The differences between left and right have increasingly become a matter not of differences in opinion but in differences in facts which are accepted. This has been studied the most with regards to science, with conservative belief in science now hitting new lows. This has also been commonly seen with high profile issues ranging from false conservative beliefs that Saddam threatened the United States with WMD or was involved in the 9/11 attacks to their false beliefs that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a Socialist, and someone born outside of the United States.
Conservative rejection of science is most striking to those who understand that science is the best way to study the world around us based upon verifiable facts, but Republican anti-intellectualism is not limited to science. They promote a revisionist history to justify their policies, and promote economic views which have no basis in any sensible economic theory, even ignoring the actual economic views of capitalist economists they claim to follow. If Adam Smith were to come back to life, he would die laughing over the economic views which today’s conservatives promote, often claiming they are based upon his views.
Chris Mooney, who has written a lot on this topic, has an article in Mother Jones coinciding with the publication of his new book on The Republican Brain. Studies have shown biological differences between conservatives and liberals. These differences certainly might have some influence as to the ideology someone holds, but I suspect that this is something influenced by both nature and the influences on an individual. Therefore we see far more liberals on the coasts then in the deep south.
Kevin Drum raises the question of why American conservatives are more anti-science than those in Europe. Similar questions could be raised based upon time. At some times, such as during the McCarthy era, conservatives were as fanatic as those today, while at other times the bulk of the conservative movement tended to be less extreme. William F. Buckley, with all his faults, would probably have tried to keep the Tea Party followers out of the conservative movement as he did with the Birchers. Barry Goldwater was so repulsed by the direction that he saw the conservative movement moving that he considered himself a liberal in his later years. If Ronald Reagan were still alive and alert I suspect he would do the same.
I think this also comes down to the importance of environment impacting on possible biological factors. While other factors are at play, there are two main characteristics of today’s conservative movement which makes them more likely to reject facts. First, the conservative movement consists of alliances which have a vested interest in ignoring facts. This ranges from the religious right to those being duped into denying science change to support the interests of the petroleum industry.
Secondly, today’s American conservative movement has a propaganda machine which might be powerful than has ever been seen in human history, with the ability to get conservatives to internalize and spread beliefs which are totally irrational. Fox has been far more successful in promoting misinformation than the propaganda machines of Hitler or Stalin. In many ways the American conservative movement is far closer to the authoritarian movements of the 20th century than to any beliefs held in the past by Americans. Unlike Hitler and Stalin, the conservative movement does not need to eliminate the trappings of democracy when they can fool their followers into thinking that they are promoting freedom and limited government. Orwell certainly saw this coming.
It hardly comes as a surprise that Current TV has fired Keith Olbermann. Olbermann has a long history of difficulty with employers, and there had been reports of conflicts this winter with regards to anchoring primary coverage. Current has hired Eliot Spitzer to start tomorrow, denying Olbermann a chance to say sign off on air. Spitzer’s show on CNN only lasted nine months.
We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.
Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.
We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.
As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (“Full Court Press” at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (“Talking Liberally” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).
We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Gov. Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.
All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — the goal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voices are too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.
Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
Olbermann has been responding on Twitter, including the longer version via TwitLonger:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa
In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.
Media Decoder pointed out the difference between Olbermann’s audience at Current as compared to MSNBC:
In his forty weeks on Current TV, Mr. Olbermann had an average of 177,000 viewers at 8 p.m., down from the roughly one million that he had each night on MSNBC. Just 57,000 of those viewers on any given night were between the ages of 25 and 54, the coveted advertising demographic for cable news. Still, Mr. Olbermann ranked as the highest-rated program on Current, as Mr. Hyatt acknowledged earlier this month.
Some people would prefer to list, and perhaps interact with, enemies than friends. A new Facebook app, entitled EnemyGraph, allows them to do so. If Facebook was around in Richard Nixon’s day, he could have listed all his enemies but would have had no need for listing friends.
The ten most popular enemies among EnemyGraph users currently include Senator Rick Santorum, Justin Bieber, Westboro Baptist Church, Internet Explorer, Fox News, Farmville, Racism, the Twilight Series, Nickelback, and Rush Limbaugh.
Apparently their attacks on sex and women moved Santorum and Limbaugh high up on the list.
At the moment the app is down, needing to move to new servers due to higher than expected demand.
“Fox News sent Dick Cheney flowers. MSNBC sent chili cheese fries.” –Jay Leno re Dick Cheney’s heart transplant.
