## Tuesday, February 28, 2012

### p m carpenter's commentary: Calling Edmund Burke

p m carpenter's commentary: Calling Edmund Burke

I can answer that, Mr. Brooks. They were lounging in their cloakrooms' soft-leather, wingback chairs, breezing their eyes across conservative columns that dwelled, for example, on socioeconomic functions of "happiness," rather than conservative columns that relentlessly smashed the emergency glass and frantically rang the alarm bell: Has this party gone fucking nuts -- or what?

### MIT pranks: From giant torpedoes to stolen police cars. - Slate Magazine

MIT pranks: From giant torpedoes to stolen police cars. - Slate Magazine

While writing my novel The Technologists, a thriller about the first students at MIT, I looked for early recorded pranks to incorporate into my story. The history of hacks published by MIT Press, Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT, reaches back to an incident in the 1870s in which students sprinkled iodide of nitrogen over the grounds of a military drill, causing explosions under classmates' boots. But as something of a purist about firsts, I sought out earlier examples of the college's signature pranks including, if possible, the inaugural one. Was there a Big Bang of MIT pranks?

## Thursday, February 23, 2012

### Experts Say Iran Attack Is Irrational, Yet Hawks Are Winning the Debate - The Daily Beast

Experts Say Iran Attack Is Irrational, Yet Hawks Are Winning the Debate - The Daily Beast

How can it be, less than a decade after the U.S. invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well? Culturally, it’s a fascinating question—and too depressing for words.

## Sunday, February 19, 2012

### The European project is splitting apart at the very core - Telegraph

The European project is splitting apart at the very core - Telegraph

What makes this moment so significant is not just that the disintegration of the eurozone will be by far the most serious check to the hitherto seemingly irresistible drive for “ever closer union”, but that it marks the rending apart of that Franco-German alliance which has been seen, ever since the Elysee Treaty of 1963, as the central “motor” of European integration. As the slow-motion crisis inches towards breaking point, France and the European institutions are on one side of an unbridgeable divide, and Germany and its increasingly restive people on the other. The latter see that the gamble of the euro has failed just as dismally as the Bundesbank had warned it would back in the 1980s – before being ruthlessly outmanoeuvred by Jacques Delors and Helmut Kohl.

## Saturday, February 18, 2012

### The Questionable Economics of the Keystone XL Pipeline - Businessweek

The Questionable Economics of the Keystone XL Pipeline - Businessweek

Clearly, the construction of the pipe, most of it below ground, will be a huge undertaking. The estimated number of people it will employ in the process, however, has fluctuated wildly, with TransCanada raising the number from 3,500, to 4,200, to 20,000 temporary positions and suggesting the line will employ several hundred on an on-going basis. The U.S. State Department, which made its own assessment because the pipeline crosses the U.S.-Canada border, estimates the line will create just 20 permanent jobs. One advantage of a pipeline, after all, is that it’s automated.

## Friday, February 17, 2012

### The Greece game turns chaotic | Felix Salmon

The Greece game turns chaotic | Felix Salmon

In short, expect things to get weird from here on out. We are entering a zone of probability distributions at this point, where actions stop having foreseeable consequences. No one’s really in charge, which doesn’t help. Greece has sophisticated and professional advisers, but Greece isn’t in control of its own destiny; the Troika is.

## Thursday, February 9, 2012

### MathJax: test 1

I finally learned how to include MathJax into blogger. Now I can write things such as

$$\int_0^\infty e^{-t} t^{s-1} dt =\Gamma(s)$$

and impress myself. Awesome!

## Saturday, February 4, 2012

### Unidentified Flying Pork Chops

I guess the very poor should be dancing with joy hearing about the support mechanism that puts them in such a good circumstance that they no longer deserve the attention of our government. The sad irony is that the GOP is focusing its fire precisely on this support mechanism that is supposed to do these wonders to the very poor. Mitt `I'm running for President for Pete's sake' Romney conveniently forgot to include in his boneheaded statement his endorsement of Paul Ryan's budget proposal which will destroy once and for all these welfare barrons.

People are entitled to believe in many things, such as, on a bright and clear day one can see pigs fly. This does not mean they will, but Mr. Romney and his wealthy backers are banking on the fact that  many people believe in unidentified flying pork chops.