The toxic combination: decisiveness and ignorance, together with a lack of curiosity

Fallows on Palin

The truly toxic combination of traits GW Bush brought to decision making was:

1) Ignorance

2) Lack of curiosity

3) “Decisiveness”

That is, he was not broadly informed to begin with (point 1). He did not seek out new information (#2); but he nonetheless prided himself (#3) on making broad, bold decisions quickly, and then sticking to them to show resoluteness.

We don’ know for sure about #2 for Palin yet — she could be a sponge-like absorber of information. But we know about #1 and we can guess, from her demeanor about #3.   Most of all we know something about the person who put her in this untenable role.

As I quoted a couple of days ago, Palin is a master mistress of the decisive ignorance thing:

But notice that Palin didn’t dodge the question. She didn’t panic and say she’d need to check with someone, or that she needed more information, or skirt around it. She actually felt confident enough to answer, and lay it all out there – and be completely wrong. She had no clue.

Just like W.

A thousand energy professionals shake their heads in collective disbelief

“Energy. She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.”

That’s John McCain on Sarah Palin.

(From Talking Points Memo.)
More than T. Boone Pickens? More than the oil company executives who paid her campaign bills? More than the members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources? More than all the oil executives who contributed to Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force?
Is John McCain simply stupid (or senile), or has he concluded that it simply doesn’t matter what bullshit he spouts?

Dirty Wars in Baghdad

Juan Cole discusses the “Surge” and Bob Woodward’s new book about Bush at war:

[T]he Surge was not just 30,000 extra troops building blast walls.

The Surge was a dirty war. It was a vast effort at identifying, finding and assassinating the leaders of the Sunni Arab resistance. […]

That is, US officers in Baghdad were playing Col Mathieu in a rerun of the Battle of Algiers, tracking down and killing the members of the Sunni resistance cells with ever increasing efficiency.

Crowing about the success of Surge wouldn’t look so pretty if you were actually celebrating an assassination campaign.

Not so pretty? Perhaps, but in a society that can glorify fictional torture in “24”, and has a war criminal for a president, “pretty” doesn’t seem to matter.

"Don't even think about a smooth landing"

We have penetrated the outer ring of clouds of the northwest sector of Hanna. The turbulence is annoying and the clouds are thick but not wet (wet will come in a few minutes). The forward shields are up (anti-ice systems ON) which automatically turns on the engine igniters. Seventy miles ago I told the lead flight attendant to batten down the hatches and get ready for a goat rodeo. The weather radar is on the 120 mile range and the returns are in the category of you got to be kidding me.

Thus begins the latest posting at Flight Level 390, one of my favourite pilot blogs. (Another is Aviatrix.) This account of flying into PHL through the maelstrom of tropical storm Hanna is a must-read….

Shamelessly clueless

Another day, another blooper. Mudflats notes Sarah Palin’s clueless gaffe when she was asked about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The important thing is not what she said, but how she handled the question:

But notice that Palin didn’t dodge the question. She didn’t panic and say she’d need to check with someone, or that she needed more information, or skirt around it. She actually felt confident enough to answer, and lay it all out there – and be completely wrong. She had no clue.

At least we now know that McCain, who admitted he didn’t really know much about the economy, decided to balance the ticket by choosing a running mate who doesn’t know ANYthing.

No wonder the McCain team wants to keep her away from real journalists…

At White River Amphitheatre for Santana

We’re at the White River Amphitheatre for the Santana concert. We did the “green” thing by parking in Auburn and taking the (9 mile) shuttle bus. It’s now 6:25, the concert is scheduled to start at 7, and we’re at the end of a long line that is only just starting to move. This is easily the most incompetently disorganized concert facility I’ve ever been to. I hope the show is better than the venue.
Update: seated and ready to go by 7:15. Opening act was Salvador Santana Band. 6 members: drums, bass, keyboards, sax/vocals, guitar, and a total loser who fancied himself as a rapper and keyboards player. He had no sense of rhythm in either role. If they’d dumped him, the remaining five guys would have made a great act – tight rhythm, good vocals, inventive solos. Oh well….
And now for Santana!
Brilliant. A simply wonderful show.

Origin of the specious

In the New Humanist, A. C. Grayling carves up “Dissent over Descent”, the new book on Intelligent Design by the ludicrous Steve Fuller. Money quote:

Fuller has written about Popper; he seems to forget Popper’s killer point, namely, a theory that explains everything explains nothing. ID is such a theory; everything is consistent with it, nothing disproves it. The idea that there is such a thing as a deity behaves logically as a contradiction does unsurprisingly, because the idea is indeed contradictory: anything whatever follows from it. But presumably this is okay for Fuller because he was educated by Jesuits.

"Girls warned playing didgeridoo could cause infertility"

From AFP:

The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association said instructing girls on how to play the [didgeridoo] was an extreme cultural indiscretion and has called for the book to be pulped.

OK, I can believe that it might be a “cultural indiscretion”, whatever that means. No reason not to do it, of course – and no reason to pulp the book. I bump into cultural indiscretions all the time, most recently from the RNC in MSP.
But then it gets really silly. According to the association’s general manager Mark Rose:

“We know very clearly that there’s a range of consequences for a female touching a didgeridoo — infertility would be the start of it, ranging to other consequences,” he said, adding: “I won’t even let my daughter touch one.”

Someone should ask Mr. Rose to explain exactly what he means. Infertility is pretty well understood: which parts of a female’s reproductive functioning would be affected by touching a didgeridoo, and how? What would the causal mechanism be? How would the “consequences” be manifested – would they show up on an X-ray or ultrasound, for instance, or would it be necessary to test hormone levels?
Rose describes it as “cultural ignorance”. It seems that the real ignorance shown here is his own superstitious ignorance of science and medicine. And I refuse to play the patronizing multicultural game of assuming that Aboriginals are incapable of living in a scientifically informed culture, and that their mythologies are so fragile that we must all pretend that they correspond to reality.