m fascinated by Watergate. I don’t think there’s anyway the establishment media would go after a Republican White House that way today. The story would be broken by a free weekly type publication and then everyone would ignore it. Serious people would agree that this was just “criminalizing politics”, that you should just keep on walking, and so on. Also too, what Hillary Rosen did was just as bad, remember the time that anonymous MoveOn member put a Hitler mustache on a picture of W, and the hypocrisy of liberals wanting an investigation when many of them watch Bill Maher. Howie Kurtz would certainly think this was a terrible breach of journamalistic ethics:
The secret source that legendary journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein referred to as a “mystic” in their investigation that brought down President Nixon turns out to have been a grand juror who spoke to them in a likely violation of the law.
Field workers for President Obama’s campaign fanned out across the country over the weekend in an effort to confront a barrage of new voter identification laws that strategists say threaten the campaign’s hopes for registering new voters ahead of the November election.
In Wisconsin, where a new state law requires those registering voters to be deputized in whichever of the state’s 1,800 municipalities they are assigned to, the campaign sent a team of trainers armed with instructions for complying with the new regulations. In Florida, the campaign’s voter registration aides traveled across the state to train volunteers on a new requirement that voter registration signatures be handed in to state officials within 48 hours after they are collected. And in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s staff members have begun reaching out to let voters know about new laws that discourage precinct workers from telling voters where to go if they show up at the wrong precinct.
The voters who are dealing with this for the first time (Wisconsin!) are more vulnerable than voters in Ohio, because conservatives have been periodically changing the voting rules in Ohio since 2006. We’re on round three in Ohio, so we’re used to them setting up ever-higher and constantly changing barriers for the voters they disfavor to jump over. Right now they’re going after early voting in Ohio because God forbid we should extend the window where people might actually get in and cast a ballot. A single Tuesday in November is apparently a magical day of increased “integrity” and “ballot security” to conservatives, no matter that election officials have MORE time to check the validity of a submitted ballot with early voting, not LESS time. But, none of this voter fraud bullshit ever makes sense on the most basic, practical level, and all of it is accepted without question. We’re more than happy to accuse Democratic VOTERS of all kinds of illegal acts without a shred of proof, but even calmly walking through the outlandish claims of Republican lawmakers and leaders and lawyers step by step to determine if they make sense is off limits and partisan.
In 2004, in Ohio, where I live anyway, John Kerry’s campaign used outside groups to register and inform voters, and it was a mess. Voter registration rules are state law, and one really needs people who are familiar with the rules and the state. Too, the Kerry campaign were contacting voters anyway. It never made a whole lot of sense to me why we were conducting two separate campaigns.
On that note, there is widespread confusion about voter registration and voting because conservatives and media have conflated the two things for nearly a decade, and they are two separate processes. That’s why we hear the nonsense about Mickey Mouse voting.
Here’s the truth, and it’s logical and it makes sense. Like state birth records process, another ordinary, mundane records process that has been turned into a super-complicated plot out of a spy novel, voter registration is governed by a series of rules and they’re all written down in state codes. Voter registration is not unknowable and mysterious and arbitrary.
When one person accepts a voter registration card for another person, the individual who is “registering” that voter (turning the card in) may not make a final call on the validity of that registration. ALL registrations must be turned in. The state or county official makes the call on the validity of the registration. You can easily understand why this is so: if the person collecting voter registrations were permitted to cull registrations willy-nilly, just using their own best judgment, and rejected those registrations THEY deemed invalid, there would be all kinds of potential for dirty dealing. Easy, right? Makes sense? Yet every single year, regular as rain, we hear breathless reporting on how Mickey Mouse is voting, because a registration was turned in for Mickey Mouse at 123 Main Street. Registering to vote and voting and are two separate things, and the first must be completed before the second may even possibly occur. There’s really no rational reason to jump to accusing all disfavored voters of voter fraud, because that’s a baseless and unfair accusation.
According to the Entire Right Blogothingy, Twitter is apparently the new LAMESTREAM MEDIA (lightning, scary organ music, moose falling from the sky):
Also, The Entire Right Blogothingy consists entirely of Dana Loesch. Open thread.
