23 Oct 2017

Goshawk

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23 Oct 2017

Libertarian Cop

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Tom O’Donnell, in the New Yorker, March 31, 1994.

I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”

I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.

“Home Depot™ Presents the Police!®” I said, flashing my badge and my gun and a small picture of Ron Paul. “Nobody move unless you want to!” They didn’t.

“Now, which one of you punks is going to pay me to investigate this crime?” No one spoke up.

“Come on,” I said. “Don’t you all understand that the protection of private property is the foundation of all personal liberty?”

It didn’t seem like they did.

“Seriously, guys. Without a strong economic motivator, I’m just going to stand here and not solve this case. Cash is fine, but I prefer being paid in gold bullion or autographed Penn Jillette posters.”

Nothing. These people were stonewalling me. It almost seemed like they didn’t care that a fortune in computer money invented to buy drugs was missing.

I figured I could wait them out. I lit several cigarettes indoors. A pregnant lady coughed, and I told her that secondhand smoke is a myth. Just then, a man in glasses made a break for it.

“Subway™ Eat Fresh and Freeze, Scumbag!®” I yelled.

Too late. He was already out the front door. I went after him.

“Stop right there!” I yelled as I ran. He was faster than me because I always try to avoid stepping on public sidewalks. Our country needs a private-sidewalk voucher system, but, thanks to the incestuous interplay between our corrupt federal government and the public-sidewalk lobby, it will never happen.

I was losing him. “Listen, I’ll pay you to stop!” I yelled. “What would you consider an appropriate price point for stopping? I’ll offer you a thirteenth of an ounce of gold and a gently worn ‘Bob Barr ‘08’ extra-large long-sleeved men’s T-shirt!”

He turned. In his hand was a revolver that the Constitution said he had every right to own. He fired at me and missed. I pulled my own gun, put a quarter in it, and fired back. The bullet lodged in a U.S.P.S. mailbox less than a foot from his head. I shot the mailbox again, on purpose.

“All right, all right!” the man yelled, throwing down his weapon. “I give up, cop! I confess: I took the bitcoins.”

“Why’d you do it?” I asked, as I slapped a pair of Oikos™ Greek Yogurt Presents Handcuffs® on the guy.

“Because I was afraid.”

“Afraid?”

“Afraid of an economic future free from the pernicious meddling of central bankers,” he said. “I’m a central banker.”

I wanted to coldcock the guy. Years ago, a central banker killed my partner. Instead, I shook my head.

“Let this be a message to all your central-banker friends out on the street,” I said. “No matter how many bitcoins you steal, you’ll never take away the dream of an open society based on the principles of personal and economic freedom.”

He nodded, because he knew I was right. Then he swiped his credit card to pay me for arresting him.

22 Oct 2017

Bear Inclusive Bathrooms

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Bearmageddon News:

Rancho Popantopalous, CA—It started when a local brown bear attempted to use the restroom at the Feldman Public Library in Rancho Popantopalous. At first, library staff refused the bear entry, but when it was clear that the bear self-identified as human, the issue immediately became more complex. The library’s restroom was an “inclusive restroom” and after some thought, library staff decided to allow the bear entry. Despite the mauling of three patrons, the community at large felt good about the decision and celebrated it as a big step for interspecies progress.

This led to a public policy allowing any local bears who identify as human to use any restrooms in the state, without exception.

With more bears using restrooms, the death toll has risen exponentially, causing some people to question if the policy has really been thought through. But this is only a small minority, mostly friends and families of the dead, who have been dismissed as bigots and hatemongers.

There is already talk of building larger stalls and urinals to accommodate the animals. “If you don’t like getting attacked by bears, go home and use your own bathroom,” said librarian Julianna Huxley. “Stop trying to set back the clock.”

