DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for the 'Think about it.' Category

Thought for the Day

13th February 2016

Albright-Steinem

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Trump’s America

13th February 2016

Read it.

If you are dismayed by Trumpism, don’t kid yourself that it will fade away if Donald Trump fails to win the Republican nomination. Trumpism is an expression of the legitimate anger that many Americans feel about the course that the country has taken, and its appearance was predictable. It is the endgame of a process that has been going on for a half-century: America’s divestment of its historic national identity.

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Policies and Name Recognition (Trump Persuasion Series)

13th February 2016

Scott Adams continues his masterful analysis.

Pick any other famous person who – like Trump – is NOT a politician, and try the thought experiment again. Better yet, pick any of the current Republican candidates and imagine them swapping policies with Trump. He gets their policies and they get his. Now wait a month and tell me who is ahead in the polls.

Still Trump.

Part of Trump’s persuasion talent involves picking the right policies not only in terms of popularity but in terms of how he can influence that conversation. Trump looks for simple, visual anchors, such as his wall idea. He picked an idea that has legs, guarantees him all the available television time, and for which no one can flank him to his right. None of that is by accident.

Trump’s policy choices were available to all the candidates. Trump did the best job of picking a winner from the bunch. That is part of the skill of persuasion. As a persuader, you learn to pick your opportunities. Trump can’t change everyone’s mind about everything. But he can sell the hell out of a wall. And later he can soften his position on deportation if needed. We even expect it.

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Mexicans for Trump? “It’s a New Mundo.”

12th February 2016

Read it.

As a Mexican-American, I can tell you that many Mexican-Americans think that Mexican immigrants who come to the United States illegally are taking advantage—of a porous border, of the social-services safety net, of loopholes in immigration law, and of an insatiable appetite among U.S. employers for cheap and dependable labor. And they’re not wrong about that.

It is one of the most pernicious myths of Identity Politics that Hispanics, especially those of Mexican descent, only have one opinion amongst them. Trump realizes that this is not true, and knows that people of Mexican descent who are in this country legally, either as citizens or legal residents who ran the gauntlet of the current broken immigration ‘process’, don’t have a lot of use for those who crawl across the border.

 

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Why Does Trump Terrify People?

11th February 2016

Scott Adams is not afraid to ask the hard questions.

It isn’t unusual for members of the public to hate politicians. For example, lots of people hate President Obama. Some of that hatred is because of his policies, some is because of racism, and I assume there are a few other reasons. But I have never seen anyone who was literally afraid of him on a visceral level.

Trump, on the other hand, actually scares people. I have seen people’s bodies twist up and go into full panic at the thought of him being president. I’m talking about actual, literal, bodily fear, as if a monster is already in house and you don’t know where it is hiding. Even professional members of the media feel this fear.

And yet I feel none of that fear – not even a trace amount. To me, Trump looks like the safest candidate in the history of presidential elections, and I don’t even share his politics on a number of topics. So I have to ask myself why I have zero fear of Trump while so many others are in full panic mode. Should I be more afraid?

Like Scott, I feel no fear of Trump; I’d certainly feel more fear of Obama.

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Professors Moved Left Since 1990s, Rest of Country Did Not

11th February 2016

Sam Abrams runs the numbers.

First let me explain how I made the graph. The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA has been conducting triennial surveys of undergraduate teaching faculty for the past 25 years. The HERI samples are huge — tens of thousands of professors — and this is a robust and well-executed survey. The data is comparable and responsibly collected over a long period of time. The survey includes a question asking respondents to describe themselves using a 5-point ideology scale that offers these options: “Far left,” “Liberal,” “Moderate,” “Conservative,” and “Far right.” I merged far left with liberal, and I merged far right with conservative, so that we can see the big picture most clearly. Figure 1 plots the percentage of respondents who fell into those three groups, in each of the 3-year data collection periods. The data is weighted to represent the national population of full-time faculty with teaching responsibilities for undergraduate students.

