DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for the 'Think about it.' Category

Processed Foods That Dilute Protein Content Subvert Our Appetite Control Systems

20th April 2014

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Obama says it’s George W. Bush’s fault, and who can prove it isn’t?

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

20th April 2014

Christos Anesti

empty

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The Gross Domestic Pissants

20th April 2014

Theodore Dalrymple has had enough.

I realized a long time ago that a very large number of people in a modern economy are paid to do things that not only fail to add to the economic product of the country, but on the contrary reduce it, insofar as they obstruct others from producing as much as they otherwise might.

There is, as every petty official knows, a great deal of pleasure to be had from the obstruction of others, especially if they appear to be more fortunate, better placed, richer, or more intelligent than oneself. There is a pleasure in naysaying, all the greater if the naysayer is able to disguise from the victim the fact that he is not only doing his duty but gratifying himself. Indeed, there are many jobs, meaningless in themselves, in which the power to say no is the only non-monetary reward.

More to be feared even than the secret sadist, however, is the person who genuinely believes in the intrinsic value and even indispensability of his absurd task. He is as dangerous as any true believer. In my hospital, I saw many such people, scurrying like the White Rabbit in Alice from one meeting to another—meetings which medical staff were required to attend, thus diverting them from the main purpose of having medical staff in the first place. A friend of mine who had waited all day for a minor but potentially life-preserving operation was told at the last minute that his operation had been postponed because the surgeon had been called to attend a meeting. Only a credible threat by my friend of dire consequences for the hospital if the operation were not performed as planned diverted the surgeon from his pseudo- to his real work.

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Microrobots, Working Together, Build With Metal, Glass, and Electronics

19th April 2014

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Tiny robots that work together like ants could lead to a new way to manufacture complex structures and electronics.

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Floating Nuclear Power Plants Could Avoid Disasters Like Fukushima

19th April 2014

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Researchers have an idea for how future nuclear reactors can avoid the trauma that led to the 2011 disaster at Fukushima: by building new plants five to seven miles out into the ocean. “This affords some absolutely crucial advantages,” Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, which led the research, explains in a video presenting the idea. In particular, Buongiorno says that this distance into the ocean will remove the risk of tsunamis, which won’t throw big waves in such deep water, and of earthquakes, the seismic waves of which will be damped by the ocean.

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15 Sitcom Characters Who Might Be Broke If They Lived In The Real World

19th April 2014

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While watching your favorite sitcom, you may have wondered if the characters on the show could actually afford to live in their houses or apartments in reality. Could a news anchor in San Francisco really pay the mortgage on the towering home that the “Full House” clan resided in? Is Mindy Lahiri’s spacious Manhattan apartment too much for her doctor’s salary? How about Al Bundy—is his and Peg’s Illinois home over budget for his paltry shoe salesman income?

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Thought for the Day

18th April 2014

XKCD has it right.

Free Speech

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Can You Spot a Gold Digger?

18th April 2014

The New York Post is on the case.

Gold diggers are such a problem in NYC, one woman has set up an agency that proclaims it will weed them out.

Upper East Side matchmaker Janis Spindel founded Club J-Love in 1993 — and since then claims to have 1,008 marriages under her belt. Her specialty? Helping men like K.G. avoid heartbreak — and the loss of hard-earned money — by sussing out a woman’s true motives.

“I can smell a gold digger from a mile away,” says Spindel, who says she rejects about 10 percent of all those vying for a place in her 3,000-member stable of beauties. “It’s why [my clients] come to me — to protect them from bimbettes and gold diggers.”

According to Spindel, gold diggers are a growing problem, now that the city is awash in “more money” — from Wall Street to hedge funds to startups. And so she vets each woman in person, grilling each one with a series of pointed questions aimed at determining whether she’s a perfect 10 — or a 49er in disguise.

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A New Trend: Identitarian Religion

16th April 2014

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Although the concept of identitarian religion is relatively new in North America, it has gained some popularity in Europe.  One prefatory note I’d like to make is that identitarian religion can be pagan or Christian.  (Some critics seem to assume that all identitarian religion is pagan.)

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Universal Computing by DNA Origami Robots in a Living Animal

16th April 2014

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Following an ex vivo prototyping phase, we successfully used the DNA origami robots in living cockroaches (Blaberus discoidalis) to control a molecule that targets their cells.

