DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

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Archive for the 'Think about it.' Category

A Modest Proposal to Reduce “Inequality”

31st January 2015

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So Obama has had to abandon his plan to tax 529 college savings plans to pay for his “free” community college proposal, because lo and behold lots of middle class people are 529 savers.  But Republicans could still enable Obama to pay for this proposal with a tax that actually hits the genuine rich: a surtax on large private college endowments—say on all endowments that are more than something like $1 million per student.  This would hit the ivy league schools that these days are raking in nearly $1 billion a year in contributions according to the latest reports.  (I recall an old line from Conan O’Brien—a Harvard grad—about Harvard’s donor pitch: “We’re Harvard.  We don’t need your money.  We just want it.”)  Or instead of a surtax directly on endowments, reduce the tax deductibility of donations to college endowments above a certain level.

And if Republicans really want to start riots in faculty clubs, they should pass Obama’s community college plan with one proviso: that all community college credits be fully transferrable to any four-year college that accepts any federal funding (which is every institution of higher learning except Hillsdale and one or two others).  Watch the four-year colleges sputter with indignation.  Watch Obama veto the bill.

Heh.

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Fatness and Intranational Migration

31st January 2015

Lion of the Blogosphere has a theory.

In the comments, there is often talk about the fattening of America, yet I hardly see any fat white people in Manhattan. Thus I came up with the theory, this morning, that thin people are moving to Manhattan and other thin cities such as Washington, Boston, and San Francisco/Silicon Valley, leaving the fat people behind in the rest of the country. Those readers who live in the rest of the country are, therefore, getting the false impression that the population as a whole, is fatter than it really is.

There is also dysgenic breeding for fatness, because thin people in cities get married late, if at all, and have few children, while the fat proles in the rest of the country are a lot more fertile.

Can’t say he’s wrong.

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‘A Couple of Things I Know for Sure About Sex’

31st January 2015

Ammo Grrrll connects the dots.

In the endless, tedious discussions about “rape culture,” over and over I read testimony from coeds – adult women! – who willingly get into bed with guys and then are amazed when sex occurs. Is there some parallel universe where that is considered unusual?

Help me out here, young ladies, because I’m pretty Old School. How humiliating can it be if you get naked with a guy and yet you expect no response? (“Hey, nuthin’ to see here. Just your average naked woman from the dorm next door hoping to catch a few Zs while you watch ESPN. Carry on.”) Here we have a generation of women who have been putting condoms on cucumbers since kindergarten who apparently do not have even a passing acquaintance with actual male sexuality.

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What We Lose if We Lose the Canon

30th January 2015

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Paris. February 26, 1635. The Abbé François de Boisrobert stands before the newly minted Académie française and denounces Homer as a base street poet who eked out a living by declaiming his verses to the mob. Boisrobert’s impassioned speech was perhaps the first skirmish in la querelle des anciens et des modernes, whereby one group of writers sought to differentiate themselves from those who paid undue deference to the Greek and Latin poets. But the ancients couldn’t be dislodged so easily. When the corpus of Western literature consisted largely of two dozen writers who had set the standard for plays, essays, verse, and satires, it was no simple matter to consign them to the past, especially when the past was still present.

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Using the Book: An Introduction

30th January 2015

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Up to around 1200 members of religious houses—monks and nuns—were the primary consumers of books. They produced the objects themselves and in high numbers, because religious houses could not function without them. The 13th century saw a sharp rise in the production and consumption of books outside the monasteries. Books were now also made for profit in urban shops, both for use by citizens, students and even monks.

Most medieval bookstores were empty because books were too expensive to have in stock. Instead, each customer would have a long talk with the shopkeeper, who would ask how much he wanted to spend, what materials he preferred, what kind of writing style should be used for the text—and so on. The medieval book is therefore always one of a kind. Users often modified the manuscript post-production, bringing it even more in tune with their needs. Bookmarks could be added for quick access to favorite chapters, while nota signs and maniculae placed in the margin marked important passages. Moreover, glosses and slips with notes were inserted where the text needed clarification.

