Recently in Culture Category

Working for free exposure

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Nails it plus a classic from Harlan Ellison:

And from the master:

I've got friends in safe spaces

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Spot on - over one million views:

Ho Li Crap - Kazu Kokubo

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From Snowboard Magazine:

Every time we see new footage from Kazuhiro Kokubo we are blown away. In Kazu’s most recent full part from the Union movie, STRONGER and remixed for Casio’s G-Shock MUDMASTER GWG-1000-1A9ER Watch, Kazu destroys everything from massive cliff drops to road gaps and spines. Buckle-up prior to watching, this isn’t your average backcountry edit.

More on Kazuhiro at Infogalactic - turned Pro at age 11

Ohhh the humanities

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Homelessness - a tale of two cities

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You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than progressive liberal cities - specifically New York and San Francisco. The politicians do what sounds good, they do not do good. A classic two-fer regarding homelessness:

First, from the New York Post:

Why homelessness gets worse as de Blasio doubles spending
City Comptroller Scott Stringer is rightly raking Mayor de Blasio over the coals over his new budget, which proposes $2.3 billion in spending on the homeless — nearly double the outlay of three years ago.

Yet, Stringer asks, “are we seeing results?” The answer, he makes clear, is no: “The crisis is growing; it is not receding.”

Yes, Stringer wants de Blasio’s job. But the facts speak for themselves.

Second, from Ed Driscoll writing at PJ Media:

A New Entrant For The Fox Butterfield Award
"Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, [San Francisco's] homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's."

-- SF Weekly, while running smack dab into the Butterfield Effect, at least arrives at an inescapable conclusion:  "It's time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America."

I dunno -- Detroit and Newark, NJ might quibble, but still, glad we've finally reached bipartisan consensus on the horrific fate of a one-party town.

Be sure to click on the Butterfield Effect link - it explains a lot about the state of the media these days. Journalists are supposed to report the news and We The Reader form our own opinion. If we want to read the opinions of other people, we turn to the Editorial page and read those. These days, every news article is an editorial.

Fun stuff:

Original video here: 'I FINK U FREEKY' by DIE ANTWOORD (also fun stuff!)

The state of our school system

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This is just unreal - it is as though we have slipped into another dimention - from The Daily Caller:

New York To Scrap Literacy Test For Teachers In The Name Of Diversity
Prospective teachers in New York will likely no longer have to pass a basic reading and writing literacy exam, the Associated Press is reporting.

The state’s Board of Regents is expected to ditch the Academic Literacy Skills Test in part because black and Hispanic teaching candidates struggled to pass the exam, according to the AP.

Just 41 percent of black teaching candidates and 46 percent of Hispanics passed the test on their first try, compared to 64 percent of white candidates.

Ho. Li. Crap. 41% passing the test? They have a copy of the test on the New York State Education Department website but it costs $20 to download. I would love to see the questions being asked.

Diversity - the race for the bottom.

Millennial International

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Sponsor a Millennial today:

Nails it - Hollywood opinions

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20170307-buzz.jpg

Fun story from The Hill:

Ivanka Trump clothing line reports record sales
Ivanka Trump’s eponymous women’s fashion line is reporting record sales figures despite calls for a boycott and controversies surrounding President Trump.

“Since the beginning of February, they were some of the best performing weeks in the history of the brand,” Abigail Klem, the president of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand, tells Refinery29 in an interview published Tuesday. “For several different retailers Ivanka Trump was a top performer online, and in some of the categories it was the [brand’s] best performance ever.”

The news of a sales surge comes after Nordstrom announced in early February that it would no longer carry the 35-year-old’s clothing and accessories, citing poor product sales. The move caused President Trump to tweet shortly after the announcement that his daughter was being “treated so unfairly” by the luxury department store giant.

Also last month, Neiman Marcus stopped carrying the first daughter's jewelry line on its website, and employees of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores were instructed to throw away any signage advertising her wares.

And the upshot:

A campaign called Grab Your Wallet, which is critical of the Trump administration, asked shoppers to boycott retailers with any Ivanka or Donald Trump-branded products.

According to the e-commerce aggregator Lyst, from January to February, Ivanka Trump sales increased 346 percent, Refinery29 writes.

Heh - I love it. The liberals get their panties in a twist and We The People go out and buy her stuff. I always liked the way she dresses - simple but very stylish. The 346% increase really demonstrates the real numbers - lots more of us than them...

Great article - I am fascinated by the culture of the Antarctic research stations, the terminology, the customs. Here is a look at the food of an especially small and remote research station - from Vice:

Inside the Loneliest Five-Star Restaurant in the World
You can eat foie gras at Antarctica's Concordia Station, but your closest neighbor is the International Space Station and you might not see oranges for three months.