22 Oct 2017

Multiple Mausers

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The Austro-Hungarian aircraft gunner in the picture is seen using a Mauser C96 pistol combination, probably just for demonstration. Each pistol held a clip of ten bullets and the device attached to them fired them in unison, giving the gunner the ability to rapidly fire 100 rounds in volleys of 10. Two bars passed through the five upper and five lower trigger guards and were attached to the single aiming grip that can be seen in his hand. It had a trigger at the end which was pulled to fire all ten pistols at the same time. Given the close arrangement of the pistols, if the gunfire did hit the enemy aircraft, it would have been like using a shotgun. With the light frame and canvas structures of early war aircraft that might have been enough to bring it down. But one has to wonder how long it would take, and how difficult it would be, to reload and re-mount all ten pistols while maneuvering and trying to avoid nearby enemy aircraft.

RareHistoricalPhotographs.com

21 Oct 2017

Andrew Sullivan Gets One Right

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Andrew is a very mixed bag. He can be brilliantly perceptive, hitting the nail right on the head. And he can be an intellectually conformist sheep, swallowing the current leftist spin hook, line, and sinker. And Andrew can go both ways in the very same editorial.

For example, this week, Andrew correctly identifies the democrats’ huge political vulnerability.

For me, as regular readers know, few things seem as ominous as the fate of free speech in the West. In democratic countries without a First Amendment, writers and speakers are now routinely hauled into court for hurting someone’s feelings or violating some new PC edict. In Canada, it is now a crime to use pronouns that have served the English language well enough for centuries, if you are not careful. You are compelled by law to say “ze” or “xe” or “ve” or an endlessly proliferating litany of gobbledygook — “(f)aer,” “e/ey,” “perself” — invented out of thin air by postmodern transgenderists. Justin Trudeau doesn’t just want you to be criminalized for saying things he regards as “hate,” he wants to use the criminal law to force you to say things you don’t believe in and can’t even remember.

In Britain, meanwhile, it is now a criminal offense to post something on social media that “is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice.” “Hostility” is defined thus: “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.” In other words, if you “dislike” some idea, and someone else asserts your view is driven by “unfriendliness” to a member of a minority, you are breaking the law. There is effectively no free speech left in the U.K. that isn’t subject to a criminal veto by someone seeking to make trouble or permanently primed to take offense. And that is not to speak of the chilling effect such laws have on others too intimidated to open their mouths at all.

In America, thanks to Thomas Jefferson et al., such policing of minds and thoughts by the government is forbidden. So the illiberal left and reactionary right find other ways. Our president believes “it’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.” He also thinks he can coerce people into saying “Merry Christmas” or standing for the national anthem. (I’ve decided to reverse my previous custom and always say “Happy Holidays” and always kneel for the anthem.) The GOP candidate for the Senate from Alabama — supported by every other GOP senator — believes that NFL players are actually breaking the law by using their First Amendment rights, and that Muslims should be barred from public office. And then the worst news on this front all year: “Nearly half of voters, 46 percent, believe the news media fabricate news stories about President Donald Trump and his administration.” That rises to 76 percent of Republicans. Twenty-eight percent of all voters — and 46 percent of Republicans — believe that the government should be able to remove the licenses from outlets that criticize the president. The First Amendment lives; but the beliefs and practices and norms that buttress it are atrophying very fast.

Many now demand, for example, that young-adult fiction conform to their ideology … or they will destroy a book before it is even published and before they have even read it. That just happened to a book written by Laura Moriarty, called American Heart, which was subjected to a social-media version of book-burning. Kirkus originally gave the book a glowing review, and then retracted it under pressure, then got the reviewer to rewrite it. Vulture interviewed the editor of Kirkus Reviews about the flap. Money quote:

    “Obviously we don’t like having to make corrections after the publication of a review,” [Kirkus’s editor-in-chief Claiborne Smith] adds. “The plan is to beef up our editing of reviews in this section, to have further eyes before it goes to print.”

    In the future, I ask, is the goal that no problematic book will escape un-called-out?

    “That’s certainly the goal!” Smith says, with the caveat that Kirkus’s critics aren’t infallible. “I mean, we’re human beings.”

Or look at what happened to a speaker from the ACLU at the College of William & Mary in Virginia a couple of weeks back. She came to give a talk about — yes! — free speech, only to be shouted down by the usual mob, who were at least honest enough to chant: “Liberalism Is White Supremacy,” and “The Revolution Will Not Uphold Your Constitution.” They physically prevented the speaker from even talking one-on-one with those who were interested in a dialogue.