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On Evaporation, the Scientific Battle Rages

16th April 2014

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Since they lose pretty much every argument, the global warming fraudsters try to tell us that the science is settled, and we should all just shut up. In fact, however, debates over various aspects of climate science are constantly raging. This one is a great example: “Major Errors Apparent in Climate Model Evaporation Estimates.”

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The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and All Your Most Cherished Beliefs

14th April 2014

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The threat of disease is not uniform around the world. In general, higher, colder, and drier regions have fewer infectious diseases than warmer, wetter climates. To survive, people in this latter sort of terrain must withstand a higher degree of “pathogen stress.” Thornhill and his colleagues theorize that, over time, the pathogen stress endemic to a place tends to steer a culture in distinct ways. Research has long shown that people in tropical climates with high pathogen loads, for example, are more likely to develop a taste for spicy food, because certain compounds in these foods have antimicrobial properties. They are also prone to value physical attractiveness—a signal of health and “immunocompetence,” according to evolutionary theorists—more highly in mates than people living in cooler latitudes do. But the implications don’t stop there. According to the “pathogen stress theory of values,” the evolutionary case that Thornhill and his colleagues have put forward, our behavioral immune systems—our group responses to local disease threats—play a decisive role in shaping our various political systems, religions, and shared moral views.

If they are right, Thornhill and his colleagues may be on their way to unlocking some of the most stubborn mysteries of human behavior. Their theory may help explain why authoritarian governments tend to persist in certain latitudes while democracies rise in others; why some cultures are xenophobic and others are relatively open to strangers; why certain peoples value equality and individuality while others prize hierarchical structures and strict adherence to tradition. What’s more, their work may offer a clear insight into how societies change. According to Thornhill’s findings, striking at the root of infectious disease threats is by far the most effective form of social engineering available to any would-be reformer.

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Changing Our Education System One Programmer at a Time

13th April 2014

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Colleges are in an unsustainable arms race of spending on non-teaching lures – football stadiums and sushi-laden cafeterias – to attract students who can neither afford the cost of education nor find jobs to repay their debt once they’re out in the real world.

With more than $1.1 trillion of outstanding student debt, up to 40 percent of recent college grads are either unemployed or underemployed. In 2010, the unemployment rate for young workers aged 16-24 hit 19.6 percent, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment in 1947. The next time you go to an amusement park, think that one in four park workers has a college degree.

As is often the case, change is coming from entrepreneurs looking to reshape education. After all, this stems from a real need on the part of startups to attract and retain great engineers. In most startups, the hardest jobs to fill are positions in core technology, product design and product management.

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Some Questions

13th April 2014

Taki deals out some inconvenient truth.

Some questions are asked in a spirit of inquiry, to obtain answers, but others are asked to intimidate or badger or coerce agreement with a point of view and establish the irreproachable virtue of the persons who ask them. I received such a question by email the other day from the Lancet, one of the most important medical journals in the world. Addressing me by my first name (already sufficient to irritate me), it asked me, “Do you care about the health of our planet?”

Frankly, the answer is that I don’t. Planets, unlike dogs, are not the kind of thing I can feel affection or concern for. My bank account occupies my mind more than the health of the planet. I am not even sure that planets can be healthy or unhealthy, any more than they can be witty or self-effacing. To call a planet healthy is to make what philosophers used to call a category mistake. This is not to say that I wish the earth any harm; on the contrary. Indeed, in a multiple-choice examination, I might even tick the box for wishing the world well rather than ill, at least if I had any reason for wanting to pass.

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The Six-Shooter Marketplace: 19th-Century Gunfighting as Violence Expertise

13th April 2014

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How are new forms of violence expertise organized and exploited? Most scholars view this as primarily a question of state-building; that is, violence experts use their skills in an attempt to regulate economic transactions or to extract and redistribute resources via protection rents either for themselves or at the behest of political elites. In an alternative view, this article demonstrates that historical gunfighters active in the late 19th-century American Southwest were actually market actors—the possessors of valuable skills cultivated through participation in the Civil War and diffused through gunfighting and reputation building in key market entrepôts. Neither solely state-builders nor state-resisters, as they have traditionally been interpreted, gunfighters composed a professional class that emerged in the 1870s and 1880s and who moved frequently between wage-paying jobs, seizing economic opportunities on both sides of the law and often serving at the behest of powerful economic, rather than political, actors. I establish this claim by examining a dataset of over 250 individuals active in the “gunfighting system” of the post-bellum West, demonstrating that the social connections forged through fighting, and diffused through social networks, helped generate a form of organized violence that helped bring “law and order” to the frontier but as a byproduct of market formation rather than as state-building.

