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Starwatcher162536
02-03-2010, 04:43 PM
This may somewhat overlap with the "New Diavloggers we would like to see" thread, but I still think it would be nice to have a thread for requesting topics when one doesn't have a specific diavlogger in mind.

I would like to see a diavlog about the regulation of toxic chemicals. Sub-topics I would like to see covered would be one evaluating how the EU's REACH ( Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals ) has worked out so far. Other possible subjects include a general overview and evaluation of Massachusetts' TURI (Toxics Use Reduction Institute) and the new Head of the FDA.

I would like to see a diavlog about different EGS (Enhanced geo-thermal systems) . It would also be nice to have a legal discussion about the ramifications of deep geothermal inducing small seismic activity (Did the case of this regarding Basel finish yet?).

I would like to see a diavlog about BPL (Broadband over Powerlines). This is important because it will be important for the smart-grid and boosting broadband penetration in rural areas (Did Bush push for BPL? I kind of vaguely remember him talking about this). I admit that I have been deeply skeptical of BPL in the past, but I recently read an article about a trial that was done in Larissa Greece which seemed to overcome the main technical challenges. An in depth look at this topic would be appreciated.

Now that some time has passed, a Diavlog evaluating the stimulus package would be nice.

JoeK
02-04-2010, 09:05 AM
I would like to see Arnold Kling and Bob Wright do a diavlog together. In particular, I would like to see them talk about this blog post by Kling (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/02/libertarian_sch.html) and this one by Wright (http://althouse.blogspot.com/2010/02/technology-has-subverted-original-idea.html). In general, from Kling we should hear about libertarian critique of intellectuals, of which there is a long and proud tradition, while Wright could take the opportunity to praise the political elitism, unless he is still too bashful to do so.

uncle ebeneezer
02-09-2010, 06:57 PM
A diavlog on urban planning would be interesting. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300095775?ie=UTF8&tag=matthygles-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0300095775)

kezboard
02-15-2010, 10:19 PM
I was just thinking that Science Saturday needs more linguistics, preferably not including Steven Pinker. Not to diss Steven Pinker or anything, but he's not the only linguist in the world. Maybe get someone from Language Log (http://www.languagelog.com)?

bjkeefe
02-16-2010, 01:22 AM
Oooo, good suggestion.

kezboard
02-16-2010, 03:06 AM
I realized after I posted this that Pinker has only been on bloggingheads once. I guess I just assumed he'd been on more often, because Bob sort of is Steven Pinker, or at least the journalist, non-mulleted version of Pinker. But I don't know why Steven Pinker bugs me so while Bob doesn't. Maybe because Pinker goes on and on and on about the Standard Social Science Model (the idea of the mind as a blank slate) and how much it persecutes him. So I guess what I'm saying is I want a linguistics discussion with a minimal amount of evo psych.

bjkeefe
02-16-2010, 09:05 AM
I realized after I posted this that Pinker has only been on bloggingheads once. I guess I just assumed he'd been on more often, because Bob sort of is Steven Pinker, or at least the journalist, non-mulleted version of Pinker. But I don't know why Steven Pinker bugs me so while Bob doesn't. Maybe because Pinker goes on and on and on about the Standard Social Science Model (the idea of the mind as a blank slate) and how much it persecutes him. So I guess what I'm saying is I want a linguistics discussion with a minimal amount of evo psych.

That's not a mullet! That's a 'fro!

I don't know enough about your complaint to decide whether I share it or not, but I like listening to SP quite a lot, for the record.

That aside, I forget when you joined this site, so I'll call attention to these two diavlogs that had some things to do with linguistics, in case you haven't seen one, the other, or both:

• Science Saturday: The Words Edition (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/21993) -- Ben and Carl Zimmer, 22 Aug 2009. Ben is (or at least was) a Language Log contributor, and yes, he is Carl's brother.

• Science Saturday: 60,000 Words (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/412) -- Christine Kenneally and George Johnson, 3 Nov 2007. Put CK at my short list of 'heads whom I'd most like to see come back. She was a delight.

bjkeefe
02-22-2010, 10:25 PM
I hope this important news (http://washingtonindependent.com/77361/orly-taitz-appeals-to-united-nations-for-protection-investigation) will be covered on the next UN Plaza.

Starwatcher162536
03-03-2010, 11:35 PM
A diavlog over the history of homeschooling (In the US) would be appreciated.