Figure 1 reveals a striking ideological change among faculty over time. While the data confirms that university and college faculty have long leaned left, a notable shift began in the middle of the 1990s as the Greatest Generation was leaving the stage and the last Baby Boomers were taking up teaching positions. Between 1995 and 2010, members of the academy went from leaning left to being almost entirely on the left. Moderates declined by nearly a quarter and conservatives decreased by nearly a third.

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Anti-Education by Friedrich Nietzsche: Review – Why Mainstream Culture, Not the Universities, Is Doing Our Best Thinking

10th February 2016

Read it.

Beautifully produced by New York Review Books in a new translation, by Damion Searls, with an illuminating introduction, Anti-Education consists of five lectures Nietzsche gave at the Basel city museum in 1872. (A sixth lecture was planned, but never delivered; portions of the series were used in his book Untimely Meditations.) Presenting his critique in the form of a series of dialogues between an old philosopher and a student companion, Nietzsche argues that education (he uses the German word Bildung, a term with multiple senses but that broadly means the formation of culture and individual character) has been degraded by being subordinated to other goals. Both the German gymnasium – the secondary school that prepared students for university – and universities themselves had forfeited their true vocation, which was to “inculcate serious and unrelenting critical habits and opinions”. Instruction in independent thinking had been renounced in favour of “the ubiquitous encouragement of everyone’s so-called ‘individual personality’” – a trend Nietzsche viewed as “a mark of barbarity”. As a result, education was dominated by two tendencies, “apparently opposed but equally ruinous in effect and eventually converging in their end results. The first is the drive for the greatest possible expansion and dissemination of education; the other is the drive for the narrowing and weakening of education.” The first extends education too widely and imposes it on a population that may not want or need it, while the second expects education to surrender any claim to autonomy and submit to the imperatives of the state.

And, indeed, we appear to see that happening right before our very eyes.

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Longbow vs Crossbow

10th February 2016

Watch it.

Gunny Ermey waxes historical.

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Genghis Khan: Barbarian Conqueror or Harbinger of Democracy

10th February 2016

Read it. And watch the video.

The world has generally viewed Genghis Khan as a barbaric conqueror whose troops raped and murdered hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people and pillaged and often destroyed villages, towns, and cities throughout Asia and Europe. However, several popular writers have recently portrayed him as an advocate of democracy, international law, and women’s rights. Morris Rossabi, Senior Research Scholar, Queens College, Columbia University, offers this illustrated lecture, which seeks to provide a balanced depiction of Genghis Khan and to explain the reasons for the myths that have developed about the man and the Mongolian people who established the largest contiguous land empire in world history.

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Bernie Sanders: Who is he and what does he stand for?

10th February 2016

The Independent (UK) is not afraid to ask the easy questions.

Answer: He’s an old white guy from Vermont and he stands for taking your money, wasting a lot of it, and giving the rest to somebody who didn’t earn it.

Ask me a hard one.

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Scott Adams: My New Hampshire Prediction Scorecard

10th February 2016

Savor it.

In past posts, I have often said that predicting the future is hard, but you can fit any conspiracy theory to the past. I’m going to demonstrate that now.

Remember, my Rubio prediction was 100% wrong. That is objectively true. No wiggle room at all.

Now watch me describe my wrong prediction as being more right than wrong. I do this for entertainment, and to make the point that you can force any data to fit the past if you try hard enough. I’ll do that for you now.

Scott Adams has more fun than a human being is supposed to have. And we get to read along.

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Colleges With the Richest Students (Among Those Who Receive Aid)

9th February 2016

Read it.

Of the 25 schools included, 24 of them are private institutions, and 19 are located on the East Coast.

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Five Whacky Notions Believed By Many Economists

8th February 2016

Don Boudreaux, a Real Economist, looks at the bottom-feeders in his own field.

(5) the idea that government-subsidized health care will lower the cost of health care;

(4) the notion that government must have monopoly control over the money supply in order to ensure sound performance of the economy;

(3) the belief that large differences among people in monetary incomes or monetary wealth reflect some market failure that ought to be ‘addressed’ by the state;

(2) the blind faith that government officials in democratic societies can be trusted to exercise power over people who economists do not trust to make choices for themselves;

(1b) the notion that welfare payments (other than EITC) subsidize employers by pushing workers’ wages lower, and

(1a) the notion that the minimum wage is, or can practically be, a boon to all low-skilled workers.

