Still Not Ginger!

The BBC has announced the 13th Doctor:

From The Guardian:

Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s new head writer and executive producer, said: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away.

“Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

Whittaker said: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

At this moment, if you’re attuned to these things, you can feel the millions of gamergaters, men’s rights activists, and these gorilla mindset schmos crying out in despair. Or tweeting about it…

At the risk of crossing the meme streams:

Afternoon Open Thread

The profit Bluth

We all want to talk about the distinction between light and not light treason… Or more realistically Espionage Act versus campaign finance violations.

Open thread.

And So it Begins: Ratfucking the Second Round of the French Election

Reuters reports:

A large trove of emails from the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was posted online late on Friday, 1-1/2 days before voters go to the polls to choose the country’s next president in a run-off against far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Some nine gigabytes of data were posted by a user called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a document-sharing site that allows anonymous posting. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or if any of them were genuine.

In a statement, Macron’s political movement En Marche! (Onwards!) confirmed that it had been hacked.

“The En Marche! Movement has been the victim of a massive and co-ordinated hack this evening which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information,” the statement said.

An interior ministry official declined to comment, citing French rules which forbid any commentary liable to influence an election, and which took effect at midnight French time on Friday (2200 GMT).

Comments about the email dump began to appear on Friday evening just hours before the official ban on campaigning began. The ban is due to stay in place until the last polling stations close on Sunday at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Is Wikileaks involved? Of course Wikileaks is involved!

And so are the trolls for lulz crowd at 4Chan:

And the Le Pen campaign is exploiting the work of the 4chan folks:

Broaderick covered a different attempted social media driven scandal attack on Macron last week.

The thread was started by a Swedish user who asked members of the community if they could help him create memes and misinformation about Emmanuel Macron that could then be translated and spread across the web.

The original poster suggested they focus on a narrative that Emmanuel Macron was secretly sleeping with his wife’s 30-year-old daughter, Tiphaine Auzière.

An American user then appeared in the thread and put in a photo of Auzière superimposed over Macron, writing “something to start memeing about.”

The memes were intended to create a false sense of support for Le Pen among liberal social justice communities.


Reuters is also reporting that Macron is leading Le Pen going into the last 36 hours or so before the polls open.

An Ifop-Fiducial survey on Friday afternoon, hours before official campaigning closed at midnight, showed Macron on course to win 63 percent of votes in the second round and Le Pen 37 percent, the best score for Macron recorded by a major polling organization since mid-April.

Four other polls earlier in the day put the centrist on 62 percent and Le Pen on 38 percent, and a fifth showed Macron on 61.5 percent, as his second-round campaign gained ground following a stuttering start last week.

Pollsters said Macron had been boosted by his performance in a rancorous final televised debate between the two contenders on Wednesday, which the centrist was judged by French viewers to have won, according to two surveys.

It is likely that these late revelations are intended to dirty up Macron and make weaken him should he win, rather than swing the election to Le Pen. The latter, given the gap in the polling seems unlikely to happen. Regardless, we’ll have updates on Sunday once the returns are in.

Stay frosty!

Afternoon Open Thread: Honey Badger Mode

Ladies and gentlemen, this happened today.

Harry Reid in full Honey Badger Mode.



Open Thread.

[UPDATE] Honey Badger keeps on winning.


He’s Always Watching You, America

Josh Romney sees into your soul and he has found it wanting.











This isn’t a poll test

Obama is at it again:

Obama Declares Aug. 26 ‘Women’s Equality Day’

President Obama has declared Aug. 26 — which marks the 91st anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote — to be “Women’s Equality Day.”
In a proclamation published by the White House Thursday, Obama said, “I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and recommit ourselves to the goal of gender equality in this country,”
“The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution tore down the last formal barrier to women’s enfranchisement in our nation and empowered America’s women to have their voices heard in the halls of power,” Obama said.

Congress decided that August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.

In 1971.

Here is a quiz you can take as part of your celebration. I don’t find test-taking to be very celebratory, myself, but go ahead. You may still vote if you fail.

Ten Books

The “ten books” blogger game is pretty much ruined now that Austin Bramwell posted the crib notes on how to win it (Scoreborad: Yglesias is remarkably erudite. Douthat is an pseudo-intellectual wannabe who telegraphs that he’s trying too hard. But you knew that).

That said, since bloggers pretty much by definition are people who read a lot, there’s no reason why I can’t post ten books that have influenced me. I’ll list them more or less in chronological order.