Hey, tenure doesn’t grow on trees, you know.

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Unpacking Progressivity

13th April 2014

Amity Schlaes takes a look at the man behind the curtain.

“A progressive levy on individual wealth would reassert control over capitalism in the name of the general interest while relying on the forces of private property and competition,” Piketty writes confidently.

Private property will bolt to the moon if such a tax becomes global law. Most Americans sense this, but are halted from arguing because they are not sure they understand Piketty’s formula. It’s not clear that most Americans even understand progressivity.

And that’s not an accident. You don’t have to be Machiavelli, to name a clearer foreign writer, to see that the incomprehensibility of such concepts is not incidental — it is necessary to the grander process of redistribution.

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The Warthog, a Soldier’s Best Friend; Obama, Not So Much

13th April 2014

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Why is President Bush so much more popular than President Obama among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans? That’s an easy one. Bush was the president of let’s roll. Obama is the president of let’s retreat.

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The Left Airbrushes LBJ Back Into the Picture

13th April 2014

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While they would speak very approvingly of the Civil Rights and ‘Anti-Poverty’ laws passed during his tenure in Office, the Left would not give LBJ credit as the leader of those efforts.  For the former, they would say that he was carrying-out the wishes of JFK, prodded by Bobby’s efforts [let us not forget that they were the ones who first revealed the famous quote by LBJ — when the 'Anti-Poverty' laws were passed — that they have, until recently, repeated nearly ad nauseam: 'I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.']  For the latter, they would credit JFK, RFK, and others, like Hubert Humphrey [who got Rehabilitated by the Leftists a lot quicker, especially once he was dead and couldn't correct them].  If the Left gave LBJ any credit, it was for giving-in to the political and ‘moral’ pressure put on him by the Holy Priests Of The Leftist Order Of Illumination because he was the Ultimate Political Player.

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New Study: Concealed Carry Deters Murder

7th April 2014

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Economist Mark Gius has a new study in the journal Applied Economics Letters that bears on the gun control debate. Gius finds that permissive concealed carry laws (generally, “shall issue”) result in a lower rate of homicide involving firearms. Conversely, state-level assault weapons bans have no statistically significant effect on the homicide rate involving guns.

Something that everyone realizes intuitively but few are willing to acknowledge publicly.

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How Many People Does It Take to Colonize Another Star System?

6th April 2014

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Hey — I worry about these things….

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Why the Immune System Is So Damn Complicated

6th April 2014

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So where does all this Rube Goldberg action come from? It’s tempting to blame evolution, and the accumulation of cruft in the genome, but evolution can be quite good at simplifying when simplicity is actually optimal. We have only one backbone in our body, not five sort-of-parallel ones all trying to combine to support us. So there must be something optimal here about complexity, and when considered it’s obvious: if we could understand the immune system easily, so could microbes, and so they could subvert it easily. Indeed, it seems like whenever I read about the workings of any well-studied human pathogen, those workings include at least one way of eluding, deceiving, or sabotaging the immune system, and often two or three of them. Germs don’t seem to qualify as human pathogens, in the eyes of doctors, unless they have such a way; otherwise they are just one of the “harmless” background microbes which the immune system usually deals with so efficiently that we don’t even know that they are trying to eat us (though they can still be harmful in high doses). Yet even when a germ has three different ways of eluding the immune system, that doesn’t make it 100% deadly; most of the time the immune system can still eventually get it under control, using a fourth (and maybe a fifth and a sixth) mechanism in its arsenal.

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Arguments About Definitions

6th April 2014

Freeberg speaks wisdom.

I’ve been noticing that with what we lately call “left” and “right” in politics, it is a rather consistent configuration that this “side that refuses to define things” is on what we call the “left.” Issue after issue. I have also noticed that where these halves overlay occupations, the “left” sympathizes with those who don’t have any. Or, are occupied with something disassociated with any sort of material demand. Community organizing. Wheelchair-ramp-reconstruction or health insurance including birth control; other things people buy not because they actually want them, but to meet some sort of regulatory requirement. Well, this stands to reason. If you’re going to sell something to people who actually want to buy it, you’re going to need to define things in order to do your market research. And, to build the widget to make sure it does what people want it to do. And then the people lining up to spend their hard-earned dollars buying it, oh boy howdy, they’re going to want things defined too. What’s the total cost of ownership? What’s it like to use it? What are the consequences of moving on to this new thing, and stopping using the old thing?

