Just because

by on 2008-10-11- Leave a reply

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A question to our readers

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

In my failed attempt to implement a different haloscan configuration, I inadvertently added "ratings" to the blog. My general inclination is to remove them, as I don't understand what purpose they serve and the stars look really ugly. But I see people are already using them. So, should they stay or should they go?
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Svalbard update

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

Andrew Sullivan proves himself a shill for Svalbard. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Sullivan claims that the seed vault is a hedge against human extinction. But Svalbard watchers know the true role of the vault in Svalbard's plans for Panzerbjørn world domination. Why else would the Norwegians and the Russians engage in grim-faced saber-rattling over Svalbard?While we're on the subject, I should mention Zak's concern about a connection between the Svalbard threat and Iceland's financial collapse. Svalbard may, as he suggests, be attempting to secure control over the Arctic. This is a frightening thought. With the departure of
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Guilt by association: the other side of the coin

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

My side of the blogsphere seems to think the video of a McCain supporter mouthing off about socialists and hoodlums is an indictment of McCain himself.When I watch the video, I see McCain affirming the man's anger but trying hard not to endorse his views. McCain, in fact, says he will work with "anyone" to solve the current crisis. Although I find the accusation that the contemporary Democratic party and its Presidential nominee are "socialists" bizarre, particularly in light of recent events, this is pretty weak tea when it comes to the rants of everyday partisans. So why is it
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The anatomy of a mimetic smear

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

I've been curious about the accusation--which can be found in almost any comment thread on a media website--that Obama wrote a "foreword" for the William Ayer's book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of the Criminal Court. The rumor is obviously false, as the book doesn't even have a foreword (but does have two five-star reviews. I wonder how long that's going to last). So where did the rumor come from?The best I can tell is that Obama reportedly read the book; Ayers does mention "writer Barack Obama" as one of his neighbors in its pages, which at least
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Alternate realities

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

When Obama's participation in an anti-redlining lawsuit is characterized as a "smoking gun" for his culpability in the current crisis, I know that we're through the looking glass.The bizarreness of attempts to blame the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and ACORN for the current subprime crisis is so totally bizarre that it raises an important question: is the point of all of this to (1) simply find some way, no matter how warped, to blame Obama for the crisis or (2) also to plant the seeds for a campaign to bring back discriminatory lending practices?
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It could be worse…

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

the peoples of the advanced industrial countries could live in Zimbabwe.Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate - already the world's highest - has soared to 231,000,000%, newly released official figures for July show.The rise - from 11,200,000% last month - was largely due to increases in the prices of bread and cereals.A landmark power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has failed to ease the country's economic crisis.I bet the Icelanders didn't realize that they had it so good.
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Statistical noise alert

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

When a polling organization conducts a mere 300 interviews each day for a national tracking poll, this is what you get: the potential for one day of outlier polling to produce phony movement. Or, to quote Brad DeLong (who we really should be linking to more):...the Diageo/Hotline Tracking Poll [is] an undersampled daily poll designed to produce a whole bunch of spurious three-day climbs in one candidate's relative vote share followed by a three-day decline so that reporters can trick readers into thinking that there are important pieces of news and trends in there.Anyone want to bet on how long
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The key to success

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

Brad DeLong reveals the secret to success in your career:B People Hire C People, A People Hire A People, A+ People Boast that They Have A+++ People Working for Them...Wise words. Heed them.
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Who is Randy Waterhouse?

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Hello loyal Duck readers. I wanted to briefly introduce myself as the newest member of the Duck. I am a longtime friend of the site that has decided to start posting rather than just commenting on the great insights of colleagues.A little truth in advertising: my real name is not Randy Waterhouse. For fans of a certain author you will immediately notice that it is a pseudonym. Unfortunately, my current employer does not allow for employees to blog, so I've decided to assume this online identity so that I can contribute to the broader conversation on, well, whatever is bugging
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McCain’s “American Homeowner Resurgence Plan”

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Brad DeLong finds... uh... fault with McCain's "game changer."His conclusion?There's a big difference here: Democrats want to prevent depression and support the financial markets by investing taxpayer money in banks with troubled assets. Republicans want to give taxpayers money away to the shareholders and managers of banks with troubled assets.I would say that this is unbelievable, but I do believe it.My guess, however, is that most Republicans don't want to do this. Those "reaction meters" took a nosedive among Republicans when McCain proposed the plan at last night's debate.Anyway, I get the sense that a great many of the People
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Intervening to stop the Holocaust