Life in the kitchen is never easy—being a chef is a profession that involves an incredible amount of precision, creativity, and the ability to keep your cool in this uniquely stressful environment, even in the best of conditions. In a place like Antarctica's Concordia Station, one of the most isolated research facilities in the world, where day and night can last months on end and temperatures generally hover between -30 and -60 Celsius, the already stressful task of being a chef begins to sound downright hellish.

This however, is not the opinion of Luca Ficara, who has been serving as the base's resident chef since November.

A fun read if you are into food. Sounds like a great job for the right person.

Social Justice Warriers always lie. A two-fer.

First - from Canada's The Toronto Star:

Concordia University bomb threat suspect charged with inciting fear of terrorism
A man has been arraigned in connection with alleged bombing threats at Concordia University in Montreal.

Hisham Saadi, 47, is charged with mischief, uttering threats and inciting fear of a terrorist-related attack.

Three university buildings in the downtown area were evacuated for several hours Wednesday after Concordia received what it called bomb threats targeting Muslim students.

Zero mention of the ethnicity of the moke although his face and name bear the stamp of a middle-eastern origin. Who Mr. Saadi was pretending to be is another question:

In a letter sent to several media outlets and consulted by The Canadian Press, a group threatened to detonate “small artisanal explosive devices” once a day until Friday in order to injure Muslim students.

The group, which described itself as a chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada, or C4, complained about Muslim prayer services on campus and demanded the school stop “religious activities of all kinds.”

Emphasis mine - those intolerant alt-right people. Could not be a liberal - liberals are tolerant of other people's views, has to be a conservative.

Second - from Legal Insurrection:

What We Know About Juan Thompson, Arrested for Threats Against Jews
Jaws dropped when authorities announced they arrested Juan Thompson for threatening Jewish community centers.

Thompson made these threats in his ex-girlfriend’s name as an act of revenge, to frame her for the crimes. But this isn’t the first time Thompson has made headlines.

In fact, Thompson flew into the spotlight for fabricating references when he worked at The Intercept.

Yes, Thompson has a history of lying and drawing attention to himself.

There is much more at the site - Mr. Thompson is playing the victim in this case but he is not - there are too many of his tweets screen-captured and archived on display at this post for him to be anything but a self-centered narcissist trying to advance his sense of entitlement.

From Lady Margaret Thatcher - from The Washington Examiner:

12 Margaret Thatcher quotes to start Women's History Month the right way
Wednesday marks the beginning of Women's History Month, and feminists are well-prepared to offer their own version of that subject over the course of the next thirty days. More often than not, those efforts deliberately exclude the accomplishments of women whose worldviews do not conform to the standards of contemporary feminism.

One such woman happens to be among the most consequential historical figures of the 20th century.

Born the daughter of a grocer, Margaret Thatcher ascended the ranks of British politics and served eventually as the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. Her talent for packaging wisdom into pithy phrases left us with countless concise quotes to return to for years to come. Here is a brief selection to help you celebrate her successes this Women's History Month.

    1. "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
    2. "There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women and there are families."
    3. "Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country."

These are the first three - eight more great ones at the site.

A helpful list

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From Way Up North - hat tip Peter:

Safety Tips for Your Next Monster Hunt
1. If someone tells you that you are the Chosen One and must save whoever or whatever, kill them and change your name.

2. Same bloody well goes for any harbinger of any "prophesy". If possible, resurrect them and kill them a second time.

3. If a mysterious and beautiful woman appears out of nowhere and is interested in you, run.

4. If you see a lone young child in the middle of nowhere and is uncommonly cheerful and/or giggling, run like you heard banjos.

5. Black cats, not so bad. Black dog that watches you without ever blinking? Don't run. Slowly back away.

Twenty-five more at the site. Definitely worth printing up and laminating and keeping handy on your travels...

From Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville blog:

Margaritaville Holdings and Minto Communities Announce Partnership
Margaritaville Holdings and Minto Communities today announced a partnership that will develop new active adult communities in some of the nation’s most popular destinations. The first location of the all-new residential concept will open in Daytona Beach, Florida (see renderings below). The Sales Center at LATITUDE MARGARITAVILLE, Daytona Beach has already broken ground and is slated to open in Fall 2017.

“We are excited to partner with Minto and believe this relationship will redefine lifestyle destination living in Daytona Beach,” said John Cohlan, chief executive officer of Margaritaville. “With Minto’s expertise in creating master planned developments and Margaritaville’s inherent ability to deliver fun and escapism, Latitude Margaritaville has the exact coordinates for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up.”

