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FungusLiz Cheney, y’all, what’s gonna primary Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) in 2014:

Paging Nate Silver; will Nate Silver please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Although, that quipped, this from the Larison article sounds like Gollum Junior’s bid’ll make as much difference to the composition of the next Senate as a slim book of self-published verse to the bottom line of a Berkeley independent:

The obvious flaw in Cheney’s challenge is that Enzi has done nothing to anger voters in Wyoming or conservatives nationally. Other than trying to re-establish the Cheney family in Wyoming politics, her candidacy serves no purpose. It’s not as if Enzi’s foreign policy views are anything like those of Hagel or Lugar, so Cheney will be hard-pressed to make use of the hawkish credentials she has been building for so many years. Except for her hard-line foreign policy advocacy, Cheney doesn’t have much to offer Wyoming voters, so it’s not clear why they would chuck out a popular incumbent to make way for her.

A bit more (specifically in re: support v. money, for all you horserace types) from the NY Times on the subject:

And Wyoming’s sole House member, Cynthia Lummis, told reporters in the Capitol that Ms. Cheney’s move was “bad form,” suggesting that the she run in Virginia, where she lived in McLean until she moved to Wyoming. Ms. Lummis said last month that she wanted to run for Mr. Enzi’s seat herself if he retired.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee also made clear that it would support the incumbent, as is its policy.

Other colleagues have also begun to rally to his side. He was chosen last weekend to give the weekly national Republican radio address, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said in an interview with Politico that he would support Mr. Enzi next year.

But the senator has just $488,000 in the bank and has raised a paltry $171, 000 in the last three months. “Money-raising has always been a problem for me,” Mr. Enzi said Tuesday.

Ms. Cheney, with ample financial connections, is likely to be a formidable fund-raiser. Her father has been talking up her candidacy with top Republican donors in New York City, and Ms. Cheney will also have the support of some Bush donors.

J. Bernstein takes apart Megan McArdle’s chain of logic leading to her ridiculous assertion that it’s 70% likely we’ll see a GOP DC trifecta come 2017:

First of all, look at how many times the pattern has recurred. In McArdle’s case, we’re talking about times when a president stepped aside (making a same-party succession possible). That happened in 1952, 1960, 1968, 1988, 2000, and 2008. So her pattern, to begin with, is one out of six. That’s perhaps something…but it’s not exactly an Iron Law of Politics, is it? 0 for 10, or 1 for 50, would be a lot stronger.

Then, next, we can check the qualifiers to see if they’re making the pattern look stronger. In this case, there’s one: postwar. If we put that aside and go with “20th century,” then we add 1908, 1920, and 1928 — and get two hits, with TR/Taft and Coolidge/Hoover. Is there some special reason that the postwar era should be different? Not that I can think of, and if we include those the pattern drops to three in nine — hardly something to get worked up about. Note that the more qualifiers you toss in, the more likely you are to be creating the pattern that you’re seeing, so this is an important test.

What’s next? Well, are the cases you are using strong evidence of something, or weak? Here, out-party replacements by Ike in 1952 and Obama in 2008 were both pretty solid…but so was George H.W. Bush’s counter-pattern win. The rest were toss-ups: Nixon/Kennedy, Humphrey/Nixon, and Bush/Gore, with the latter of course counting the other way on the national vote. Overall, that seems a lot closer to a coin-flip than an Iron Law.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future…however, while prognostication is rarely accurate, being out of touch with the basic facts makes it even harder. For example, it seems fairly clear that Democrats are going to drop seats in the Senate next year, almost certainly in South Dakota, and most likely in West Virginia. Aside from that, you have about a half-dozen Democrat-held toss-ups and leaners that are at least within the realm of possibility to switch sides. (Also within the realm of possibility: Susan Collins getting tapped to run the Department of Homeland Security and that seat getting taken over by a Dem, Senator McConnell getting dumped by Kentucky voters due to his abysmal approval numbers, certified crazy person Paul Broun losing to senatorial daughter Michelle Nunn in Georgia). The basic thing is that a lot of this hasn’t shaped up and we just don’t know how much of it will turn out. Similarly, in 2016, the situation is much the same way but flipped, with Sen. Kirk of Illinois and Ron “Sunspots” Johnson of Wisconsin being very likely to lose re-election (the former might not even contest the race due to his severe health problems), and there will be a half-dozen or so likely toss-ups or leaner Republican seats won in 2010. My guess is that we’ll see a modestly poor 2014 and a fairly good 2016 for Democrats in the Senate, and I doubt Hillary Clinton would have to break a sweat if she indeed runs in 2016. But again, anything can happen.

