Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong

Sherlock Holmes in

“Cultural gadfly Pierre Bayard returns to the genre of “detective criticism,” which he invented fifteen years ago (in his rereading of Agatha Christie’s Who Killed Roger Ackroyd), and immerses himself in Arthur Conan Doyle’s imaginary universe. The result is a new, startling way to think about one of Sherlock Holmes’s most famous cases.”

via Very Short List.

Mukasey’s smarmy Nixon defense of Bush crimes

{{w|Michael Mukasey}}, Attorney General of the...

Jason Leopold:

‘When it comes to protecting George W. Bush and his administration, Attorney General Michael Mukasey is stretching legal arguments as far as his predecessor Alberto Gonzales ever did – now even invoking the “Nixon Defense” for justifying presidential wrongdoing.

This week, Mukasey argued that there is no legal basis to prosecute current and former administration officials for authorizing torture and warrantless domestic surveillance because those decisions were made in the context of a presidential interest in protecting national security.

“There is absolutely no evidence that anybody who rendered a legal opinion, either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policies, did so for any reason other than to protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful,” Mukasey said during a Dec. 3 roundtable discussion with reporters.

Mukasey’s argument is, in essence, the same as Richard Nixon’s infamous declaration in his 1977 interview with David Frost that – in the context of Nixon’s illegal wiretappings, black-bag jobs and infiltration of antiwar groups – “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” ‘

via Consortiumnews.com.

What do the Clintons have on Obama?

Academic and writer Camille Paglia
Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia doesn’t have any answers, but she deserves props for raising the question:

“As for Obama’s appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, what sense does that make except within parochial Democratic politics? Awarding such a prize plum to Hillary may be a sop to her aggrieved fan base, but what exactly are her credentials for that position? Aside from being a mediocre senator (who, contrary to press reports, did very little for upstate New York), Hillary has a poor track record as both a negotiator and a manager. And of course both Clintons constantly view the world through the milky lens of their own self-interest. Well, it’s time for Hillary to put up or shut up. If she gets as little traction in world affairs as Condoleezza Rice has, Hillary will be flushed down the rabbit hole with her feckless husband and effectively neutralized as a future presidential contender. If that’s Obama’s clever plan, is it worth the gamble? The secretary of state should be a more reserved, unflappable character — not a drama queen who, even in her acceptance speech, morphed into three different personalities in the space of five minutes.

Given Obama’s elaborate deference to the Clintons, beginning with his over-accommodation of them at the Democratic convention in August, a nagging question has floated around the Web: What do the Clintons have on him? No one doubts that the Clinton opposition research team was turning over every rock in its mission to propel Hillary into the White House. There’s an information vacuum here that conspiracy theorists have been rushing to fill.”

via Salon.

Paul Krugman’s depression economics

Princeton Profess...
Paul Krugman

Krugman interviewed by Andrew Leonard:

“The revised and expanded edition of Paul Krugman’s The Return of Depression Economics, originally published in 1999 but back in bookstores last week, features, in a reasonably large font on the front cover, the mini-bio: “Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.” The choice of the (re)publication date couldn’t be better. Not only are Krugman’s predictions of economic doom, first made in the wake of the Asian financial crisis of 1997, even more relevant as 2008 comes to a close, but he is also accepting his award in Stockholm, Sweden, this week. When I reviewed The Conscience of a Liberal a year ago, I wrote, “Now is a good time to be Paul Krugman.” I spoke too soon. Now is an even better time to be Paul Krugman.

You write that some economists (and this certainly goes for many Salon readers) believe that recessions and even depressions are necessary mechanisms for purging economies that have gotten out of control. There’s even a moralistic aspect to it: In the U.S., all those greedy investment bankers and housing speculators and overconsuming Americans are getting their comeuppance. But you seem to be suggesting something different: that the government can kick-start the economic machine back into motion, that we don’t have to be subjected to the torture of a severe recession. What do you say to those critics who claim that stimulating the economy out of this recession will just lead to bigger problems down the road?

My favorite Keynes essay is “The Great Slump of 1930,” in which he says “We have magneto [alternator] trouble.” If you’ve got electrical problems with your engine, that doesn’t mean you should junk the whole car. If part of your financial system has gone haywire, that doesn’t mean that millions of workers have to be unemployed.

There’s kind of a weird double-think involved in arguments that the slump should be allowed to follow its natural course. It’s true that classical economics says that we should let market forces do their work; but classical economics also says that severe recessions can’t happen. This idea that we must not intervene is based on a worldview that is refuted by the very fact that the economy is in the mess it’s in.”

via How the World Works – Salon.com.

Wirehead hedonism versus paradise-engineering

A rodent wirehead.

“Within a few centuries, it will be technically if not ideologically feasible to abolish suffering of any kind. If we wish to do so, then genetic engineering and nanotechnology can be used to banish unpleasant modes of consciousness from the living world. In their place, gradients of life-long, genetically pre-programmed well-being may animate our descendants instead. Millennia if not centuries hence, the world’s last aversive experience may even be a precisely dateable event: perhaps a minor pain in an obscure marine invertebrate.

Far-fetched? Right now, the abolitionist project sounds fanciful. The task of redesigning our legacy-wetware still seems daunting. Rewriting the vertebrate genome, and re-engineering the global ecosystem, certainly pose immense scientific challenges even to a technologically advanced civilisation.

The ideological obstacles to a happy world, however, are more formidable still. For we’ve learned how to rationalise the need for mental pain – even though its nastier varieties blight innumerable lives, and even though its very existence will soon become optional.”

via wireheading.com.

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