DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for February, 2010

How the nature of the human mind can make it an enemy of sleep.

28th February 2010

Read it.

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Treasures of Chatsworth House unveiled

28th February 2010

Read it.

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Al Gore Mocked At Apple Meeting: He’s ‘Become A Laughingstock’

28th February 2010

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Sometimes the system works.

Posted in Is this a great country, or what? | Comments Off

When Responsibility Doesn’t Pay

28th February 2010

Mark Steyn looks at the glory that was Greece.

While Barack Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand-new, even-more-unsustainable entitlement at the health-care “summit,” thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split-screen — because they’re part of the same story. It’s just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They’re at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is farther upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter Twenty (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter Seventeen or Eighteen.

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Farmer creates terrifying Lady GaGa scarecrow

28th February 2010

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We have the technology.

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America, These Are Your Leaders: Maxine Waters Edition

28th February 2010

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CBS follows up with a reasonable question: “Is Maxine Waters really as dumb as she seems?”

Well, you can’t say that she doesn’t represent her district.

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Pakistan: Muslim mob attacks Christians, authorities arrest…Christians

28th February 2010

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

Posted in Living with Islam. | Comments Off

Nigeria: Muslim mob burns down 8 churches

28th February 2010

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No reports yet of Christian mobs burning down mosques. Wonder why.

Posted in Living with Islam. | Comments Off

Guppie is one tool to rule them all

28th February 2010

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Looks like it would work as a knuckleduster in a pinch. A useful gadget.

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Hawaiian Secession

28th February 2010

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Let them go back to being their own Kingdom and see how they like it.

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Academic Author Sues Journal Editor For Criminal Defamation Over Negative Book Review

28th February 2010

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What is that old phrase? “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small”?

Posted in You can't make this stuff up. | Comments Off

Democrats Finally Get David Paterson to Let Go and Embrace the Underside of the Bus

28th February 2010

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Why is the Crust so dead-set against a black Governor for New York? Perhaps it’s because he’s not a crook – they don’t want to set a bad example for Democrat Governors or something.

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How to Salt Food

28th February 2010

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Roy, this is the blog I was talking about. (I love the author’s pseudonym, too.)

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off

The Not Even Trying Products

28th February 2010

Scott Adams looks at Gmail.

Today I went on a scavenger hunt. Specifically I was trying to find the “reply” button on my Gmail interface.

I won’t say the interface design is bad, because that would imply that someone in the relevant field actually tried to make it user friendly. It looks to me as if that step got skipped.

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The Case Against a VAT

28th February 2010

Read it.

It needs to be made.

But what Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Mankiw, and Mr. Cowen are talking about is a consumption tax and an income tax. There’s nothing to prevent the politicians from making this deal on reducing income tax rates to get a consumption tax, then turning around a few years later and raising the income tax rates back to what they were before, using the same approach that President Obama is now using as an argument for returning to the Clinton-era tax rates. If history is any guide, the consumption tax rate will get increased over time too, same as the Medicare tax rate and the Social Security tax rate have been. At least in the absence of a consumption tax, the politicians can’t keep raising the rate of it.

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The Velvet Philosophical Revolution

28th February 2010

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Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the battle for political freedom goes on.

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In Defense of a Common Culture

28th February 2010

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E.D. Hirsch is a great American, a scholar who cares deeply about the youth of this country, what they are taught, and how likely they are to become engaged and thoughtful citizens. Hirsch describes himself as having enjoyed a “comfortable life as a conference-going literary theorist” before realizing that the failure of American schools to offer students actual content rather than faddish pedagogical innovations was not only turning young people into cultural illiterates but also was preventing those at the bottom of the ladder from improving their prospects in life through education. The founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation and the author of the controversial Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (1987), Hirsch was adopted by the Right early in the culture wars. But his actual political sympathies are more in line with Albert Shanker, the longterm leader of the New York City teacher’s union (to whose memory the present book is dedicated).

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off

The Big Lie About the ‘Life of the Mind’

28th February 2010

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The responses tended to split into two categories: One said that I was overemphasizing the pragmatic aspects of graduate school at the expense of the “life of the mind” for its own sake. The other set of responses, and by far the more numerous, were from graduate students and adjuncts asking why no one had told them that their job prospects were so poor and wondering what they should do now.