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Veterans Issue Emerges as a Major Marker ’Twixt Democrats, GOP

8th February 2016

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The matter came up at both of the two most recent presidential debates. It’s in the news not only because of the scandal over long wait times for care at Veterans Administration hospitals and the cover-up of the same scandal, but because the differences between Republicans and Democrats on the issue illuminate a stark ideological divide.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue might indeed have something to do with interest group politics. Non-government doctors, health insurance companies, and for-profit hospitals — often, though not exclusively, aligned with Republicans — would surely like a piece of the roughly $60 billion a year that the federal government spends providing veterans health care through dedicated, government owned and operated Veterans Administration health care facilities.

On the Democratic side, the American Federation of Government Employees, a reliable Democratic interest group, represents 220,000 employees at the Veterans Administration. The union doesn’t want those employees to lose their jobs to non-union private sector competitors.

Note that only the Republicans focus on what’s more convenient for the veterans; Democrats are more interested in preserving government power. Sure, they want to ‘fix’ it, but using the same people and structures that broke it in the first place. Winning strategy? I think not.

Veterans health care is not the only issue where Democrats want a service provided by unionized government employees, while Republicans want to give individuals a choice. The same pattern shows up in education, where most Democrats favor traditional public schools while most Republicans are more open to private school vouchers.

Yup, same pattern: Republicans want to allow the consumers to choose, the Democrats want to keep the existing failing government monopoly.

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The Sweet Spot: New Study Shows Optimal Group Size For Baboons

8th February 2016

Read it.

And it’s really, really important to know that.

A new study on the Amboseli baboons of East Africa shows that there is a “sweet spot,” or optimal group size, that is largely a factor of competition for resources and the need for protection from predators.

And that’s just so totally counter-intuitive.

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

No indication of who paid for all of this, but I suspect that taxpayers footed a large part of the bill.

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Thought for the Day

8th February 2016

http://www.openbeamusa.com/blog/2016/1/27/factory4all-a-case-study-on-everything-that-can-go-wrong-with-offshore-sourcing

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Why Are Stethoscopes Still a Thing?

8th February 2016

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There are few technologies more symbolic of western medicine than the stethoscope. Medical schools often gift them to new med students along with a white coat when they start their studies. As far as medical tools go, it’s a fairly versatile and cost-effective one, allowing doctors to detect early signs of trouble in the body with a device that costs just a few hundred dollars.

It’s also 200 years old.

If I’m not mistaken, most are electronic these days.

But new technologies are starting to give the stethoscope a run for its money. In particular, handheld ultrasounds are becoming more compact, powerful, and easy-to-use, giving trained doctors the ability to actually see into the chest from the comfort of their office, rather than simply listening. In cardiology, a doctor might use a stethoscope and, if he hears a potential problem, send the patient for an echocardiogram to investigate further. Narula says the handheld ultrasounds could streamline this process.

Cool.

“Claims that the ‘stethoscope is dead’ are entirely false. In fact, with its new digital capabilities, the stethoscope is healthier than ever,” Fuster writes.

Sometimes the old ways are best.

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New Hampshire Election Fraud Prediction

8th February 2016

Scott Adams is delightfully cynical these days.

As I often say, wherever you have large stakes, an opportunity for wrong-doing, and a small risk of getting caught, wrong-doing happens. That’s a universal law of human awfulness. When humansCAN cheat, they do. Or at least enough of them do.

That situation describes the primaries. I assume the primaries are corrupt to some degree. If not, that would mean the primaries are the one thing in history that has escaped the universal law of human awfulness. And that seems a stretch.

Maybe you think cheating in a primary – and not getting caught – is too hard to do. I scoff at that notion. “Too hard” just means you don’t personally know how to do it. But someone knows. Someone always does.

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None Dare Call It Treason

8th February 2016

Read it.

Treason doth never prosper; what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

McAuliffe was referring to a scandal known as Plamegate. The backstory is complicated, but it boils down to this: During the run-up to the Iraq War, a fellow named Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times undermining a key administration claim about Iraq’s quest for weapons of mass destruction. This made the administration most unhappy. Not long afterward, someone told columnist Robert Novak and a few other members of the media that Wilson was married to one Valerie Plame, a CIA employee.