A diavlog giving a general overview of the legal framework of the EU would be interesting.

Judging from the comments, a diavlog over peak oil/gas/coal may be well recieved.


...or we could just have another 99 diavlogs over gov't healthcare, that works to I guess.

TwinSwords
03-04-2010, 02:35 PM
A diavlog over the history of homeschooling (In the US) would be appreciated.
Oh, that would be good. One of my co-workers is a very talented and very smart computer programmer, who is also a Young Earth creationist, reminding us of something we too often find easy to forget: that people with wildly different values and beliefs can also be highly intelligent and educated.

He and his wife (who sadly passed away 3 years ago of cancer at the young age of 48) homeschooled all six of their children for many years. Following his wife's death, he sent the 5 school age children to public school, where they are at the top of their classes.

This guy is extremely conservative. In the first months following Obama's election, he was in a constant state of high anxiety about how his country was being taken away from him and his children. Now that the ultraconservative far right and its corporate and media allies have effectively contained Democratic ambitions, he's a lot more relaxed.

That's all way off topic, but I second your suggestion: I would love to hear more about homeschooling -- and the broader subject of the history of fundamentalist and religious extremism in America. Considering the grave threat it poses to our way of life and the health of our nation, it seems like a worthwhile topic of discussion.



Judging from the comments, a diavlog over peak oil/gas/coal may be well recieved.
That would be great.

Starwatcher162536
03-04-2010, 08:40 PM
I am hoping for something more broad then merely how home school is abused.

However, I will admit that me thinking about a girl I knew who was home schooled in a jehovah's witness home that had trouble with basic arithmetic did serve as the impetus to me wanting to learn more about homeschooling, and the abuse of home school should be a sub topic.

TwinSwords
03-04-2010, 09:05 PM
I am hoping for something more broad then merely how home school is abused.
Sure, me too. Though I didn't really mean to suggest that homeschooling was being abused in the case of my ultraconservative co-worker. His kids are exceptionally bright, and exceptionally well educated. As I mentioned, as soon as they entered public school, they placed at the tops of their classes. This is not altogether uncommon, from what I understand.

If the parents are themselves smart, dedicated, and educated, there's no reason they should not be able to do BETTER, in many respects, than public or private school. At the same time, it should be obvious that homeschoolers can't do better in ALL respects; there are certain features endemic to actual schools that are both beneficial and impossible to reproduce in a homeschool setting.

My co-worker's reason for homeschooling his children was to isolate them completely from secular culture, to wall them off from American society, to raise them exlusively in the bubble of extreme right wing Pentacostalism.



However, I will admit that me thinking about a girl I knew who was home schooled in a jehovah's witness home that had trouble with basic arithmetic did serve as the impetus to me wanting to learn more about homeschooling, and the abuse of home school should be a sub topic.
Fair enough, too. I guess I was thinking in broader terms than you intended. thinking of homeschooling as a sub-topic within the larger topic of religious and political extremism. So, to that end, I'll say I'd like to see a diavlog on homeschooling as you originally conceived of it, as well as a diavlog on rightwing / religious extremism (http://thinkprogress.org/2010/03/04/texas-taliban/). I happen to personally believe that right wing extremism is one of the most underreported and important stories of our time, though I admit it is finally starting to get more attention as the tea party movement gains momentum and more and more Republicans make clear just how far they are willing to go to stop representative democracy if the will of the people leads the nation to places that Republicans aren't happy with.

bjkeefe
03-09-2010, 11:30 PM
A diavlog over the history of homeschooling (In the US) would be appreciated.

Perhaps this (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/06/AR2010030601343.html) will be of interest to you:

Top home-school texts dismiss Darwin, evolution

[...]

Christian-based materials dominate a growing home-school education market that encompasses more than 1.5 million students in the U.S. And for most home-school parents, a Bible-based version of the Earth's creation is exactly what they want. Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children "religious or moral instruction."

"The majority of home-schoolers self-identify as evangelical Christians," said Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association. "Most home-schoolers will definitely have a sort of creationist component to their home-school program."

Those who don't, however, often feel isolated and frustrated from trying to find a textbook that fits their beliefs.

Two of the best-selling biology textbooks stack the deck against evolution, said some science educators who reviewed sections of the books at the request of The Associated Press.

"I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids," said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.

The textbook publishers defend their books as well-rounded lessons on evolution and its shortcomings. One of the books doesn't attempt to mask disdain for Darwin and evolutionary science.

"Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling," says the introduction to "Biology: Third Edition" from Bob Jones University Press. "This book was not written for them."

The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its "History of Life" chapter that a "Christian worldview ... is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is."

[...]

(h/t: LGF (http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/35935_Top_Homeschooling_Texts_Reject_Science))

popcorn_karate
03-10-2010, 12:56 PM
Perhaps this (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/06/AR2010030601343.html) will be of interest to you:



(h/t: LGF (http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/35935_Top_Homeschooling_Texts_Reject_Science))

so weird. most of the homeschoolers I knew as a kid were the children of hippies that didn't want their kids indoctrinated by a right wing educational system, pledging allegiance, and the DARE program.

that was my impression of who homeschoolers were until fairly recently - apparently that was a highly nonrepresentative sample.

bjkeefe
03-10-2010, 01:29 PM
so weird. most of the homeschoolers I knew as a kid were the children of hippies that didn't want their kids indoctrinated by a right wing educational system, pledging allegiance, and the DARE program.

that was my impression of who homeschoolers were until fairly recently - apparently that was a highly nonrepresentative sample.

If you read the article, you saw that there are such people, who (now?) feel as though they're being crowded out by the Christianists. So perhaps your earlier impression was not completely off.

Starwatcher162536
03-23-2010, 01:08 AM
Much of forensic science has never been systematically tested for efficacy or have any sort of oversight that makes sure validated methods are used consistently. The above is in part beause forensic science (bite-mark comparisons, hair microscopy, tool-mark analysis, even some of fingerprint comparison) has arisen and devolped in real time to solve specific cases. This lead to a NAS report released last year that questioned many forensic science disciplines' rigour, so a good future diavlog topic would be to tell us which branches of forensic science are the most and least reliable, and why.

Anyways, considering the popularity of the law enforcement genre on TV, I imagine this would be a popular diavlog if done right.

uncle ebeneezer
03-24-2010, 06:07 PM
Just heard Ana Marie Salmana (?) on NPR talking about the Mexican drug war and the US's role in being the major source of arms. I would love to hear Mark Kleiman and somebody (or maybe Mark Goldberg) discuss this topic. Given the amount of heat we give to other countries when their policies affect us negatively (afghan poppys, illegal immigration etc.) it's a fair question to ask what OUR responsibility is when our policies screw them over.

Wonderment
03-24-2010, 09:03 PM
Just heard Ana Marie Salmana (?) on NPR talking about the Mexican drug war and the US's role in being the major source of arms.

For both sides.

There's lots of blood on our hands, and not just directly through the distribution of weapons, but also indirectly through domestic prohibition in conjunction with our insatiable consumption.

The Calderón government's war on drugs (in emulation and perhaps under threat of the USA) has been an utter disaster, exacerbating the problem and leaving many thousands of corpses in its wake.

Wonderment
03-24-2010, 09:08 PM
I would love to hear Mark Kleiman and somebody (or maybe Mark Goldberg) discuss this topic.

How about a real live Mexican? I recommend Jorge Casteñada. (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/04/whats_spanish_for_quagmire?page=0,0)


The Mexican drug war is costly, unwinnable, and predicated on dangerous myths.

Starwatcher162536
03-26-2010, 03:34 PM
A diavlog that gives an overview and timeline of the DDT debate would be nice. Having at least one participant be something along the lines of an entomologist or biochemist would be preferred.

Am I fooling myself that this thread has any chance in procuring a diavlog that contains any of my proposed topics? How much work is it in getting a new diavlogger? We seem to have a plethora of regularly appearing generalists, and a shortage of experts.

uncle ebeneezer
03-26-2010, 04:18 PM
Agree that a real Mexican would be great. But as far as who could perform the interview I think Kleiman would be great from a crime/incentive persective, and Goldbergh, simply because he's a good interviewer.

listener
03-27-2010, 05:25 AM
so weird. most of the homeschoolers I knew as a kid were the children of hippies that didn't want their kids indoctrinated by a right wing educational system, pledging allegiance, and the DARE program.

that was my impression of who homeschoolers were until fairly recently - apparently that was a highly nonrepresentative sample.

Yes, homeschoolers are not all of the Christian right persuasion. John Holt, a lifetime educator and influential author who worked for many years to try to improve the U.S. educational system from within, became a pioneer leader in the home schooling movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Holt_%28educator%29#Homeschooling).