“This weekend 71-year-old former Vice President Dick Cheney received a heart transplant. The heart is working so well that Cheney has already gone to Whoville and returned all their Christmas presents.” –Conan O’Brien
Megan’s birthday song for Don became the main topic of conservation about the season premiere of Mad Men, but there were also many other memorable scenes. The episode was framed by the dropping of a water balloon on a civil rights march by employees of a competing advertising firm and the consequences after Sterling Cooper Draper Price responded with their equal opportunity ad. The New York Times reports that the dropping of a water balloon was based on an actual incident in 1966:
Everything in the scene really happened, written almost verbatim from an article on Page 1 of The Times on May 28, 1966.
“Poverty Pickets Get Paper-Bag Dousing on Madison Avenue,” the headline read. The article described more than 300 people picketing the Office of Economic Opportunity, between East 40th and 41st Streets, the day before, chanting, “O-E-O, we’ve got the poverty, where’s the dough?” Executives upstairs at Young & Rubicam, half a block from the building, shouted at the protesters, and hung up signs saying “If you want money, get yourself a job.”
And then, the article said: “A container of water was pitched out of one of the windows of the building, splashing two spectators. Later, two demonstrators were hit by water-filled paper bags thrown from the building.”
A 9-year-old boy was struck. Several women in the protest, including the boy’s mother, hurried up to the advertising agency’s sixth-floor offices and confronted a secretary about the water throwing.
“This is the executive floor,” the secretary said. “That’s utterly ridiculous.”
“Don’t you call us ridiculous,” a protester shouted. “Is this what Madison Avenue represents?”
“And they call us savages,” a protester named Vivian Harris said.
Mitt Romney is having a tough time answering questions on health care, even from Jay Leno:
On health care, Leno pushed Romney to explain what he would offer Americans with pre-existing medical conditions so that they might retain their coverage, perhaps the most popular provision of the president’s healthcare law.
“People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance,” Romney said, describing his vision for health care if the Affordable Care Act were to be struck down or repealed.
“Suppose they haven’t been insured,” Leno countered.
“If they are 45 years old and they show up and say I want insurance because I have heart disease, it’s like, ‘Hey guys. We can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you are well and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered,’” Romney responded.
But when Leno pushed back, telling Romney he had friends who had worked in the auto industry who had never had insurance before and now were able to get coverage, Romney seemed to soften his stance somewhat.
“We’ll look at a circumstance where someone is ill and hasn’t been insured so far, but people who have the chance to be insured – if you are working in the auto business for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure their employees, you look at the circumstances that exist – but people who have done their best to get insured are going to be able to be covered,” Romney said. “But you don’t want everyone saying, ‘I am going to sit back until I get sick and then go buy insurance.’ That doesn’t make sense. But you get defined rules and get people in who are playing by the rules.”
Leno turned out to be a harder interviewer than most of the journalists in the mainstream media, actually asking a sensible follow up question. In the past Romney, like most Republicans, supported an individual mandate because of situations such as this, but he has flip flopped on that. I’d also like to know how he would handle the common situation of people losing their insurance coverage because of becoming too ill to work, along with the frequent cases of people losing their insurance because their employer dropped coverage.
This might be the most important scientific finding ever: A study in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that frequent chocolate consumption was associated with lower body mass index (BMI). Here is a summary from Medscape:
A recent study showed that frequent chocolate consumption was associated with lower body mass index (BMI), even when adjusting for calorie intake, saturated fat intake, and mood.
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues described their findings in a research letter published in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The authors used data from 1018 patients already being screened for inclusion in a widely sampling clinical study evaluating noncardiac effects of statin medications. Of the 1018 participants, 1017 answered the question, “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” BMI was calculated for 972 participants (95.6%); and 975 (95.8%) answered the validated Fred Hutchinson Food Frequency Questionnaire.
The investigators performed analyses with and without adjustment for calorie intake, saturated fat (satfat) intake, and mood. Fruit and vegetable intake was not associated with chocolate consumption (β, 0.004; P = .55), but satfat intake was significantly related to both chocolate consumption (β, 0.035; P < .001) and higher BMI.
The amount of chocolate consumed was examined, in addition to the frequency of chocolate consumption. Activity (number of times in a 7-day period the participant engaged in vigorous activity for at least 20 minutes) and mood (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale [CES-D]) were also examined.
The relationship between chocolate consumption frequency and BMI was calculated in unadjusted models, in models adjusted for age and sex, and in models adjusted for activity, satfats, and mood.