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Erik Erickson at RedState thinks he's found an Obama gaffe:Barack Obama suggests we need to consider moral issues in intervening with combat forces. He mentions intervening in the Holocaust and how we should have done that.Um Senator, we did intervene in the Holocaust. It was called World War II.I guess you hadn't heard of that, kind of like you hadn't heard of Bill Ayers.I hate to say it, but Mr. Erickson just had a moment of profound ignorance. The Holocaust had squat to do with the US intervention in Europe. Hitler declared war on the United States out of solidarity
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Initial thoughts

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

The conventional wisdom was that McCain needed to "take it to Obama." McCain even signaled that he'd take the gloves off. But Obama swung first and was, in many ways, the more aggressive of the two. I'm not sure what to make of that.1) I'm hearing a lot of people saying that McCain was more aggressive. I don't think that's true. I think his demeanor was more aggressive, and his attacks (with one exception) more personal, and that's an important difference. It hurt McCain last time.2) The McCain campaign's attempt at a "game changer" was clearly the proposal to have
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D-blogging

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

9:35 -- ..... zzzzzzz .......... zzzzzzzzz ...... huh! wazaht? Oh, yeah. Isn't it amazing how each year the campaigns come up with an even worse format than they used the last time?9:40 -- Obama gets animated... on tax policy.9:41 -- My big question is whether McCain's constant references to the 1980s make him seem Mavericky, or just really old.9:42 -- Oh, Peter's already doing this. I guess I'll stop now.9:44 -- The candidates fiddle while Iceland melts.9:45 -- Given that they both want the same things, it all boils down to the details of their proposals.... 9:46 -- Got you
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Ducking the Issues: The Candidates “Debate”

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Why, o why do I subject myself to this exciting town hall styled 'debate'? Is boring, and my prediction is that it stays boring, and in the grand scheme of things, doesn't do all that much. And yet, I feel compelled to watch and blog. I guess it gives me something to do while my brisket is in the oven. Mmmmmmmmm brisket!McCain is good in this format, its his strength. He's hitting many of the same themes of the last debate. Obama is decent as well--he's better at speaking directly to the questioner, whereas McCain is on campaign message a
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Now might be a good time to consider panic

by on 2008-10-07- Leave a reply

If this doesn't have you worried, this should, as it indicates a significant degree of panic by those who are supposed to save our economy. When Dr. Doom is surprised by the deterioration of the markets, things are bad indeed.
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Barak Obama and the Renewal of American Hegemony

by on 2008-10-07- Leave a reply

By way of introduction... I've been pondering a post along these lines for a short while now, but this isn't going to exactly be the post I had originally envisioned. Rather, inspired by the ongoing financial crisis and some things I read this evening, a slightly different version has emerged. Now, onto the show:A significant challenge for the next President will be dealing with the percipitous decline in American Hegemony since 2001. All three pillars of American power have severely eroded, leaving an open to mount a challenge to America's international leadership. Following Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military is
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Measuring Linguistic Norms

by on 2008-10-07- Leave a reply

Recently, I criticized Sarah Palin's pronunciation of "nuclear," and suggested that electing her would only make Americans look as if we (still) don't care how dumb our leaders appear on the global stage. At best, I expected a discussion about whether we should take such things into consideration in elections. More accurately, I expected that post to be ignored, and for most readers to latch on to the much more interesting food for thought to come in later posts that day. (Who would have thought English grammar would be more fascinating than the ethics of killer robots?)Imagine my surprise to
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Robot Soldiers v. Autonomous Weapons: Why It Matters

by on 2008-10-05- Leave a reply

I have a post up right now at Complex Terrain Lab about developments in the area of autonomous weaponry as a response to asymmetric security environments. While fully autonomous weapons are some distance away, a number of researchers and bloggers argue that these trends in military technology have significant moral implications for implementing the laws of war. In particular, such writers question whether machines can be designed to make ethical targeting decisions; how responsibility for mistakes is to be allocated and punished; and whether the ability to wage war without risking soldiers’ lives will remove incentives at peaceful conflict resolution.
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Meanwhile, Off the Coast of Somalia…

by on 2008-10-05- Leave a reply

AP reports, in an article titled "Somali Pirates Stare Down Superpowers":With a Russian frigate closing in and a half-dozen U.S. warships within shouting distance, the pirates holding a tanker off Somalia's coast might appear to have no other choice than to wave the white flag. But that's not how it works in Somalia, a failed state where a quarter of children die before they turn 5, where anybody with a gun controls the streets and where every public institution has crumbled. The 11-day standoff aboard the Ukrainian MV Faina begs the question: How can a bunch of criminals from one
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