Khan Academy is a magical place.

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Male and Female Marriage Returns to Schooling

30th January 2015

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A collective marriage matching model is estimated and calibrated to quantify the share of returns to schooling that is realized through marriage. The predictions of the model are matched with detailed Danish household data on the relationship between schooling and wage rates, the division of time and goods within the household, and the extent to which men and women sort positively on several traits in marriage. Counterfactual analysis conducted with the model suggests that Danish men and women are earning on the order of half of their returns to schooling through improved marital outcomes.

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Outragists Are the New Awful

29th January 2015

Scott Adams connects the dots.

I coined the word outragism and defined it as the act of generating public outrage by quoting famous people out of context.

Creating the word is only the first part of my strategy.

My plan is to arm victims of false accusations with a word that has equal weight to the accusation. For example, if you are falsely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer because you watch the History Channel, the accuser is using full verbal firepower and all you have is a weak denial about your interest in history. It isn’t a fair fight.

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Apocalypse Soonish Redux

28th January 2015

Kevin Williamson is fed up.

Last autumn, I argued in National Review (“Apocalypse Soonish”) that the real intellectual achievement of the climate-change alarmists has been to improve on the marketing model of the traditional fundamentalist-wacko/UFO-cult/Mayan-calendar-lunatic operation by eliminating its greatest weakness: the expiration date. When your UFO cult predicts that the world will unquestionably come to an end on December 21, 1954, then you start to look sort of silly by Christmas.

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Who Worries About Income Inequality?

28th January 2015

Don Boudreaux, a Real Economist, uncovers a rock.

I’ve never worried about income inequality. It’s not that I’ve not worried much about it; I’ve not worried about it at all .

Income inequality — like the color of my neighbor’s car or the question of the number of pigeons in Central Park — just never dawns on me as an issue worthy of a moment’s attention. More importantly, I’ve never encountered many people who worry about inequality.

Indeed, the only time I had regular, close contact with people who express anxiety about inequality was when I was in law school at the University of Virginia. And there, those who wailed most loudly about inequality were those from families that were, as we say, the “most privileged.”

 

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In Defense of the Company Town

27th January 2015

Alex Tabarrok dispels a pernicious myth.

The mining towns were isolated geographically but they weren’t isolated from the national labor market. The number of workers in these towns moved up and down in response to the price of coal and the workers often traveled long-distances to work in the mines, sometimes from other states or other countries. The company towns were isolated not because the workers couldn’t get out but because few people wanted to live where coal was abundant. As a result, workers had to be enticed to travel to and to live in these towns. Oil rigs are similarly isolated today and once on board the workers have nowhere to go but the company restaurant, the company theater and the company gym but that hardly means that the workers are exploited.

Since the mine workers weren’t isolated from the national labor market they had to be paid wages consistent with wages elsewhere and indeed on an hourly basis wages in mining were higher than in manufacturing (not surprising since these jobs were riskier). Moreover, workers weren’t dumb and so–just like workers today–they would consider the price of housing and the price of goods in these towns so see how far their wages would take them. All of this suggests that workers would not be fooled by high wages and really high prices at the company store that nullified those wages. And indeed, prices at company stores were not especially high and were similar to prices at independent stores in similar locations.

– See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/01/in-defense-of-the-company-town.html#sthash.qVWXsoct.dpuf

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The Lone Collectivist

27th January 2015

Bryan Caplan examines human nature.

When you’re a normal member of your society, the appeal of collectivism is easy to understand.  Most people believe what you believe and enjoy what you enjoy.  So wouldn’t it be great if society as a whole continuously celebrated your worldview and lifestyle?  When you fit in, walking on eggshells to spare minority sensibilities is most tiresome.

If you’re weird, in contrast, the appeal of individualism is easy to understand.  Most people neither believe what you believe nor enjoy what you enjoy.  You already feel isolated and alone.  Public celebrations of popular values add insult to injury – especially when these celebrations are infused by the presumption that “These are the values that we as a society hold in common.”