Study participants consumed chocolate a mean 2.0 (SD, 2.5) times per week and exercised 3.6 (SD, 3.0) times per week. Frequency of chocolate consumption was associated with greater intake of calories and satfats and higher CES-D scores (P < .001 for each of these 3 associations); these all related positively to BMI. Chocolate consumption frequency was not associated with greater activity (P = .41), but it was associated with lower BMI (unadjusted P = .01). This association remained with and without adjustment for age and sex, as well as for calories, satfats, and depression.
Although chocolate consumption frequency was associated with lower BMI, the amount of chocolate consumed was not (eg, per medium chocolate serving or 1 oz [28 g], β, 0.00057 and P = .97, in an age- and sex-adjusted model).
“The connection of higher chocolate consumption frequency to lower BMI is opposite to associations presumed based on calories alone, but concordant with a growing body of literature suggesting that the character — as well as the quantity — of calories has an impact on [metabolic syndrome (MetS)] factors,” write the authors.
They further explain that as chocolate products are frequently high in sugar and fat, they are often assumed to contribute to an increased BMI. The authors note that this may still be true in some cases.
“[O]ur findings — that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI — are intriguing,” write the authors. “They accord with other findings suggesting that diet composition, as well as calorie number, may influence BMI. They comport with reported benefits of chocolate to other elements of MetS,” the authors write, noting that a randomized trial studying the metabolic benefits of chocolate in humans may be warranted.
The BBC and BBC America have released the official trailer for season 7 of Doctor Who. It is much better quality than the unofficial copies which were posted after the Doctor Who convention last weekend.
The first ever official Doctor Who convention took place this weekend, and Steven Moffat discussed the event in the video above. More videos can be found here, here, and here.
The biggest news out of the convention is that the fifth episode next season, which has the final encounter with the Weeping Angels (and final appearance of Amy and Rory) will take place and be filmed in New York City. While in New York, the cast might feel at home in this TARDIS-themed bar which Karen Gillan mentioned in an interview.
Low-quality versions of trailer for the new season, taken while shown at the convention, have also been posted on many sites, as above. Hopefully we will have an official release early next week. Steven Moffat’s promotion of the season: “Amy and Rory leaving, tragedy, heartbreak and a Western, what more do you want out of Television. Come on Downton take that on!”
The biggest Doctor Who news of the week came on Wednesday before the convention with the naming of Jenna-Louise Coleman as the next assistant, beginning with the Christmas 2012 episode. The initial announcement, along with news on the upcoming season, were first posted here. In a follow-up post later in the day I had interviews with Jenna and Steven Moffat. A post on Thursday concentrated on her roles in Captain American and Titanic, along with advice from Matt Smith. On Friday we had the first official BBC picture of Jenna in front of the TARDIS, information on another series she is appearing in, Dancing on the Edge, and a report of links to an alleged sex tape with Jenna-Louise Coleman which actually lead to a malicious site. There’s also a brief video of what Matt Smith might say to people searching for sex tapes of Jenna.
Steven Moffat spoke toRadio Times about Doctor Who and Sherlock. He dismissed internet rumors that Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing the Master and reports that he has not started writing season three of Sherlock yet:
Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has dismissed reports that Benedict Cumberbatch is to play the villainous Master on the sci-fi series.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com at the Royal Television Society awards, Moffat said: “People really do sit in rooms and make that stuff up. Look at the filming schedules for Doctor Who and Sherlock – those two shows tend to shoot at the same time. We’d have a problem and there’s only so much I can arrange.”
But he then added, as a quick afterthought: “But who knows what could happen in the future…”
Moffat also told RadioTimes.com about plans for the forthcoming series of Doctor Who. Asked whether there would be a large story arc running through the episodes, or if we could expect self-contained adventures, he said: “As ever, there’s a bit of both. But this time we’re moving closer to stand-alone stories. At this point, we’re not planning any two-parters. So, every week is going to be like a different mad movie.”
He added: “We went quite ‘arc’ last time and we’re going stand-alone this time around. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those things creeping in. You’ve got to find a way to make the last episode special, and by God that worked ratings-wise last year. We don’t want to abandon that idea.”
Asked for any teasers he could offer, the ever-evasive Moffat replied: “Watch out for the title of episode two. I think that’s a belter. It’s one of my favourite titles ever.”
As for his other hit BBC1 series, the detective drama Sherlock, Moffat had this to say about series three: “Mark [Gatiss] and I have planned it out. We haven’t started writing it yet because I’ve got God knows how many episodes of Doctor Who to get sorted first. But the way it works with Sherlock is that we starve you and then we give you a short burst and then we starve you again. It’s worked so far, we’re not going to change it.”
