Yahoo’s Echo-Chamber of Yahoos: The AP article on Obama’s campaigning on behalf of the Democratic agenda and Cognressional Democratic candidates doesn’t offer much that’s new; a reminder of the arguments, and of the reactions to it. But the comments that follow from readers are what’s really striking ( If you scroll through them, there is an overwhelming majority that are rabidly right-wing, the thumbs up and thumbs down votes are overwhelmingly in favor of a rabid right-wing ideology, and most of the few counterarguments are hidden due to “low ratings” (they can be opened up, but they are not immediately visible like the rest). My own first two attempts at posting comments, which used language much like I use on this blog, were not published. (The third attempt, pasting excerpts from “A Choice Between Our Hopes and Our Fears”, finally made the cut). Intentionally or unintentionally, Yahoo has created a nearly perfect echo-chamber, one which reinforces a popular but information-deprived public mania. Disinformation abounds, references to actual data and analyses which debunk it are at best buried in the noise (and at worst essentially censored or muted). What public discourse really needs, and really benefits from, is a robust exchange of information, and attention to how reliable or unreliable that information is. Yahoo’s forum is precisely the opposite: A robust reinforcement of arbitrary assumptions and passionately held but not highly informed political positions. It is the social and cultural equivalent of, upon witnessing an epidemic, working to spread it rather than contain or cure it. (Trivia: The word “Yahoo” was coined by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels (1726), one of the most brilliant satirical novels ever written.)

Some hope in the crisis of bee colony losses: For the past four years, a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder” has decimated the bee populations in America and Europe, threatening to wreak havok on agricultural production, which depends on bees for crop pollinization ( This was one of those many potentially devastating crises looming on the margins of public awareness; potentially devastating because without bees pollinating crops, agricultural production could virtually collapse. The October 25 issue of Time Magazine reports that the cause for this phenomenon may have been found: A combination of viral and fungal infections, providing a one-two punch that is either the cause or a side-effect of colony collapse disorder. If the former, there is some hope for a solution. As Time reports: “The virus can be eradicated only by culling infected hives, but the fungus can be controlled with commercially available antibiotics.”

Colorado too easily hijacked by fanatical extremists: The Denver Post argued in an editorial today that the case of Doug Bruce secretly funding draconian (and insanely fiscally self-destructive) ballot measures 60, 61, and 101 is an object lesson in the need for tightening enforcement of current election laws, which require procedures for reporting and tracking information about who is supporting and financing ballot initiatives. But we really need to go farther: We need to make it harder to amend the constitution via ballot initiative. The fact that it is as easy, through popular initiative, to pass a state constitutional amendment (which the state legislature can’t then amend in order to make it workable) as mere legislation means that the preference is for constitutional amendments, a fact which has already turned Colorado’s state constitution into a mess of poorly drafted, poorly conceived, and often contradictory provisions.

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