But all that is sort of irrelevant. McArdle likes the filibuster because she doesn’t like the government taking steps to help people in a positive way. That’s fair enough. However, McArdle is not a liberal Democrat. The interest for functioning, positive, activist government is one that would require on a basic level qualified people running key agencies, something Republicans are resistant to allowing at this point in time. This is a fairly new development–the concept that certain posts simply should not ever be filled because Republican elites disagree with the mission of the department–and it represents a genuine crisis for liberalism. McArdle’s basic argument is that, hey, this might cut against you liberals some day! Which is true. However, the public perception that the government is completely broken and unfixable is a much more imminent, much larger danger, one that could sour people on the entire liberal enterprise. Which would be fine with folks like McArdle, but it does make her argument little more than trolling.

You know, for a while it was kind of a fun novelty, an econ blogger who can’t do math. But shouldn’t we be able to do better by now?

Moon ShotI was just going to note the following “cool space thing”: according to the Lunar and Planetary Institute (in a notification I received via email but which I can’t seem to find on the webs), NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is the first deep space mission to be launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia; the launch currently scheduled for September 6, 11:27 p.m. EDT is “expected to be visible to approximately ½ of the continental U.S.” (Launches from Wallops also appear to be viewable live via webcast.) According to NASA, LADEE has just successfully been moved from Ames Research Center to Wallops.

(I’m a little unsure on the desireability of naming a spaceport “Wallops“, but that’s probably why I’m not a scientist.)

More information on the mission from NASA:

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.

The LADEE spacecraft’s modular common spacecraft bus, or body, is an innovative way of transitioning away from custom designs and toward multi-use designs and assembly-line production, which could drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development, just as the Ford Model T did for automobiles.

However, the following quote in re: Why LADEE Matters gave me a sad:

Earth’s atmosphere is critically important to all of us. In addition to providing us with air to breathe, it protects us from temperature extremes, harmful space radiation, and vast numbers of incoming meteoroids. The atmosphere is a very complex system that we are only beginning to understand. Gaining a better understanding of the atmosphere, how it protects us, and how we can protect it is in all of our interests.

In order to understand Earth’s atmosphere and how it works, it is essential to study atmospheres under a wide range of conditions beyond Earth. Examining atmospheres on other planets allows this.

The fact that NASA thought — and probably is completely justified in thinking — that the above words needed to be said boggles my mind. It falls under the category of “making them beg to do us a favor,” the which my better half is always accusing me of doing, also not without justification, and the which it seems to me is one of the main qualities of The Party Which Shall Not Be Named.

“Gaining a better understanding of the atmosphere, how it protects us, and how we can protect it is in all of our interests…” Please, please, please, let us find ways to keep your grandchildren from getting skin cancer and Houston from being drowned, pleaseohpleaseohplease….

Now, granted, maybe the intended audience for the NASA info is, y’know, “future scientists and astronauts,” school kids and whatnot, so maybe I should just cool my jets, pardon the expression. But still…what a buncha short sighted douchenozzles we are, I tell you hwut.

Some more (older) information on LADEE via the Lunar and Planetary Institute site:

I need to stop being angry all the time.

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Matmos filed this under: , , , ,  

Nicolas-Cage-nicolas-cage-26969758-2059-2560Is anyone remotely surprised that The Lone Ranger is a flop? I predicted this to the spousal unit, I have an occasional sense for things that are going to bomb (see also, Rick Perry’s 2012 campaign). It seems clear enough what has happened: despite the army of middle-aged women who would just love to fuck him, Johnny Depp finally maxed out on his shtick. A shtick which swallowed whole a once-compelling and utterly cool actor whole, leaving behind nothing but an aging dude with far too many tics. All of this has happened before:

Since it’s tradition to name diseases after the first diagnosed case, Cage’s Syndrome seems appropriate here. Does anyone remember when people unironically were excited by a Nicolas Cage movie coming out? I vaguely remember those days, the glory days of Bill Clinton’s first term. I will give Cage this: he’s managed to make way more bad movies than most movie stars get to while remaining movie stars. Even Bruce Willis, no slouch in appearing in mostly shit and yet remaining a movie star, has to look at Cage and say, damn.

