Links for 1/29/09

Bless the cynics

An interview with Eugene Volokh

Debunking the crack baby myth

Haven’t tried the Radar iPhone app yet, but it sounds cool

Kristol, Frum, and the future of conservatism

10 sci-fi devices that could become reality

Next in OR: banning free tobacco samples

Plagiarizing plagiarism policies

More tough times for Starbucks

So, about privatizing the mail service


2 thoughts on “Links for 1/29/09”

  1. Regarding your “bless the cynics” link: There is a term for those who would resist the popular tide in times like 9/11 and oppose torture, unnecessary war, and unchecked executive power….but it’s not “cynics.” It’s called “people of conscience.” People with the courage of their convictions willing to stand up to the world and say the world is wrong.

    Perhaps, such courageous people will also be cynical – possessing a refusal to hope in anything and a desire to mock the hopes of others. But I’d argue that just as often such courageous people are animated not by such pettiness, but by a competing vision the common good.

    The cynicism that so bothers me when I look at the world of politics is more of a pettiness, a belief that people can and should be manipulated with silly distractions for the sake of one’s own personal gain (think Karl Rove), and a need to engage in caricatures and name-calling toward anybody who honestly disagrees with you (Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Christopher Hitchens come to mind).

    Maybe that’s not what Obama means by “cynics.” Maybe he means what the author of your column implies – people who disagree with his policies. In that case, obviously, I think he’s wrong to belittle those who criticize him (even when I agree with his policies). In fact, I’d even call that tactic….cynical.

  2. I think that “skeptic” is the more accurate word for what the columnist was going for, but Obama chose “cynic” — effectively denigrating people who have a healthy skepticism for government’s ability to plan something as complex as an economic rescue or the transformation of the Middle East.

    I’m proud to be a skeptic, not a cynic. In politics, though, the former does often lead to becoming the latter. (But not, hopefully, in the sense that you mean in referring to Limbaugh, Rove, or O’Reilly.)

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