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Member since: Sun Jun 5, 2011, 06:28 PM
Number of posts: 4,508

Journal Archives

"Grandpa Ye, have a good journey!" Scientist Yuan Longping (Obituary)

Scientist Yuan Longping, whose rice research helped feed people in many countries, dies at 91

It was in the 1970s when Yuan achieved the breakthroughs that would make him a household name. He developed a hybrid strain of rice that recorded an annual yield 20% higher than existing varieties — meaning it could feed an extra 70 million people a year... His work helped transform China from “food deficiency to food security” within three decades...

.... known by the nickname “Father of Hybrid Rice" ... large crowds honored the scientist by marching past the hospital in Hunan province where he died, local media reported, calling out phrases such as: “Grandpa Ye, have a good journey!”


Alamo renovation gets stuck over arguments about slavery

On the one hand....

“Sometimes we try so hard to create perfect heroes, and in trying so hard to create perfection, we force ourselves into a corner where it’s difficult to accept the reality that people are not perfect,” said Carey Latimore, a history professor at Trinity University.

“As we become more diverse as a nation and a people, we’ve got to learn how to talk about these difficult conversations, but we’ve got to talk about it with nuance. And that’s what’s missing right now in our society, is the nuance.”

And on the other...

“If they want to bring up that it was about slavery, or say that the Alamo defenders were racist, or anything like that, they need to take their rear ends over the state border and get the hell out of Texas,” said Brandon Burkhart, president of the This is Freedom Texas Force, a conservative group that held an armed protest last year in Alamo Plaza.

Well, so much for nuance.


Accused Capitol rioter had 'Foxitis,' his attorney says: He 'started believing what was being fed to

Source: Washington Post

Accused Capitol rioter had ‘Foxitis,’ his attorney says: He 'started believing what was being fed to him’

In the six months leading up to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Anthony Antonio spent his days watching Fox News — a habit that actually made him ill, his attorney told a D.C. federal magistrate judge on Thursday.

His ailment? “Foxitis,” his attorney said, the HuffPost reported. “He became hooked with what I call … ‘Foxmania.’ ”

In the virtual hearing, which went awry when another alleged Capitol rioter interrupted with obscenities, Antonio’s attorney, Joseph Hurley, claimed that Fox News’s decision to regularly air then-President Donald Trump’s false claims of mass election fraud contributed to Antonio’s decision to participate in the insurrection.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/05/07/fox-news-anthony-antonio-capitol-riot/

Ah! The old Twinkie defense!

Conspiracy Without the Theory

Theory? We don't need no stinkin' theory!

Political theorist Laura K. Field has a new essay that helps us make sense of this. Field’s key distinction is between conspiracy theories, which make purportedly grounded claims of some kind, and conspiracism, which is more a habit of mind, a tendency to unshackle oneself in a way that permits a kind of open-ended indulgence in fabulism.


From Laura K. Field's essay

[Some assert we are] just talking about disenfranchised outliers. To buy into this sanguine view is to seriously misunderstand the intellectual ecosystem of the American right today — and, in particular, to underestimate the extent to which sophisticated intellectuals have been sustaining Trumpism since 2016. Conspiratorial lies and misinformation were mainstays of Trumpism from the beginning — from Birtherism, to “alternative facts,” to “flood-the-zone-with-sh*t,” to QAnon. What was surprising, at least to me, was how swiftly theoretically-minded people swept in to provide more intellectual — but still highly tenuous, and often ultimately conspiratorial and absurd — sustenance to already-tenuous Trumpy views.


Her essay is based on ideas developed by Muirhead and Rosenblum in their book A Lot of People Are Saying.