Strangely, though, weird people often hail collectivism and scoff at individualism.  Marxists do it.  Greens do it.  And reactionaries do it.  They’re totally out of sync with their societies, but they nevertheless lament their societies’ lack of community spirit and common purpose.  “A country shouldn’t just be a bunch of people living next to each other” is a typical lament.  But weird collectivists rarely ask themselves, “What would happen if I couldn’t live next to anyone who didn’t share my identity?”  The unwelcome answer, of course, is that Marxists, Greens, and reactionaries would have to recant or relocate.

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Lockdown

26th January 2015

Andy Ihnatko prepares to enjoy the East Coast blizzard.

If you’re well-prepared for these things, the experience is a lot like camping. I assume we all agree that the signature feature of camping is “enjoying nature while being annoyed by your temporary living situation?” Good. There you go. You get Nature in the form of gorgeous flocks of snow all around, and Annoyance is represented by the fact that you can’t leave the house and nobody’s willing to deliver a pizza.

The pluses: you get to sleep in a real bed and you’re surrounded by all of your stuff. Even if you lost your electricity, well, you wouldn’t have had that in the tent, either, right? At least here, you’re cold in a real bed. And you won’t have to carry all of this stuff back to the car when you’ve finally had enough.

Sterno is terrific stuff. It’s like a stovetop burner that you can safely use indoors, and you can keep lighting it, dousing it, and resealing it over and over again. Toss it in the pantry (unlit, ideally) and it’s good forever. Honestly, losing electricity to the house during winter sucks, but so long as you can have hot oatmeal or scrambled eggs in the morning, hot soup and a sandwich for lunch, and a burger or a steak for dinner, it’s easy to recite prayerful thoughts for Those Less Fortunate instead of focusing on the lack of any microwaved Hot Pockets.

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Things You Didn’t Know About Eggs

26th January 2015

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… if, of course, you live on one of the Left Coasts and have only ever seen eggs in a refrigerated case at Whole Foods.

On the other hand, if you had farm kids in your school growing up, as I did, most of it is not really news. But it’s good that the word is getting out beyond Flyover Country.

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On the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ Trail, the Dust Bowl Still Resonates

26th January 2015

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This is an interesting piece in and of itself, but even more interesting for the context. This is not an article that would have been written by somebody who actually lived in Oklahoma; no, this is the sort of article written by someone from Washington, D.C. (or New York or Boston or San Francisco), a bona fide inhabitant of the Crust for whom the middle of America is effectively a foreign country, one inhabited by people who kind of speak the same language but in accents that Our Author only hears in movies or on TV by somebody trying to be funny or trying to express foreign-ness.

This comes out even in the opening paragraph:

The freedom of the open road holds no appeal for my 16-year-old son, Miro. Like many of his generation, he sees cars as agents of global warming and the reason American suburbs can be soulless places with no sense of community, let alone pedestrians. Plus, he gets carsick.

Typical Crustian kid being inculcated with typical Crustian concerns. His only experience with ‘produce’ is what shows up under plastic at Whole Foods. Being concerned about global warming is just What Kids Do, like posting selfies to Facebook. He might actually mow a lawn but more likely it’s done by somebody whose first language wasn’t English. (Full disclosure: as mine is.) The whole point of the family’s trip is to retrace a route, not as an actual family from the Dust Bowl era would have done it, but as characters in a Famous Literary Work were said to have done. (I suspect that the author was an English major in college.) This is like trying to learn medieval history by tracing the adventures of Lancelout from Le Morte d’Arthur.

I couldn’t believe how relevant the 75-year-old book—with its depiction of industrial agriculture squeezing out small farmers, climate-driven environmental woes, and migrant workers at the mercy of big landowners—felt today.

Note the desideratum: Relevance. Not accuracy, not authenticity, not getting into the head of people from back then; relevance. (Can ‘consciousness raising’ be far behind?) The author could be a Peace Corps volunteer tromping down Route 66 to See What The Natives Can Teach Us About Our Lives.

