Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oh, I can feel my anger in my teeth...

Last week, a meeting was held here in Houston, the purpose of which was purported to be an "[e]xamination of the Healthcare crisis in America and offering Universal Healthcare as the solution with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman John Conyers, Jr."

The entities responsible seemed to try very hard to avoid letting many physicians, or even the general public, know about this. I attended. It hurt my brain meats.

I refrained from writing up a report because I have a temper and very little patience for asininity and because my notes were basically divided into two categories: ones that went along the lines of "Dr. Whatever, healthcare as a right, economic illiterate/moral parasite" or, more bluntly, "Conyers, Wortham apology, are you shitting me?!"

Honestly, those are the notes I took. I can't take these people seriously. I know they pose a serious threat, but intellectually, I view them as bratty children at best.

Anyway, Gus Van Horn was there as well and he wrote up a very good report on the whole sad little event. Go check it out.

"And much of madness..."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe"

Ed Cline just doesn't stop. Now that you've read his short series on Obama, go read his three-part series "John McCain: Psuedo-Maverick of the Republican Party" (here are parts 2 and 3--they are also linked in the sidebar on part 1).

I love this guy.

Oh, and his Sparrowhawk series of historical fiction novels is amazing as well. C. August over at Titanic Deck Chairs provides an excellent review.

From the Migraine Fields--

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Sokal Hoax

Let me begin by saying that I have been aware of the Sokal Hoax for some time now. I was aware of who the principal players were, what the gag was and what the outcome was.

For those of you (is anyone out there?) who are unaware of the hoax: Alan Sokal, who is a physics professor at NYU, perpetrated an elaborate and very well-known academic hoax on the editors and readership of a postmodernist academic journal published by Duke University called Social Text. Sokal, who is the author of such books as Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science (which I recommend), wanted to see if such a prestigious postmodernist journal would “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions”.

He proceeded to write “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”. Now, as I said, I was aware of the hoax (which occurred in the mid-1990’s) and all the basics of the situation, but I had never read Sokal’s “Transgressing the Boundaries”. Until today.

It is comedic genius.

It is such a blatant hoax that the Social Text editors really deserved all the flak they caught for this (and then some). Anyone paying even the slightest attention while reading this paper would have caught on. There are so many great inside gags that, after a few pages, the only proper reaction is “Hey, this guy is screwin’ with us!”

Here’s a taste (from footnote 14):

“See also Porush (1989) for a fascinating account of how a second group of scientists and engineers -- cyberneticists -- contrived, with considerable success, to subvert the most revolutionary implications of quantum physics. The main limitation of Porush's critique is that it remains solely on a cultural and philosophical plane; his conclusions would be immeasurably strengthened by an analysis of economic and political factors. (For example, Porush fails to mention that engineer-cyberneticist Claude Shannon worked for the then-telephone monopoly AT&T.) A careful analysis would show, I think, that the victory of cybernetics over quantum physics in the 1940's and 50's can be explained in large part by the centrality of cybernetics to the ongoing capitalist drive for automation of industrial production, compared to the marginal industrial relevance of quantum mechanics.”

This is complete gibberish for anyone who knows anything about (1) economics, (2) the history of cybernetics, or (3) even the most basic elements of semiconductor physics.

“As Althusser rightly commented, ‘Lacan finally gives Freud’s thinking the scientific concepts it requires.' [Oh, God!] More recently, Lacan’s topologie du sujet has been applied fruitfully to cinema criticism and to the psychoanalysis of AIDS.”

If I had read that first sentence in a paper that was meant to be taken seriously, I would've crapped myself with anger. The second sentence—the one about applying Lacanian topology to cinema criticism and the psychoanalysis of AIDS-- is, disappointingly, based on actual publications. If I wasn’t already personally aware of that, you couldn’t have convinced it was anything but a joke.

If this paper was meant to be taken seriously, it would drive me up the goddamn wall and would certify its author as a Grade A, batshit numbskull. But, knowing it’s a joke, it’s just bloody funny.

From the Migraine Fields--

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How goddamn cool is this?!

I was introduced to this video via a post on HBL.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Islam and Faith

New video.

Islam & Faith



Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

I'm far from the only Objectivist blogger linking to Dr. Berliner's piece, but he said it so much better than I could. So, enjoy.

Enjoy your Independence Day celebrations.