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Elsewhere (164)

Kevin D Williamson corrects the comedy economics of U.S. senator Bernie Sanders: 

Prices in markets are not arbitrary — they are reflections of how real people actually value certain goods and services in the real world. Arbitrarily changing the dollar numbers attached to those preferences does not change the underlying reality any more than trimming Cleveland off a map of the United States actually makes Cleveland disappear… Free markets are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence…

Markets adapt to political changes, and the hierarchy of values that distinguishes between an hour’s worth of warehouse management, an hour’s worth of composing poetry, an hour’s worth of brain surgery, and an hour’s worth of singing pop songs is not going to change because a politician says so, or because a group of politicians says so, or because 50 percent + 1 of the voters say so, or for any other reason. To think otherwise is the equivalent of flat-earth cosmology. In the long term, people’s needs and desires are what they are; in the short term, you can cause a great deal of chaos in the economy and you can give employers additional reasons to automate rote work. But you cannot make a fry-guy’s labour as valuable as a patent lawyer’s by simply passing a law.

Williams quotes the socialist Mr Sanders objecting to consumers having a wide choice of sports shoes and underarm deodorant, as if such things were a sign of wickedness, which reminded me of another socialist’s encounter with well-stocked shelves, in 1989, quoted here by Tim Blair:  

[Russian president, Boris] Yeltsin, then 58, “roamed the aisles of Randall’s supermarket nodding his head in amazement.” He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, “there would be a revolution.” “Even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev,” he said.

And here’s a Moscow supermarket circa 1990, filmed by Rick Suddeth. As you can see, the egalitarian retail experience is leaving shoppers happier and more morally elevated:  

Continue reading "Elsewhere (164)" »

Friday Ephemera

“Because love is forever!” // Smart collar for dogs. // Brain-controlled bionic leg. // There are duck lanes in London. // Star Trek-inspired office building of note. // That holiday in Iceland you’ve been planning. // How to prolong battery life. // Belly paint. // Rihanna farts in a bath. // Giant strawberry. // Tasty hedge. // Stayin’ Alive. // How to make gummi Lego. // Wet-fold origami animals. // An interactive global map of meteorite falls. // Interactive pixelated fur pompoms. // Cruise ships from above. // “Masturbating men will find their hands pregnant in the afterlife.” Don’t question Islamic science. // Smartphone screen-to-body ratios. // Retro-ironic gaming cabinet of note. // Hurdler. // Dad interventions. // And finally, fiercely, drag queen Storm versus drag queen Dark Phoenix

Such Details Are Beneath Her

Readers of this blog will, over the years, have marvelled at the outpourings of one Polly Toynbee, the Guardian’s foremost social commentator and hand-wringer in chief, a woman voted “the most influential commentator in the UK” and whose views regularly grace the programming of the BBC, for which she was formerly a newsroom social affairs editor. “Polly Toynbee’s influence is perceived to be huge in British public life,” wrote Julia Hobsbawm of the media analysts Editorial Intelligence. “Her columns resonate in Whitehall and beyond.”

From high atop those resonating columns, Ms Toynbee delivers her various pronouncements, including a conviction that “left-wing people are more intelligent and just generally better people,” i.e., better than thee and me, and a demand that taxes must be raised “to pay the state to become the best possible nanny to all babies.” There’s also her belief that “disruptive 16-year-old boys” should be taken out of class to spend a term being taught the finer points of dance, thereby resulting in a “transformation in the whole year group.” When not curing inner-city classroom delinquency with the thrill of modern tap, Polly tells her readers that obesity isn’t chiefly a matter of inactivity and overeating but instead has a more pernicious cause, i.e., a lack of socialism

It is inequality and disrespect that makes people fat.

To bolster this radical insight Ms Toynbee made a number of further claims regarding economic inequality and expanded waistlines, each of which proved to be either misleading or untrue. And chunkier readers should note that waiting for a socialist revolution probably isn’t the best way to lose those extra pounds.