When every argument you make relies on presenting things as the opposites of themselves, that’s deceit; and, deceitful people don’t want things defined, that makes it harder to do the deceiving.

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Multiculturalism: “Cult of Ignorance”

4th April 2014

Dymphna riffs on Mark Steyn.

In the video, Mr. Steyn points out what one “tiny, miserable grey island in the North Atlantic” managed to accomplish. The great horror is the ways in which that hard-won knowledge is being buried beneath the strew and slander of the deliberate ignorance of those who want only its subjugation under a theocratic supremacy. Those currently in power chant a mantra about the ways “poverty breeds ignorance”, etc., while their own educated ignorance reduces all facts to mere opinion.

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Eating Seven or More Portions of Fruit and Vegetables a Day Reduces Your Risk of Death by 42 Percent

2nd April 2014

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It certainly reduces your risk of dying of starvation.

I’m wondering how big these portions are.

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Despite IPCC Doom Report, This Dataset of Datasets Shows No Warming This Millennium

1st April 2014

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Our dataset-of-datasets graph averages the monthly anomalies for the three terrestrial and two satellite temperature records. It shows there has still been no global warming this millennium. Over 13 years 2 months, the trend is zero.

My, what a surprise! Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

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Artists Install Monty Python Silly Walk Signs in Norwegian Town

1st April 2014

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I blame Garrison Keillor.

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Not Really News: In Congress, Democrats the Party of the Rich

31st March 2014

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Only two Republican districts make the list of the top 10 richest House districts, according to an Associated Press analysis.

All are in one of the Left Coast states.

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“Rights” of Obamacare

31st March 2014

Scott Johnson pulls back the curtain on the Hobby Lobby case.

At the oral argument of the Hobby Lobby case, Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan came loaded for bear. (The Supreme Court has posted a transcript of the oral argument here.)

The “right” or entitlement to employer-subsidized abortifacients at issue in Hobby Lobby is a pure creation of the administrative agencies enforcing the regime of Obamacare. It is an artifact of the state. It has nothing in common with the rights proclaimed in the Declaration. It has nothing in common with the rights protected by the Constitution. Indeed, as the Hobby Lobby case illustrates, the administrative state is at war with these rights.

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San Francisco Police Officer Pay and Benefits

30th March 2014

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As John Derbyshire, Patron Saint of Dyspepsia, always says: ‘Get a government job!’

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The Prestige of Elite Credentials

30th March 2014

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Here’s a simple test of who is “rich”: If you can afford $40,000 a year for your kid’s college tuition, congratulations, you’re rich.

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The Right Not to Be Implicated

30th March 2014

Kevin Williamson speaks some inconvenient truth.

Hobby Lobby will make its case before the Supreme Court, maintaining that it should not be coerced by federal mandate to use its employee insurance programs to facilitate the purchase of certain birth-control devices that it regards as being more akin to abortion than to contraception. About the legal and technical questions, I have little to add to what Ed Whelan and other legal scholars writing here — all of them far more knowledgeable than I — already have written, except to note that it strikes my non-specialist’s sensibility as being self-evidently true that the Affordable Care Act fails to meet the relevant criterion in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: that in those cases in which the federal government can demonstrate a compelling state interest in burdening the free exercise of religion, it must choose the least restrictive method of doing so. The English major in me has trouble getting the words “least restrictive” to jibe with “federal mandate.”

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Telecom Providers Want an End to the Landline

30th March 2014

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 are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS–the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years.

Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate “carrier of last resort” mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.)

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Why Almost Everything You’ve Been Told About Unhealthy Foods Is Wrong

30th March 2014

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Mainly because you trusted Voices of the Crust … like the Guardian.

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The Week in Pictures: Spring Climate Change Edition

29th March 2014

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My favorite:

Warming Benefit copy

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Larger Lesson of “We Were Wrong about Saturated Fat”

28th March 2014

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The experts were staggeringly wrong about saturated fat…but they couldn’t possibly be wrong about “sugar and ultra-processed foods”. That makes no sense, but that’s what Bittman wrote (“increasingly apparent”). To me, what is increasingly apparent is that nutrition experts shouldn’t be trusted.

