Friday, June 09, 2006

Notable Excerpt: GNP

"While economists delude themselves with diagrams depicting circular flows of income and expenditure in which, in defiance of the most basic laws of the biophysical universe, nothing enters or leaves, the economic process really consists of a linear throughput of finite energy and matter to be converted into goods and services. Some of the energy and matter is degraded in the process of production; the products themselves eventually get discarded. Hence, to the somewhat jaundiced eye, what GNP ultimately measures is how fast human beings are able to convert nature into garbage--hardly the kind of thing that a sensible society would make the central measure of its success. -RT Naylor, econoist @ McGill, 2005, "The Rise and Fall of the Underground Economy"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Blog Response: GOP ignorance? or overeager bloggers?

It seems that one of the liberal blogosphere's jokes today is an email sent by DeLay's Legal Defense Fund, noting that Robert Greenwald "crashed and burned" on Colbert's show, even showing the video at the top of their website (it is also here). Looks like Think Progress first noticed it - here is their take, excerpted below:

This morning, DeLay’s legal defense fund sent out a mass email criticizing the movie “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress,” by “Outfoxed” creator Robert Greenwald.

The email features a “one-pager on the truth behind Liberal Hollywood’s the Big Buy,” and the lead item is Colbert’s interview with Greenwald on Comedy Central (where Colbert plays a faux-conservative, O’Reilly-esque character). The headline of the “fact sheet”: HOLLYWOOD PULLS MICHAEL MOORE TACTICS ON TOM DELAY. COLBERT CRACKS THE STORY ON REAL MOTIVATIONS BEHIND THE MOVIE.

DeLay thinks Colbert is so persuasive, he’s now featuring the full video of the interview at the top of the legal fund’s website. And why not? According to the email, Greenwald “crashed and burned” under the pressure of Colbert’s hard-hitting questions, like “Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?”

Apparently the people at DeLay’s legal fund think that Colbert is actually a conservative. Or maybe they’re just that desperate for supporters.

Or maybe people are just that desperate to make fun of conservatives?

At first I read this, like most others, and laughed - even posted the link here under "Amusement: Colbert for DeLay". But then I actually read the email and watched the video unlike most others it seems. While at first glance, i can understand Think Progress's interpretation, if you actually read it, it doesn't imply that - it merely says he crashed and burned on the show...and when you watch the video, you see that Greenwald really DID do a horrible job on the show with his persistent giggling and difficulty articulating himself. I think DeLay is a scumbag like everyone else, but liberals really undermine their cause when they overblow and misinterpret things like this - it just perpetuates the image of a petty, weak, snobbish, alarmist, and out of touch party.

Come on, after the WHCD speech, I think anyone who reads the news (even with the meager mainstream coverage) knows that Colbert is an irreverent liberal satirist. You look stupid for suggesting conservatives are that stupid.

Update: for defense of my argument concerning the headline use of the verb "crack" see the comments.

Distraction: Pandora

In high school, I had several friends who I considered somewhat music literati, and I always enjoyed their mix tapes (yes, at that time, you usually made mix tapes, not CDs) because it was generally artists or obscure songs I had never heard of that I never would have discovered otherwise. In college, however, i didn't really have the same sort of consistent flow of new music from friends for whatever reason. I used to listen to Yahoo's Launchcast quite a bit, which I enjoyed, but it certainly had its limitations. Today, however, I stumbled across Pandora, which is similar to Launchcast that it makes a customized radio station that evolves with continued input, but it far exceeds launchcast in functionality, asthetics, ease of use, etc. Go try it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blog Clip: Ranting Professors

I find reading (good) professor's blogs particularly enjoyable, and I think more students should - it might help them get out of the pervasive self-centered reality where faculty are somewhat god-like (or devil-like) authority figures rather than ordinary human beings. Here is a comment on someone's rant regarding idiotic students who want to be spoon-fed at the last minute:
[They make no contact] until the last 48 hrs. "Dr. Crit, I am feeling really overwhelmed by this project. Can we have an extension?'

How about an extension of my metaphorical fist into that void in your intellect where there should be pride and wherewithal?

I don't even have to say that, though. If I wait a day, a grandmother will surely drop dead.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Personal Note: Welcome

The title of this blog is in reference to my favorite book of all-time, The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. It is the sign posted outside the home of the Whether Man, the minor character who welcomes Milo, the story's protagonist, to the Kingdom of Wisdom, ushering him beyond the Land of Expectations. Of course, the Whether Man is so busy thinking about what could be and why that he never seems to go anywhere or get anything done himself.