As they saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.

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How the Tudors Invented Breakfast

25th January 2015

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We know about seating plans, table arrangements, etiquette and procedure at many formal meals. Cookery books survive to reveal the kind of dishes that were informally served, and poems and stories attest to what poorer folk ate for supper and dinner.

Breakfasts, by comparison, do not have their literature. Chroniclers did not observe monarchs eating breakfast. The first meal of the day is thus one of those features of life that has slipped through the historian’s net.

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In Defense of Gump

25th January 2015

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You’ve probably heard of the movie Forrest Gump, and if so, you also probably know that all the cool kids at the cool-kids-table hate it.

This isn’t an opinion one heard much back when it was just your basic popular, likable mass-market movie selling tickets and winning awards. No, the notion of Forrest Gump as some sort of pinnacle of badness that must be sneered at was nurtured and developed over 20 years and at some point I can’t quite place has now become widespread, commonly-accepted received wisdom. Oh, sure, some can say they disliked Gump from the start; not everyone who saw this movie at the time liked it. (As is true of any movie.) As well, there was a (silly) Gump-vs-Pulp Fiction rivalry when they competed against each other for the (oh so important) Oscar. But none of that really meant hordes of people going around saying they ‘hated’ Forrest Gump back then. That has mostly come later, and now it’s here.

And it’s gone too far. It’s time for me to form up the vanguard of the reactionary movement to defend Forrest Gump from the calumny of its thoughtless, inaccurate, faddish and ultimately cowardly detractors.

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Andrew Cuomo Rebukes Teachers Unions: ‘Don’t Say You Represent the Students’

25th January 2015

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The fact that this fiery anti-union tirade passed the lips of a blue state Democrat tells you everything you need to know about just how thoroughly teaches union have alienated many of their natural political allies. And this isn’t merely some quirk of New York politics, as the same thing has happened on a local scale in numerous cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Democratic politicians everywhere are more willing to take on teachers unions than ever before.

Right back atcha, Andy — don’t say you represent the people.

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The $3500 Shirt – A History Lesson in Economics

25th January 2015

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One of the great advantages of being a historian is that you don’t get your knickers in as much of a twist over how bad things are today. If you think this year is bad, try 1347, when the Black Death covered most of Europe, one-third of the world had died, and (to add insult to injury) there was also (in Europe) the little matter of the Hundred Years’ War and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (where the pope had moved to Avignon, France, and basically the Church was being transformed into a subsidiary of the French regime). Things are looking up already, aren’t they?

Another thing is economics. Everyone complains about taxes, prices, and how expensive it is to live any more. I’m not going to go into taxes – that way lies madness. But I can tell you that living has never been cheaper. We live in a country awash in stuff – food, clothing, appliances, machines, cheap crap from China – but it’s never enough. $4 t-shirts? Please. We want five for $10, and even then, can we get them on sale? And yet, compared to a world where everything is made by hand – we’re talking barely 200 years ago – everything is cheap and plentiful, and we are appallingly ungrateful.

Anyway, with clothing that expensive and hard to make, every item was something you wore until it literally disintegrated. Even in 1800, a farm woman would be lucky to own three dresses – one for best and the other two for daily living. Heck, my mother, in 1930, went to college with that exact number of dresses to her name… This is why old clothing is rare: even the wealthy passed their old clothes on to the next generation or the poorer classes. The poor wore theirs until it could be worn no more, and then it was cut down for their children, and then used for rags of all kinds, and then, finally, sold to the rag and bone man who would transport it off to be made into (among other things) paper.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

25th January 2015

Friday on My Mind

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7 Ways Liberals Are Just as Bad as the People They Hate Most

24th January 2015

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Liberals are the mirror image of everything they claim to hate. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, their ability to unflinchingly examine their own beliefs is practically non-existent and they are almost incapable of objectively examining the policies they advocate. The more fully people become engulfed by liberalism, the more they embrace political correctness, groupthink, and close-mindedness until their thought process becomes little more than simplistic tribalism.