The unity of the far left and the Trump right on this is as striking as it is depressing. What they share is a contempt for liberal democracy. Truth to both of them is merely an instrument of power. Instead of relying on an open exchange of ideas in order to determine the always-provisional truth, both sides (yes, both sides) insist that they already know the truth and need simply to acquire the power to impose it on everyone else. Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson weeps.

And then Andrew proceeds to tell us just how wonderful and enlightening the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Vietnam War Documentary is. (Sigh!)

Try Mackubin Thomas Owens on that subject.

21 Oct 2017

John McWhorter Needed to Say This About Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Personally, I have often thought that non-mentally-impaired black guys must think this to themselves about Coates.

HT: Ann Althouse.

21 Oct 2017

Letter to the Packers & the NFL

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Kozack has had it with his favorite team.

Mark Murphy, President and CEO, Green Bay Packers
Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

I am writing to you as a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers. I have been a Packer fan since the mid-1960s despite having been born and raised in Chicago. While in grammar school, our library had Sports Illustrated, and reading the articles about the Packers I fell in love.Lombardi, Nitschke, Starr, Adderley, Hornung, and Kramer became my heroes. I remember exactly what I was doing while listening to the radio broadcast of the Ice Bowl. From the Glory

Lombardi, Nitschke, Starr, Adderley, Hornung, and Kramer became my heroes. I remember exactly what I was doing while listening to the radio broadcast of the Ice Bowl. From the Glory Days, to the travails in the ’70s and ’80s, I followed Brockington, Hadl, Dickey, Lofton, etc., listening to the games on WTMJ radio. In the ’90s with their rebirth, I became an early subscriber to NFL Sunday Ticket, so I could watch them while living in California. I hosted a Super Bowl Party for SB XXXI when the Lombardi Trophy returned to Title Town. …

I was disturbed by the player protests which began with Kaepernick and his parroting of the false BLM narrative. But I could tolerate it as long as it was isolated players. But now, suddenly, it has become the official team position of the Packers. We are a bitterly divided nation. Sports was one of the very few refuges from that. Come game day, it was about the sport and the teams.

But now, politics has been injected onto the field at every game, and apparently, the NFL’s official position is to not only allow but encourage this Social Justice Warrior behavior. The original protests were based on a lie, that large numbers of black men were being shot down by police. A quick look at the facts makes that claim ludicrous. The greatest threat to black men is being shot by other black men. Ignoring that and concentrating on the handful of police shootings is like ignoring your lung cancer and focusing on your acne.

Now, the protests have changed into some amorphous “unity against injustice and oppression,” when in fact they are just a temper tantrum because the President called the players on their protests, forcing them to claim they weren’t disrespecting the symbols of our nation — the flag and anthem — a patent lie considering the statements made by multiple players. Watching Kaepernick wear his “pig socks” and his “Che” shirt was greatly offensive to me as a Ukrainian whose family had to flee Communism, and a veteran of the Cold War.

I don’t care what the players believe or do off the field. But I refuse to be lectured about how unjust and oppressive the United States is while trying to watch a football game. Now, after your meetings, the official position of the league is to inject itself in politics and use the NFL brand and platform for “reform.” If I want a lecture, I can go to a Hollywood movie, watch any TV program, listen to any one of hundreds of “comedians,” or read the New York Times or Time Magazine. I don’t need the aggravation of watching the entire Packers organization, or any other NFL team, essentially give the finger to fans like myself and about half the nation. I’ve got better things to do with my life.

So, I’ve taken down my Packer memorabilia. I’ve removed the stickers and plate holders from my car. I’ve cancelled Sunday Ticket, DirecTV, Sirius radio, and won’t be renewing my Game Pass. No more trips to Lambeau, or any other NFL venue. The collateral damage now includes hotels, airlines, bars, and restaurants. I’ll be several thousand dollars a year richer. The NFL will be that much poorer.

If the Green Bay Packers and the NFL come back to their senses, and get back to football, and stop with the politics and virtue signaling, I’ll be back. If not, then good bye and good riddance.