More discussion about graduate study in the humanities.

The myth of the academic meritocracy powerfully affects students from families that believe in education, that may or may not have attained a few undergraduate degrees, but do not have a lot of experience with how access to the professions is controlled. Their daughter goes to graduate school, earns a doctorate in comparative literature from an Ivy League university, everyone is proud of her, and then they are shocked when she struggles for years to earn more than the minimum wage. (Meanwhile, her brother—who was never very good at school—makes a decent living fixing HVAC systems with a six-month certificate from a for-profit school near the Interstate.)

Graduate school in the humanities is a trap. It is designed that way. It is structurally based on limiting the options of students and socializing them into believing that it is shameful to abandon “the life of the mind.” That’s why most graduate programs resist reducing the numbers of admitted students or providing them with skills and networks that could enable them to do anything but join the ever-growing ranks of impoverished, demoralized, and damaged graduate students and adjuncts for whom most of academe denies any responsibility.

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History of the Inverted-T Cursor Arrow Key Layout

28th February 2010

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Well, I thought it was interesting.

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High-margin accessory makers have high hopes for Apple’s iPad

28th February 2010

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This may actually be what Jobs had in mind, a platform for Useful Stuff rather than a consumer appliance. In which case, Go Steve; I’m glad I own Apple stock.

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Robotic Surgical Simulator lets doctors sharpen their skills by operating on polygons

28th February 2010

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And about fargin time, too. One of the things I’ve been waiting for is the development of sophisticated simulation environments that will allow people to practice useful skills in a realistic environment to give them a leg up when they get into the Real Thing. Aircraft flight simulators have made huge strides in this regard, and some would say that high-end computer games have given us a reserve pool of potential tank gunners and fighter pilots the way life on the prairie gave us a huge pool of potential infantry riflemen during the 20th century. (We still have a long way to go — how many people were not surprised when, in THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, the party in Moria, surrounded by orcs, stood around and waited for whatever it was that had scared off the orcs. I was bouncing up and down in my seat: GUYS, IF THE ORCS ARE RUNNING THEN YOU OUGHT TO BE RUNNING TOO. DON’T JUST STAND THERE WITH YOUR THUMBS UP YOUR BUTTS. But nobody listens to me….)

So this is a welcome development.

Posted in News You Can Use. | Comments Off

New York Bans Bake Sales

28th February 2010

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The New York City public schools have adopted a policy that bans most bake sales but allows the sale of pre-packaged items such as Doritos and Pop-Tarts, the New York Times reports. The policy is in the name of the students’ health….

Student health is, of course, to be overseen by the public school, an instrumentality of the State, rather than by the parents, who just Aren’t Qualified to make such decisions. (I’ve got the machine that goes ‘ping’ over here somewhere….)

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Robert Kennedy’s Grandson Considering House Run

28th February 2010

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Of course he is. That’s what they do.

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Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy

28th February 2010

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To flip through the latest draft of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, in the works for seven years now, is to see the discipline’s floundering writ large. Psychiatry seems to have lost its way in a forest of poorly verified diagnoses and ineffectual medications. Patients who seek psychiatric help today for mood disorders stand a good chance of being diagnosed with a disease that doesn’t exist and treated with a medication little more effective than a placebo.

My view is that psychiatry is a pseudo-science, like astrology, in which the principles of the discipline bear no causal relationship to the real world and its operations. To the extent that it actually accomplishes anything at all, it is because of incorporation of real scientific fields like medicine.

Jerry Pournelle says:

DSM has, in my judgment, far too often been influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, and used to justify payments from insurance; it is, in my judgment, one of the many reasons for the high costs of health care, since “mental health” coverage is now generally required in state mandated healthcare insurance policies as one of the “minimum” requirements. As to the conflicts between the Freudian analyst based theories of mental disorder and the behavior-based medical theories that generally prescribed chemical treatment, that was just beginning when I left psychology graduate school. Of course my emphasis in psychology was in engineering and human factors on the one hand, and mathematical and statistical analysis using tests and measurements on the other, so I am hardly an expert on abnormal psychology.