Liberalism is good, just, and best because it’s liberalism. Conservatism is bad, unjust, and worse because it’s conservatism. End of story.

Seldom do liberals realize that they advocate positions that are just as morally repulsive as the grotesque positions they habitually (and usually incorrectly) attribute to people who disagree with them.

Want some examples?

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Thought for the Day

24th January 2015

Free Wool Coats copy

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This Crazy Complex in Jordan Is Like Disneyland for Elite Special Forces

23rd January 2015

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On May 20th, 2009 Jordan’s King Abdullah officially opened the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC), a facility set against a dramatic pocketed plateau on the northern outskirts of Amman. It is called the most advanced special operations training complex in the world and it looks like a life-sized GI Joe dream set.

Now, ask yourself why Jordan, of all places, has need for such a training facility.

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A Presidential Debate I’d Really Like to See

23rd January 2015

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If Groceries Were Supplied Like K-12 Education…

23rd January 2015

Don Boudreaux, a Real Economist, takes a delightful look at an alternate reality.

… news reports would regularly include stories of “grocery experts” offering new and “pioneering” proposals to improve grocery distribution, and the citizens of “grocery districts” meeting with their local “grocery boards” to discuss and debate these different proposals.  Each affiliate of a major national network (like each of the national networks), as well as each newspaper and other significant news outlet, would have its own “grocery reporter” (or “grocery correspondent”) to keep tabs on the latest efforts to improve the way government delivers groceries to citizens.

When new big-city mayors are sworn into office they would typically replace the incumbent “Grocery Superintendents” (or “Grocery Chancellors”) with their own preferred “Grocery Superintendents” (or “Chancellors”).  The local policy punditry would discuss in great detail the differences in the grocery-supply philosophies of the new Grocery Superintendents compared to those of the outgoing Superintendents.  ”Grocery-beat reporters” would often solicit from people on the street these people’s opinions of the different methods proposed to improve grocery distribution.  Question such as “Do you think new Grocery Chancellor Smith’s proposal to allow a handful of people to buy their groceries from charter grocery stores is a good idea?  Or do you side with former Chancellor Jones in staunchly opposing charter grocery stores?” would be asked and seriously answered.

Anyone proposing to get government out of the grocery-supply business would, of course, be ridiculed as being totally unrealistic or being an out-of-touch ideologue, or accused of harboring a secret desire to see the the vast majority of people suffer starvation while only the top one percent of the population continues to enjoy excellent access to superb groceries.  Likewise, proposals to cut (or to not increase) grocery-district funding would be widely condemned as being pro-starvation proposals.  And efforts to measure the performance of grocery-store workers would be mocked as impossible as well as unfair to such workers.  Efforts to restrain the pay of grocery-store workers would be portrayed as efforts to deny ordinary citizens access to the best possible supply of groceries.

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Thought for the Day

22nd January 2015

Seat Choice

Have I mentioned that I don’t fly?

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Nano-Degrees as a New Model to Integrate Into Higher Education

20th January 2015

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Last year, AT&T and the online educational organization Udacity teamed up to offer a “nano-degree” that directly trains students for a job with AT&T. This move is in line with a new government report that suggests that more cooperation between universities and businesses is the key to economic success in the future. However, Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University, is skeptical of nano-degrees. The degrees, he claims, are no substitute for a liberal arts degree.

Indeed not. Unlike a liberal arts degree, they will actually help you get a real job.

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Where the Sugar Babies Are

20th January 2015

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“Sugar daddies”—the official moniker granted to these wealthy men—and the microcosm they occupy aren’t anything new, but they’ve become more mainstream in recent years. That they’ve emerged as a noteworthy group during America’s student-debt crisis is indicative of their growing prevalence—as well as that of “sugar babies,” the ones entrenched in that crisis. And the subculture—”daddies” and “babies” alike—appears to be expanding rapidly. 2014 saw a huge spike in sugar babies nationwide, especially in the southern states, according to new data from SeekingArrangement, a site where “babies” and “daddies” sign up and connect. The trend itself, let alone writing about it, might seem frivolous or demeaning. But the data could clarify what’s going wrong with the system and where those problems lie.