When he was asked if Karl Rove “is guilty of treason,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said, “Yes, I think so.” Rachel Maddow and others agreed. The word got tossed around so much Plamegate was sometimes referred to as “Treasongate.”

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton.

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Italian Actor Declared Brain Dead After Hanging Scene Goes Wrong

7th February 2016

Read it.

Let that be a lesson to us all.

Think of it as evolution in action.

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Why Do BIC Pens Have a Hole in the Lid?

6th February 2016

Read it.

The hole is designed to allow the passage of air if someone accidentally swallows it and it blocks their windpipe.

Just in case you were wondering. I know I was.

A hundred people every year in the United States reportedly choke to death on these pen lids.

Think of it as evolution in action.

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Are Hipsters the New Aristocracy?

6th February 2016

Read it.

Hint: Probably not.

Inevitably, also, the politics of Twitter is status-based, with the centre-left and centrists being the cool kids from the school playground, and the various other tribes of Corbynites, Communists, social conservatives, English nationalists, rad feminists, jihadis, counter-jihadis and Alt-Right people being the equivalent of metallers, goths or the angry loners planning a school massacre. Social justice warriors are more like a gang composed of middle-class kids with trouble at home: whatever one privately thinks of them as individuals, there are enough of them to cause problems, and they have a habit of doing so.

You can say that again.

In the absence of more obvious class indicators, political views now project status more than ever before.

The most important thing is to identify with the Crust, and to identify yourself as being Crust-worthy.

The modern contradiction is that political ‘egalitarianism’ is fashionable, and professing to believe in equality is a way of standing out from the crowd, from all those losers with their England flags and their parochial attachments (we’ll see a lot of this attitude during the Brexit referendum). This is at least partly why even the most competitive northern Californian companies love to pay lip service to social justice causes.

Much as animals develop protective coloration that allows them to hide in the underbrush.

It’s a bit of cliché that a lot of hippies turned out to be ruthless, successful businessmen, but it’s based on a fair amount of truth; men who were at the top of the cultural hierarchy in the late 1960s and early 70s tended to also have the same qualities that drove them towards domination in Silicon Valley in the 80s. Equally, the ‘liberation’ of the 1960s freed the new ruling class more than it did any other section of society. It helped reduce a sense of noblesse oblige, and contributed to the idea that by supporting the right cultural causes and having the right politics, they were also a moral elite.

The core of the modern Crust.

Today’s cultural elites are also hugely aided by the egalitarian blank slate theory of human nature, which gives them the false idea that they deserve their high status, when in fact intelligence is just another privilege they inherited from mum and dad.

This is, of course, just reflexive ‘progressive’ base-touching, cemented by the misuse of terms like ‘privilege’. See ‘political views now project status’, above.

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As U.S. Modernizes Nuclear Weapons, ‘Smaller’ Leaves Some Uneasy

6th February 2016

Read it.

A fighter jet took off with a mock version of the nation’s first precision-guided atom bomb. Adapted from an older weapon, it was designed with problems like North Korea in mind: Its computer brain and four maneuverable fins let it zero in on deeply buried targets like testing tunnels and weapon sites. And its yield, the bomb’s explosive force, can be dialed up or down depending on the target, to minimize collateral damage.

As might be expected from the New York Times, the news comes with a healthy dollop of left-wing hand-wringing.

The build-it-smaller approach has set off a philosophical clash among those in Washington who think about the unthinkable.

But critics, including a number of former Obama administration officials, look at the same set of facts and see a very different future. The explosive innards of the revitalized weapons may not be entirely new, they argue, but the smaller yields and better targeting can make the arms more tempting to use — even to use first, rather than in retaliation.

I have no problem with First Use of Nuclear Weapons. Look what it did for Japan, not to mention the U.S.

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The Collapse of Oil IS the Economic Boom

6th February 2016

Read it.