On the scheduling of future episodes, Moffat said: “I don’t actually know. Given that this is a show that I haven’t started writing yet, it’s a bit early to suggest scheduling. Once we hand them over, they’ll be on television quite quickly.”
Emma Stone talked about her initial reluctance to appear in Spider-Man:
“I heard about Spider-Man and I didn’t think it was something I would want to be a part of. I just thought that probably isn’t right for me. Then I [auditioned with Andrew Garfield] and realized that this was a really interesting, fantastic relationship between two people and that I was being really closed-minded,” she said.
The actress, who wore her naturally blonde hair for the part, went on to discuss how her character finally changed her mind about the film: “[I] started learning more about Gwen Stacy and her history and just fell in love with the character and with the fans, too. I started reading forums and getting involved more in the comic book universe and it just became something I really wanted to be a part of, just because of all those elements.”
You went from playing a literary character in The Help who was in a much beloved book with its own kind of following, to a comic book character who’s iconic and has this rabid following. Was there a big difference for you between those characters and how they’re treated by their fans?Well of course the characters themselves are incredible different and there seems to be a different fan base between Spider-Man fans and fans of The Help. There are conventions for Spider-Man fans and there aren’t for The Help fans, although I would love to see a convention of The Help fans. It could be like the big Lebowski Fest. But they’re two tonally different worlds to me even though they both had such a rabid following. There’s a difference just in terms of bringing the material to life. There are different incarnations of Gwen Stacy and of Peter Parker throughout comic book history, all these different storylines to pull from depending on what kind of script you’re going to patch together. With The Help, it was such a distinct story that kind of needed to be matched line for line in a way. It felt different just in terms of becoming part of it and the way the material was adapted. But I’m so excited to be part of a movie with a built-in fan base in that way. You go to Comic-Con and there’s so much passion in one room. Everybody’s so passionate about these characters and how they’ve affected their own loves. It’s a really cool thing as an actor to know that you’re part of something that’s so much bigger than you. You’re not creating it from the ground up, you’re trying to fill the shoes of someone that’s been around a lot longer than you. It’s really exciting. I love that aspect of it.>
Why do you think the producers and writers went with Gwen instead of Mary Jane?Well, Gwen’s story happened before Mary Jane’s, and I think that coming back to their roots, it was interesting to explore the woman who came before Mary Jane. I think she’s such a definitive part of Peter Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane ultimately, who is literally the polar opposite in personality of Gwen Stacy. I think just building that into Peter’s life and seeing that story from the very beginning was really interesting. And of course Gwen’s story is so beautiful and important to that story of Spider-Man that I think they wanted to come from that angle at this time.
There might be less to report about the upcoming Star Trek movie as J.J. Abrams has built a wall around the set for secrecy.
I remain shocked that JJ Abrams destroy Vulcan in his Star Trek movies. That would be like eliminating Gallifrey and most of the Time Lords on Doctor Who.Oh, never mind.
This week’s episode of Fringe, A Short Story About Love, cleared up Peter’s confusion about the meaning of a changed time-line. When Peter began searching for a way to get home, and rejected the Olivia in this time line even when she gained memories of “his” Olivia, I questioned this. Peter was treating the changed time line as if it was another form of alternative universe, but a changed time line would imply that it is the same universe in which things have changed. Olivia would be the same Olivia, but with different experiences due to the changes in the time line. Although I was thinking these things while watching, I also considered the possibility maybe Peter could be right as we really don’t have established rules for dealing with different time lines. Last night we found out that the interpretation I first had was actually correct, and Peter had been wrong. Peter also realized that reuniting with the Olivia in this time line was fine–not like sleeping with the hotter Olivia from the alternative universe (especially as we found out in the previous episode that having a baby with Altlivia led to bad consequences).
Awake didn’t address the show’s mythology this week, but once again showed a character whose life was different in each world even before the accident. Again this rules out the possibility of the universe splitting into two different paths at the time of the accident (unless we really get complex and have time move in both directions, which would be way too confusing).
Mad Men returns tonight. Here are some stories about the show:
Matthew Weiner spoke about Betty Draper’s reduced role and things which fans might hate in an interview with Huffington Post.
Stephanie Newman looked at what Mad Men might look like if it took place today. (Wouldn’t that defeat the whole idea of the show?)
Leonard Nimoy appears on The Big Bang Theory. Hopefully he does more than lend his voice to the toy version of himself (which might be the case considering how he only appeared in cartoon form in his last appearance on Fringe.) Following is an ad for the episode: