alle Beiträge 2010

Stephen Colbert on GOP Energy Expertise in Congress

Samstag, 20. November 2010 18:05

When I wrote about divided government being good government, I think I didn’t quite have that kind of addition to the governing Democrats in mind.

I couldn’t figure out if there’s a serious possibility of one of these guys becoming the new chairman of the Energy Committee, but Joe Barton has been the „Ranking Member“, i.e. the leading minority member. It could be really funny if it wasn’t real:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Cell Phone Radiation — Scientific Evidence Accumulating?

Samstag, 20. November 2010 1:54

I wouldn’t usually like to end a post title with a question mark — it does remind me of yellow press. But what else can I do writing about a book I haven’t read myself?

Judging from a NYTimes book review of „Disconnect“ by Devra Davis, though, the German radiation paranoia might turn out to be quite sensible. To put it cautiously: It is at least scientifically plausible that cell phone usage (i.e. holding it to your head while speaking) is linked to brain cancer:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

NYTimes Budget Puzzle

Montag, 15. November 2010 18:22

The NYTimes has an interactive puzzle where you get to select from a range of suggested ways for the government to save money, increase revenue and thus reduce the deficit. It’s certainly good to see these measures in the context of other ways to spend or save money, and with the background of „something has to be done“. Surely makes you understand politics and politicians a little bit better. Even though I never thought reducing the deficit was that easy! Here are my results. I just raised taxes for completeness‘ sake, the budget was balanced before…

Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

A riddle — how is this possible?

Samstag, 13. November 2010 13:52

A little riddle, part of a ad-hoc social science study of mine :) The results and explanations will be posted here soon.

[wpsqt_page name=„doctor“]

Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Sozialer Konstruktionismus in einer kapitalistischen Gesellschaft

Samstag, 13. November 2010 12:15

In einem spannenden Gespräch gestern Abend kam die Frage auf, ob konstruktivistische und konstruktionistische Erkenntnisphilosophien zur Aufrechterhaltung bestehender Ungleichheiten in Bezug auf materielle Ressourcen und Macht beitragen. Die Kritik ist naheliegend: Insofern als sie Zustände in der Welt „psychologisieren“ (es gibt keine „objektive“ Welt, es ist alles „in Deinem Kopf“) laufen sie Gefahr, den Ansatzpunkt zu verlieren, von dem aus sich gesellschaftliche Verhältnisse kritisieren ließen.

In dieser Falle sehe ich z.B. die an sich gute Idee einer „Positiven Psychologie“ gefangen, und nehme eine solche Individualisierung von gesellschaftlichen Problemen auch im Alltag oft war. Umso schöner, dass der soziale Konstruktionismus dafür (mit Wurzeln in Foucault) gute Antworten hat. Hier aus einem Artikel in einem Journal der Sozialen Arbeit:


Thema: Deutsch | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Cheesy Government — Special Interest vs Public Health

Sonntag, 7. November 2010 16:12

A NYTimes article with the fitting title „While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales“ delivers a great (in both senses of the word) example of what special interest money does to a democratic government. It talks about how, while at the same time trying to get people to eat more healthy food, the US government is sponsoring campaigns promoting one of the single most unhealthy foods in the American diet: Cheese. And on a whole different scale.

Let’s start with the nutritional facts, hopefully old news for most people:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Divided Government is Good Government

Sonntag, 7. November 2010 15:34

Another post from Happy Sunday Newspaper Day. Like most people, I like having my views confirmed. This time it is NYTimes Op-Ed Contributor Jonathan Rauch arguing eloquently and concisely how divided government (i.e., a Democratic President and Republican House) comes about, and why it is a pretty good solution to the political landscape we face.

The only thing I would like to add is that the pretty short periods of one-party government time are not lapses of the system, but a very valuable ingredient in themselves. The salt in the bipartisan soup if you will, little bursts of innovation and reform that are later smoothed out by bipartisan compromises.

And I think it is fascinating to note that in a completely different political system, Germany spends a lot of time in a similar bipartisan state as well.

Thema: English | Kommentare (1) | Autor:

The Cost of a Vote — More Numbers on the Midterms

Sonntag, 7. November 2010 14:38

In a remarkably silent tone, a NYTimes Editorial provides some more numbers and historical context to the question of election advertisement. First to the numbers:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Die „Mauer“ des 21. Jahrhunderts und Banksys Graffiti

Sonntag, 7. November 2010 14:12

Ich bin vor kurzem wieder auf Banksy gestoßen, einen meiner liebsten zeitgenössischen Künstler, und vor allem auf seine Werke auf der Mauer in Palästina (bzw. auf den „Israelischen Sperranlagen“, wie sie Wikipedia nennt). Einen schönen Überblick über die Bilder inklusive kleiner polit-philosophischer Diskussion („‚Cheap publicity from other peoples misery‘ or ‚Publicity for Palestinian misery‘?“) liefert das Brian Sewell Art Directory, und hier ist noch ein schönes Bild, das dort nicht zu finden ist:


Thema: Deutsch | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Capitalism’s Parasites — Trial Lawyers in Corporate America

Sonntag, 7. November 2010 13:23

An interesting NYTimes Magazine article (quite lengthy but entertaining) takes the judicial battles brought about by BP’s gulf oil spill as a prominent example and has a look at the US practice of „trial lawyers“. They can be seen as an alternative to extensive government regulation — while most European countries regulate in advance, US corporations are regulated by the prospect of huge compensations after accidents. In the complex judicial system, this has attracted a specialized brand of lawyers, the trial lawyers, whose business model is to monitor big corporations and look for opportunities to sue them.

Interestingly, the metaphor of parasites came to my mind even before that analogy was mentioned in the article. And while it is used there with the negative implication it has in everyday language, I immediately had an evolutionary perspective on it as well, where parasites are acknowledged for regulating the growth of their hosts and contributing to a dynamic balance.

Hardly surprising, the public opinion on them is mixed:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor: