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Entries from August 2009


August 18th, 2009 · 31 Comments

Given that my current idée fixe seems to be the depressing rarity with which people actually understand the views of people with different ideologies, I was pleased to see Tyler Cowen’s attempt at a sympathetic summary of what he sees as an intelligent progressive’s credo—one that at least some progressives apparently recognize as a fair […]

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Tags: Uncategorized

Throw the Needle to the Bar

August 18th, 2009 · 3 Comments

It’s bad enough that the late-lamented 90s alt-rock band Soul Coughing split after recording only three albums. What’s truly infuriating is that some of their catchiest songs—”The Brooklynites,” “Needle to the Bar,” “Rare Star Ball”—were only ever released as B-sides, vinyl promos, short-lived Web downloads of studio outtakes, or bonus tracks on foreign pressings. A […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

Two Kinds of Innovation

August 17th, 2009 · 10 Comments

A commenter on the other day’s patent post makes an important point: I also thought that even if an idea is obvious, it won’t be implemented until someone realizes that they have a need for it. I guess this falls under the question of whether there’s prior art, but it would also be a reason […]

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Tags: Economics · Law

Scenes from Netroots Nation

August 14th, 2009 · 7 Comments

Lane Hudson explains why he thought it was appropriate to interrupt Bill Clinton’s keynote address by yelling out a question about Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and DOMA once he realized there wouldn’t be a Q&A after the talk: So, to the folks in the audience at #NN09, I just wanted to make sure he talked about […]

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Tags: Sociology

Stay Classy, Ann

August 13th, 2009 · 6 Comments

I know, I know, it’s her schtick, I shouldn’t be surprised, and certainly shouldn’t play into it by taking any notice when Ann Coulter smears feces on the walls in her latest desperate bid for another ten seconds of attention.  Still: Then there’s Barry Lynn, alleged “Christian minister,” whose stock in trade is to denounce […]

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Tags: Religion · Stupid Shit

Patents and Tacit Knowledge

August 12th, 2009 · 6 Comments

The stories appear so frequently these days that it’s practically a new genre: The lawsuit over some patent claiming monopoly on a bang-your-head-on-a-desk obvious procedure, emerging from the shadows to threaten a technology that’s long been ubiquitous.  The most recent instance is likely to get some play outside the tech press because it’s resulted in […]

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Tags: Law · Tech and Tech Policy

My First Guilty Pleasure

August 12th, 2009 · 11 Comments

I don’t normally describe things I like as “guilty pleasures,” because I’ve never seen any particular need for guilt over enjoying (say) fun, frivolous, dumb pop on its own terms. “Womanizer” is not a Terry Riley piece or even an Ian Curtis song, and it’s not trying to be. It’s trying to get you to […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

Unfunny = Racist

August 10th, 2009 · 22 Comments

David Boaz thinks it’s “ridiculous” to see racism in the Obama-as-Heath-Ledger’s-Joker posters that have appeared recently. I have no idea what the creator’s actual intent was, but I certainly raised an eyebrow and wondered what was going on there—and not because I’m disposed to see all criticism of Barack Obama as inherently racist.  I think […]

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Tags: Journalism & the Media · Sociology

The Look of Lust

August 10th, 2009 · 7 Comments

Lisa Wade at Sociological Images muses on why commercial depictions of “lust” or “sexy” overwhelmingly involve images of women, making the implicit lust-er or perceiver-of-sexiness a straight male: Thought Experiment:  If nearly naked men had been dancing in those columns, do you think the audience would have thought “hot men for the women!” or “how […]

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Tags: Journalism & the Media · Sexual Politics · Sociology

Pox on Both Houses: Media Darling Edition

August 8th, 2009 · 1 Comment

For all the mocking references we see to “The One,” I find I normally associate dogmatic political cults of personality with the right. Whenever I’m tempted to think they’ve got a monopoly, though, I’ll pull up Jason Linkins’ no-punches-pulled article on Keith Olbermann’s complicity in an intra-network “truce” and skim the outraged comments from people […]

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Tags: Journalism & the Media · Sociology