Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's been fun

Well folks, the real world and a real career has caught up to me.

I will be leaving Iowa to take a job at an Ohio law firm. It's been a lot of fun sparring. Having been called a Republican jackass in the same 30-day span as being called a yellow-bellied liberal, I figure I touched everyone in some way.

My two last points:

1. The Iowa Mock Trial team finished in a tie for second place at the National Championship Tournament. Ravi Narayan and Kathryn Beary earned All-American honors. The Hawkeyes were 4 points away from being undefeated.

Those with a little school pride should know that a judge, from Des Moines, was surprised to learn that the University of Iowa "could hang" with the University of California-Berkeley. Hang we did; in fact, we took both ballots.

Since 1998 the University of Iowa Mock Trial team has qualified for the National Championship Tournament. Since 1999 we have finished in the top 15 (7 in the top 5) and won back-to-back national championships in 2002 & 2003.

Despite our success the team struggles for funding and recognition on campus. Unlike Debate we have no permanent practice facility; yet, every year we are a national championship contender. Interested students should check out the UIMT Web site.

Congrats to all of the hardworking students!

This year's case was named in memory of Brooke Walton, a former UI student killed by a drunk driver.

2. I will be moving back to:
for those that are interested in talking about law, the war on terror, or anything else that comes to mind.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Time To Get Perverted

My new blog, Perverted Minority, is now fully functional. Come check it out. Here's the tagline, which explains the name:
Right-wing culture warriors are the real perverted minority. They doth protest too much against gays, recreational drug users, and other alleged degenerates. Having no regard for privacy or basic decency, they obsess voyeuristically over other people's personal lives to such an extent that they barely seem able to think about anything else.

I do still have a weekly column every Friday in the Daily Iowan. So please continue to read that as well. But this is my final posting here, so over and out.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blog Delayed, Marriage Decision Imminent

It's taking a bit longer than I expected to get the new site up because the Iowa Supreme Court will be ruling on gay marriage tomorrow. Of course, that's what I wrote my column about for tomorrow. And I'll be busy organizing and writing about whatever happens tomorrow. So please bear with me regarding the new blog.

In any case, if you live in Iowa, you should attend your local pro-marriage equality rally tomorrow evening. Check out the LGBT rights organization OneIowa's website for details. The one in Iowa City is on the Pentacrest, at the corner of Clinton St. and Iowa Ave. at 5:30 pm. Gay, straight, or none of the above? It doesn't matter. Be there!

Finally, if you're not doing so already, start following @PervMinority on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Christopher Patton Has A New Blog

Due to concerns about editorial control and intellectual property rights, I will no longer be blogging here at the Podium. Instead, I'm launching a new blog called "Perverted Minority." That site should be up and running later today. Click here to check it out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Exactly What Bad Drivers Deserve

Perhaps the best xkcd comic ever (click image to enlarge):

If anyone were able to actually go around Iowa City doing this to people who don't know how to park, I think they'd deserve a medal.

Good Discussion Of Marijuana On CNBC

(Via Radley Balko.)

It's great to see this issue being treated seriously in the mainstream media.

So, all of you prohibitionists, are the experts who advocate for legalization in this CNBC segment just a bunch of pot heads trying to justify their vice?

Religion + Politics = Global Disaster

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

This is nothing short of insane. Anyone who asserts that we need not be concerned about human-caused CO2 emissions because only God will decide when the world ends has no place on a local school board let alone in the legislature of the most powerful nation on earth.

Sadly, this is just one more incident proving that the GOP base is not reality-based. These people don't care at all about empirical reality. And that's worse than ridiculous--it's terrifying.


Another example of the base not being reality based: Wired has a great article detailing the ridiculousness of the anti-science crusaders attempting to hijack the Texas educational system.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Science Saturday: Just A Theory


Topics covered:
A sad fate for out-of-work science writers... John oddly cheered by news about prostate exams... George’s sleepover at the Vatican Observatory... The postmodern flavor of Galileo’s persecutors... Ancient violence and the fear of being eaten... Why John’s hoping for the end of war...

Science, Philosophy, And The Mind

From Andrew Sullivan:
Philosopher Alva Noe:
Imagine that we find the Holy Grail of neurobiology, the patterns of neural activation that correlate perfectly with different events in our mental lives. We would still never understand or make sense of why those correlations exist. There is no intrinsic relationship between the experience and the neural substrates of the experience. We always need to look at what factors bring the two together. The environment, other people, our needs and desires -- all these things exist outside the brain and have to be seen as essential parts of our selves and consciousness. So we aren't just our brains, we're not locked inside our craniums; we extend beyond our skulls, beyond our skin, into the world we occupy.

This doesn't strike me as even mildly profound. In fact, it seems to be nothing but pointless hand-waving.

Of course one must take the stimuli we get from the outside world into account when delivering a full account of the physical processes that underlie consciousness. And so what? That doesn't mean we can't make sense of how our minds work. Why would it? Such an observation is no refutation of even the most hardcore physicalist reductionism, just a useful reminder that such a project involves more matter than what is contained within any individual human skull. At the risk of being excessively flippant: Duh.

