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November 2013

Elsewhere (104)

Tim Blair on the self-regarding eco-guru David Suzuki:

Self-importance comes with the territory when you’re a warmist. After all, you’re saving the planet. Who could be more important than you? This elevated sense of self manifests itself in curious ways, such as Tim Flannery’s prediction of a universal belief system or his insistence that everybody is always writing about him, or Will Steffen’s fear that a retired public servant wanted to shoot climate scientists and Michael Mann’s mistaken Nobel Prize claim. But those three are mere junior narcissists compared to David Suzuki, who is now starring as a global climate martyr in a “powerful live theatre and public engagement project” about himself.

Tim Worstall on the myths and omissions of the “gender pay gap”:  

Women who work part time earn more than men who work part time. Women in their 20s earn more than men in their 20s. Women who don’t marry and don’t have children earn more than men. What kills the average wage of all women, in comparison to the wage of all men, is that women - and it’s important to note that this is on average - take career breaks to have children and often then either more time off or lighter workloads to raise them. We might want to say that this isn’t a good idea. We might think that it’s just fine that people who make different life decisions earn different amounts of money. But what this isn’t is a gender pay gap. And anyone who wants to change matters has to recognise that it isn’t a gender pay gap so it isn’t something that is going to be changed by blathering on about gender. It’s about children and the having of them. And, if we’re to be honest about it all, as long as more women than men decide that they want to take those breaks and changed workloads in order to raise their children, then we’re always going to have that motherhood pay gap. Whether it’s a good or bad thing is entirely reliant upon your personal definitions of good or bad.

Theodore Dalrymple on modern priorities:

The slowness [of the police] to react - infinite slowness, in fact, since they did not react at all - contrasted oddly with an experience I had the previous Sunday. A couple of American filmmakers came to Paris to interview me… and decided that the little park opposite my flat would be a good place to do so. They set up the camera, but a few seconds later, before they could ask me a single question, a municipal policeman arrived. They were not allowed to film here without a permit from the mairie of the arrondissement, he said. I explained that these were Americans, come all the way from Texas expressly to interview me. He, a very pleasant and polite man of African origin, phoned his chief to see whether an exception could be made. As I suspected, it could not. I told the film crew that we should make no fuss; the man was only doing his job, silly as that job might be. As it happens there were several drunks in another part of the park making aggressive-sounding noises and breaking bottles, but them he did not approach, perhaps wisely, as they were several and he was only one. He thought he would have more luck with someone wearing a tweed jacket and corduroy trousers as I was.

And Jack Dunphy on our student intelligentsia:

Only on a college campus, and nowhere more so than an Ivy League one, does it take a committee to figure out the obvious. Which in this case is that a group of coddled elitists, none of whom would dare set foot in the New York neighbourhoods that benefited most from the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” tactics, decided that their opinions… are the only ones deserving of a public airing, and that anyone whose opinion may differ is therefore worthy of mockery, shame, and contempt.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 

Friday Ephemera

Raccoon likes grapes very much. And has better table manners than quite a few children. // Face recognition for pets. // Flying around Mount Fuji with a jetpack. // The effects of Gravity. // Coffee grinders of yore. // Arteries and veins. // Saving women from ochobo and other social gaffes. // NASA gifs. // 4.6 million may be a few too many notes. // Philosophy chart of note. // Autonomous lights. (h/t, Julia) // Lettering by hand. // The thermal dip mirage. // “The living unicorn,” 1985. (h/t, Coudal) // The whale warehouse. // Wine in a can. // You’ll want one for the lab: A table that mimics 3D objects in real time. // And BatDad strikes back

No Refunds, No Credit Note

Those of you with artistic leanings may want to catch up with this ongoing thread at Artblog, in which I trade views with a couple of artists, chiefly on the subject of public funding. It’s informative and fun, if you like that kind of thing. I learned, for instance, that,

Art is for the people. But I would never leave it up to the taste of “the people” or “taxpayers” to get it done.

Bold, very bold.

Elsewhere (103)

BenSix ponders the moral compass of Russell Brand and Laurie Penny: 

I do not know what Ms Penny’s memories of the riots are but mine are not of “righteous rage,” as Mr Brand phrased it. I think of Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir, who were killed in a hit-and-run attack while defending their community from rioters; Richard Mannington Bowles, who was beaten to death while trying to extinguish a fire and Ashraf Rossli, who was attacked and then robbed by people who had pretended to help him. I think of the hundred private homes that were burned; the shops that were torched and the thuggishness that was so dramatically irresponsible that fire engines had their windows smashed when they arrived to fight the flames.

Penny can believe that such acts were inspired by “anger,” though the fact that so many of the participants had faced multiple prior convictions suggests that a good many of them required no such excuse to vandalise and steal. What I find disgusting, though, is the idea that they provide a model for future protests. It is evidence of a bizarre ethical and intellectual failure that one can romanticise this cause of death and destruction in a piece that is devoted to the horrors of casual sexism. It is interesting that a journal of left wing opinion is so receptive to calls for violent upheaval. One can only speculate as to their response should a Spectator columnist demand attacks on wind farms, speed cameras or publishing houses.

As regular readers will be aware, Ms Penny is inclined to hyperbolical nihilism and has some intriguing views on the subject of violence and on whom it may be inflicted. In August 2011 on the BBC’s World Tonight, Laurie offered her “intelligent analysis” of the aforementioned criminal spree. What frightens her, she said, isn’t the beating and murder of pensioners, the mugging of children or the gleeful attempts to burn people in their homes, but the use of the word “feral” to describe the people doing so. By Laurie’s lofty moral calculus, we, not the rioters, are the ignorant ones. “Violence,” she insisted, “is rarely ever mindless.” “Nicking trainers,” we were told, is “a political statement.”

Mark Steyn notes there’s nothing funny about Obama: 

There’s a designation for countries where mocking the leader gets you sent to re-education camp, and it isn’t “self-governing republic of freeborn citizens.”

Chris Snowdon does some basic arithmetic: 

Anyone who says that they want a tax on fizzy drinks because they are concerned about the cost to the public is either disingenuous or ignorant. It will place a further tax burden on the public that far outweighs any plausible savings. Also remember that we already have a 20 per cent tax on fizzy drinks. It’s called VAT and it isn’t levied on fruit juice, milk or water. 

And Tim Worstall tries to endure an economics lecture by the Guardian’s foremost social commentator Polly Toynbee. As you can imagine, it tests his patience a little.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets below.

Update, via the comments:

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Friday Ephemera

Canyon of fire. // DIY cuttlefish incubation. // The making of the Coca-Cola sign, Piccadilly Circus, 1954. // I’m not entirely sure what this is. // Because you’ve always wanted to watch naked skiing. // Some bunnies are fluffier than others. // Lurking in the deep. (h/t, Julia) // The last word in treehouses. // Leaves, Turin. // What ants get up to underground. (h/t, Kate) // Mouse and cracker, a tale of perseverance. // Time travel made simple. // Mechanical insects. // Scroll down to Riker. // Experiments in the Revival of Organisms, 1940. (h/t, Coudal) // Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, 1938. (h/t, MeFi) // Hey, don’t judge, it can happen to anyone