Of course, it needn’t be a one-way street. Matthew McConaughey somehow managed to come back from shtick overload, incredibly. So there is a cure, Mr. Depp! A good first step would be to walk away when Tim Burton calls on the phone. Or Jerry Bruckheimer. I hope he does, as Cage never really did anything for me, while Depp’s performances in Ed Wood and Donnie Brasco remain touchstones of my ’90s development.

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Lev filed this under: , ,  

An list:

  • heists (I even kinda enjoyed Confidence, which is one of the lesser films just in general.)
  • post-collegiate education (in the style of The Paper Chase or Gross Anatomy, both faves)
  • newspaper journalism (The Paper and All The President’s Men are among the best, also Ace In The Hole. Not so much the last season of The Wire.)
  • unsentimental, stylish, period crime pieces (Carlos and the Red Riding films come to mind, also Spielberg’s magnificent and underrated Munich)
  • Terence Malick
  • David Lynch
  • Coen Bros. (though they’ve been more constantly up than down than the other two…)
  • British political drama (for various reasons, Americans simply cannot pull it off)
  • European action movies (Bourne, Carlos again, Layer Cake as well here)
  • submarines!
Lev filed this under:  

phone-frustration-socialmarketingfellaTo all mobile app developers:

Point 1: Most of you must resign immediately and take a really long walk off a really short pier.  You’ve failed as programmers and the world must be protected from your shitty code.

Point 2: What led me to make Point 1 above is that so few of you know what the fuck local caching is.  Most of you write mobile apps that require constant online interaction with your servers — even when there is no goddamn reason for it.

Point 3: If you want to extricate your miserable careers from the pitiable muck of coding ignominy in which they’re enmired, please look at an app that does it right.  Take iOS Messages for example.  When I get a message, I get a notification.  When I open the app, I can open the message without needing to interact with anyone’s servers.  If I want to compose a message, I can do so even if I temporarily don’t have an Internet connection.  When I send a message, it attempts to do so for a while and if I don’t get my Internet back, it lets me know and I can re-send it when I am.  Throughout that process, the only Internet interaction required was the receiving of the message and the sending of the message.  IT DIDN’T REQUIRE AN INTERNET CONNECTION TO READ THE FUCKING THING.  I know it’s really hard for your simple little minds to remember basic concepts like client-server caching from Programming 101, but step the fuck up already and stop causing me to tear out what little hair I have left.

/rant

Image courtesy of startrek.com

Since it appears to be a slow news day…

I do not intend to purchase Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray, I already bought the series on DVD and I’m not enough of an obsessive that I need to see the odd Ten-forward scene with vastly more lines of resolution. (Also, I am an Amazon Prime member, and the episodes are there for free in HD). However, I did spring for this, the Blu-ray of “The Best of Both Worlds” edited into a single production. I was actually quite happy when I watched it over the weekend–it looks just fantastic–though presenting it as one movie has two major drawbacks. The first is that it obliterates that killer cliffhanger moment after Riker says fire, though I didn’t mind that as much as I thought I would. The bigger drawback is that the two halves don’t really work together as a film.

Why not? Basically because the first half is both a Borg story and a character story. Juxtaposing Riker’s career woes and personal anxieties with a Borg story winds up being an inspired choice, because it gives the ending enormous weight. The question of whether Riker is ready to make the tough decisions on his own is introduced by Shelby, and it sort of hangs in the air. Riker himself is wondering if she’s right. By the end of the episode, the question is answered, and in one of the best moments the show ever did. I don’t think Jonathan Frakes could ever top the moment in terms of the acting, you can just see this steeliness come on as he decides to essentially blow up his best friend and mentor. The second half, though, never manages to hit on anything nearly as emotionally powerful or as brilliantly theatrical. It’s still a well-written episode, but the writers failed to tie the larger plot to a human story in quite the same way. The second half has some important character stuff about Riker, and about Picard, and also a little about Data, but it’s a plot-driven episode all the same with some character moments. Watching the two melded together really just reminds the viewer that the two halves were written months apart, and the second half in particular was written after an extended break and doesn’t quite zero in on what’s most epic in the story. It’s still a great episode, but the approach is completely different, and it clashes with the first half’s focus on character. Even though the stakes in Part II are much higher, it’s palpably less epic; the emotions and theatricality never reach the same kinds of heights even though the storytelling is still very strong. Though at least it managed to avoid having an outright lousy second half, something TNG two-parters rarely did subsequently (with the exception, of course, of the torture-centric showstopper “Chain of Command”).

In spite of these, though, I would heartily recommend this particular presentation of TNG’s best episode.

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