And though not a home-schooling advocate like Holt, Alfie Kohn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Kohn) identified many of the same problems, and has been a leader in questioning the conventional wisdom of the 'rewards-and-punishment' approach that currently dominates current U.S. educational thinking (as embodied in the policies of both the GW Bush and Obama administrations). Kohn's book Punished by Rewards (http://www.amazon.com/Punished-Rewards-Trouble-Incentive-Praise/dp/0618001816) it is well worth reading for its penetrating critique of how our system of rewards and punishments really operates, and the effects it has on our children.

Starwatcher162536
04-01-2010, 11:17 PM
Just in case anyone is interested, here (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12589) is the aforementioned report.

Starwatcher162536
04-20-2010, 03:11 PM
I recently read an article that attempted to explain why urban environments tend to exhibit a higher animal population density but a lower biodiversity then uncultivated lands.

This got me thinking that a diavlog that gives a 20,000 ft up overview of urban ecosystems might be interesting.

grits-n-gravy
04-23-2010, 05:56 PM
This seems to be the right place to request a diavlog on Immigration Reform in light of the Az bill that just passed. I wouldn't mind seeing Glenn Loury paired up with someone from the Center for Immigration Reform. Hopefully Glenn will come prepared to put illegal immigration in an economic and social policy context. We need to move beyond the outdated rhetoric claiming immigrants are just doing jobs no one else wants to do . . . That's no longer the reality.

Trevor
04-26-2010, 06:03 PM
I'd love to see a diavlog between Matt Yglesias and Reihan Salam about this post (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/04/the-very-big-picture.php) where Yglesias lays out his big-picture vision for progressive politics. He wants a host of social-democratic programs to support the big-and-small-l liberal goal of giving people more time outside of work to pursue thier interests, because
it’s more possible than ever for people’s non-commercial labors to have a meaningful impact on the world. I think open source software is exciting. I think amateur mashups are exciting. I think digital distribution of albums recorded on the cheap by people playing music for fun while holding down day jobs is exciting. I think fan fiction is exciting. I think people who work at universities and other non-profits writing blogs to inform and entertain is exciting. I think people diligently recording the progress of their neighborhood and organizing for a better city is exciting. Wikipedia is, of course, indispensable these days and Wikileaks is doing a tremendous job.
Those are very much the sorts of things Reihan is interested in, but he arrives at totally different policy prescriptions. It would be great to hear them talk about that. I feel like Bloggingheads is about the perfect venue for this sort of big-picture noodling.

bjkeefe
04-27-2010, 02:37 AM
I'd love to see a diavlog between Matt Yglesias and Reihan Salam about this post (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/04/the-very-big-picture.php) where Yglesias lays out his big-picture vision for progressive politics. He wants a host of social-democratic programs to support the big-and-small-l liberal goal of giving people more time outside of work to pursue thier interests, because

Those are very much the sorts of things Reihan is interested in, but he arrives at totally different policy prescriptions. It would be great to hear them talk about that. I feel like Bloggingheads is about the perfect venue for this sort of big-picture noodling.

I thoroughly second this.

uncle ebeneezer
04-29-2010, 02:31 PM
I would love to see a diavlog devoted to the emotional charge of discussions of immigration policy. I'm always surprised by how much more intense discussions about immigration are than discussions about other policy questions that often-times have even bigger impact on most Americans in respect to costs, freedom and several other components. My guess is that it is largely a by-product of our brain having evolved to be highly sensitive to the idea of "free-loaders" that helps explain why the focus on immigration seems (to me) to so often be disproportional to the real effect it has on most people's everday lives. Bob Wright would be an obvious choice from a Moral Animal/Nonzero perspective, as well as Mark Kleiman (who knows all too well about how hard it is to get humans to think rationally about emotional issues like crime) but I would also welcome some exploration of the topic from a Julian Sanchez/WW libertarian philosophy or a Josh Knobe cognitive/philosophy angle as well.

nikkibong
04-29-2010, 02:44 PM
I thoroughly second this.

meh, haven't we seen enough of those two?