RTWT

20 Oct 2017

Mark Steyn on “Good Will Hunting”

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As Harvey Weinstein’s career circles the drain, Mark Steyn amuses us with a celebratory trashing of Weinstein’s cinematic masterpiece: “Good Will Hunting” (1997).

[I]n Good Will Hunting, the eponymous Will, a genius, demonstrates said genius by memorizing a book simply by turning the pages and regurgitating a lot of information at extremely fast speed. This is a very Hollywood idea of genius: there isn’t a studio exec in town who wouldn’t love a kid in the outer office who could read an entire novel over lunch and then pitch it in eight seconds. …

The writers of Good Will Hunting are, in fact, actors — Matt Damon, who back in 1998 was best known for The Rainmaker, and Ben Affleck, who’d turned in a very dreary performance in the boy-meets-lesbian romance Chasing Amy. That said, they had their own peculiar genius: The script is said to have started out as an action thriller about a race against time to avert mass destruction. Then, at Rob Reiner’s suggestion, the boys converted it into an all-talk-and-no-action touchy-feely cockle-warmer about male bonding. The final version trembles on the brink of a dysfunction-of- the-week TV movie but never quite dives in, thanks mainly to Gus Van Sant’s direction and two oral-sex jokes.

Will, played by Matt, is now a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, loitering with his mop and pail by the blackboard and anonymously solving the most complicated mathematical theorems, like:

    Σ = (y-¿) x zzz*/7 (@§ç) [$$$$]
    a ¶

    (I quote from memory)

Actually, that one isn’t too difficult, as it represents the precise formula for late Nineties Weinstein Oscar bait, where zzz = upscale Brit source material, ¿ = Gwyneth Paltrow’s breasts and § =the differential between a film directed by Quentin Tarantino and a film with a cameo by Quentin Tarantino. The line represents the line that sensitive artistic executives know not to cross, and the a=actress and ¶=Harvey’s head peeking out from the bathroom door.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Good Will Hunting’s trump card is Mr Damon, who struts through the film with the cockiness of a good-looking serial killer. He’s not very plausible as a genius, but then he’s not very plausible as a janitor either, so it all evens out. What he has is a breezy intensity and the same kind of bantam rooster quality as the young Cagney, albeit gussied up and airbrushed, as was the Nineties’ wont. With the exception of his three minutes singing “Scottie Doesn’t Know” in Eurotrip, this remains his greatest screen performance.

As for Will himself, he’s merely the umpteenth variation on Forrest Gump — this time an asshole savant: for all his facility with physics and history, he’d rather drink beer, beat guys to a bloody pulp and say ‘f**k’ a lot. The film is unusually strong in these scenes. It doesn’t sentimentalize the lads as poets in the raw, held back only by the iniquities of class: Chuckie (Affleck) and Will’s other pals from Southie — South Boston — are shown as amiable yobs, perfectly content within their shrunken horizons. The loathing that the college maintenance staff feel for the professors is also well done, and there’s a sharp scene where Will and a Harvard boy spar over Minnie Driver:

    “You just paid $150,000 for an education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the library.”

    “True, but at the end of it I’ll have a degree and you’ll be serving my kids fries in the drive-thru on the way to our ski vacation.”

(Two decades on, a 150-grand degree is no obstacle to a rewarding career at the drive-thru window.)

The forces of higher education are represented by Stellen Skarsgard as an MIT professor looking for his ticket to the top. It would have been interesting to see the film explore his character’s relationship with Will: both are men who, in opposite ways, are frustrated by the size of their brains. Instead, Skarsgard is there essentially to introduce Will to a shrink pal of his. The shrink is played by Robin Williams. Even worse, it’s Robin Williams in that beard he keeps in the drawer and only brings out for serious roles.

The beard is working overtime here: Williams’ character is a Vietnam vet, child-abuse survivor, recent widower and community college loser, due to the fact that his career stalled while his late wife spent 18 of their 20 years together on her death bed. In Deconstructing Harry, the Woody Allen film released around the same time, Williams had a small role as an actor who goes out of focus – literally: whenever the camera tries to film him, he’s all fuzzy and blurred. On the evidence of Good Will Hunting, it was something of a recurring problem for Williams: his eyes are permanently fuzzy and blurry, as if he’s on the brink of tears. Apparently, Mister Blurry’s participation was Harvey Weinstein’s sole demand before he would agree to make the film. That’s a shame, because he’s at odds with an otherwise strong cast. Self-pity is a difficult quality to sell: There’s a neediness in Williams’ performance here, which is what ties his serious roles to the manic comedy. All performers have that to one degree or another, but the trick of acting is to conceal it.

