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some links

Salon removes former article on (now proven fraudulent) autism-vaccine link:

Barack Obama argues in the Wall Street Journal for getting rid of useless government regulation:

A comprehensive analysis of why health care in the US is so expensive, in 12 parts:

A much shorter summary of the above link: http://www.metafilter.com/98165/Getting-what-we-pay-for

This is pretty old, but it shows a pretty cool application of Mathematica (what I work on all day!):

Paul Krugman's explanation of Austrian Economics, aka "The Hangover Theory":

The last two links require a bit more explanation.

I recently subscribed to Foreign Policy magazine via email, and in doing so found this old article that was very interesting... it explains a major paradox in the word "neocon" that I'd noticed and wondered about before (mainly, whether they are realists or idealists)... apparently a lot of the reason the word is confusing is that there were at least two waves of neocons who had very different (and at times opposite) political beliefs, Irving Kristol belonging to the first wave and his son William belonging to the second. The title of this article is "Was Irving Kristol a Neo-Con?":

Another somewhat old article I found on the website ForeignPolicy.com was a list of what they deem the top 100 most influential intellectuals of 2009 (yeah, it's at least a year old but still good). One that really caught my eye was Bernard-Henri Levy. I had lamented before that it's really tough to find conservatives with sophisticated and coherent views... and I'd mentioned the possibility of trying to read something by Christopher Hitchens (in my attempt to avoid only listening to leftwing voices). Publishers Weekly describes Bernard-Henri Levy as "a more cerebral Christopher Hitchens" which I thought was interesting. I don't think he counts as a conservative, more like a moderate... but I might order this book and read it. Sounds interesting although I suspect he may go overboard in his criticisms of the left...

Left in Dark Times : A Stand Against the New Barbarism, by Bernard-Henri Levy:



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)
Christopher Hitchens isn't left-wing?

How so?
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
Like Levy, he started out on the left but has spent most of the past decade attacking the left for not being antiterrorist enough, among other things.

He supported Bush in the 2004 election, and was only very slightly in favor of Obama in 2008.

He used to be a socialist but he's pretty pro-capitalism and pro-globalization now, and he is rabidly anti-terrorism and in favor of the US acting as the world's saviors and policemen.

As I say, that doesn't make him a conservative. But he's definitely got some conservative beliefs, particularly of the neoconservative persuasion. So I think he's an interesting guy. Although I'm more interested in hearing what Levy has to say since he's more of an academic and Hitchens is more just a journalist.
Jan. 28th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
I've never head of Levy. I've read a couple of Hitchens' books though. They get sort of boring once you've gotten acclimated to his writing style.

Tell me how Levy is - I might try reading that book you're interested in if it's decent.
Jan. 28th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
Ok, I will let you know if I read it. I have said "ok, I'm going to buy this" to so many books by now, though, that I can't realistically say what the chances are I'll actually buy it and read it.

Are there any of Hitchens' books you'd recommend, out of curiosity?
Jan. 28th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
Short + sweet and gives you a good taste of him: "Letters to a Young Contrarian".

His other works are a lot longer/more thorough and read like biographies or something.
Jan. 29th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
I haven't read anything by BHL, but his reputation amongst the philosophical community is that he's an intellectual fraud.
Jan. 30th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I was wondering what the philosophical community thought of him.

I really wish there were more surveys and polls taken about the quality of someone's ideas/methodology, within specialized fields, and stored in public places for outsiders to read.

On the one hand, it's not suprising--he attacks a lot of entrenched views, so what else is the establishment going to say but "he has no idea what he's talking about!" But on the other hand, there is disagreeing with someone and there is considering them intellectually dishonest. And I wondering which of these was more the feeling.

I have to wonder though, how many of the things he's attacking are straw men and how many are accurate representations of what today's intellectual left is arguing. Maybe his conclusions aren't far off but he exaggerates the views of many on the left making them sound ridiculous? (For example, saying that many support Saddam Hussein??)
Jan. 31st, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
This Wikipedia article includes some of the criticisms I've heard:


(Usual caveats.) Also, he was on Colbert, if you want to see a short clip of him at work.
Jan. 31st, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
Eww... the Colbert interview makes him come across like kind of a douche (although maybe it's just the hair). And the only actual philosophical claim he makes during the interview is that God exists but managing the world was too hard for him so he's decided to take a vacation for a while?

Also, the Botul thing seems really embarrassing.

Maybe I will read something else instead of his book. This was helpful.
Jan. 30th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
Smart people reading Paul Krugman is very disappointing.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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