Skepticism and knowledge-producing institutions go together, and the conspiracist attack on knowledge is also an attack on skepticism. Knowledge does not demand certainty; it demands doubt. Even when we are persuaded that, all things considered, the available evidence and argument point in a certain direction, even after we have resolved to go in that direction, we should be alive to the possibility that in spite of our best effort to get it right, we got it wrong. Our assurance of being right relies on doubt and an iterative process of questioning. And a plurality of knowledge-producing institutions is skepticism’s resource. The wealth of specialized knowledge, of science and social science and ethical perspectives, provides platforms from which we consider when experts are wrong, when science is incomplete, when our best understanding of facts and theories and explanations is limited or flawed, and when reasons match or don’t match the values we bring to politics. Conspiracists embrace the self-conception that they are skeptics and critical thinkers. But their own epistemic closure undercuts the capacity for skepticism. When knowledge-based pluralism is closed down, when sources are delegitimized and thrust outside the orbit of consideration, when conspiracist transmitters have lost the capacity for receiving, the framework of questioning and assurance is undone. (pp. 119-120)


He boasted on Bumble about storming Capitol, feds say. His would-be date turned him in: 'We are not

Source: Washington Post

One week after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Robert Chapman sent a message to a prospective love interest on the dating app Bumble to brag that he had taken part.

“I did storm the capitol,” he said, according to court documents. “I made it all the way to Statuary Hall.”

His potential date wrote back: “We are not a match.” Then, the Bumble user contacted the police.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/23/capitol-riot-bumble-robert-chapman/

Cornel West: Howard University's removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe

Howard University’s removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe

Upon learning to read while enslaved, Frederick Douglass began his great journey of emancipation, as such journeys always begin, in the mind. Defying unjust laws, he read in secret, empowered by the wisdom of contemporaries and classics alike to think as a free man. Douglass risked mockery, abuse, beating and even death to study the likes of Socrates, Cato and Cicero.....


FBI says man who claimed to be at Capitol riot wanted to bomb data center near D.C.

Source: Washington Post

FBI says man who claimed to be at Capitol riot wanted to bomb data center near D.C.

A Texas man who boasted about being on the U.S. Capitol steps during the Jan. 6 insurrection has been arrested by the FBI and accused of planning to detonate a bomb at a data center outside Washington in the hopes that doing so would cripple not just Internet traffic but also the FBI, CIA and other government agencies, officials said Friday.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/fbi-amazon-web-services-bomb-plot/2021/04/09/252ccfc6-9964-11eb-962b-78c1d8228819_story.html

Talk Radio is in Decline

Rush Limbaugh is ailing. And so is the conservative talk-radio industry.

...In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which had required stations to present politically “balanced” programming — the new wave of “hot” talkers enabled stations to create entire schedules consisting of nothing but conservative chatter... [Now], Faced with aging and shrinking audiences, competition from newer technologies and financial problems for the biggest station owners, talk radio is in decline — both as a business and a political force...

But conservative talk radio’s foremost problem isn’t so much how many people are listening as who. The audience that grew up with Limbaugh is now quite gray, largely people 65 and older... Meanwhile, plain old AM-FM radio — the primary medium for talk programs — is rapidly losing ground to newer technologies such as satellite radio, streaming audio and podcasts...

Talk radio’s older demographics were a weakness even before the pandemic... Turned off by the hosts’ occasional nastiness and seeking young customers, many blue-chip companies have stopped advertising on talk-radio shows, leaving the stations with smaller sponsors who pay less, he said...

All of this doesn’t mean the era of hyperbolic, confrontational conservative talk exemplified by Limbaugh is coming to an end. The medium might be in trouble, but the conservative message is already moving to new delivery systems.

Philadelphia let 'college kids' distribute vaccines. The result was a 'disaster,' volunteers say.

Source: Washington Post

Philadelphia let ‘college kids’ distribute vaccines. The result was a ‘disaster,’ volunteers say.

Philadelphia is home to some of the most venerated medical institutions in the country. Yet when it came time to set up the city’s first and largest coronavirus mass vaccination site, officials turned to the start-up Philly Fighting COVID, a self-described “group of college kids” with minimal health-care experience.

Chaos ensued......

“If there was anybody poised and ready to do this, it was us,” founder Ala Stanford told the magazine, adding that the city had suggested she team up with Philly Fighting COVID to administer vaccines. “I happen to have been a doctor for 23 years, longer than some of these kids have been living, but I need these white kids to teach me how to do it?”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/01/27/philly-fighting-covid-vaccine/

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

A huge coalition of activist groups had been working together since the spring to make sure that Joe Biden won and that the “election stayed won” amid Donald Trump’s subterfuge....

By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left had already been primed to respond — prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.

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