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July 2016

Elsewhere (206)

Thomas Sowell on the displacement of blame: 

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism. What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector…

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favourable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies. The same principle, or lack of principle, applies to many other privately owned businesses. It is a very successful political ploy that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.

Dave Huber on racial favouritism in college admissions: 

Although the US Supreme Court recently upheld the legality of using race as a factor when considering college admissions, a substantial majority of Americans disagree… Perhaps the most interesting aspect of a new Gallup Poll on the topic is that a majority of black Americans believe that merit, not race, should be used for admission to a university.

And Heather Mac Donald on the escalating dysfunction of black Chicago: 

Fatherlessness in the city’s black community is at a cataclysmic level — close to 80 percent of children are born to single mothers in high-crime areas. Illegitimacy is catching up fast among Hispanics, as well. Gangs have stepped in where fathers are absent. A 2012 gang audit documented 59 active street gangs with 625 factions, some controlling a single block. Schools in gang territories go on high alert at dismissal time to fend off violence. Endemic crime has prevented the commercial development and gentrification that are revitalising so many parts of Chicago closer to downtown; block after block on the South Side features a wan liquor store or cheque-cashing outlet, surrounded by empty lots and the occasional skeleton of a once-magnificent beaux-arts apartment complex or bank. Non-functioning streetlights, their fuse boxes vandalised, signal the reign of a local gang faction.

There’s more, lots more, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. 

Feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Friday Ephemera

And then this happened. // Thunderstorm at 37,000 feet. // French horn and chair. // Atomic Filmmakers – Hollywood’s secret film studio. // An auction of space history paraphernalia. (h/t, Things) // Inside Porton Down. // Protozoan Pac-Man. // Jellyfish portraits. // Japanese billiards. // BearCam, Katmai National Park, Alaska. // 3D Calvin & Hobbes. // Handmade omni-capable wheels. // Captain America: Civil War - how it should have ended. // Just swipe, they said. // New wave club night, California, 1986. So much moody, so much hair. // UK media influence. // Bookcase Tetris. // Gardening bras. // The Sequence is a game. // And finally, via Paul, it’s a good-news-bad-news thing: “Passers-by found him sitting in the rain with steam coming out of his body.”

Feign Diabetes, It’s The Only Way

Sarah Marsh alerts Guardian readers to yet another workplace hazard, i.e., the dangers of cake

It’s 10.30am on a Monday and already the smell of cakes is wafting towards your desk. The colleague, who usually does a spot of baking over the weekend, has been up all night making cupcakes and an email has just flown around about their latest goodies.

Yes, it’s a tale of horror.

Later in the day another email pings into your inbox, this time it’s an update – there’s still some cake left and also sweets have been purchased. 

Sweets? A second email? Why, it’s practically harassment.

And it’s always the same people who bring in the treats (you know the ones I mean).

Those bitches, trying to make the day a little more fun by sharing baked fancies with their workmates.   

They are not trying to make you overeat, but they are making it much harder to stay healthy. Arguably you don’t have to take the snacks, and, as an adult, you should be able to say no.

I fear the word arguably is doing an awful lot of work here.  

However, there is almost a reverse guilt around not accepting the baking of your colleagues. You feel bad for turning down a cake they’ve made to share together. The whole office frowns on you as if you’re some sort of killjoy when you decline to even taste Michael’s prize gateau.

The whole office, you say? It’s strange how the empowered, progressive ladies at the Guardian seem forever at the mercy of every small social expectation, however trivial and weightless.

What’s more, some people (myself included) simply do not have the willpower. 

As I was saying, empowered ladies.

For those who are genuinely struggling with their weight and trying to diet, the office baker wafting croissants around is their worst nightmare. Added to that the fact you’ve had a hard day, burdened with loads of extra work, and it’s even more difficult to resist.

Oh, that this world should have such woe in it, such vile temptations. We must recalibrate the term “worst nightmare” to include the offer of a small bun.  

Continue reading "Feign Diabetes, It’s The Only Way" »

Know Your Readership

Farnsworth M Muldoon steers us, once again, to the pages of Everyday Feminism: 

The urge to pull at your hair or pick at your skin – does this sound familiar to you or anyone you know?

Can’t say so, no. Compulsively tearing out one’s own hair and ripping one’s own skin like an unhappy parrot, which is what we’re actually talking about here, isn’t the most common way to while away the evenings. But a thought does occur. Given that the publication in question addresses subjects of this kind with extraordinary frequency - covering a thrilling spectrum of neuroses and personality disorders, even delusions of witchcraft and clairvoyance - it’s hard to avoid the impression that the readership of Everyday Feminism, and certainly its staff, is largely made up of people with quite serious mental health issues. 

Next week, an article for readers who spend their evenings eating tissues by the fistful and then being sick behind the sofa. #GirlPower!

Elsewhere (205)

Kevin D Williamson on work and earnings: 

The median salary for a women’s-studies professor is more than a hundred grand a year. The average hourly earnings for a graduate with a women’s-studies degree? Eleven bucks an hour, well less than you’d make working the car wash at a Buc-ee’s convenience store.

Marlo Safi on unknown history: 

US history is not a staple course for history majors at most top universities, according to a new report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni… Less than 20 percent of surveyed students could accurately identify in a multiple choice survey what the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation was, and one-third of college graduates were unaware that FDR introduced the New Deal.

Not entirely unrelated, Peter Wood on the fashionable conformity of student life:

Excluding people from a debate because you disagree with their views is an odd conceit, but odder still is that the practice has rapidly gained credibility on both sides of the Atlantic as morally valid.

Jonathan Haidt on the anti-rational rhetoric of “social justice” activism: 

There are many beliefs [on the “social justice” left] that are so central, so foundational, that when you try to argue against them, we see students saying that this would “invalidate” their “existence.” So if you were to try to argue that some cause of prejudice or racism was not real, or that disparities by race or gender had other causes, some would take this as an existential threat, an existential attack. You would be trying to “invalidate” their “existence,” which is “an act of violence.” So your very efforts to persuade with reason are, they say, “violence.”

And Paul Sperry spots an upscale, ‘progressive’ middle school that’s probably best avoided: 

Continue reading "Elsewhere (205)" »

Friday Ephemera

Behind the scenes. (h/t, Damian) // Boneless hamsters. // Bitty ribbit. // How to swim backwards. // A century of Holmes and Watson in cinema and TV, including Korean and Chinese interpretations. // Assorted 70s porn soundtracks. Brace for sleazy wah-wah. // You want one and you know it. (h/t, Peter) // Prism is a game. // Whatever happened to Kelsey Grammer? // Why grammar is important. (h/t, Julia) // Stock photo reconstructions of famous paintings. // 3D-printed zoetrope. // A million dots. // At last, Nadkins. // Ultimate nerf gun is exactly like you’d imagine. // Frankenstein, 1910. // All the cats. // Loud cat. // An hour of cat TV. // A tale of two small spacecraft named Voyager. // This is one of these. // And finally, alarmingly, your toilet paper is shrinking.