Ocean
04-29-2010, 04:11 PM
Free loaders?

uncle ebeneezer
04-29-2010, 04:40 PM
I meant "free riders" from the game theory perspective. Many people get seriously worked up about anyone who they perceive as getting benefits (emergency services, better wages, job in the US etc.) without having paid the dues (following the official path to citizenship.) I don't agree with this assessment as far as immigration is concerned, but it seems to be a pretty prominent component of the emotional reactions that many of the people I know who are anti-immigration reform. The reflexive paranoia by many about any individual being able to get a "free ride" in any sense seems to be very big element in why they get so upset about the RULE OF LAW!!1! when it comes to immigration, whereas they could care less about myriads of other laws that are broken routinely (hiring illegal workers, breaking environmental laws, evading regulations, whatever) even when the law-breaking that they are willing to turn a blind eye to has greater effects then the ones that they won't tolerate. Sorry, my words aren't coming out as eloquently as I'm trying. Essentially I'm wondering why people get crazy about immigration law but are ambivalent about drunk driving, prison rape or other very costly laws that don't seem to get nearly as emotional response.

Ocean
04-29-2010, 06:52 PM
Yes, it's strange how people get so upset about the little guy making a buck and not the big sharks emptying the coffers.

uncle ebeneezer
04-29-2010, 07:07 PM
Yes, the strange thing is that I know some very liberal people who are pretty rational in their approach to policy matters (on most topics) who suddenly get surprisingly emotional when it comes to immigration. I guess that unfortunately, immigration is the perfect storm that caters to pretty common fears among humans. "Other-ness" (skin color, culture, language) as well as the threat that somehow somebody is getting a free-ride without paying their dues. It's really quite bizarre how much of a morality issue the anti-immigrant crowd likes to make it.

Ocean
04-29-2010, 07:48 PM
Yes, the strange thing is that I know some very liberal people who are pretty rational in their approach to policy matters (on most topics) who suddenly get surprisingly emotional when it comes to immigration. I guess that unfortunately, immigration is the perfect storm that caters to pretty common fears among humans. "Other-ness" (skin color, culture, language) as well as the threat that somehow somebody is getting a free-ride without paying their dues. It's really quite bizarre how much of a morality issue the anti-immigrant crowd likes to make it.

My question about free-riders, had to do with the words you used, but also with the concept itself. I don't see immigrants as free-riders or not paying their dues. But perhaps I'm not understanding that concept. I would have to see the actual arguments.

uncle ebeneezer
04-29-2010, 08:19 PM
Yes, I mistakenly said free-loaders. Here's my attempt to clarify: in Nonzero (and to a lesser extent the Moral Animal) Bob talked about how cooperation probably was rewarded in our more primitive societies which would explain why we often work together even when we could individually take approaches that might result in more personal gain. IE- brains would develop with affinities for nonzero cooperation. On the flip side, as tightly knit groups where our ancestors relied on each other extensively, there would also have been a high potential for "free riders" or people who managed to exploit the benefits of the group (protection, shared resources, mating etc.) without pulling their weight or paying their dues in whatever manner the group expected them to contribute. This would explain why we have such a strong emotional reaction anytime we feel as if somehow somebody "cheated." Whether it's in sports, or cutting in line, or using communal resources like the emergency room without having insurance etc. Our brains seem to be hyper-aware to these possibilities, and when we think someone has "cheated" we are pretty harsh in our judgement (far beyond the actual burden or loss that their cheating incurred on the group.) This super-sensitivity would help explain why people who are anti-immigration might get so hot about that particular issue, where they would be far less emotional about another issue that had comparable costs to society. They see the immigrants as "cheaters" and react in the emotional fashion as their brain was designed. I don't view illegal immigrants that way at all, but I can see how that perspective would result in extreme emotion on the part of those who do. It would also explain why there is so much outrage over such trivial things like a baseball player taking steroids to hit more home runs.

Starwatcher162536
04-30-2010, 08:17 PM
I am surprised I haven't heard this mentioned here, as it has the potential to be one of the most expensive environmental disasters in history. Hopefully we will have a diavlog about this incident and about the more general topic of oil extraction.

It somehow seems more relevant to the Blogginghead's primary audience then many other topics covered here on a regular basis.

uncle ebeneezer
04-30-2010, 10:28 PM
Good suggestion!!

popcorn_karate
05-04-2010, 07:25 PM
Yes, the strange thing is that I know some very liberal people who are pretty rational in their approach to policy matters (on most topics) who suddenly get surprisingly emotional when it comes to immigration.


it is a weird phenomenon, I totally agree. so why do you think you leave behind your liberal sensibilities and lose the ability to comprehend basic economics when faced with this question?

why do you support undermining the working class in the U.S. when you generally support liberal and progressive policies?

uncle ebeneezer
05-04-2010, 08:42 PM
Because when I look at all of the factors combined to figure out where I stand, I'm not convinced that it necesarrily undermines (http://www.nber.org/papers/w12497) the working class (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2007/03/borjas_wages_an.html).