Applied to commodities, while essential to economic progress they’re nowhere close to first order goods in economic importance. Oil is a crucial high order input, but per Brookes again “it was the internal combustion engine that gave oil its present value, and not the other way around.” The world would be awful without oil, but it’s first order products like automobiles and planes that gave oil value in the first place.

This is of course why it’s not important that rich countries (think Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, etc.) be resource abundant. Figure commodities are easily importable at the market price, and as plentiful oil exports from economically backward countries like Venezuela, Iran and Equatorial Guinea constantly reveal, commodities in a normal world free of currency distortions would largely be exported by less developed countries to developed ones full of entrepreneurs creating the first order advances that give the prosaic (commodities) life.

Cheap resource inputs mean cheaper resulting products, and that benefits everybody. As the perennial fights over protective tariffs demonstrate, it is very easy to identify those who are harmed by low prices, while those who benefit are more obscure; that’s why lobbyists get rich and politicians convert stupid policies into law.

The beauty of cheap oil is that it will make it more likely that U.S. economic actors import it, and at the same time more and more U.S. investment will migrate toward the Mengerian first order goods that give oil and all manner of other commodities life. Back to Brookes, this is once again what he meant by an economy of the mind. Predicting a broad economic boom amid a “commodity recession” in 1981, Brookes was arguing that falling commodity prices would be brilliant for a country like the U.S. populated by the greatest minds on earth in need of cheap inputs to drive true innovation. From a consumption standpoint, it will surge thanks to cheap oil simply because our production will surge as fewer Americans extract already plentiful oil, and more focus on creating the first order goods that render oil marketable to begin with.

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Thought for the Day

6th February 2016

Income Gap

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In the Land of the Lawless

4th February 2016

Read it.

Until now, the working consensus of the E.U. has been that member states yield part of their sovereignty, pool it in Brussels and through the manifold power of the states, gain back all the more sovereignty. It is now precisely this – committing to delegated power – that appears to the new Polish government to be an infringement of their national pride and Brussels as a world of backrooms in which a few unelected, instead of many elected, make the decisions. So far it has only been angry citizens who have talked like that when they saw themselves being robbed of their self-determination by being forced to adopt energy-saving lamps or through free trade agreements. Now governments are talking that way.

What is right-wing and what is left-wing criticism of the E.U.? Hard to say when ultimately both are concerned about the same thing: raising the will of the people above an international architecture that has become irritating and inconvenient. The hatred of an E.U. cartel that imposes either economic or cultural rules is uniting the nationalists and socialists in Europe, occasionally even allowing them join together, as in Greece, where the left-radical Syriza formed a coalition with the national-chauvinistic ANEL party.

The transnational Crust hits a speedbump.

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Harvard Professor: Discrimination Not the Cause of ‘Gender Pay Gap’

4th February 2016

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Contrary to what you have been led to believe.

During the last seven years, the Obama presidency has faithfully recognized“Equal Pay Day,” the date on which “we mark how far into the new year women would have to work just to earn the same as men did in the previous year.” According to President Obama, the fact that “women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men” is a sign of discrimination against the fairer sex.

But according to Harvard economics professor Claudia Goldin, the president’s logic doesn’t hold up to the evidence. Goldin expounded on her extensive gender wage gap research in a recent Freakonomics podcast, declaring that the difference in earnings between men and women is the result of a difference in priorities rather than blatant sex discrimination. Goldin notes:

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Do Elite Colleges Lead to Higher Salaries? Only for Some Professions

4th February 2016

Read it.

What we found startled us. For STEM-related majors, average earnings don’t vary much among the college categories. For example, we find no statistically significant differences in average earnings for science majors between selective schools and either midtier or less-selective schools. Likewise, there’s no significant earnings difference between engineering graduates from selective and less-selective colleges, and only a marginally significant difference between selective and midtier colleges.

What’s going on? For potential employers, the skills students learn in these fields appear to trump prestige—possibly because curriculums are relatively standardized and there’s a commonly accepted body of knowledge students must absorb. So, a student may not need to attend the best possible school to ensure a good salary after graduation. (It’s important to note that we controlled for numerous other factors that might influence postgraduation earnings, such as family income, race/ethnicity, gender, marital status, SAT score, postgraduate degree and age at graduation and more.)