Our imperious champion of the poor has a famously intermittent relationship with facts, logic and mathematics, such that an entire website, Factchecking Pollyanna, was devoted to providing detailed corrections of each week’s errors and distortions. Sadly, this effort to bring factual accuracy to the finest Guardian journalism became dormant some years ago, its anonymous author possibly having collapsed under the weight of the endeavour.

Happily, however, Tim Worstall has now published the best of that legendary blog in book form, so that another generation may bathe in Ms Toynbee’s blunders and fumbling with numbers. Amid various examples of Polly inverting statistics and misreporting figures by several orders of magnitude, as when she inflated council tax benefit changes by a mere 5,100%, the volume includes such moments of high journalism as Ms Toynbee telling the world that 142% of people were dissatisfied with Tony Blair, and a 21-word sentence containing no fewer than five factual errors.

If you buy the book via this Amazon link, or via this one here for readers in the U.S., your host will receive a small fee at no extra cost to you.  

Elsewhere (163)

Robert Stacy McCain on bedlamite feminism: 

In her 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex, [Shulamith Firestone] declared that “the end goal of feminist revolution must be… not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself.” Firestone called for “an end to the incest taboo, through abolition of the family,” so that “sexuality would be released from its straitjacket to eroticise our whole culture.” She flatly declared “pregnancy is barbaric,” described women as “the slave class,” and envisioned a “new society” in which “humanity could finally revert to its natural polymorphous sexuality — all forms of sexuality would be allowed and indulged.” The fact that Shulamith Firestone was clinically insane (a paranoid schizophrenic who died alone in 2012 at age 67) might serve as sufficient rebuttal to her doctrine, but by the time her madness became evident — she was committed to a psychiatric unit in 1987 — the radical movement she helped launch had gained a solid foothold in academia, publishing, law and politics.

David Clemens on academia’s Clown Quarter and its self-inflicted decline: 

The Modern Language Association is the world’s largest organisation for scholars of literature and languages with about 24,000 members in over 100 countries. Like the rest of academia, the MLA leans solidly to the left, yet it still includes a “Radical Caucus” and a leftist “Politics and the Profession” subgroup. One older gent from the Radical Caucus sports a hammer-and-sickle lapel pin; another member works to rehabilitate Joseph Stalin’s reputation… Is there anything more absurd than a handful of academics retailing their revolutionary fantasies in the Grand Ballroom of a luxury hotel?

Professor Clemens was a voice of reason in the excellent documentary Indoctrinate U

And David Hookstead spots more campus leftists signalling their brilliance to an unworthy world: 

An upcoming workshop scheduled to take place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison aims to teach campus radicals and socialists how to manipulate campus resources to advance their agenda… One of the group’s overall goals, according to their website, is to “reveal and challenge the North American university as a site working at the junction of settler-colonialism, neoliberal capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy and other systems of domination and exploitation.” The event includes sessions investigating what it means to be a thief, how to construct political narratives, and how to destabilise hegemonic spatial representations.

Given the costs of being a student whose time is spent engaged in pretentious Marxoid seething, and given how unlikely it is that such seething will attract employers or a salary, it may not surprise readers that the organisers are also very much opposed to “debt and hierarchies of knowledge.” Being expected to pay your bills as agreed – say, those misspent student loans – is, we learn, a “means of oppression.” Because destabilising hegemonic spatial representations is something that someone else should be forced to pay for.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for. 

Friday Ephemera

Dog uses human toilet better than many children. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) // At last, the suppository slingshot. // Chinese art teacher builds own full-size Hulkbuster. // Incoming. // It’s all kicking off in Lego city. // Attention, sexy ladies: “For Skype date nights, I recommend going for a minimal, but semi-glam look.” (h/t, Insty) // Foetal development. // The international flag of planet Earth. // The untold story of Industrial Light & Magic. // Monsters from Mars. // The museum of pocket calculating devices. (h/t, Coudal) // A visit to a Tokyo stationery shop. // Trek gnomes. // The news, summarised in gifs. // Police sketches alongside actual mugshots. // Baby bees. // The Bluetooth-enabled KFC Tray Typer. // And finally, from sodding to bollocks, how to swear like a Brit.