Starwatcher162536
07-23-2010, 12:04 PM
A diavlog covering fishery regulations would be nice.

benjy
08-03-2010, 03:25 PM
I've been advised by bjkeefe that I should repost this here to make sure it moves efficiently through the bureaucracy straight to the powers that be...

There's recently been a sufficient confluence of statements on BhTV to motivate me to finally write in on a topic that it seems IMHO gets much less discussion than its importance to the way the world works would warrant--how elections are financed in this country, the effect that has on the people who run for office and the decisions they make once in office, and most lacking, what could be done about this situation.

(The statements were A., W.O.I., not that that applies to the best of Bloggingheads, but possibly to the occasional diavlog that shall go nameless (threads are a different story), B., that Bob's favorite kind of comment is the lonely one in the wilderness, C. Bob's observation that our elected officials are getting worse, D. Mickey's poignant plea for $2500 to save him from financial ruin for trying to save America, and E. Glenn's statement regarding the importance of critical thinking and getting to an understanding of how power structures and the world really work, beyond the surface level of how they appear).

That coupled with the fact that it seems like the argument Robert Reich makes in Supercapitalism, that democracy isn't functioning as it should because the power of capitalism, in the form of lobbying and campaign contributions, has encroached more and more on the realm of democracy and our political process, is a pretty major part of the explanation for why our elected officials are getting worse; more so than (sorry Bob, but I'm sure its only because you haven't devoted book length thought to it) the fact that we have a lower supply of benign patricians than we used to in the good old days, although he does discuss how in the "not quite golden age" as he terms it there were more business statesmen, and the climate was such that CEOs could be business statesmen. But due to the process by which we arrived where we are now (its a really good book if you haven't yet read it, a compelling narrative of the changes in our economy and politics in the postwar period...), its unlikely we're returning to the days of benign patricians any time soon; at the point we're at now, maybe what would work better is to allow more people to run for and gain office, and types of people who don't want to and aren't compelled to play the fundraising game that is currently de rigueur, or have a fortune to self-finance their campaign. If people could have enough funds to compete without raising money from big private donors, but through a finance system that matched the contributions of small donors by a sufficient multiple to allow candidates to run a modern campaign, or funded candidates based on their meeting of metrics to show their credibility (or other potential methods), we'd open up the political process to people who wanted to run for office and not be beholden at least somewhat to their major financial backers, and allow the Mickey Kauses of the world to compete with Barbara Boxer. Which obviously Senator Boxer and the rest of our current reps might not enjoy, which I suppose explains why we never hear any of them talking about this.

But why there isn't more discussion of it in intelligent media such as BhTV and the Times I don't get. What am I missing? There's a whimper about it here and there, and I know Larry Lessig was on here once and is a voice in the wilderness on this generally; but why do, say, none of the columnists in the Times ever write about it, or aren't there any news stories in the Times about how campaign contributions affect the agenda and legislation in Washington, or don't we have more discussion of it on BhTV? It seems to me that you'll never really be able to keep private money out of politics, and certainly not out of campaign and issue ads because of 1st amendment issues, but what we could do is put our money into politics and publicly finance candidates who choose to forgo big private donations in favor of public financing, so that people who wanted to be able to work on and support legislation based solely on their principles and not have to raise money privately could do so. Enough publicly financed candidates in office (a long-term goal of course, but probably no longer term than a real system of international law) would A. make lawmakers less compelled to include all the sweetheart deals in legislation that drive people crazy and make them (often rightly) think the game is rigged in favor of the highest bidder, B. as a result improve public trust in and approval of Congress, both of which are as we know ridiculously low in every poll, C. keep our representatives from having to spend a large part of their time fundraising, and let them concentrate on what's supposed to be their job, crafting, advocating for, discussing and voting on the legislation and values we deem worthwhile and necessary, and D. potentially most importantly, allow people to run for office who care about and want to discuss and work on solutions to the kinds of issues and moral problems that Glenn always gives voice to so eloquently, but which have no chance of being on the agenda in Congress as it currently operates.