In other words, in fields where questions have right and wrong answers, and can be tested that way, pretty much any college can train you properly, and you can’t bullshit your way to a good grade.

Unstated is the obvious corollary: In fields where ‘right’ is a matter of opinion, it’s important how high the rank is of the Mandarin whose opinion you are successfully parroting.

 

 

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Initialization Practices Disqualify UN IPCC Global Circulation Models From Use for Most Climate Change Forecast Purposes

4th February 2016

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The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change UN IPCC features and endorses decadal global climate forecasting products. Those in turn feed into numerous downscaled regional climate forecasts. In published representations of forecast skills to date, all within this collective appear to include the poorly disclosed practice of annual boundary condition re-initializations. At one time, such initializations were isolated to obscure attempts to improve forecasts of seasonal climates (lead time 4 months). Now the initializations have become institutionalized, and they direct multi decadal predictions throughout the field of global and regional climate forecasting. The results would be more transparent to peers and the public if the true decadal history matching skills of the models (without initializations) were highlighted.

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Only Known Jaguar in U.S. Filmed in Rare Video

3rd February 2016

Read it.

No, not the car.

How long will this video stay up before British Leyland files a DMCA takedown for trademark infringement?

Start your timers….

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Down With Meritocracy

3rd February 2016

Read it.

A Voice of the Crust actually comes out and says what they all believe.

Ability of a conventional kind, which used to be distributed between the classes more or less at random, has become much more highly concentrated by the engine of education.

A social revolution has been accomplished by harnessing schools and universities to the task of sieving people according to education’s narrow band of values.

With an amazing battery of certificates and degrees at its disposal, education has put its seal of approval on a minority, and its seal of disapproval on the many who fail to shine from the time they are relegated to the bottom streams at the age of seven or before.

The new class has the means at hand, and largely under its control, by which it reproduces itself.

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Obama Defends the Faith

3rd February 2016

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President Obama seems to believe in nothing more than he does the defense of Islam. He specializes in pronouncements on what is truly Islamic and what is not. Such pronouncements are always intended to preserve the good name of Islam. Al Qaeda, of course, not Islamic. The Islamic State, not Islamic.

San Bernardino murderers Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, not Islamic.

Who are you going to believe, Obama or your lyin’ eyes?

Really … if Obama actually were a secret Muslim, what would he be doing differently? I can’t think of anything.

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Heads of Harvard Residential Colleges Don’t Know What to Call Themselves

3rd February 2016

Read it.

They used to be called Masters.

I recommend the title that some heads of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge have, and which probably comes under the rubric of ‘more true than you know’: Warden.

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Why Trump Is a Serious Candidate

3rd February 2016

Jerry Pournelle runs down the list.

A lot of Americans hate their government. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, but their experiences with government tend to expose them to arrogant incompetence for which their Civil Masters, oops Servants give themselves bonuses when their performance warrants discipline—look at the VA as a fine example—and they are afraid to stand out in a crowd lest they draw the attention of government. Streets aren’t paved, laws aren’t enforced equally, water pipes burst, drinking water has lead in it in Flint, and generally things don’t work so good; while all around us is the Internet of Things, marvels and miracles, yet somehow government gets bigger, pays itself more, and presents us with arrogant incompetence.

Trump has fewer – not many fewer but fewer – government credentials than Obama had when he started toward the Presidency. He was briefly in the Illinois legislature, hardly long enough to learn that job, before he became a Senator, and he hadn’t been there long before he was the candidate of hope and change, and he didn’t need to tell people how he was going to do it. Trump has less government experience; but he has built buildings and golf courses, and he has done things; he hasn’t been a community organizer or an unpublished law professor whose students don’t remember him; but he had made a lot of money, not from government; and he is not beholden to contributors or anyone else. His appeal is that he say he will do things, and although he is not a great public speaker, he has done things he is proud of. He knows how to choose people to get them done; or so far he has.

And that’s as fine a precis of Trump’s attraction as I’ve seen anywhere.

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Counter-Terrorism: Singapore The Untouchable

2nd February 2016

Read it.

