Monthly Archive: November 2015

The qualifications of Ben Carson to be POTUS

Every time there is a Presidential election in the USA, trees are felled and converted to communicate tedious and ultimately almost irrelevant discussions as people seek the answer to one question: is the candidate qualified to be POTUS?
On one level, the question is pretty much unanswerable. There is only one job of POTUS. There is no apprenticeship for the job. Vice-President is a ceremonial role, usually occupied by a person deemed to be no threat to the POTUS.
Running a country is NOT the same as running a business. Anybody who claims that it is should be asked to explain how it is the same. Answers like “balancing the checkbook” will instantly show the person to be unserious.
So, a lot of viewpoints about qualifications boil down to intangibles, like the horrible question about whether somebody “looks Presidential”. This implies that being POTUS is all about artifice and posing, not achivements, a triumph of style over substance.
On one level, however, it has never been easier to examine a person’s qualification to be POTUS. The internet can be a good source of information as long as the information is verified.
In the case of Ben Carson, a well-known pediatric surgeon, one interesting viewpoint on his qualifications is that of fellow medical practitioners. The view is not flattering.


The mess at LSU

LSU starts the season 7-0 and looks to be cruising to the playoffs. Then they lose 3 in a row, and suddenly total madness breaks out in Baton Rouge. Now the talk is that LSU will buy out the contract of head coach Les Miles and his staff. This will cost them somewhere between $15-20m.
In the meantime, the university has been slashing faculty costs because of a shortage of money.
Yep, that really makes sense.
If I am Les Miles, I am already out of LSU. The university, whether they wanted to get rid of him or not, has already lost him. Now 2016 recruits are already concluding that LSU is not where they want to be.
More seriously, who is going to want to take the job after Miles? Sure, the money is good, but if the program’s boosters are so entitled that they are prepared to jettison the most successful coach in the history of LSU because the team lost 3 games, what hope does a new coach have that they will not suffer the same fate. At a mimumum, it should make them ask for the same buyouts that Les Miles appears to have in his contract.
In the meantime, LSU has one more regular season game to play. I wonder how much motivation Les Miles can instill in his team now?


Today’s round-up – 11/20/2015

1. Xenophobia and Nativism – US Style
SouthWest Airlines briefly pulls two passengers off a plane after another passenger overhears them talking in Arabic.

2. Who does Terrorism and does it work?
Sen. Sherrod Brown correctly notes that most of the recent terrorist attacks in the USA came from white US men. This will of course have little impact on the current scare, since it is contrary to the narrative that terrorists are scary people from outside the USA.
Harvard Business review has an article explaining why and how everybody under the sun thinks that responses to terrorism, no matter what they are, are “what the terrorists want”. In the meantime, researchers who have actually studied terrorism in depth have concluded that most of the time, terrorist organizations and groups fail to advance their goals with terrorist activity.

3. The “liberal media”
That shibboleth that the US media is liberal? Based on recent pronouncements by Fox News anchors compared to CNN, like hell it is. CNN suspends Elise Labott after her statement that the Statue Of Liberty hung its head in shame” following the passage of a House bill to suspend refugee processing. In the meantime, Fox News commentators make all sorts of bellicose grandstanding statements about the US needing to “close our borders to any country with anti-Western sentiment.” If Fox News has been suspending their commentators, they have been keeping it very very quiet…

4. Texas Board of Education appears to not like fact-checking
The crackpot-dominated SBOE appears to be terribly non-keen on having experts fact-check textbooks. It’s always good to know that our education stewards value expert opinion

5. Donald Trump deserves his criticism to be reflected back at him
After Donald Trump felt it was necessary to verbally abuse a heckler on the basis of his physical appearance, a journalist decides that maybe it is time for a critique of Trump’s own fashion sense and body. Karma is a wonderful thing.


Today’s Round Up – 11/19/2015

1. Car abandonment in Dubai
Thousands of luxury cars are abandoned every year in Dubai and the UAE. Many of them are abandoned in airport parking lots, their owners or lessors dropping them at the airport before fleeing the country. The underlying cause is the absence of Western-style bankruptcy laws, which is in turn a consequence of the rules of Sharia Law, which essentially forbids both usury (the levying of interest on debts), and also prevents debtors from escaping from debts via bankruptcy filing. As a result, failure to pay debts in that part of the world is a criminal offense carrying jail time. This results in people owing money simply abandoning cars and leaving the country.

2. Van Morrison
When you are 70 years of age, newly knighted in the UK, and still making music, life is good if you are Van Morrison. In this interview, Morrison comes dangerously close to dispelling the whole notion that he is a grumpy curmudgeon, talking about his upbrnging at length. I especially liked his idea of the shipping forecast being like poetry – with the cadences of the BBC announcers, he is absolutely right, it sounded like a poem changing daily.


Following the Paris outrage…

…the level of ignorance, stupidity, xenophobia and nativism has risen rapidly on online channels. I have already gotten into tussles with some people on Twitter and Facebook that immediately lurched into the Stupid zone.
This guideline document from Jon Scalzi may help me and other internet commenters cope with some of the ludicrousness.
To the list of 12 responses I have several others:

13. Your Caps Lock key seems to be stuck. Shouting does not magically endow nonsense with gravitas
14. Repeating a falsehood multiple times does not magically convert it to a truth.
15. My failure to respond does not indicate that you have won. Most likely I became bored.

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