I am very glad that the DSM did not exist when I was growing up. I would almost certainly have been diagnosed with a disorder that could only be cured by drugs. As it happens, I was “cured” by being forced to learn a modicum of self-discipline.

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Garia LSV Concept Car

27th February 2010

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Yet Another Cute Little Car

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Meat-and-three

27th February 2010

The Other McCain does the South on his stomach.

Note the presence of chitlins. Chitlins taste and smell like exactly what they are, cooked pieces of intestine. What comes out of intestines? Right. What would that smell like, cooked? You got it. And the taste corresponds.

Posted in Is this a great country, or what? | Comments Off

Flour Art Museum in Ahrensburg, Germany

27th February 2010

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It’s a wonderful world out there.

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off

Writing Perl in Latin

27th February 2010

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There is no reason why programming languages could not also use inflexions, rather than position, to denote lexical roles.

This paper describes a new module — Lingua::Romana::Perligata — that explores an alternative syntactic binding for Perl, using inflexions based on classical Latin grammar. These inflexions subsume the function of the standard Perl $/@/%/& prefixes and support the new concept of semantic roles, which allows far greater freedom in the specification of functions, operations, and their respective arguments.

Say not that the struggle naught availeth.

Posted in Is this a great country, or what? | Comments Off

The 10 Percent Solution to Urban Growth

27th February 2010

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What if we achieved the urbanist dream, with people deciding en masse to move back to the city? Well, that would create a big problem, since there would be no place to put them. Many cities hit their peak population in 1950, when the US total was 150 million. Today it is over 300 million, with virtually all the growth taking place in the suburbs.

A similar problem arises with mass transit: If everybody shifted to using public transportation, as the Crust keeps insisting they must, it couldn’t handle the load — and the tax-funded subsidies necessary to prop up most mass-transit fare strutures would quickly break government budgets.

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Britain’s ‘most unfortunate names’ disclosed in new survey

27th February 2010

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Stan Still, Anna Sasin, Hazel Nutt, Barb Dwyer and Justin Case are among some of the country’s unluckiest people who have been given the unfortunate names by their parents, it found.

Some parents think of their children as pets, judging by the names they hand out. I’d sue.

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Cheryl Cole needs a new husband to match her tattoo

27th February 2010

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The fact that so many celebrities – and especially footballers – have the emotional attention span of the average teenager ought, you would think, to be taken into account before they let the needles at them.

Without being personally acquainted, we can be sure that now Johnny (Depp) has found contentment with Vanessa (Paradis) he deeply regrets that large Winona (Ryder) Forever on his right bicep.

Oh, the intolerable burdens of modern life…. I seem to recall Angelina Jolie having the same problem when she broke up with Billy Bob Thornton. And I won’t even get into the Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson story.

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“Even a moderate Muslim who reads the Koran must read that the Jews are the sons of apes and that the infidels must be killed”

27th February 2010

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I have a theory that Islam is a parody of Judaism created by Satan and aimed at the destruction of God’s Chosen People. It makes more sense than most people would admit. You’ll notice that the Koran doesn’t have a lot to say about Christians but is very explicit in its hatred of Jews.

That’s my idea; what’s your idea?

Posted in Living with Islam. | 1 Comment »

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt shells out $500G from coffers

27th February 2010

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Hey, they call it ‘the public trough’ for a reason. I’ve got to say, though, it’s pretty broad-minded to provide employment for one’s ex-wife.

The waBenzi have a home in the Democrat Party.

Posted in Your tax dollars at work - and play. | Comments Off

Glow in the dark toilet paper review

27th February 2010

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Hey, don’t ever say we don’t have useful stuff here.

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Diamond the size of a ‘chicken’s egg’ sells for record $35.3 million

27th February 2010

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Which is just another way of saying that the dollar isn’t worth what it used to be, of course.

“As your reward, I will give you a pigeon’s egg the size of a ruby….”

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Honda shows off three-wheeled 3R-C concept vehicle

27th February 2010

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Yet Another Cute Little Car.

Add a Vulcan mini-gun with heads-up display, and oh, baby….

Posted in News You Can Use. | 1 Comment »

An Exceptional Debate

27th February 2010

Rich Lowry vs. Ramesh Ponnuru.

A lot of fun talking about American Exceptionalism.

Critique by Damon Linker of The New Republic here.