Markets work, even when you don’t want them to.

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Tell Us Your State of the Union in Five Words

20th January 2015

The Wall Street Journal does its own variant on SOTU Bingo.

I’ll start: ‘White people suck. Raise taxes.’

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Professor Quits Because There Are Too Many Conservatives on Campus

20th January 2015

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According to the Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, Professor Donald Hindley will step down from the position he has held for over half of a century because, as he said, there are “far fewer … let me call them, activist, liberal-minded people” at Brandeis University.

Hard to know how to respond … good riddance? the system works? Of course, at Brandeis ‘too many conservatives on campus’ means some guy with a Real Job managed to wander onto the campus before he realized he was in the wrong neighborhood and escaped. But still.

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Meredith Patterson’s Valiant Effort Is Probably Doomed

20th January 2015

Eric Raymond is Armed & Dangerous.

The problem is, maradydd’s attempt requires the feminists and social-justice warriors she is addressing to be fundamentally be about justice and inclusion, enough so that it is possible to change their behavior by appealing to those values. But that’s not what I see what I look at those people. What I see is thin rationalizations over bullying, dominance games, and an endless scream of monkey rage.

That sums up the Left better than anything else I’ve read.

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Tips on Surviving a Poisoning, From Maimonides

18th January 2015

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Mosheh ben Maimon, better known in the west as Maimonides, was one of the most famous Jewish philosophers and physicians of the Middle Ages. One of his many works was On Poisons and the Protection against Lethal Drugs, which he wrote up as a quick guide on dealing with animal bites and poisoning. The treatise was written in 1199 at the request of Saladin’s secretary, and proved to be very popular for centuries afterwards. Here is some of the advice that Maimonides gives on poisons.

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Can You Name These Famous People From the Middle Ages?

18th January 2015

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How about even one?

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“The Rectification Of Names”—China Struggles With Its National Question

17th January 2015

John Derbyshire, Patron Saint of Dyspepsia, invites our attention to the Middle Kingdom.

The thorny tangles of identity, ethnicity, nation, and race, are made thornier under a state ideology based on utopian fantasies and the denial of reality.

Sound familiar? It should; it’s what we write about here at VDARE.com.

And very well, too.

The Communist Party’s policy towards the “nationalities question” has followed Lenin’s, as described in Book Two of Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism. Their ethnicity is officially recognized (and recorded on personal i.d. cards). It is also to be celebrated, for example with minority dance troops showcased in TV spectaculars on national holidays. Their home regions, if big enough, are declared “autonomous.” They send representatives to regional and national legislatures. They enjoy some minor social privileges, notably exemption from the one-child policy.

The autonomy, however, like the legislatures, is perfectly bogus. Even to advocate self-determination for minorities is both an ideological sin (“splittism”) and a serious crime (Article 103). The Party center makes all significant political decisions, and it is totally Han Chinese.

(The January 11th “Unity March” in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, with a slew of world leaders at the head of the march, has raised much indignation on Chinese blogs. “Where’s our unity march?” they are asking, with reference to the Kunming incident. Short answer: Same place as the rest of your civil freedoms, pal. You live in a communist dictatorship.)

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Just Plain Folks

16th January 2015

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The President is fond of invoking “The Folks” in his droning speeches. Now, in rural Minnesota, your “folks” are your parents. But he is referring to those “little” people who make up the once-vast middle class in America. The not-rich and unfamous. The God-fearing, gun-totin’ clingers. In other words, people he has never ever hung out with in his entire pampered life and has total contempt for; he doesn’t have a clue what makes us tick.