I really just don’t get our foreign policy debates. They’re confused to the point of being schizophrenic. Down is up. Left is right.
Take this post by Max Fisher about Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident lawyer who the Chinese government hates for saying accurate things about the terribly repressive Chinese government. Things like pointing out that the Chinese government has forced the sterilization of women in order to enforce the one child policy. Guangcheng has escaped from Chinese authorities, as you’ve likely heard, and is probably in American custody. This is tricky, of course, but it’s also the case that we may be obligated under international law to provide him with sanctuary. Yet Fisher proclaims that “This Blind Chinese Lawyer May Be the Toughest Foreign Policy Challenge Obama Has Ever Faced.”
Really? When we launch undeclared wars in foreign countries without accountability or review, this is the toughest foreign policy challenge? When we rush into regime change in Libya, after we all were sure we weren’t going to be doing any more of that? When we have systematically dismantled all of the checks and balances on the executive branch’s ability to engage militarily? I just don’t get it. We think nothing of deploying ordnance and changing regimes inconvenient to us. But this is worth thinking hard about. For me, personally, I’d like the decision to give asylum to a dissident who has already escaped from his repressive regime to be easier than the decision to wage war. But it’s the reverse.
It’s insane to me how little the practical question of what we can actually accomplish matters in our foreign policy debates. Still. After everything. “Democracy promotion,” a weasel’s euphemism if I’ve ever heard one, is very very hard, even in the dubious ways that neoconservatives define it. You can make a strong historical case that it’s never actually been accomplished. Spiriting away a single dissident who is already in our custody would be very, very easy. Also, “democracy promotion” involves killing people. A lot of people. Saving Chen would kill, in my rough estimate, zero people. (China is not going to war with us over Chen Guangcheng.) Yes: I understand that diplomatic relationships are very important and very delicate. But just consider the difference in how seriously the foreign policy media is taking this situation and how mundane they find killing innocent people with drones, or how credulous they are when our elites say they can kill the bad guys and install the good guys.
DAVID GREGORY: […] And Hillary Rosen, here you are. This issue is not going away. And neither are you.
HILARY ROSEN: Neither am I. […]
DAVID GREGORY: I do want to remind people about your comments about Ann Romney that started quite a debate. Watch.
Rosen is the exemplar for this observation (by an interesting guy):
One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.
Update: Here’s the meat of what Rachel had to say, minus the useless Hilary Rosen part:
Sally Quinn decided that the world needed another fawning biography of Ben Bradlee, and it’s clear from the excerpt in New York magazine that Jeff Himmelman was the guy to do it:
I recited the things Sally had told me to say—we can take it slow; I can do some preliminary work and see if it turns into anything; if there’s no book there, then we won’t force it—and when I was through, he looked at me blankly.
In the post-coital glow of their initial lovemaking, Bradlee gave Himmelman some boxes of old Post memos, and Himmelman found that Bradlee wasn’t sure that all the Post Watergate reporting was 100% accurate–he had a “residual fear” that some of the details were made up. This precipitated a Woodward hissy fit:
On Sunday night, at 10:45, another e-mail came in, this one from Sally. Bob had come over to their house, and he was agitated. He wanted to be there the next morning when I came to look for the tape.
At 8:30 on Monday morning I called over to N Street. Sally picked up and told me what had happened. When she and Ben had gotten home from dinner the night before, there had been an urgent message from Bob on their machine. She called him back, and he ended up coming over and staying for nearly two hours. As soon as he arrived, it was clear that he was deeply worried.
The way Bob saw it, the publication of those quotations from Ben would undermine his own legacy, Ben’s legacy, and the legacy of the Post on Watergate. I asked Sally what to expect when I got there, and she said I should expect for Bob to make a loyalty argument—to him, to Ben, to the paper.
To make a long, long, long story short, judging from Woodward’s reaction (not Himmelman’s reporting), the parts of his and Bernstein’s Watergate reporting that sound a little too smooth probably are. What’s really notable is the way that town
venerates acts as if the last time some real journalism was committed by reporters at the Post was almost 40 years ago.