RTWT

20 Oct 2017

Virtue Signalling

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Matt Ridley believes the left awards itself far too much credit for mere intentions, regardless of results.

The curse of modern politics is an epidemic of good intentions and bad outcomes. Policy after policy is chosen and voted on according to whether it means well, not whether it works. And the most frustrated politicians are those who keep trying to sell policies based on their efficacy, rather than their motives. It used to be possible to approach politics as a conversation between adults, and argue for unfashionable but effective medicine. In the 140-character world this is tricky (I speak from experience).

The fact that it was Milton Friedman who said “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results” rather proves the point. He was one of the most successful of all economists in getting results in terms of raising living standards, yet is widely despised today by both the left and centre as evil because he did not bother to do much virtue signalling.

The commentator James Bartholomew popularised the term “virtue signalling” for those who posture empathetically but emptily. “Je suis Charlie” (but I won’t show cartoons of the prophet), “Refugees welcome” (but not in my home) or “Ban fossil fuels” (let’s not talk about my private jet). You see it everywhere.

RTWT

HT: Seattle Sam.

20 Oct 2017

Neanderthal DNA

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How Stuff Works:

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany analyzed the genetic data of 112,338 people of British ancestry who have Neanderthal DNA to conduct a study on the link between Neanderthal DNA and humans’ physical characteristics. Having access to a large cohort of study participants from the UK Biobank proved important, since there just isn’t much Neanderthal DNA floating around. (People of European and Asian descent get anywhere from 1–4 percent of their genes from Neanderthals, thanks to interbreeding thousands of years ago.)

Prior research has found that the ancient hominids may have influenced a variety of disease-related traits in humans. For instance, the presence of Neanderthal DNA is associated with the increased sensitivity to certain allergens and a higher risk for nicotine addiction. But in the new study, the researchers focused on nondisease phenotypes — the observable physical characteristics of an organism — in modern humans.

With the help of questionnaires given through UK Biobank, the researchers determined that the propensity to smoke and loneliness are associated with Neanderthal DNA. They also found that some Neanderthal alleles (variant forms of genes) contributed to lighter skin and hair tones in modern humans, while others contributed to darker tones. But breaking down the study’s results isn’t as easy as pointing to a certain shade of skin and linking it to Neanderthal DNA. Multiple alleles influence skin and hair color, and Neanderthals might’ve had a large range of skin and hair tones based on different pieces of genetic material, just like modern humans.

The researchers noted in the study that many of the Neanderthal-linked traits are related to sunlight exposure, including an allele that contributes to circadian rhythm and the tendency to be an “evening person.” In the study, non-African people living farther from the equator had higher frequencies of that allele. Indeed, Neanderthals had been living in northern environments with lower and more varying levels of ultraviolet radiation for thousands of years when modern humans came to the region from sunnier Africa.

So, if you stay up late and nap during the day? That might be the Neanderthal in you.

20 Oct 2017

Offended

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“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.“

– Stephen Fry, [I saw hate in a graveyard – Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”

19 Oct 2017

Massachusetts School: “No Halloween! Black and Orange Spirit Day!”

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Daily Mail:

A Massachusetts elementary school has canceled its Halloween events and is celebrating ‘black and orange spirit day’ instead.

Boyden Elementary School’s principal sent a letter to parents this week saying that it had decided to cancel its traditional Halloween parade on October 31 because it was ‘not inclusive of all students’ and was ‘difficult’ for many.

Without specifying which students the parade excluded, Principal Brendan Dearborn said the school would instead hold a ‘black and orange spirit day’.

Children are allowed to dress in those colors but cannot come to school in costume.

RTWT

19 Oct 2017

Eye of the Beholder

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19 Oct 2017

What’s It Mean?

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