Old Habits

Meanwhile, in criminal genius news

A man has been charged with stealing his own barrister’s mobile phone during an appearance at Bexley Magistrates’ Court. Bobby Heath, 25, was appearing in court to plead guilty to charges of possession of cannabis and driving without insurance... He has been bailed to appear again at Bexley Magistrates’ Court on June 2 regarding the alleged theft of the mobile phone.

Swiped from Julia, who has an eye for the adventures of our criminal classes

Elsewhere (162)

Jim Goad on the “microaggressions” hustle: 

That’s what’s ultimately dangerous about this concept of “microaggresions” — even the demented fanatics who insist that such things actually exist will concede that the perpetrator may not harbour or exhibit any malice whatsoever… Under this framework, bigotry is solely in the eyes of the accuser. No matter how pleasant your demeanour or how generously you act, you can still be bludgeoned over the head with baseless accusations of unconscious racism, and your accuser will feel like a good person for doing it.

And no vain, vindictive soul would ever exploit that kind of leverage for purposes of their own, would they?

David French on academia’s racial quotas and ideological cleansing: 

If Americans broadly understood how the process works, support for affirmative action would diminish even further. First, few people understand how dramatic the boost is for favoured minority groups. If students were black or the ‘right’ kind of Latino, they would often receive admissions offers with test scores 20 or 30 percentile points lower than those of white or Asian students. When I expressed concern about an admissions offer to a black student with test scores in the 70th percentile — after we’d passed over white and Asian students with scores in the 98th percentile and far higher grades — I was told that we had to offer admission or we’d surely lose him to our Ivy League rivals. Second, these dramatic breaks rarely go to poor kids who are overcoming the challenges of ghetto schools.

And Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt have been mining the naked cronyism and deep comedy of Australia’s taxpayer-funded art world:  

The finest grant of them all occurred in 2011, when Sydney artist Denis Beaubois received $20,000 from the Australia Council. Beaubois simply piled the cash into two stacks, put a glass box around it and called the resultant piece Currency. The arts grant and the art were one and the same. Then he put the money up for sale at an auction – where someone actually paid $21,350 to buy $20,000. ‘’The money I make will be used to finance part two of the project, which is a series of performance/video works on the division of labour, and capitalism,’’ Beaubois said. There is a much easier way for Beaubois and all Australian artists to study capitalism, and that is by participating in it. The Australia Council should be shut down, along with just about all arts funding. This would save close to $700 million per year and – absolutely guaranteed – would result in better art.

Artists making things that customers might like and wish to pay for directly, voluntarily? Why, the very idea.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.

Friday Ephemera

Ultrasound for the blind. // Mud brick high-rise, Yemen. // Jack Kirby spreads. See Big Barda’s giant nutcrackers. // Cubes of food. // TypeDrummer. // Jetpacks over Dubai. // A catheter’s journey. // Iron Panda. // Those floaty things in your eyes. (h/t, MeFi) // How to fold a T-shirt. // “You can actually, physically, press her breasts together.” // Bach’s crab canon on a Möbius strip. (h/t, Randall) // Lollipops of note. // Chinese crowd shots. // Sandwich knife of note. // Van Gogh, animated. // Gravity. // It’s an advert for gardening. // The chemistry of gin. // 100,000 stars. // 20. // Tornado versus rainbow. // “I was told she wouldn’t live long so I set about filming her every day.” // SwimFin. // Sky Sharks. // And finally, via Ted, an underground bee mishap of note. 

Insert Coin for Dancing Monkey (2)

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