I don’t know what “ultra-processed foods” are but I am beginning to believe the experts are utterly wrong about sugar, too. As far as I can tell, sugar in the evening improves sleep — by a lot, if you get the details right — and nothing is more important than good sleep. If you have read The Shangri-La Diet, you already know that sugar alone cannot have caused the obesity epidemic. It is more complicated than that.

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Is Today’s Left More Opposed to Free Speech Than Yesterday’s?

28th March 2014

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Historically, the left has had an ambivalent relationship to what used to be derisively called “bourgeois freedoms.” From Marx’s On the Jewish Question to Herbert Marcuse’s notion of repressive tolerance, some of the most interesting thinking on the left has been devoted to examining the limits of what for lack of a better word I’ll call the liberal defense of freedom and rights. And of course this tradition of thought has often—and disastrously—been operationalized, whether in the form of Soviet tyranny or the internal authoritarianism of the CPUSA.

But if we think about this issue from the vantage of the 1960s, my sense is that today’s left—whether on campus or in the streets—is far less willing to go down the road of a critique of pure tolerance, as a fascinating text by Marcuse, Barrington Moore, and Robert Paul Woolf once  called it, than it used to be. (As Jeremy Kessler suggests, that absolutist position, which is usually associated with content neutrality, historically went hand in hand with the politics of anti-communism.) Once upon a time, those radical critiques of free speech were where the action was at. So much so that even liberal theorists like Owen Fiss, who ordinarily might have been more inclined to a Millian defense of free speech, were pushed by radical theorists like Catharine MacKinnon to take a more critical stance. But now that tradition seems to be all but dead.

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Goodnight, Little Jim

27th March 2014

John Derbyshire, Patron Saint of Dyspepsia, reminds us of the poetry we’ve (mostly) lost.

Turner’s idea was to gather together poems that late-Victorian children would have committed to memory and recited at family gatherings or school concerts: “Poems”—I’m quoting from his preface—“of the highest moral rectitude…with plain, easy rhythms, uncomplicated heroics, and unabashed pathos.”

He says that the tradition of family reciting in the actual parlor—the living room—of middle-class homes died out with the coming of radio in the 1920s, but recitation lingered on in the educational system. It certainly did: I learned to recite some of these poems—Byron’s “Sennacherib,” Browning’s “How They Brought the Good News”—in my own 1950s school days.

Time spent memorizing poetry is like putting money in the bank; when you pull it out again years later, you’re always surprised at how valuable it’s become.

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Power, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Oppression

27th March 2014

The Other McCain pulls back the curtain.

From time to time, it seems necessary to remind readers that there is no such thing as “moderate feminism.” Feminism is inherently radical — indeed, revolutionary in its aims — and if you are not a radical, you are not a feminist. This is not what I say, this is what feminists themselves say. Women who think of themselves as “moderate feminists” simply have not paid attention to actual feminists.

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Fast Food Protest Group Denies Its Own Workers the Right to Protest

27th March 2014

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The Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which claims the support of 13,000 restaurant workers and with at least 11 affiliates across the country, forbids its own workers from protesting against management.

My, what a surprise! Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

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Flowchart: Which Pet Should You Get?

26th March 2014

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Don’t ever say that we don’t give you useful stuff here.

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More on How Minimum Wage Legislation Harms Even Employed Workers

25th March 2014

Don Boudreaux, a Real Economist, explains.

Remember, minimum-wage legislation strips from workers an important bargaining chip – namely, the ability to offer to work for an hourly wage below the legislated minimum.  So in addition to destroying some job opportunities for low-skilled workers, minimum-wage legislation also prompts employers to offer worse non-wage employment terms to those workers who are not rendered unemployable by minimum-wage legislation.  Employee morale thereby generally falls.  But because minimum-wage legislation reduces low-skilled-workers’ job opportunities across the board, workers are less able to shift jobs from their current employers to other employers.  (And because nearly all employers who continue to hire some low-skilled workers at the now-higher minimum wage worsen their non-wage employment terms, the relative attractiveness of shifting jobs also falls.  At the very least, each employee is denied by government the opportunity to offer a different employer the option of paying him or her a below-minimum wage in return for the employer offering to that worker especially attractive non-wage benefits.)