Victor Davis Hanson weighs in here.

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off

Marginal Devolution

27th February 2010

Eric Raymond.

I knew it was getting bad out there, with the nominal unemployment rate at 10% and the actual hitting 17% and 6 applicants for every job. But my friends are mostly university-educated professionals in high-skilled tech jobs — last fired, first hired, and bright enough that if they had to change careers or found their own business they could probably hack it. Except…except for these two, who I’ll call A and B. What’s happening to them is bad. Very bad. And it illustrates a problem that’s going to get worse barring some drastic changes in the system.

We’ve spent the last seventy years increasing the hidden overhead and downside risks associated with hiring a worker — which meant the minimum revenue-per-employee threshold below which hiring doesn’t make sense has crept up and up and up, gradually. This effect was partly masked by credit and asset bubbles, but those have now popped. Increasingly it’s not just the classic hard-core unemployables (alcoholics, criminal deviants, crazies) that can’t pull enough weight to justify a paycheck; it’s the marginal ones, the mediocre, and the mildly dysfunctional.

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Insiders, Outsiders and Unemployment

27th February 2010

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Apparently Obama has discovered Government Strong-Arm Rule #1, that you can pressure people to Get With The Program by threatening to kick their asses away from the public trough.

Moreover, once an economy is in the insider-outsider equilibrium it’s very difficult to get out because insiders fear that they will lose their privileges with a deregulated labor market and outsiders focus their political energy not on deregulating the labor market but on becoming insiders–see Blanchard and Summers on hysteresis in unemployment and more recently Larry Ball here.  Many European economies found themselves stuck in the insider-outsider equilibrium and as a result unemployment levels in places like France and Italy hovered at 9% or more for decades.

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CNN Exposes ‘Lavish’ Government Pensions despite Economic Crisis

27th February 2010

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All this week CNN has been taking a look at “Broken Government” and in some cases the cable channel deviated from the mainstream media norm by providing a critical view of government.

Evidently somebody at CNN didn’t get the memo.

Posted in Is this a great country, or what? | Comments Off

Cheri Oteri – Liza Life Coach

27th February 2010

Watch it.

Apparently this is not a spoof.

Posted in You can't make this stuff up. | Comments Off

NBC Chastised by Congressional Black Caucus Members for Lack of Diversity

27th February 2010

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“Lack of diversity” meaning, of course, “not enough black people”. Diversity of opinion, or of anything other than skin color, doesn’t appear on their radar.

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ZMP RoboCar G soon to be available to researchers

27th February 2010

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Yet Another Cute Little Car.

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‘Freedom’ chair: Part desk chair, part mountain bike

27th February 2010

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Put a .50-cal mount on that sucker, and I’m in.

Posted in You can't make this stuff up. | Comments Off

Game-driven high school education

27th February 2010

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The wave of the future. Be the first on your block etc.

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off

The Unemployed Now Have Their Own Union, and It’s Catching on Quickly

27th February 2010

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That really cuts out the middleman, doesn’t it? Can’t wait until they strike for higher wages.

Posted in You can't make this stuff up. | Comments Off

Getting Hospitalized Should Be Like Flying First-Class

27th February 2010

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PG has just released their proposal today, in a “healthcare manifesto.” The central problems facing hospital design happen to have already been solved in the design of first-class cabins for airlines, they say.

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off

It Is Now Mathematically Impossible To Pay Off The U.S. National Debt

27th February 2010

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Wonder what life is like in a country where the politicians can actually count.

Guess we’ll never know.

Posted in Your tax dollars at work - and play. | Comments Off

US Navy SEALs’ new airlock minisub – made in Blighty

27th February 2010

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It emerged that the S301 – now in trials with the SEALs in Hawaii – had cost just $10m to develop, which contrasted especially well with the $885m+ spent on the ill-fated Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS).

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You Can Call Him Al … But Al Won’t Call You Back

27th February 2010

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Al Gore won a Nobel Prize and an Oscar for his film, An Inconvenient Truth. But in the last three months, as global warming has gone from a scientific near-certitude to the subject of satire, Gore — the public face of global warming — has been silent on the topic.

He’s probably off counting his loot at his mansion in Tennessee, which has the carbon footprint of a small town.

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