In late 2015 Singapore arrested 27 Bangladeshi Moslem construction workers and charged them with planning terrorist acts outside of Singapore. Most (26) of them were deported back to their home country while one as charged with trying to leave the country illegally (and engage in terrorist acts). Singapore can afford to just send these wannabe Islamic terrorists home (to face further investigation and possible prosecution) because it is one of the few industrialized nations to have never experienced an incident of Islamic terrorist violence.

Starting in the 1980s Singapore spent an increasing amount of resources on dealing with the terrorist threat. This increased after 2001 and continues as Islamic terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) continue to mention Singapore as a target for attacks. There are several interesting reasons why these Islamic terror groups have never been able to touch Singapore.

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You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition

1st February 2016

Read it.

Which, of course, doesn’t mean that it won’t be on the test.

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Dutch Police Are Training Eagles to Take Out Drones

1st February 2016

Read it.

The country’s law enforcement has teamed up with a raptor training company named Guard From Above to see if birds of prey can be used to safely intercept quadcopters.

In the video demonstration above, an eagle is seen easily plucking what looks like a DJI Phantom out of the air. However, it’s not clear how dangerous this is for the bird. Raptors’ talons are incredibly sharp and their grip is strong enough to crush bone, but that doesn’t meant they’re indestructible and carbon fiber props spinning at full speed can easily cut human flesh. In the video, one of the handlers says that the scales on the eagle’s legs and feet keeps them safe, but also mentions the possibility of creating some sort of extra protection for them.

Still, given the amount of animals who seem to instinctively want to take down drones (the list includes kangaroos, gorillas, geese, and dogs), perhaps the eagles will get some animal backup soon.

Sometimes the old ways are best.

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The Pretence of Knowledge

1st February 2016

Read it.

The lecture given by Friedrich von Hayek upon the occasion of his winning the Nobel Prize in Economics.

It seems to me that this failure of the economists to guide policy more successfully is closely connected with their propensity to imitate as closely as possible the procedures of the brilliantly successful physical sciences – an attempt which in our field may lead to outright error. It is an approach which has come to be described as the “scientistic” attitude – an attitude which, as I defined it some thirty years ago, “is decidedly unscientific in the true sense of the word, since it involves a mechanical and uncritical application of habits of thought to fields different from those in which they have been formed.”1 I want today to begin by explaining how some of the gravest errors of recent economic policy are a direct consequence of this scientistic error.

 

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Bernie Sanders’ Wife Insists He Can Make It All the Way to White House

1st February 2016

Read it.

All it takes is that little blue pill … isn’t science wonderful?

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British Helicopter Pilot Shot and Killed by Poachers

1st February 2016

Read it.

Remembering Roger Gower, an elephant hero who died for his cause.

Ponder the concept of ‘elephant hero’.

‘White man come to my continent, keep us from killing animals we have always killed, keep us from feeding our families. White man can kiss my ass.’

Black Lives Matter, but I guess elephants are more important.

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Thought for the Day

1st February 2016

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If I Was Elected Your Dictator for Life, This Is What I’d Ban in 2016

1st February 2016

James Delingpole, in the UK Spectator, has some great ideas, although I’d want somebody who could use the subjunctive properly.

2. Slimline tonic water. (See also: Diet Coke; semi-skimmed milk)‘Oh? Is it really? Sorry about that. I think it’s all we’ve got.’

‘Aspartame? Oh, is that not good?’

‘Not sure I can tell the difference, to be honest.’

‘Don’t blame me. I don’t get any say in the shopping. She buys it because she thinks I’ll lose weight.’

Look: if you’re going to make me a gin and tonic, make it properly: ice, high-end gin, boutique tonic, lemon not lime; or not at all.

10. Signs that begin: ‘For your comfort and convenience…’ before forbidding you from doing something that, actually, you’d find both comforting and convenient.

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GOP Congressman: Let Employers Pay $10K of Student Loans Tax-Free

1st February 2016

Read it.

This is actually a pretty good idea. Let’s hope it gets some attention.

They already do that for physicians, I believe.

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Donald Trump Spent $450,000 on Red ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats – Made by Latinos

1st February 2016

Read it.