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Renewables Aren’t Enough. Clean Coal Is the Future.

25th March 2014

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By Western standards, GreenGen is a secretive place; weeks of repeated requests for interviews and a tour met with no reply. When I visited anyway, guards at the site not only refused admittance but wouldn’t even confirm its name. As I drove away from the entrance, a window blind cracked open; through the slats, an eye surveyed my departure. The silence, in my view, is foolish. GreenGen is a billion-dollar facility that extracts the carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant and, ultimately, will channel it into an underground storage area many miles away. Part of a coming wave of such carbon-eating facilities, it may be China’s—and possibly the planet’s—single most consequential effort to fight climate change.

Because most Americans rarely see coal, they tend to picture it as a relic of the 19th century, black stuff piled up in Victorian alleys. In fact, a lump of coal is a thoroughly ubiquitous 21st-century artifact, as much an emblem of our time as the iPhone. Today coal produces more than 40 percent of the world’s electricity, a foundation of modern life. And that percentage is going up: In the past decade, coal added more to the global energy supply than any other source.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Abuse Science

24th March 2014

Kate Paulk understands the dialectic.

See, there’s a hell of a lot of people claiming to be scientists who don’t act like it, because underneath everything else, science isn’t a body of knowledge or a set of defined facts and rules (although of course science has plenty of those and they’re important). It’s a way of thinking and one which both heads of the power-hungry hydra that is the modern American two party system abuse shamelessly.

The first important thing is that science is never “settled”. Science is about observing facts, searching for patterns, making predictions from those patterns and then trying to disprove the predictions. If – to take an example – the pro-Global Warming faction was actually engaging in science, they would be searching for data that disproved their theories.

Oh, and a “theory” in science does not mean the same thing as a theory in general discourse. To be a scientific theory, it has to be mathematically rigorous and disprovable. Otherwise it’s a hypothesis (aka educated guess). Scientific laws describe behavior that is sufficiently well understood nobody expects to ever see it disproved – although since Einstein published the Theory of Relativity, it’s become clear that laws need to also specify the environment in which they apply, since Newton’s laws break down under conditions that you won’t find in normal life.

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Ukraine as Quantum Decoherence

23rd March 2014

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Worth it just for the maps.

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The Week in Pictures: Time for a Reset Edition

22nd March 2014

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My favorite:

Obama Stop copy

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Why the Alarmists’ Climate Models Are Worthless

22nd March 2014

John Hinderaker brings it all together for you.

Climate alarmism is not based on empirical observation; rather, it is entirely predicated on computer models that are manipulated to generate predictions of significant global warming as a result of increased concentrations of CO2. But a model in itself is evidence of nothing. The model obeys the dictates of its creator. In the case of climate models, we know they are wrong: they don’t accurately reproduce the past, which should be the easy part; they fail to account for many features of the Earth’s present climate; and to the extent that they have generated predictions, those predictions have proven to be wrong. There is therefore no reason why anyone should rely on predictions of future climate that are generated by the models.

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Barn in Painting

21st March 2014

Freeberg has an amazing insight.

But a lot of life is like this, which is why conservatives and liberals argue about, evidently, just about everything. Images…which are put together by the task of visually capturing an object. The image is not synonymous with the object, it is just a reflection of it. But to the liberal, to whom each painting is a separate item of value, that doesn’t work. Images are objects, to the liberal. Say something profound in English, then say it in Spanish, now you’re twice as smart. That’s complete balderdash to about half of us, while to the other half it makes perfect sense.

This explains a lot. It explains why today’s statesmanly “leaders” tend to be a grown-up versions of sissy liberal hippie kids back in the 1960?s, and many among those who were not alive back in the 1960?s, but would have fallen in line with the anarchy and rebellion and counter-culture protesting and what-not if they were, now tell the rest of us we’re a bunch of racists if we don’t take our orders unquestioningly from this crop of sixty-something lefty politicians. Liberals see every message as some kind of command. They don’t understand “You go ahead and pay taxes to fight climate change if you want to, but I personally don’t want to” — you say that, and what they hear is “I hate the Earth and I wish to destroy it.” And pretty much every time. That’s a painting they don’t like. Oppose them on the debt talks, and you’re a racist. Oppose them on social spending, you hate poor people. Oppose them on Medicare, you must want to push granny off a cliff. Oppose them on education, you must want more stupid kids. Oppose them on paying for birth control, you must hate women. You know the litany.

