Via my friends at Short Form Blog:
The first page of the letter from Attorney General Eric Holder revealing that Americans have been killed in counterterrorism operations. Click to read more.
The thing that’s so fascinating about this letter is that the majority of the first page is all about how the Obama administration is so committed to transparency.
“We promised to be the most transparent administration we could possibly be, so now we’re going to tell you a horrible thing that you — and everyone else — already knows, namely that we assassinated four American citizens abroad and we really only intended to assassinate one of them … but we was a really bad guy and the other guys were almost certainly related to him or working with him or hanging out near him.”
Does someone actually believe that this is what transparency means?
Last semester’s course evaluations are in for my courses on modern political philosophy — which I call “Liberalism and its Critics” — and on the Israeli/Arab conflict … so, as usual, I thought I’d post some of the highlights.
As is the case every semester, students reported that they were overworked but that they enjoyed themselves more than they expected they would. Also, as in previous semesters, every time one student made a suggestion for improvement, three or four students said the exact opposite. And, finally, as is pretty much always the case, thoughts about the class were relatively limited and reflections about the professor’s personality dominated the evaluations.
Liberalism and Its Critics:
- “It was intimidating at first, but it was refreshing to have someone challenge us.”
- “A lot more fun than I thought it would be.”
- “When people come to you for help, try not to be Nietzschean.”
- “I was a fool and thought it was about American left liberals, but the topic turned out better.”
- “Best course ever. So glad I came to UNL for poli sci.”
- “Very excellent at teaching, engaging, humorous, strict but fair. My favorite professor.”
- “When I came to college as a freshman I expected courses to be this hard. This is the best POLS course I have taken thus far.”
- “Seems to enjoy flunking students.”
- “He was sensitive to [gender, race, and ethnicity], yes, but not sensitive to stupidity.”
- “Funny, sarcastic, edgy, slightly crazy.”
- “I learned what most Americans won’t ever understand without classes like this. More material, more nuance than any other class.”
- “Funny and opinionated, but often I couldn’t tell what those opinions were. He let us figure it out ourselves.”
- “Please include a study guide.”
- “Unique assignments (blogging, simulations) as well as awesome text books.”
- “He knows way too much about everything.”
- “Loved the blogging, loved the peace summits.”
- “He has his style and even though some hate it, I loved it.”
- “[Kohen] wasn’t afraid to let students know they were wrong.”
- “He’s much smarter and funnier than what I expected.”
- “I learned how to use Tumblr, so that’s good.”
Admittedly, this set of evals seems a little “braggy” to me now that I’ve typed them in. Previous semesters were probably funnier because students were more mixed in their opinion of me as a human being; these students all seemed to like both me and the class they took. It really was a fun semester and I’m quite proud of this set of evaluations … especially #9 on both lists above.
Guatemala’s constitutional court has overturned a genocide conviction against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, throwing out all proceedings against him since a dispute broke out in April over who should hear it.
Ríos Montt was found guilty on 10 May of overseeing the deliberate killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population during his 1982-83 rule. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
But the constitutional court said it had thrown out all proceedings in the case that took place after 19 April. It was then that the trial against Ríos Montt was suspended after a spat between judges over who should take the case.
Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s researcher on Guatemala outlines the serious and far-reaching problems raised by the constitutional court’s ruling:
“The legal basis for the ruling is unclear, and it is uncertain how the trial court can hit the reset button to get back to a point in mid-April. What is clear is that the Constitutional Court has just thrown up formidable obstacles to justice and accountability for a harrowing period in Guatemala’s recent history.
“With the sentence on 10 May, the trial court had sent a strong signal that crimes against thousands of Mayan victims would not be tolerated. The Constitutional Court has now questioned that message, putting the right to truth, justice and reparation at risk in Guatemala.”
I used to think that Millard Fillmore was just a funny example of a president no one really cares about … like Chester Arthur, John Tyler, or Martin Van Buren.
But, thanks to Lapham’s Quarterly, one thing I learned today is that Millard Fillmore is a vampire who still walks among us:
While working on the bio for Millard Fillmore for the next issue, we noticed something…uncanny.