Who says Donald Trump doesn’t like Hispanics?

Carson-based Cali-Fame headwear company, is staffed largely by immigrants from Latin America.

At least he’s giving them jobs, which is more than they are getting from Hillary Clinton or Berni Sanders (or Barack Obama, for that matter).

Brian Kennedy, the company’s president, said that when the order asked his business to make the hats, he addressed his workers.

“I said to them, ‘We’re not political. We’re here to work’,” said Mr Kennedy “And I haven’t gotten any negative comments.”

And THAT is what will Make America Great Again — immigrants who are here to work. I’ve seen no evidence that Trump has anything against those people; nor will you, amidst all the whining about what people heard him say in their imaginations.

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Typically, ‘Tech Support’ Offers Little of Either

31st January 2016

Lileks limns the travails of our times.

As problems go, this is small. As small problems go, though, this is big. Step one: You’re watching something on Netflix, and the picture pauses every 37 seconds, displaying a circle that seems to represent the passage of time. Is this an arty French movie that addresses the omnipresent sense of mortality by superimposing a clock over the lives of its characters? No, it’s a “Transformers” movie. The circle means your wireless connection is slow. Well, let’s go to the Internet provider’s HELP page. You learn that certain things can block Wi-Fi, including “walls, pipes, paint, air and the lingering aroma of last night’s fish dinner.” Hey! You had cod. Open a window. Doesn’t help.

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Shoes

31st January 2016

Freeberg shares his insight.

These are the guys putting Jeb Bush over Donald Trump, because, manners. Oh they say things about Trump being a showboat and a jerk, and they’re completely right. Where they’re wrong, is in thinking that we vote for a President to give us our manners. Silly.

In truth, we’ve been voting for a President to figure out what excuses should be used to suck money away from the industries that give us the things we really need, and where else that money should be diverted among the professions that make things nobody wanted. Republicans and democrats have both been doing it. And so the professions that give us the things we really need, while allowed to stagger on in the background while the loud people make a lot of noise, have been dwindling.

Companies that bake your bread, build the bottles for your water, build the cardboard boxes for your Amazon shipments, clean the poop out of your sewer lines. Oh yeah, and put together your “transportation equipment.” Passenger jets. That’s up at the top of the U.S. exports right now, the stuff the other countries want to buy…*choose* to buy. You know what else is on that list? Software is on there…but way down. Probably doesn’t include anything I’ve written, as of yet…

Nothing liberals build, is on that list. Psychological help isn’t on it. Crazy new rules about guns, written by people who’ve sworn not to ever own any guns — those aren’t on the exports list. Come to think of it, I don’t see anybody clamoring for those things inland, either. They’re such great ideas they have to be forced.

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Aggregation Theory

31st January 2016

Read it.

How has the Internet upended commerce? Here’s a good structural analysis.

The value chain for any given consumer market is divided into three parts: suppliers, distributors, and consumers/users. The best way to make outsize profits in any of these markets is to either gain a horizontal monopoly in one of the three parts or to integrate two of the parts such that you have a competitive advantage in delivering a vertical solution. In the pre-Internet era the latter depended on controlling distribution.

The fundamental disruption of the Internet has been to turn this dynamic on its head. First, the Internet has made distribution (of digital goods) free, neutralizing the advantage that pre-Internet distributors leveraged to integrate with suppliers. Secondly, the Internet has made transaction costs zero, making it viable for a distributor to integrate forward with end users/consumers at scale.

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Teachers Aren’t Dumb

30th January 2016

Read it.

Most Americans think that teaching is a natural talent, not the product of training, and that smart people are the ones with the talent. So some policy makers have concluded that the way to improve schooling is to lure top-scoring graduates into teaching (as Japan does) instead of scraping the bottom of the academic barrel (as America supposedly does). Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, invoked this idea in a speech last year.

But the problem in American education is not dumb teachers. The problem is dumb teacher training.

Teachers are smart enough, but you need more than smarts to teach well. You need to know your subject and you need to know how to help children learn it. That’s where research on American teachers raises concerns.

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Bernie Sanders’ America

30th January 2016

Tax Man

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Thought for the Day

30th January 2016

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