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Amira Willighagen

21st March 2014

Listen. And weep.

Truly, this is a wonderful world.

Here she is doing Nessun Dorma. (Yeah, it’s for tenors. Cope.)

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Has the Time Come for Floating Cities?

21st March 2014

Read it.

I would say No, but that’s just me.

Until the late 1980s, nestled behind the Yan Ma Tei breakwater in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay, you could find tens of thousands of boat-dwellers who formed a bustling, floating district. The residents were members of the Tanka community, and their ancestors were fishermen who retreated from warfare on land to live permanently in their vessels. Until the mid-20th century, these traditional outcasts were forbidden even to step ashore.

God forbid that anybody should inquire as to why that was so. They’re the victim-of-the-week, so they must be morally superior.

The typhoon shelter was famous for its restaurants’ cuisine – including Under Bridge Spicy Crab – and it was a nightlife hub, alive with mahjong games and hired singers. Shops on sampan (flat boats) catered to the floating district’s needs.

And night-life and cuisine are what SWPL journalists are all about.

It may seem like science fiction, but as rising sea levels threaten low-lying nations around the world, neighbourhoods like this may become more common. Whereas some coastal cities will double down on sea defences, others are beginning to explore a solution that welcomes approaching tides. What if our cities themselves were to take to the seas?

Which is like saying, Gee, these Latin American cities all have these crowded slums nearby, maybe we should try that? (What’s wrong with this picture?) The problem with ‘floating cities’ is that they float, and if they ever cease to float, many people will die. These are the sort of people who build their fashionable houses on stilts in the canyons around L.A., and then weep when a brushfire or a mudslide land them in a pile of rubble.

The Nigerian-born architect Kunlé Adeyemi proposes a series of A-frame floating houses to replace the existing slum. As proof of concept, his team constructed a floating school for the community. Still, many buildings do not make a city: infrastructure remains a problem here. One solution would be to use docking stations with centralised services, rather like hooking up a caravan to power, water and drainage lines at a campground.

Like the parking lot at, uh, Walmart? (Aaaack! Unclean! Unclean!)

You could extend an existing city like London into the water quite far before ever being seriously challenged by infrastructure issues.

Not if the government builds it. And good luck getting that by the eco-nazis. The paperwork alone would take a century.

Florida architect Jacque Fresco, meanwhile, foresees a time when humans must colonise the sea, to escape land made uninhabitable by overpopulation.

I’m surprised that anybody still believes that hoary myth. Population levels, especially in the First World, have been dropping for decades, and the available evidence shows that when the Developing World gets Develops, their population rates will drop, too. This guy needs to have a long talk with Paul Ehrlich.

He has spent his career designing cities of the future, and himself lives in a dome-shaped prototype.

Okay, I’ll bite: How is ‘designing cities of the future’ a ‘career’? Does he make money at it? If so, where are these ‘cities of the future’? (Wouldn’t that make them ‘cities of the present’?) Or do people just give him money for airy schemes that won’t be seen for years and years? Man, I would love a job like that.

Mobility among the waves lends floating communities a degree of political independence. The Seasteading Institute, founded by Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton), proposes a series of floating villages, and claims to be in active negotiations with potential host nations that would give the villages political autonomy. Billed as a startup incubator for political systems, the aquatic communities would serve as experiments in governance – and represent a rejection of what Seasteaders see as big government intrusion.

Oh, yeah, as if that would ever happen. Looks like somebody jumped the gun on the ‘legalize pot’ initiative.

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We’re the Pinnacle of Civilization — Just Like Everyone Else

21st March 2014

Sarah Hoyt understands the dialectic.

I wonder how the culture warriors today would react to being compared to those fairly ignorant peasant Christians who nonetheless preened on the certainty they were better than their forebears because they were more “moral?”

No, wait, I know exactly how they’d react.  Yes, I’m smiling right now.

Sometimes I feel like my generation (no, not boomers, again, simply on experience.  Our class sizes were shrinking, by then) has spent most of its life learning stuff no one taught us.  From religious doctrine to how to cook from scratch, I had to go out and learn on my own, because the people who were supposed to teach me were either boomers who’d never learned, or the generation before them who had “given up on that old stuf.”

There are certain arts of living, like how to iron a shirt properly, or a lot of home maintenance, which I had to discover like… an archeologist digging through the past.

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