* Lady With A Spear, Eugenie Clark. Misshelved with ‘shark’ books and therefore absorbed as I read the whole section from left to right, this long out-of-print autobiography by a marine scientist indelibly convinced an eleven-year-old me to study sharks one day. My first true experiment, for example, which I modeled after her work with Great Whites, tested the music preferences of goldfish (they like classical, hate rap). I didn’t make it to shark research, but I did earn a Master’s on toxic algae, which is pretty good for a life goal set in elementary school.
* Everything Stephen King wrote until around 1989. For better or worse King was my prime time-waster until sometime around Tommyknockers, when it became clear that King had killed his book editor and buried the poor guy in his backyard. The overstuffed, overindulgent later stuff didn’t appeal to me. Or maybe I grew up. Either way, I will always defend Different Seasons as epic fiction writing.
* Dialogue Concerning The Two Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei. Assigned reading in a Galileo-centered elective class in high school, Galileo’s book gave me my second science hero after Clark. Properly summarizing Galileo’s impact would make an overlong blog post, but to name a few high points: he showed that science always has a political milieu that one has to negotiate. Galileo had a knack for hypothesis building that still knocks me over, in the sense that each experiment fit neatly and essentially into a much larger story. I can only think of a few scientists with a similar talent: Darwin, Newton, Einstein, the psychologist William James, the early neuroanatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal. In my opinion the modern concept of science began with this possibly apocryphal anecdote. Although some scientists will find this last point controversial, convincing a lay audience is more than a secondary job. It could be the most important thing that we do. Data is data, as they say, but it’s also largely meaningless if you publish it in Latin and bury the work in obscure libraries. We hardly blame Copernicus for working within his system and staying off the rack, and it’s enough for most of us scientists to get published in the usual journals at all. Nonetheless current events like the climate debate ought to show how important it is to get ideas off the page and into the minds of a lay audience. Two things stand out when you read Galileo’s Dialogue: it is incredibly easy to read and follow, and his arguments are really, really convincing. Most polemicists writing today, including and especially us bloggers, would have more of an impact if we anticipate significant counter-arguments, present them fairly and then disassemble them with authority*.

* Silent Spring, Rachel Carson. Speaking of writing convincingly for a popular audience, Carson wins the prize. Instead of telling you guys that environmentalists (and any kind of activist) should advocate from the perspective of things that most people already care about, just read the book.

* A History of God, Karen Armstrong. As a personal matter I never gave religion much thought. It always seemed kind of silly to make any definitive statement about topics that by definition fall outside of human understanding. As a historical phenomenon, however, religion is undeniably important, and this book provided exactly what I was looking for: a narrative history of monotheistic religion from an amythic social and historical perspective. The book, for example, gives useful context for events and myths that might seem strange today. Armstrong is a freakishly prolific writer, so I can’t give you a reason to read A History of God over her other writing except to say that I read this one.

* Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville. Without question the most important book for shaping my understanding of American government. Makes an excellent companion when reading the Federalist Papers. IMO the first volume is more essential than the second.

* Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein. Like most internetbloggers I went through a serious Heinlein phase, and this one sticks out more than, e.g., his self-indulgent later stuff (see King, Stephen). Gripping and tendentious-but-informative in the same way that Moby Dick must have been back when readers had the patience for ten-page digressions. Troopers has enough military theory squeezed in between zoom-bang-pow that the U.S. Air Force Academy required cadets to read it for a while. It’s also the only fiction book in which I ever took margin notes, for what that’s worth.

* No Nature, Gary Snyder. Jack Kerouac immortalized Snyder in Dharma Bums as a hyperliterate semi-reclusive Buddha, a part-time logger, mountaineer, fire lookout and zen monk with a bottomless appetite for drink and women. This collection of Snyder’s poems and essays covers material ranging from simple narratives about climbing a hill with John Muir to mythical/historical epics like Through the Smoke Hole. Snyder tends to ‘blog’ his break-ups a lot, but you could see that as another way that his work honestly reflects the (his) human experience. For me Bubbs Creek Haircut is like a koan in that I can read it any number of times and always pick up a new perspective.

* Ecofeminism, Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, and The Monkeywrench Gang, by Edward Abbey. These books are an outlier on my list for a couple of reasons. First, I’m treating them as one book. Second, I didn’t finish one of them (Ecofeminism), and last, I don’t recommend reading them. Reading these in college crystallized, for me anyway, the wrong track taken by many in the environmental movement by the time I left activism in the late 90’s. Abbey’s take is cruder, destructive and nihilistic while Mies and Shiva present a philosophical tract, but both encourage environmentalists to elevate themselves (and nature itself) above the unenlightened rabble from whom it must be protected. The latter pointedly do not write for a lay audience. You can certainly claim that nature has some “inherent right” to exist that people should respect on first principles. I will agree with you! The problem is, creating a separate category for “nature”, abstracted from human interests and needs, sets up environmentalism to lose a fight with other concepts like “progress”, “electric power” and “cheap consumer goods” that most people want. IMO the corrosive influence of Abbey/ecofeminist environmental thinking explains the frustrating dichotomy that John talks about here.

* The Feeling of What Happens, Antonio Damasio. This one was a suggestion from my wife, a neuroscientist, that kicked off a serious reading binge about theories of mind. Damasio’s book argues persuasively that there are no separate spheres for emotion and logic. I could write an endless blog post about where I went from there. In fact I did, a long time ago, but the draft didn’t survive the transition to WordPress 2.0 and I don’t feel like re-writing it. People looking for an easier read might start with Read Montague’s Why Choose This Book?

* The Metaphysical Club, Louis Menand. A good read for anyone still hungry after Democracy in America. Metapysical Club spins a narrative history of influential American thinkers during the turn of the 20th century: Oliver Wendell Holmes, jr., Charles Pierce Peirce and William James, among others. Menand argues that the pragmatic philosophy of these thinkers and their scientific perspective (which Galileo would recognize and approve) catalyzed a change in America from pre-modern to recognizably modern thinking. The book closes with one of the most elegantly written summary arguments that I have ever read.

(*) IMO Glenn Greenwald and Roy Edroso do that notably well.


Oops, that’s eleven. Consider yourself lucky that I didn’t go to twenty.