A better takedown of David Brooks

Via Obsidian Wings, a good takedown of David Brooks. It’s not even that he is a shill for the Republican Party, in a kind of “looks reasonable on the face of it but makes no sense upon further inspection” defence of Bush’s politics, but he’s just dead wrong on both Bush and Kerry:

Brooks also claims that Kerry is “unable to blend his specific proposals into guiding principles”, while Bush is “abstracted from day-to-day reality”, presumably because he is absorbed in the contemplation of Platonic forms. Again, both claims are false. Bush has plenty of specific proposals to offer; in fact, most of his time in the debate is spent listing them. Kerry, for his part, has a clear set of convictions from which his policy proposals follow. He believes that we should work with other nations to pursue our own security, to ensure the peace and security of the world, and to prevent humanitarian catastrophes like Rwanda and Darfur. To do this, he thinks we need to maintain our credibility and moral leadership. He is prepared to go to war to protect this country, and to do so over the opposition of other countries, but only after all other alternatives have been exhausted; and he thinks we should work to prevent this last resort from being forced on us by strengthening our alliances and preventing various problems from boiling over. David Brooks might disagree with this vision, but it exists, and as presented in the debate it is clearly underwritten by moral principles. Likewise, I disagree with many of Bush’s specific policy proposals, but it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that they did not exist.

Naturally, read the whole thing. It even has a nice quote from Emerson for me to frame my ire with.


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

I started reading this mighty tome, and I suspect it will take me forever to read it, but so far it is highly entertaining and just the thing after a long day of work.

If anyone knows any good references on convergence vs. number of data points for the largest eigenvector in the singular value decomposition of the sample covariance matrix, you will earn my undying gratitude, especially if it leads to a conference publication.