Donald Trump may well win in November 2016

In the politics of the 2016 presidential election, it’s a long ways to the general election. As I write this in the latter half of October, 2015, we have yet even to see the first delegates selected, let alone the nominations, let alone the general election campaign. So it’s awfully early to forecasting the outcome. So treat this more as a warning than as a forecast. Read more

The Ph.D. on the side of the road

As I near completion of my Ph.D. program, I’m actually not very busy at the moment, except in the ways I keep myself busy: following the news intensively as I have done now for several years, the occasional blog post, and catching up on a lot of Star Trek fan videos. The latter are attempts of variable quality to create new episodes that can be watched, almost always on YouTube. Some of them have dreadful scripts; one has actually pretty good scripts, but only two voices—both male—to play both male and female characters in an animated series; some hearken to the original series; others place themselves in the universe of Star Trek: Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or Voyager; some place themselves in the earlier universe of Enterprise or even before. Some represent considerable investments: The producers—all volunteers—have built their own sets. Others re-use backgrounds from the official productions with CGI. Some are animated, occasionally with video game software. The video game animations are stilted and entirely unrealistic, often ruining what is for me an intensely visual experience. One series stopped doing video productions and picked up with audio-only—the loss of the visual here was, for me, too great a loss. Read more

Feminists for patriarchy

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post reports that “[Hillary] Clinton’s most loyal supporters . . . make the case that if a former secretary of state, senator and first lady cannot win, it will be a long time before any other woman has a realistic chance.”[1] Therefore, we should support Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination notwithstanding her declining support,[2] even among women,[3] and thus the extreme improbability that she can prevail in the general election. Read more

  1. [1]Karen Tumulty, “Poll: Sharp erosion in Clinton support among Democratic women,” Washington Post, September 14, 2015,
  2. [2]Jennifer Agiesta, “Poll: New speed bumps for Clinton,” CNN, June 2, 2015,; Jonathan Allen, “Bernie Sanders and ‘top secret’ emails are catching up to Hillary Clinton,” Vox, August 12, 2015,; Dan Balz and Scott Clement, “Poll: Trump, Carson top GOP race; Clinton leads Dems but support drops,” Washington Post, September 13, 2015,; Dana Blanton, “Fox News Poll: Shakeup in GOP field after first debate, Sanders gains on Clinton,” Fox News, August 16, 2015,; Philip Bump, “Hillary Clinton hits a new low in the polls — but this time it’s not Bernie Sanders’s fault,” Washington Post, September 8, 2015,; Jesse Byrnes, “Clinton’s support down 18 points in new poll,” Hill, October 1, 2015,; Nick Gass, “Poll: Clinton losing ground to Sanders,” Politico, August 19, 2015,; Nick Gass, “Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers have gone under water,” Politico, September 2, 2015,; Mark Hensch, “Poll: Sanders surges to within reach of Clinton in Iowa,” Hill, August 29, 2015,
  3. [3]Husna Haq, “Are white women abandoning Hillary Clinton?” Christian Science Monitor, August 4, 2015,; Karen Tumulty, “Poll: Sharp erosion in Clinton support among Democratic women,” Washington Post, September 14, 2015,

The routine acceptance of killing

There was yet another mass killing a few days ago, this time on a small community college campus in a small town in Oregon.[1] President Obama, noting he’d given many speeches on mass killings since becoming president, lamented “the [routine] response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now,” Obama said, he “can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.”[2] Read more

  1. [1]Sara Sidner et al., “Oregon shooting: Gunman was student in class where he killed 9,” CNN, October 2, 2015,
  2. [2]Barack Obama, “Statement by the President on the Shootings at Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon,” White House, October 1, 2015,

Developers and everybody else: An attempt to bridge the chasm

Fig. 1. Feelings are facts. Wrote on Flickr, used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.

For those of us who are steeped in positivism, whether through academic training or by profession, the claim in figure 1, “feelings are facts,” is counter-intuitive. We are trained to imagine an objective reality,[1] a reality which is, in fact, really only the one that most of us happen to agree upon. The whole problem of ‘truth’ and thus of objectivity is in fact terribly problematic. Simply put, there is no theory of truth that withstands scrutiny.[2] And there is a terrible difficulty with any claim to objectivity in a view of reality that only permits a reliance on the very reality in question[3] and thus asserts an exclusive claim to adjudicate which methods of inquiry will be accepted as legitimate research methods, and what knowledge and what forms of knowledge will be accepted as legitimate.[4] Feelings, in this view, are subjective and therefore not true, and therefore false. They cannot be ‘facts.’ Read more

  1. [1]Bruce Mazlish, The Uncertain Sciences (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2007).
  2. [2]Bradley Dowden and Norman Swartz, “Truth,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, September 17, 2004,
  3. [3]Timothy Williamson, “On Ducking Challenges to Naturalism,” New York Times, September 28, 2011,
  4. [4]Yvonna S. Lincoln, “Institutional Review Boards and methodological Conservatism,” in Landscape of Qualitative Research, eds. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008).