A New Use for Laser Pointers

The print edition of this article in the WSJ about the riots in Iraq included this photo, captioned Antigovernment protesters aimed laser pointers at Iraqi riot police during a confrontation in central Baghdad on Monday. Maybe the folks in Hong Kong could use a shipment of laser pointers.

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Revolving Door

I was reading an article in today’s WSJ about Facebook’s struggles with the Eurocrats and who did I see there, big as life? Why, Nick Clegg, formerly leader of the UK Lib Dems and Deputy PM under the execrable David Cameron. Turns out he’s now Faceberg’s vice president of global affairs and communications, i.e., spin doctor and flak.

That is all.

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Oikophobia

No, it’s not an irrational fear of pigs; that would probably be oinkophobia. Oikophobia is the opposite of xenophobia: cultural self-hatred, an aversion to one’s own nation and culture. This meaning was coined by Roger Scruton in his 2004 book England and the Need for Nations. The term has been getting some press lately*, most recently in this Quillette article by philosopher Benedict Beckeld.

Oikophobia describes “…a civilization that has stopped believing in itself, that hates itself, and that is therefore unwilling to defend the values of individual freedom, democracy, and scientific and scholarly skepticism that have been handed down to us since antiquity.” Beckeld takes a historical perspective, giving examples of other civilizations that have fallen into oikophobia. He explains that... [Read More]

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Peak Absurd

Ross Douthat has a column in the NYT today entitled The Case for Bernie, which actually includes the phrase “the conservative’s case for Bernie.” He may as well have written “the conservative case for socialism.” But don’t worry too much; Douthat “technically” prefers “a moderate like Biden or Amy Klobuchar.” Whew! That’s a relief.

This is the latest in a seemingly endless series of “the conservative case for …” pieces by alleged conservatives. We’ve finally reached the point where Conservative Inc is advocating socialism because, I guess, OrangeManBad. This is even worse than Bill Kristol. What’s next, the conservative case for communism?

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Get Cheeky With the NHS; Treatment Denied

Britain’s National Health Service is getting aggressive on thought crime. Abusive behavior includes “racist or sexist language, gestures or behaviour.” After three reports, “…treatment would be withdrawn as soon as is safe.” Visitors would be removed after the first warning.

This is what happens when the government runs health care.

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Celebrating Matrimony

In Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Pamina and Papageno sing a duet in praise of marriage between a man and woman: the only kind there was up till the day before yesterday. Pamina’s boyfriend is Tamino, while Papageno is still looking for a wife, whom he eventually finds in Papagena. Thus, the duet is not two lovers singing to each other; it’s a tribute to marriage in the abstract.

Toward the end, Papageno sings,... [Read More]

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Requiem for the Pay Phone

Pay phones started disappearing about 20 years ago or so. Since I was a late mobile adopter, I’d occasionally hunt for the elusive pay telephone in public places, especially at airports. They were banished from my local airport around ten years ago, which forced my hand to join the ranks of the continuously and perpetually connected.

I encountered this specimen down by the beach this afternoon. It had been stripped for parts with the exception of a solenoid that remained in remarkably good condition. I come neither to praise nor to bury the pay phone, just to mark its demise and note the mixed blessing of its replacement. Does anyone know what the function of that solenoid was? Something to do with coins, I imagine.

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Make Your Own Fake News

Computer-generated articles aren’t new but now there’s a tool named Grover that you can use to make your own. Grover can also identify machine-generated articles. I love that their sample is a fake Paul Krugman article. Then again, I’m not so sure there are any real Krugman articles. It’s not entirely clear that Krugman could pass the Turing test.

I used Grover to generate a Krugman column for next October. It’s not too hard to detect that this column is fake but it would be a good starting point that could be touched up a human. I chose the headline, the author, the publication, and the date. Grover did the rest. Have fun.... [Read More]

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Mourning the Death of an Austere Religious Scholar

The Imperial Post published an obituary entitled “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.” The Daily Caller saved a screen cap before the Post’s editors revised the title: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48, but not before folks had a chance to comment. Here’s a selection:

Adolf Hitler, WW I veteran and amateur painter, died today.  There were allegations Mr. Hitler disagreed with the Jewish religion….... [Read More]

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Guidance From Our Betters

The collapse of the food pyramid heralded the age of skepticism about government dietary recommendations. Unsurprisingly, that awful scheme was promoted by the UN, that perennial and fertile source of bad ideas. The mother of morons is always pregnant. The replication crisis has led researchers to re-examine previous results in light of the fact that most published [epidemiological and clinical] research findings are false.

In 1977 the US government introduced dietary guidelines that called for reduced fat intake to decrease the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD). A meta-analysis of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that existed prior to 1977 show that “Dietary recommendations were introduced for 220 million US and 56 million UK citizens by 1983, in the absence of supporting evidence from RCTs.” Instead,... [Read More]

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