If we realistically want to change our politics to one that would talk about and work on these issues, wouldn't we have to allow people other than the type who are in power to gain access to the system, and allow the ones who hold office to be less beholden to the private sources of campaign funds they currently rely on? Clearly it ain't happening with the people and system we currently have, and its hard to see what other major determinant of the way thing work could be changed--everything else is just something to discuss/complain about, but not something it seems like can realistically be changed (with the exception of ending the filibuster rule, but then again the people we have in the Senate, with the process we currently have to determine who gets to the Senate, demonstrate no interest in changing that either, which brings us back to changing the people there), given the incentives of everyone involved and reasons for why things are the way they are currently. Clearly instituting a public finance system would take a long time and involve a lot of fights with powerful interests in favor of the status quo, including many of the people who currently make up our government and who are suited just fine by the current system, thank you, but at least it seems like there should be the beginning of a discussion about it as the first step...it also seems there would be a lot of potential support given the level of dissatisfaction with government and Congress, but if there's no discussion and elected officials have no incentive to think or talk about it because the current ways favor incumbents by limiting competition, there's no way to tap into or foster that potential support.

All of this as preamble to my call and throwing down of the gauntlet for you, Robert Wright (or Mickey), to either point out the fatal flaw in my argument, or to use your global media empire to push the issue in a Murdochian way; or in lieu of that, just have more discussion about it on Bloggingheads, write a column in the Times and see what the reaction is, and ask your friends at the Times and other media high places, like Krugman for example, why they constantly bemoan the state of our politics but never discuss how to realistically change it and the people and incentives in it. And I call on you Aryeh to bring this to the the attention of Bob so that he can consider said requests and have the failure to save the world in said manner rest on his conscience. Thank god you are Southern Baptist and I'm assuming Jewish, respectively, so I'm able to appeal to your easily invoked guilty conscience. And what's more, I'm the one who way back lauded Bloggingheads for having a "higher curiosity satisfaction to effort ratio than most books", and you can use that for free as your slogan rather than W.O.I., if you'll just do me this one little favor of saving our democracy.

And to bolster my case even further, here's what the prolific and eminently reasonable commenter Wonderment posted in reply...

"I agree that campaign finance reform and clean and fair elections represent huge challenges facing US democracy. It's a crucial issue among most progressives I talk to.
Speaking of Barbara Boxer and Mickey, there was a tepid campaign finance reform measure on the very ballot where Mickey ran against Barbara. Prop. 15 was defeated handily, much to my dismay".

"Common Cause is the go-to organization on this topic.
Bob could get Sam Waterston (Law & Order DA guy) to come on BH and talk about it".

And this http://lessig.blip.tv/file/3945764/ is Larry Lessig's talk at the TED conference in Boston...

listener
08-03-2010, 05:14 PM
And to bolster my case even further, here's what the prolific and eminently reasonable commenter Wonderment posted in reply...



Ahem -- you neglected to include the requisite "and two-time Aryeh Award winner..." ;)

Nonetheless (and the inordinate length of the post aside), I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that this topic should be discussed more frequently here and elsewhere.

uncle ebeneezer
08-11-2010, 01:27 PM
I heard this report (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128874986) the other day on NPR about recent changes in the guidelines regarding grief/depression. I think it would be a great topic for science-saturday. I would also love to hear Ocean & SkepDoc's takes on it!

Ocean
08-11-2010, 02:35 PM
I heard this report (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128874986) the other day on NPR about recent changes in the guidelines regarding grief/depression. I think it would be a great topic for science-saturday. I would also love to hear Ocean & SkepDoc's takes on it!

I read the article and I tend to agree with the main idea, that if the symptoms of bereavement reach an intensity that they are significantly interfering with someone's ability to function, they should be treated. The whole argument about the "medicalization" of bereavement is, in my opinion, a new way of perpetuating the idea of stigma. What does it mean to medicalize in this case? Providing relief when the symptoms are serious and beyond what's expected for most people?

There's an aspect of this discussion which isn't really explored here but very superficially. Bereavement may serve a function in psychological maturation. There's a wonderful book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in the topic: Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst. (http://books.google.com/books?id=-GsBMtiRuK4C&dq=necessary+losses&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=ZexiTPzhMoKKlwfk5LWbCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false) However, even if psychological pain and loss provide an opportunity for growth, treatment of depression wouldn't necessarily prevent it. Pharmacological treatment with antidepressants would merely relieve the severity of the symptoms. Psychotherapy would most likely assist in processing the loss.