Saturday, March 2, 2013

Madonna was right.

It’s a material world.

Didn’t take long after I started covering the materials beat for TR until I fully realized this. 

Now, the following headlines and links are presented without further editorial comment.

Research Hints at Graphene’s Photovoltaic Potential

Nanocapsules Sober Up Drunken Mice

Molecule Helps Nanoparticles Sneak Past Immune System

Are We Really on the Verge of the Napster-fication of Physical Objects? (Ok, one editorial comment. The answer to this question is NO.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012
All that exists for any president are the odds. On March 17 the U.N. gave Obama his resolution. The next day he flew to Brazil and was there on the 19th, when the bombing began. A group of Democrats in Congress issued a statement demanding Obama withdraw from Libya; Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich asked if Obama had just committed an impeachable offense. All sorts of people who had been hounding the president for his inaction now flipped and questioned the wisdom of action. A few days earlier Newt Gingrich, busy running for president, had said, “We don’t need the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.” Four days after the bombing began, Gingrich went on the Today show to say he wouldn’t have intervened and was quoted on Politico as saying, “It is impossible to make sense of the standard of intervention in Libya except opportunism and news media publicity.” The tone of the news coverage shifted dramatically, too. One day it was “Why aren’t you doing anything?” The next it was “What have you gotten us into?” As one White House staffer puts it, “All the people who had been demanding intervention went nuts after we intervened and said it was outrageous. That’s because the controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine.”

Michael Lewis, in his Vanity Fair profile of Obama, on the immediate aftermath of the President’s decision to secure a UN resolution and begin bombing operations in Libya last year.

My question: is there really a reality machine in the same way there is one for controversy? Hard to tell sometimes.

Monday, June 11, 2012
We find you to be dolts because you applaud as if this all weren’t an amusement predicated on the whims of a few rich men, as if the brilliance on the court reflects on you as individuals. We once harbored the same illusions. Doug Merlino, to OKC fans, explaining why we Sonics fans can’t help but resent them—even though we empathize.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
There’s just one other thing you should know before you start describing yourself and others exclusively according to the Muppet System. There’s an enormous amount of false consciousness at work here (Thanks Karl Marx!!!) and many of us are prone to profound misdiagnoses. My 7-year-old told me last night that he is most definitely a Chaos Muppet. He’s not. To tell the truth he and I are both Faux Chaos Muppets—Chaos on the outside, but with hard, rigid, inflexible caramel centers. Like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, we sow chaos throughout the land. But like the good doctor, we do so in an effort to better organize the world. An important disclaimer for Dahlia Lithwick’s Unified Theory of Muppet Types.
Monday, May 14, 2012
The memes we choose to elevate to Internet fame are the product of the purest form of democracy ever invented. And this is why memes are so important: they are what the Internet sees when it holds a mirror up to itself. These are our messages. They speak to all of us, and they are rooted in authenticity. No amount of money in the world can buy a double rainbow. Benjamin Jackson, writer for Buzzfeed, in the conclusion of an article entitled Is The Free Internet A New God?
Sunday, May 13, 2012

Drudgin’ on a Sunday afternoon.


Drudgin’ on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dear Dad,
I know it has been a rough week, so I wanted to reach out. Players dying, players suing and on top of that my peers are just going off on you in the media. It does not help that ESPN has all of a sudden become Medical TV with damn near every brain expert on the planet. This has got to be the worst week ever. Since no one is showing any support, I figured I would be the first. You are in one big ass catch 22 and quite frankly, I am not sure there is any solution. One thing I think can help is killing the NFL PR machine.
Y’all do a darn near perfect job at portraying this game as one played by heroes. But let’s be real dad. This is a nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences. Sign up or go get a regular job. Watch it or turn off the TV and go fishing with your kids. It is really that simple. I know there are probably legal and financial implications that prevent this blunt depiction, but am not sure if you have a choice. If you don’t say it now, the mounting evidence being revealed publicly will say it for you very soon. In all, I love you and if anyone can lead us out of this mess, it will be you. Oh by the way, I have a deal for you. Am having a rebound year and plan to do a lot of celebrating in the end zone. Can my fine money go to supporting ex-players suffering?


Chad Ochocinco, in an open letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, with whom the talented wide receiver formerly named Chad Johnson apparently has a “father-son relationship.”

Ochocinco says he wrote the letter because “we are at a crucial point in the history of football,” and “the foundation of the game is in jeopardy.” He’s right.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

“Climate change is not so much a reduction in productivity as a redistribution,’’ Caldeira said. “And it is one in which the poorest people on earth get hit the hardest and the rich world benefits”—a phenomenon, he added, that is not new.

“I have two perspectives on what this might mean,’’ he said. “One says: humans are like rats or cockroaches. We are already living from the equator to the Arctic Circle. The weather has already become .7 degrees warmer, and barely anyone has noticed or cares. And, yes, the coral reefs might become extinct, and people from the Seychelles might go hungry. But they have gone hungry in the past, and nobody cared. So basically we will live in our gated communities, and we will have our TV shows and Chicken McNuggets, and we will be O.K. The people who would suffer are the people who always suffer.