Since Tumblr’s all about GIFs, here’s the best ancient Greek philosophy GIF you’re going to find, via Luis:
Aristotle and Plato in GIF form.
Yahoo vows not to “screw it up” with Tumblr
Yahoo is acquiring Tumblr for $1.1 billion cash, a bold bet by Chief Executive Marissa Mayer to revitalize the struggling Internet pioneer by co-opting a Web property with strong visitor traffic but little revenue. The deal will use about a fifth of Yahoo’s $5.4 billion in cash and marketable securities.
“Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,” Yahoo said in a statement on Monday.
Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Well, one thing’s for sure: I plan to continue working from home.
My last post was just a quick tongue-in-cheek response to all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that I’ve seen over the past 36 hours or so from Tumblr users about the many ways in which Yahoo! would destroy Tumblr.
This post is a bit more serious.
If Tumblr is sold to Yahoo! in the near future, I have to be honest and admit that it’s just not going to be a big deal to me. On the one hand, Yahoo! might find ways to improve on my Tumblr experience and, as anyone who reads this blog likely knows, I’ve had some problems with the way Tumblr unveils its updates and deals with massive service interruptions (along with other more minor issues).
On the other hand, if Yahoo! breaks Tumblr (as pretty much everyone thinks is assured), then I’ll just stop using it. I own kohenari.net so I can just keeping writing here and most people who read what I write on a daily basis won’t notice much of a difference. In fact, once all the Tumblr notes and assorted junk disappears, they might just think the interface finally got cleaned up. I’m not sure what would happen to the thousands of Tumblr users who currently follow my blog, but I presume that some of them would continue to read what I write even if — gasp! — they now have to actually point their web browser to my blog instead of seeing it on their Tumblr Dashboard. If I’ve built enough of a “brand” over the past few years, traffic might even pick up a bit since virtually no one from Tumblr ever actually clicks on a link to my blog right now — they just read and share behind the scenes — and they’d have no choice but to actually visit my blog if I leave Tumblr or if Tumblr is wrecked by Yahoo!.
What I’d miss, of course, is the social networking aspect of the website and, in particular two groups of people. The first group consists of the many excellent Tumblr bloggers I’ve gotten to know and with whom I regularly interact. Happily, I’ve become Facebook friends with the majority of these people over the years so I’m sure we’ll continue to communicate and interact with one another even if Tumblr isn’t around in the future or if I’m not using it.
The second group is populated by the wingnuts and trolls who have supplied me with an almost endless stream of material about which I have written these past few years. These are the folks who are planning to outgun the tyrannical American government, who are deeply in love with guns, who are convinced that racism is a thing of the past, who have completely baffling conspiracy theories, who write to me every single day, who are Holocaust deniers, who accuse opponents of the death penalty of racism, who love Slavoj Žižek more than life itself, whose anti-Israel sentiment tends to slide effortlessly into anti-Semitism, and who think that I’m part of a distinct race of Satanists mentioned explicitly in the Bible. If I’m lucky, these folks will follow me wherever I go.
The truth is that Tumblr’s creators are almost certainly going to do what they think is best for themselves — why wouldn’t they?! — and the millions of people who use their service for free are then going to have to decide what they want to do with whatever Tumblr looks like going forward.
Either way, I’m going to be blogging at kohenari.net and my non-Tumblr audience — which is the bulk of my audience — can expect to see very few substantive changes as a result of Yahoo! either buying or not buying Tumblr. If you liked what I’ve been doing, I’ll still be doing it. It’s my Tumblr audience — who might or might not have been paying attention to me all this time anyway — that will need to make some decisions about whether or not to actually visit my blog on a daily or weekly basis if my posts suddenly stop showing up on their Dashboard at some point in the future.
Microsoft Bing’s Facebook advertising campaign is, for some odd reason, focused on keeping you safe from accidental nudity.
Of course, that’s all well and good until you type in the words “accidental nudity” on the Bing website, in which case you get more than a million NSFW results.
Gee, thanks, Bing!
I don’t know anything about Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican representing Texas’ 36th District, but I do know comedy when I see it.
In other news, at what point will Republicans exhaust themselves in their endless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Is it never? If it’s never, just tell me so I can stop paying attention.