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Information is power. Our mission at Portside is to seek out and to provide information that empowers you -- that empowers the left. Every day we search hundreds of sources to connect you with the most interesting, striking and useful material. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. Please help.



For posts before June 2012, please follow these links to our archives.

E. O. Wilson vs. Math

Jeremy Fox Dynamic Ecology
I certainly agree that theoreticians often find it hard to find empiricists who will make use of their equations. But whose fault is that? Seems to me that the fault often lies with empiricists who stick with their intuitions come hell or high water, and who actively resist the discipline that mathematics imposes on their groundless daydreaming. Intuition is great–as long as it’s only a starting point, and as long as you’re prepared to give it up when it’s proven wrong,

Let's Stop Treating the Constitution Like the Da Vinci Code

Garrett Epps The Atlantic
The Congressional Research Service points out two things that are missing in Canning: precedent and practicality. A quick glance at a dictionary written more than a quarter-century before the Framing, in another country, was enough to sweep away any counterarguments -- most particularly the argument that, whatever words the Framers may have chosen, they were designing a government that would work, not one that would fall apart whenever 40 senators felt grumpy.

Senators and Unions Call for Obama to Intervene in Patriot Coal Bankruptcy

Mike Elk In These Times
The miners union has filed suit claiming that Arch Coal and Peabody Energy designed Patriot Coal to fail—then shifted over a billion dollars in pension and retiree health care debts to Patriot as a ploy to get out of those obligations. The UMWA fears if Peabody and Arch get away with spinning off their obligations to a company designed to collapse, more coal companies will take similar measures.

Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling

Stephanie Strom New York Times
A dietitian working on a panel charged with setting policy on genetically modified foods for the academy contends she was removed for pointing out that two of its members had ties to Monsanto, one of the biggest makers of genetically modified seeds. The incident arises at a time of growing consumer awareness and debate over genetically modified foods — with more than 30 states considering labeling laws — and rising pressure on companies to reduce their use of GMOs.