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Open government and full disclosure in the bright sunshine are civic ideals that deserve our constant attention. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons in the national interest to temporarily keep government actions from public disclosure, but people should still have the right to talk about what they know of those government actions and to continue to demand disclosure. Foreclosing debate on certain government actions has a chilling effect in other areas where debate is not only warranted, but urgently needed.

Shutting down debate also limits the acquisition and development of rhetorical intelligence.  If you can't understand why your claim isn't evidence and why your evidence isn't proof, or worse, why an opponent's arguments win even though they shouldn't, you are vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.  The best way to hone those skills is with open and vigorous debate that lets in the sunshine of truth.

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Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 03:05 PM PST

Why I continue to show up

by wiseacre

I've been reading all the accolades and thinking about my own situation. I'm often on a different wavelength than many others here.  More times than I'd like I'll open my mouth and get ...crickets.  Other times it rains anvils and pickaxes.  But sometimes I connect, and then it's awesome.  And even when I'm just lurking, I'm also learning.

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Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:09 AM PST

Conspiracy Corner

by wiseacre

Criminal conspiracies are prosecuted in court daily.  To prove a conspiracy, you need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) two or more people agreed to commit a crime, and that (2) one of the people took one overt step in furtherance of the agreement.  The overt step taken need not be criminal, and, since crooks don't usually memorialize their agreements in writing, the existence and terms of the agreement can be inferred from their acts.  Inferences are not only permissible, they are essential in order to identify and prove a conspiracy took place.  However, not just any old inference will do.

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Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 03:57 AM PDT

Do You Believe In Love? Prove It!

by wiseacre

People keep talking about this thing called "love".  

Based on all the crap going on in the world, and the horrible things that have happened in the past, I don't see any objective evidence that love exists.  And I've never felt love myself, at least not the way it's been described by others.  

If one can't prove love exists using the scientific method, and I've never experienced it personally, then to me all this talk about love is just myth, a fairytale to make people feel better about their lives.  

Rational grownups have better things to do with their lives than waste time on superstitions. Love only exists if you can prove it does.

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Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:52 AM PDT

ALEC's International Funding

by wiseacre

Zaid Jilani at ThinkProgress went to a lot of trouble to get the goods on ALEC at their annual meeting in New Orleans a few days ago.  I urge everyone to read the report and watch the video on RawStory of ThinkProgress reporters getting thrown out of the conference by security.  

TP also got hold of a list of ALEC's corporate sponsors.  There are the usual suspects, big energy, big pharma, big retailers.  But I was surprised to see the level of participation of non-US based international corporations, from England (British Petroleum-estimated contribution $100,000), France (Sanofi-estimated contribution $25,000), Germany (Bayer-estimated contribution $50,000), and Japan (Takeda-estimated contribution $100,000).  Maybe I'm naive, but if we're concerned that American corporations are writing model legislation and then sending in their robopoliticians to do their bidding, shouldn't we be even more concerned that foreign corporations are doing the same thing?  Can it even be said with a straight face that the legislative members of ALEC are representing American interests, when they are funded by foreign corporations to such a significant extent? Isn't this violating some oath of office somewhere?

Do the Tea Partiers know that some of their biggest funders aren't American?  Are they ok with that?

TP's list of documented ALEC contributors for this year's conference over the fold.

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Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 11:13 PM PDT

Bill Maher and the Soul of the GOP

by wiseacre

Meet my new hero, Bill Maher, and his new motivational movie for the GOP!  Perfection!

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No, I'm not claiming the long-term unemployed (LTUs) are entitled to a job with the government.  Although that perspective has worked for us before in times of economic hardship. Like the CCC and the WPA.  I'm saying I want to work, so how about you stop paying me unemployment benefits and hire me?

My unemployment benefits are due to run out completely in 3 months when I hit 99 weeks.  Benefits after 26 weeks, as I understand it, are paid by the federal government and not state governments.  I find it bewildering that the feds would rather pay me unemployment than hire me. I've applied for over 100 federal jobs in the last year and a half: I was qualified for all, well-qualified for most, and I was so well-qualified or overqualified for some that I find it hard to believe that there were others who were more qualified who applied for that same job.

What gives?

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Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 08:01 AM PDT

Breivik Isn't Alone

by wiseacre

This is a short diary and sorry if it's been reported elsewhere.

The New York Times is stating that Breivik

told police what there were “two further cells in our organization,” reporters were told.
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Sun Jul 17, 2011 at 09:31 AM PDT

Are Kossacks Pioneers?

by wiseacre

I've been following the Murdoch implosion with epic schadenfreude, and, in slogging through the British press, I keep running across the British Values Survey and its new sociological categorization of persons according to values rather than class.  This new model is called the Cultural Dynamics Values Modes Model - VM, for short.

Since the VM is loosely based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, it can be expected to yield useful information about other Western populations in addition to Great Britain (others have challenged Maslow's universality.)

In these new BVS-based categories of "Settler" "Prospector" and "Pioneer", I am guessing many Kossacks will end up under the "Pioneer" category.  And if we do, ok, so what?  

Poll

According to the VM test, my mode is

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9%1 votes
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36%4 votes
0%0 votes
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18%2 votes

| 11 votes | Vote | Results

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 11:21 AM PDT

For Baby Dennis, On Father's Day

by wiseacre

You remember Baby Dennis, the former child star?  At least vaguely, right?  In the sailor suit, in some of those old movies from the 30's and 40's?

That was Dad.

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National Geographic is reporting an unimaginable phenomenon:

Seven hundred and fifty light-years from Earth, a young, sunlike star has been found with jets that blast epic quantities of water into interstellar space, shooting out droplets that move faster than a speeding bullet.
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Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 11:01 AM PDT

Hardly Ever Get Sick? Uninsurable!

by wiseacre

I just got turned down for health insurance by Aetna through AARP; they claim I am too risky to insure.

I last saw a doctor two years ago after I got H1N1.  There were no complications. I've had minimal grad student insurance since then and never used it.  It expires in August and I was looking for better coverage.

Two years previously, I saw a doctor when I broke a rib.  No complications, no surgery, no drugs beyond a painkiller for a week.  A year before that, I twisted my knee.  Same story - no complications, no surgery, no drugs beyond a few days' worth of painkiller. That year I also got the flu with pneumonia treated with antibiotics.  Uneventful recovery.

My last comprehensive physical in 2005 revealed no abnormalities whatsoever. The only time I've been hospitalized in my adult life has been when I gave birth 22 years ago.  

But apparently I'm uninsurable.

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