“There is another way to look at this, though,’’ he said. “And that is to compare it to the subprime-mortgage crisis, where you saw that a few million bad mortgages led to a five-per-cent drop in gross domestic product throughout the world. Something that was a relatively small knock to the financial system led to a global crisis. And that could certainly be the case with climate change. But five per cent is an interesting figure, because in the Stern Report’’—an often cited review led by the British economist Nicholas Stern, which signalled the alarm about greenhouse-gas emissions by focussing on economics—“they estimated climate change would cost the world five per cent of its G.D.P. Most economists say that solving this problem is one or two per cent of G.D.P. The Clean Water and Clean Air Acts each cost about one per cent of G.D.P.,” Caldeira continued. “We just had a much worse shock to our banking system. And it didn’t even get us to reform the economy in any significant way. So why is the threat of a five-per-cent hit from climate change going to get us to transform the energy system?”

Ken Caldeira on climate change economics, in the New Yorker, on geoengineering. 
Monday, April 30, 2012

Let’s start with the premise that absolutely any sitting President who made a high stakes choice to order a commando raid that killed one of the most notorious enemies of the United States in American history would make that decision a center point in his or her campaign for a second term. To pretend otherwise is not only ludicrous; this is actually what a president should do. So much of what goes into a presidential campaign are indiciators - some bogus, others acute - about what a president would do in impossible to foresee, high stakes moments. Obama made a high stakes call. He proved right. And he’ll bring that before the electorate to make his argument to keep him as president.

But as I first argued back in 2004, national political campaigns are only loosely about ‘issues’ as news obsessives construe them. Contemporary American campaigns are much more meta-battles over power, masculinity and dominance, what I once called “bitch-slap politics.” Not pretty perhaps but you’ll never understand campaigns without understanding things through this prism. And that’s very much what’s happening with the Obama campaign’s latest fusillade against Mitt Romney. This isn’t simply - maybe not even mainly — about the actual decision to risk so much to kill bin Laden. It’s a dance to - let’s not run away from what it really is - unman Romney in his contest with the president.

Josh Marshall, TPM
Monday, April 11, 2011
If you genuinely don’t care about the interests of poor people and stand to benefit electorally from weak economic growth, this gives you a very strong hand to play as a hostage taker. And John Boehner is willing to play that hand. Matt Yglesias, on the politics of the moment — and what this moment says about elections.
Friday, March 18, 2011
During health-care reform, I argued that the public option wasn’t important enough to derail a health-care plan that was virtually identical to plans that Republicans had pushed throughout the 1990s and the plan that a Republican governor had signed into law in Massachusetts. Was I “right-leaning” then? Historically speaking — absolutely. I was well to the right of Richard Nixon. But I suspect I would’ve been put in the “left-leaning” box — which only shows that our definitions of “right” and “left” are driven by the recent decisions of political parties, not some unchanging understanding of what or where the middle is. And that directly conflicts with the job of the columnist, I think, which is to try and escape the cramped confines of party-driven politics and offer a take that’s driven by evidence and context and research. Ezra Klein, on why the Washington Post’s decision to classify its columnists as ‘right-leaning’ or ‘left-leaning’ is misguided.
Monday, February 21, 2011

(Subsequent) revolutions will not be televised?

Josh Marshall is right. There is nowhere near the cable news coverage of the several  additional Arab World uprisings that there was in Egypt. Why? Egypt is by its nature a bigger story and the networks already had reporters stationed in Cairo, so coverage was easier, says Marshall, and these are good points. But, unfortunately for the people of these countries, so is this one:

To some significant extent, if it’s not on Al Jazeera or CNN or the BBC and on in a saturation way, it’s just not happening.

[Talking Points Memo]

Saturday, February 19, 2011
My constituents should not have to continue to foot the bill for an organization to keep producing corrupt findings that can be used as justification to impose a massive new energy tax on every American. Representative Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-MO), sponsor of a measure to defund the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change. The measure passed the House 244-179. (Science Magazine) For reference, the U.S. pays the IPCC less per year than the Miami Heat pay Lebron James.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Just to supply one-quarter of its current energy mix from a resource that emits far fewer greenhouse gases — nuclear power — the U.S. would need to build 1,000 one-gigawatt nuclear reactors by 2050. Yet construction has begun on only two nuclear reactors in the U.S. since 1974. And just to power an electric car and truck fleet to replace the U.S.’s current gas and ethanol-fueled one would require 500 new nuclear power plants. There are currently 442 reactors in the entire world, of which the U.S. has 104 — the most of any nation. Just how big is the energy challenge we face? And can nuclear help? David Biello answers both questions in one paragraph. Read the whole feature at Yale e360.
Monday, January 17, 2011

I disagree with many of the president’s policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country’s cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them.

Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is, and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so. It probably asks too much of human nature to expect any of us to be restrained at all times by persistent modesty and empathy from committing rhetorical excesses that exaggerate our differences and ignore our similarities. But I do not think it is beyond our ability and virtue to refrain from substituting character assassination for spirited and respectful debate.

Sen. John McCain in January 17 op-ed in the Washington Post