Wednesday, June 2

Civil Discourse: not just a fantasy

Dr. Jim Taylor writes about delightful conversations he's had with people from other persuasions - and about why things are so bad these days.

One nice point: mean-spiritedness "has the magical ability to transform anxiety and fear into righteous indignation and anger, both much more palatable emotions".

He also wants to make Sept 15th a national day of civil discourse.  Cool idea. Better: make it the 19th, and it could be discourse-like-a-civil-pirate day.

Wednesday, May 12

Stirring up the hornets

I had to join the Tea Party, just so I could respond to this Freedomworks blog entry drumming up support for Sen Murkowski's attempt to undercut the EPA's regulation of CO2 emissions. tells you where campaign funding comes from.  In Murkowski's case:

 So I posted that, with this comment:
"If we are really a grassroots organization, we should be aware when big companies give politicians lots of money. Otherwise, we risk becoming puppets of a movement funded by those whose motives are profit only. (As Murkowski seems to be.)"

It'll be interesting to see what ripples this rock generates.

Tuesday, May 11 a cure for lying?

It's perfectly legal to lie in the news.  Then money funds pseudo-science to back up those lies, and people start buying it.

Gack. There oughta be a law.

So where can one go for the straight truth?

Well, I was impressed by's review of the birther conspiracies, "Born in the USA."
Here, for example, is a hi-res photo of the birth certificate showing the raised seal.  And the article lays out the arguments, and debunks them effectively.

It won't change a true believer's mind, but it's an impressive piece of research work!  You go guys!

Monday, May 10

Massive Gap Widens Between Republican and Democrat's Belief in Climate Change

 This article, "Massive Gap Widens Between Republican and Democrat's Belief in Climate Change",  discusses why conservatives increasingly disbelieve Global Warming is happening.

Among other things, they say :
"the change must be attributed not to the actual state of climate science, but to ... corporate interest in preserving a belief system ..."
Belief systems.  Can't live with 'em, can't live wthout 'em.

Hey, I can't take weeks off to study the literature on Global Warming.  So I ask myself, why  do I believe that climate change is real, severe, and human-caused? 

I guess the story Al Gore told in "An Inconvenient Truth" made sense to me, from the young Senator Gore frustrated that the Senate ignored the data back in 1976,  to time-lapse photos of glaciers melting.

Or maybe I just trust Al Gore, because he's part of my team.

Whether you "believe" in global warming or not, where did your belief come from?

Friday, May 7

Moral Wiring, Red and Blue

My friend Steve Rose referred me to Jonathan Haidt's talk on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives.  It's brilliant.  I won't disrespect it with a half-baked summary - watch it.   (He's entertaining, too!)

Do you think the partisan wars are a big problem?  Then watch this and think about it.  Love to hear your comments.

Thursday, May 6

Why people vote against their own interests

Insightful article by Thomas Frank: Why people vote against their own interests

"the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side"."

"the voters' preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests."

Light vs Heat

The economy's bad, and big changes are happening fast. We all have a right to be concerned.

But some people make their living by giving a voice to this fear. And they make a better living if the voice is loud and angry. Right?

We all need to avoid being manipulated by these people. It's soooo satisfying to feel angry and self-righteous.... but don't be led by the nose.