And that’s cool. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be so rich that I lose track of how many homes I own. Or to be able to spoil someone’s wedding reception in order to golf. Or to whine about being flat broke while giving six-figure speeches. Now, praise God, I’ve never been a homeless junkie either, but I’ll tell you what flat broke was for the working poor, Missy Hillary.

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Thought for the Day

16th January 2015

http://cloudfront-media.reason.com/mc/_external/2015_01/-27.jpg?h=420&w=555

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We Need to Bury the Phrase ‘That’s not who we are’

15th January 2015

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All this means, as I understand it, that these transgressions should be forgiven or written off, because this behavior is not typical of them. They, or we, can only be called to account if it is something they or we do regularly, and the general public is to accept that this was not the case.

Well, baloney.

Typically it’s used in circumstances where the truth would be ‘Well, that actually is who we are, but that’s not what I’d like you to believe we ought to be.’

 

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Top Disproportionately Common Names by Profession

13th January 2015

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You, too, can be a cliche. (I don’t see an entry for Grump, but no doubt I would feature prominently.)

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The 10,000 Year Clock

13th January 2015

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There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.

At least it’s not a government program at taxpayer expense.

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It’s Not Just About Race, It’s About Power

13th January 2015

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On December 2, Attorney General Eric Holder, the top law enforcement official in the country, went to Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to announce that the Justice Department would soon “institute rigorous new standards-and robust safeguards-to help end racial profiling, once and for all.”

But by focusing on the role of race to the exclusion of other contributing factors in these cases, both the powerless in the streets and the powerful in the suites were letting an important culprit off the hook: power itself.

Start with the grand jury process that produced both non-indictments. “The system is under the complete control, under the thumb, of prosecutors,” Cato Institute Criminal Justice Director Tim Lynch told CBS News in December. “If they want an indictment they are going to get an indictment. If they don’t want an indictment it won’t happen.”

In practice, the only class reliably protected by grand juries is people that the local prosecutors don’t actually want to prosecute. Namely, cops. The conflicts of interest here are beyond blatant: Prosecutors absolutely depend on the work and testimony of police to send defendants to jail. Grand juries absolutely depend on prosecutors to present information and guidance on whether to indict. There is no impartial judge, no adversarial check on the power of law enforcement.

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The Little Bomb That Couldn’t

12th January 2015

Jim Goad wants to make sure that all news is treated equally.

Many black people on Twitter—as well as untold legions of their white enablers and allies—appear very pissed that the NAACP story never really got “legs,” as they like to say in the publishing biz. Or as the blacks like to say, there may be a bit of “player hating” going on here by disgruntled African Americans who feel nudged out of the victimization spotlight, however temporarily. They decry the fact that the racist media cares about a dozen dead white Parisians much more than it does about the slightly scuffed side of a building in Colorado.

In what may have been a deliberate attempt to make things look worse than they were, progressive white MSNBC host Chris Hayes, a verified friend of the black man, covered the bombing story while a photo montage that unfolded behind him included a still photo of massive destruction to a storefront that turned out to be from the recent unrest in Paris rather than outside the NAACP office in Colorado Springs. Hayes apologized for the network’s faux pas by writing “Our bad” on Twitter. Just when you think Chris Hayes couldn’t get any worse, he goes ahead and says “Our bad.”

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Religious Extremism and the Road to Civilization

12th January 2015

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Sigmund Freud said the founder of civilization was the first person who hurled an insult instead of a rock. He was almost right. The true founder was the first person to respond to an insult with an insult of his own.

Some modern-day people have yet to reach the stage achieved by some of our ancient forebears. Muslims who treat offensive depictions of the prophet Muhammad as grounds for execution are the most conspicuous examples of that tragic failure to evolve.

Reminder for the dimwitted: Islam is an oppressive totalitarian ideology, masquerading as a religion, with which no co-existence is possible.

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Does Global Warming Make Me Look Fat?