Armed with nothing better than this kind of argument, I have difficulty imagining how much of the traditional philosophy of mind won't come crashing down as empirical science continues to expand its explanatory power regarding the functionality of the human brain/mind.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Homosexuality, Christianity, And Society

From Andrew Sullivan:
I went through this myself - being gay and Christian and struggling to reconcile the two. It is never easy, but the voices of gay Christians, especially the young, are changing the world and the church in ways that, in my view, Jesus would embrace and rejoice in. Here's a trailer from an upcoming DVD you can buy here, "Through My Eyes." Even those orthodox Christians who refuse to compromise on Biblical literalism would, I think, benefit from listening to the experiences and testimony of the people they are actually talking about:

I also suggest reading Sullivan's excellent post today about the irrational fear that the far-right has regarding the mainstream acceptance of homosexuality.

On a much lighter note, check out this exploration of how patrons in a sports bar react to a gay couple:

(Via Joe. My. God.)

"Obama: Yup, We're At War In Pakistan"

Wired's Danger Room blog reports:
Perhaps you were wondering whether or not the U.S. was really at war in Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan. Well, President Obama just put those questions to rest.

With everyone from Hillary Clinton to Robert Gates to General David Petraeus at his side, Obama announced this morning "a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan." Not Afghanistan, with an occasional cross-border drone strike. Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Continue reading.

I highly recommend reading Danger Room on a regular basis. The writers there provide some of the best reporting on military issues that I've ever found.

Papa Obama Knows Best

It’s a good thing we have President Obama leading this country. Without his enlightened guidance, ordinary little people such as ourselves would likely wander blindly, unsure of what path our lives should take.

But because we have Obama’s noble example to follow, we all know exactly what we should do.

To start with, school is important. As the president has said, dropping out of high school isn’t just a bad decision because it limits one’s options later in life. If people don’t live up to their maximal educational potential, they’re letting everyone down. And if one doesn’t live up to society’s expectations, how can one ever hope to have a fulfilling life?

Though studying the liberal arts or sciences at a four-year college isn’t for everyone, those who can excel at such pursuits are obligated to do so. An education isn’t just a way to expand one’s horizons and increase one’s earning potential. It’s a way to increase productivity.

Being maximally productive is key not because it allows a person to accumulate wealth that can be spent in the pursuit of happiness but because it benefits the whole community.

If a sharp-witted young woman is capable of success in law school, she possesses the ability to become a civil-rights attorney, a law professor, a legislator, or even president. In all of those positions such a person would be empowered to help those in need. Living as a public servant, she could attain the highest virtue, which is serving one’s fellow human beings.

And we all know that because Obama tells us so.

As he continually stressed during his campaign, the president knows in his heart that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers. Logically, since we are obligated to provide for our fellow men and women, failing to choose the career that adds the most value to the economy is wrong.

For example, if our hypothetical young woman chooses to become a writer instead of a lawyer, she won’t be able to provide nearly as much practical assistance to her community.

If rather than studying political science and law, such a person were to study creative writing, she’d be unable to become a civil-rights attorney or law professor and far less likely to be in a position to even consider running for elected office. Especially if she never becomes a particularly popular author in her lifetime, such a woman would never produce as much tangible wealth for society through her labors. Perhaps working a simple service job to pay her minimal living expenses, our selfish writer wouldn’t end up paying nearly as much in taxes to her local, state, and federal governments. And without this much-needed tax revenue, those who, like Obama, have done the right thing and chosen to live the ideal life of public servitude won’t be able to help society as much as they could have if our hypothetical young woman had done her duty and worked herself into a higher tax bracket.

One may object that the young woman’s own satisfaction with her life would be greater if she were to live as she sees fit, but that would be missing the point.

The motivation to succeed ought not come merely from the desire to fulfill one’s own dreams. That’s just crass. As Obama has shown us, simply supporting oneself and refraining from harming others is not enough. Each and every one of us also has the moral obligation to serve the interests of humanity at large. And the best way to do that is unquestionably to be as much like the president as possible.

After all, reflecting on history, who is it who has done the world the most good? Is it service-minded politicians like Obama or self-serving writers, inventors, and entrepreneurs who strike out on their own individual paths and live by their own unique standards?

It’s not even a close contest.

(Cross-posted at the Daily Iowan's main site.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama Is A Paradigmatic Political Hack

The president clearly knows better than this:

All that the marijuana question's popularity says about the people who voted for it is that they actually know how to think clearly and independently about drug policy. This is in contrast to Obama who, though he has to be aware that the prohibition of marijuana is even sillier than the prohibition of alcohol, is still willing to parrot the conventional wisdom to maintain the support of the ignorant. And that's not change I can believe in.

So welcome to my long list of political hacks, Mr. President. You're just the latest addition to a long and ignoble list.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love In The Time Of Commenters

Topics covered:
Ann gets engaged to one of her blog’s commenters... Is the internet full of shy, lonely men?... Are women always in it for the man’s money?... Ann accuses Obama of excessive frivolity... Should we be more freaked out about the economy?... Reviving the Althouse vs. BhTV commenter rivalry...

The Big Picture: Mexico's Drug War

This is the main result of the US and Mexican governments' war on drugs (click image to enlarge):

Go to the Big Picture section on the Boston Globe's site for the whole photo slide show.