Owen Benjamin’s Karma Ran Over Patreon’s Dogma

Comedian Owen Benjamin, not to be confused with YouTuber Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), was kicked off Patreon last year. His supporters on Patreon were not pleased and used a provision of Patreon’s terms of service to demand arbitration for their complaints. This provision required Patreon to front the arbitration fees.

Patreon’s terms included language that allowed any users of the plaltform to litigate their case individually under California’s JAMS arbitration scheme.... [Read More]


A Field Guide to Masks

In my daily excursions, I’ve seen many variations on the masks to Flatten the Curve™. Americans, great innovators they are, have taken this opportunity to be creative, each marching to the beat of his own drummer. Many have taken the approach of following the letter of the law (wear a mask) while being less concerned about the spirit (they didn’t say where the mask had to be worn). Since masks interfere with breathing, many choose to allow their noses or mouths to be exposed by pulling down their masks, thereby protecting their chins and necks from the deadly virus. Others have taken this opportunity to play dress-up/cosplay for a favorite role: medical worker or Wild West bandido. The latter are especially useful in the context of mask recommendations during sexual activity.

This handy table lists some of the common examples of mask interpretations that I’ve observed in the wild. Suggestions for additions are welcomed.... [Read More]


Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

Jerome K. Jerome set about writing a serious guide to boating on the Thames but ended up with a humorous chronicle of a two-week trip up the Thames with a couple of pals and a fictional dog. The book opens with an evening discussion over drinks, during which the plan for the trip is hatched. Two of the three set off one Saturday from Kingston bound for Oxford, the third man meeting up with the others a bit farther upstream. They sleep over on Magna Carta Island, get lost in the Hampton Court Maze, and generally get themselves into various sorts of mischief.

The book was published in 1889. Playwright Tom Stoppard wrote the screen adaptation, featuring Tim Curry and Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) and directed by Stephen Frears. It turns out to be available on YouTube: a bit of light entertainment for our troubled times.... [Read More]


Quit Whining; It Only Feeds the Trolls

The Right are playing their assigned role in the iconoclasts’ drama: a Dionysian festival. The Left are gladdened by your tears; they derive their energy from the wailing and moans of the Right. As Zman explains,

There is no shortage of analysis trying to explain the insane behavior of mobs pulling down statues. All of it from outside the Progressive hive misses the point, because it projects reason and consciousness of thought onto the performers. What’s happening is these people are just that, performers. They are unconsciously playing a role, like participants in a pagan ceremony. They are doing so for their Progressive audience, who cheers and sobs after each statue is toppled.... [Read More]


WSJ Journo Reaches Out to Gab

A former Facebook employee and current journalist at the WSJ contacted Andrew Torba of Gab to find out how to further deplatform Gab survives deplatforming. All the usual payment processors and many other service providers refuse to deal with Gab. The only ways to send them any money are Bitcoin and checks, including echecks.

I’m a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and I’m looking into how platforms with strong free speech policies are dealing with their dependence on large internet infrastructure companies (like Cloudflare).... [Read More]


Scott Adams’s Old Buddy

A couple of years ago, Scott Adams was enamored of BLM’s New York leader, Hawk Newsome. Adams had him as a guest on his Periscopes once or twice and often spoke admiringly of Newsome. It was always obvious to even the most casual observer at the time that Newsome is a racist. His audience pointed it out repeatedly but Adams was undeterred. Adams has since broken it off with Newsome but he spent plenty of time kneeling and praising before he did.

Now Newsome is finally all the way out of the closet, loud and proud to show his true colors: “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down the system and replace it.” Oh, but he’s only speaking figuratively, right? Maybe, maybe not:... [Read More]


Public Health versus Individual Health

Over many years of intermittently reading various medical journals I began to notice that the arguments in favor of public health measures were often based solely on society-wide benefits. The effects are usually small on an individual basis and only matter when applied to a large population. As reported in the popular press, the recommendations are simplified to do this because it will make you live longer.

The arguments in the journals tend to go like this:... [Read More]


Downright Diabolical

Yesterday, while I was enjoying a cup of coffee at one of the allegedly hipster coffeehouses I frequent, the woman at the next table struck up a conversation. She and her husband had just returned from a bike ride about ten miles up the coast. I objected that the bike paths were closed by order of our scary-looking county public health official and assorted lesser authorities. I was informed that they were now open, whereupon I set off to explore.

Indeed, it was true! I was overjoyed. Everyone was delighting in a beautiful day by the beach, reveling in their new-found freedom. I was grateful to be able to resume some normal activities. Only one day before, there were orange barricades blocking entry and at many points along this path, and rent-a-cops enforcing the no-go zone. [click on photo to enlarge]... [Read More]


The Science Is Settled

In 2005, epidemiologist and physician John Ioannidis published the controversial and famous paper, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False in PLOS Medicine. He showed there were sound reasons to be skeptical of most published research, especially those results that rely on statistical analysis to draw conclusions about the relationship between two phenomena. Familiar examples:
• How effective is a drug?
• Does a substance in the environment increase the incidence of cancer?
• What is health effect of a food?
As he suggests, the science in most of these cases is far from settled.

By 2014, Ioannidis’s fame had grown to pop-science level. He was invited to do one of the Talks at Google, where he was given a fawning introduction by the earnest and callow member of the “People Operations Team.” He can do no wrong.... [Read More]