Daily Archives: April 29, 2010

Drill Baby Drill!!!

And ye shall reap what you sow.  After hearing the oil lobby prattle on about how we need to drill anywhere and everywhere there’s a chance to find oil…

The oil leak triggered by a deadly rig blast off the coast of Louisiana has the potential to cause more environmental damage than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, one of the largest ecological disasters ever recorded, some observers say.

And since environmental arguments have always had very little traction with the rabid business lobby let’s hear about how this is going to hurt small business owners.  You know, the ‘engine of our economy’.

Experts said the spill could also destroy the livelihood of commercial fishermen and shrimp catchers and impact recreational fishermen. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the state’s fishing industry is worth $265 billion at dockside and has a total economic impact of $2.3 trillion.Tourism also could take a blow if beaches are fouled.

Virginia’s governor seems intent on not letting this little detail get in the way of lowering gas prices a few pennies a decade from now (maybe).  He’s just reaffirmed his support for drilling off his coast.



Both Jason and Drew write about a NYTimes story yesterday about the scourge known as PowerPoint.  I’m rather agnostic about the program overall.  It can do an adequate job at conveying basic concepts in the hands of the average user and much more in the hands of a competent one but I do think Tufte has some interesting things to say about the boundaries and limitations the program can impose upon the presentation of information.

The poster child for the story was this presentation (that I blogged about here) which is unfortunate because I actually thought it was pretty good if you viewed the entire presentation.  If you were to do that you’d see how you get to that spaghetti monster at the end rather that just trying to untangle the whole mess.

Political disclosure

I really enjoyed this post by Noah Millman at the American Scene where he tries to develop a political taxonomy slightly more informative than our current ‘left-right’ binary choice.  Let’s face it, while that distinction may be pretty good for our political parties (and elected officials who seem intent on becoming caricatures of themselves)  it really begins to break down the further you get from the center and is pretty worthless by the time you get to the extremes.  This is why you had a brief dust up in the wake of Joe Stack crashing his plane into the Austin I.R.S. building over whether the dude was a left wing radical or a right wing crazy.

So, Noah divides the political spectrum into three categories:

  • Liberal – Conservative
  • Left – Right
  • Progressive – Reactionary

Read his whole explanation but the short version is:

1. Liberal vs. Conservative

Put simply: a liberal outlook trusts individuals and questions authority; a conservative outlook distrusts individuals and defers to authority.

2. Left vs. Right

Put simply: a right-wing perspective is animated by an affinity for the winners and their interests, while a left-wing perspective is animated by an affinity for the losers and their interests.

3. Progressive vs. Reactionary

The progressive is future-oriented. Things will – or could – be better in the future than they are now.  The reactionary, by contrast, is past-oriented. Things will – likely – be worse in the future than they are now, just as they were better in the past.

Now, as you’ll see in the comments, there’s plenty to nitpick over this but it’s still an interesting way to look at things.  Noah doesn’t like political compass but, similarly, it’s another data point and another jumping off point for discussions about political orientation (besides, I’m a sucker for graphics).

So, on Noah’s scale I suspect I’m a ‘liberal-progressive’ and not strongly affiliated along his ‘left-right’ spectrum.  I decided to take the political compass test to see how they said I fit along their left/right and libertarian/authoritarian axises.  So, here are the results of that…

Allow me to say I’m in pretty good company with people like the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi.  Although I’m guessing my career choices given my beliefs are a bit odd.  Let me also say that if I was in an actual position of power I’m pretty sure my little dot would shoot up to the authoritarian axis like a rocket.  While powerless I’m an anarchist.  With power I become a despot (but I benign one, I swear!).

I asked my father to take the test as well and he came up with this…

Although I have to admit I’m highly dubious as this would make him (at least according to the PoliticalCompass folks who I suspect may have skewed their estimates some) both more leftist and libertarian than Barrack Obama.  My friends, you’ll just have to take my word for it, if my father is to the left of Barrack Obama the universe would collapse in on itself and the space-time continuum would be destroyed.

I’d like to try to figure out how to overlay Myers-Briggs results over these to see if that provides any additional insight into political outlook but I’m not sure how that would work.

So, why am I engaging in this blogging navel gazing?  Well, first because I can and second I figured this sort of information might give you, dear readers, a better understanding about the lens I look through when writing on various topics.