So, he’s the perfect nominee, then?

Lawrence VanDyke has been nominated for a position on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The American Bar Association has sent in their customary evaluation and it finds him ‘Not Qualified’. Their letter explains why saying, among other things, the following:

Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules. There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an “entitlement” temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.

Some interviewees raised concerns about whether Mr. VanDyke would be fair to persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community. Mr. VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.

Of course, the Republican majority in the senate will confirm him. In their eyes, this will read like a glowing recommendation.

When questioned during the hearings about whether he would be fair to the LGBT community, he cried.

The Satanic Temple takes on the US Navy

The Satanic Temple keep pushing on the contradictions that exist in how US governmental institutions treat religions. Rather than simplifying matters by requiring that the government and all its agencies be strictly secular, as a reasonable reading of the Establishment Clause might require, the government and the courts have sought to find ways to accommodate religious beliefs in some form, partly I suspect out of fear there will be an outraged reaction from Christian evangelicals who strongly believe that this is a Christian country.
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The extended mind and the problem of consciousness

How the brain produces the feeling of subjective experience (i.e., what is it like to be a bird or dog or whatever) has been labeled as ‘the hard problem’ of consciousness. Science journaloist Michael Hanlon writes that claims to be making progress on solving this using the latest developments in neuroscience, computation, and evolutionary science have proved to be premature.

For long periods, it is as if science gives up on the subject in disgust. But the hard problem is back in the news, and a growing number of scientists believe that they have consciousness, if not licked, then at least in their sights.

Despite such obstacles, the idea is taking root that consciousness isn’t really mysterious at all; complicated, yes, and far from fully understood, but in the end just another biological process that, with a bit more prodding and poking, will soon go the way of DNA, evolution, the circulation of blood, and the biochemistry of photosynthesis.

Committed materialists believe that consciousness arises as the result of purely physical processes — neurones and synapses and so forth. But there are further divisions within this camp.

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Daniel Dennett wrote that: ‘Human consciousness is just about the last surviving mystery.’ A few years later, Chalmers added: ‘[It] may be the largest outstanding obstacle in our quest for a scientific understanding of the universe.’ They were right then and, despite the tremendous scientific advances since, they are still right today. I do not think that the evolutionary ‘explanations’ for consciousness that are currently doing the rounds are going to get us anywhere. These explanations do not address the hard problem itself, but merely the ‘easy’ problems that orbit it like a swarm of planets around a star. The hard problem’s fascination is that it has, to date, completely and utterly defeated science. Nothing else is like it. We know how genes work, we have (probably) found the Higgs Boson; but we understand the weather on Jupiter better than we understand what is going on in our own heads. This is remarkable.

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Trevor Noah explains to Kanye West the realities of black voting patterns

For some reason, rapper Kanye West, who once famously said that George W. Bush does not like black people, has become a supporter of Donald Trump and the Republican party. But he does not stop there. He has gone on to suggest that black people have been brainwashed to vote Democratic and that he is one of the few who has seen the light.

Trevor Noah talks to his studio audience between taping parts of his show. In this clip, he carefully explains to West why black people vote the way they do, because for them voting is not something to be taken lightly as it is for rich people like West for whom it does not really matter who is in office. It matters deeply in so many ways.

Bernie Sanders the optimist

Dave Weigel tweets out the following.

Really, Bernie? The Republicans painted John Kerry, who fought in Vietnam and was injured twice, as some kind of coward who pretended to have been injured, while their own candidate George W. Bush got a safe stateside post in the Texas Air National Guard. They have shown that facts do not stand in the way of smearing anyone.
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Don’t judge a magazine by its cover (or name)

I have heard of the magazine Vogue and its seemingly junior counterpart Teen Vogue. Going purely on its name and shamelessly stereotyping, I had imagined that the latter would deal with pop culture and fashion. It turns out that I was quite wrong. While it does deal with those things, it turns out to also be a magazine pitching radical progressive politics at its target audience of teenagers.

David Palumbo-Liu, professor of comparative literature at Stanford University, says that the transition reflects the changing times.
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Bernie Sanders and two economics professors explain the benefits of Medicare for All

Sanders keeps making very clear arguments about its benefits in order to counter the distortions.

Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman explain how the Sanders’s plan for Medicare for All will result in reduced taxes, because what we now pay in health care premiums are in fact taxes, something that opponents of universal health care plans try to ignore.
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The Good Samaritan ransomware fighter

Ransomware is the practice of hackers getting into computers, encrypting all the data, and then demanding a ransom payment, usually in the form of bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, for the key to decrypt the data. Many institutions have paid up.

ProPublica profiles Michael Gillespie who has helped hundreds of people recover their files for free, although he and his family are really hard up. Although he is just 27, he is a cancer survivor and his wife is a diabetic and they have a lot of medical expenses and he does not earn much at his regular job, so much so that he took on a 2:00 am newspaper delivery route to earn a little extra money. But he refuses to charge ransomware victims for his services because he doesn’t want to take advantage f people who have already been taken advantage of.
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Following Joe Biden’s money

The role that money plays in US elections is obscene. As a result, the strength of a campaign is not only measured in terms of poll numbers but also in terms of how much money is raised and spent by each candidate, which in turn influences the polls.

The Biden campaign is currently in a little bit of financial trouble in that the amount of money it has in hand is far less than that of his main rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, even though the contributors to the Biden campaign are big money contributors. As a consequence, despite his vow not to take money from lobbyists and Super PACs, his wealthy supporters and lobbyists are forming a Super PAC to fund his campaign, as Lee Fang reports, funded by wealthy people who are concerned about people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren winning the nomination and (Oh, the horror!) even the presidency.
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