11th January 2015

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The basic idea is that because your body uses energy to maintain a normal body temperature, exposure to cold expends calories. The vest’s inventor, Wayne B. Hayes, an associate professor at the University of California at Irvine, claims that wearing it for an hour burns up to 250 calories, though his data are very rough. A little more than a year ago, he began selling the vest, which he calls the Cold Shoulder, out of his Pasadena apartment. Name notwithstanding, people won’t ignore you when you wear it.

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That Debt From 1720? Britain’s Payment Is Coming

11th January 2015

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George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, said this month that in 2015 Britain would repay part of the country’s debt from World War I, and that he wanted to pay off other bonds for debt incurred in the 18th and 19th centuries.

That includes borrowing that may have been used to compensate slave owners when slavery was abolished, to relieve the famine in 19th-century Ireland and to bail out the infamous South Sea Company, which caused the bubble in 1720.

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The Beautiful Geometry of 18th-Century Forts, Built by Britain in the American Colonies

11th January 2015

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Much good it did them.

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The Sinister, Screeching Mob Who Want to Kill Free Speech (And No, I DON’T Mean the Islamist Terrorists in Our Midst)

11th January 2015

Peter Hitchens is as good a writer as his brother and far more intelligent politically.

Once again we are ruled by a Dictatorship of Grief. Ever since the death of Princess Diana, we have been subject to these periodic spasms when everyone is supposed to think and say the same thing, or else.

We were told on Friday that ‘politicians from all sides’ had lined up to attack Ukip’s Nigel Farage for supposedly ‘exploiting’ the Paris massacre.

Mr Farage had (quite reasonably) pointed out that the presence of Islamist fanatics in our midst might have something to do with, a) uncontrolled mass migration from the Muslim world, and b) decades of multicultural refusal to integrate them into our laws and customs.

Rather than disputing this with facts and logic (admittedly this would be hard), the three ‘mainstream’ parties joined in screeching condemnation.

Great mountains of adjectives piled up on every corner, much like those hills of flowers and teddy bears we like to place at the scenes of tragedies.

You can feel the presence of the snarling conformist mob, waiting for some dissenter on whom they can fall, kicking and biting. So-called social media, in fact an intolerant and largely brainless electronic mob, has made this much worse since the sad death of the Princess.

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You Are The ‘World’

11th January 2015

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In the United States failure appears to be a profit opportunity. Several  American friends have unaccountably offered me exactly  the same piece of sage advice.  ”Richard, never trust anyone who hasn’t failed.”  In their view anyone who hasn’t been flat broke at least once in his life has some kind of character defect. One acquaintance  wistfully recalled the time he lost his fortune and had to live out of his car, and how that motivated him to even greater wealth.  Maybe his last conscious thoughts when the time comes to cross the river will not be of the yacht anchored off the Riviera, or of starlit nights and steel guitars in Rio, but fond memories of a shower and shave at the CITGO rest room.

The downside to this laudable impulse to self-help is that very few American politicians are ever punished for their blunders.  The population apparently finds it easier to adapt.  It is easier to invent a new industry than start a political movement.

Megan McArdle notes the reason Vermont gave up on Single Payer was it would cost as much as everything the State was now spending. The problem isn’t how to divvy up the bill. The problem is the bill. Nobody can make the unaffordable affordable any more than guys at a clip joint can pay for the bottle service when the dollars in their pocket come up short. Asking the waiter for single or separate bills is irrelevant. The reason health care is so expensive is it already consists of a mass of workarounds.

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Thought for the Day

11th January 2015

book

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

11th January 2015

Baby You Can Drive My Car

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Origins of the Police

10th January 2015

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We’ll see that, in the North, the invention of the police was just one part of a state effort to manage and shape the workforce on a day-to-day basis. Governments also expanded their systems of poor relief in order to regulate the labor market, and they developed the system of public education to regulate workers’ minds. I will connect those points to police work later on, but mostly I’ll be focusing on how the police developed in London, New York, Charleston (South Carolina), and Philadelphia.

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7 Fictional Lands That Should Have Google Maps

10th January 2015

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Of course, that ought to read ‘… that ought to have …’, but nobody teaches grammar in the schools these days.

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