Featuring world-class amenities and design, LATITUDE MARGARITAVILLE, Daytona Beach will reflect Margaritaville’s authentic, “no worries,” tropical vibe, offering an immersive brand experience. Current plans call for walkable neighborhoods and a Town Center featuring a fitness center with an aerobics studio, indoor lap pool, spa, and group fitness classes; indoor and outdoor dining with signature Margaritaville food and beverage concepts, as well as others; arts and learning programs for residents and guests; and a resort pool area with beach entry. In true Margaritaville fashion, music will also play an important part in the community, with a band shell for live entertainment in the Town Center. A private beachfront club with breathtaking views and beachfront amenities will be set on the Atlantic Ocean, which residents can access via a continuous loop shuttle service.

Houses start at $200K - the project website is here Latitude Margaritaville. I am not a "planned retirement community" kind of guy but this would be a great idea for some people.

A commercial:

If Unions benefited the worker...

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Workers would pay their dues voluntarily. From Hot Air:

AFL-CIO cutting staff as union membership declines
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics union membership hit an all-time low in 2016 of just 10.7 percent. That decline has consequences for unions like the AFL-CIO, which Bloomberg reports is dismissing dozens of staff members:

The AFL-CIO is dismissing dozens of staff members as part of a restructuring amid continuing declines in union membership and fresh political threats to labor rights.

“We will have to end support for some programs that don’t go to our core priorities,” said AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein, who declined to discuss the number of staff affected. “This is about reimagining and realigning our core priorities to best serve our affiliates.”

The affected employees, who include both union members and management, were informed Wednesday and Thursday of the cuts. Three people familiar with the cutback said several dozen jobs were lost.

Bloomberg notes that the AFL-CIO’s federal filings indicate it has around 400 employees, so a loss of several dozen probably represents a decline of around 10 percent.

The union spokesman blamed the downsizing on “well-financed anti-union opposition” but it’s really the result of former members who have been freed up by right-to-work laws to not have union dues taken from their paychecks. Wisconsin saw a decrease of over 100,000 union members after the passage of ACT 10 in 2011. Michigan, which passed a right-to-work law in 2013, lost 20,000 union members between 2015 and last year.

They very much had their time and place but they have failed to adapt. There is a place for some unions - police, fire, industrial but teachers unions, government unions, etc... serve nobody except the union bosses and need to be disbanded.

The inmates are running the asylum

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And it is a local story too - from The Daily Caller:

College Writing Center Declares American Grammar A ‘Racist,’ ‘Unjust Language Structure’
An “antiracist” poster in a college writing center insists American grammar is “racist” and an “unjust language structure,” promising to prioritize rhetoric over “grammatical ‘correctness.'”

The poster, written by the director, staff, and tutors of the University of Washington, Tacoma’s Writing Center, states “racism is the normal condition of things,” declaring that it permeates rules, systems, expectations, in courses, school and society.

Christ on a Corn Dog - remember Ebonics from 1996? Thought not. The students should sue to get their tuition refunded - the U-Dub is setting them up for a big-time fail once they graduate and try to find work in the real world. Writing in dialect is fine to make a point but the little snowflakes should be able to diagram a sentence and be intimately familiar with Strunk and White (not that kind of white dammit!)

A little list

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A bunch of illegal immigrants were rounded up recently (about 680 people nationwide). People protested. What they did not know is that all but two (the two were mistaken identity and released) of these people were criminals.  John Binder writing at Breitbart has a list of the 41 people from New York City - here are just the first five:

    1. A 31-year-old El Salvador national with a criminal conviction for assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and self-admitted MS-13 gang member. He was arrested in New Hyde Park, NY.
    2. A 49-year-old Jamaican national with a criminal conviction for first degree sexual assault of a victim under the age of 11. Convicted of sexual assault carnal abuse. He was arrested in Bronx, NY.
    3. A 60-year-old Mexican national with a criminal convicted for first degree sexual assault of a victim under the age of 11 and endangering the welfare of a child. He was arrested in Staten Island, NY.
    4. A 23-year-old Guyana national with a conviction of rape. He was arrested in Richmond Hill, NY.
    5. A 29-year-old Guatemala national convicted of rape. He was arrested in Bronx, NY.

Fine upstanding citizens - all of them.

Heh - Ivanka Trump

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Gerard provides this meme and a link to a great story:

20170218-ivanka.jpg

From the New York City FOX News affiliate:

Ivanka Trump brand tops Amazon Best Sellers list
First Daughter Ivanka Trump could be getting the last laugh at brick and mortar stores that have dropped her brand of clothing, shoes, perfumes and more.

On Friday morning, Ivanka Trump Eau de Parfum Spray For Women, 3.4 Fluid Ounce and the roller ball version of the perfume were number one and two top selling perfumes on Amazon's Best Sellers list.

This is wonderful - the fake news sites can spew all they want to but numbers do not lie.

Idiots - from Page Six:

Grammys producer wants stars to be political during speeches
In a fraught moment of political protest across the country, the live mic at televised award shows has become a potent weapon.

As such, Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich has a message for those who will take the stage on Sunday’s ceremony: Bring it on.

Ehrlich has no reservations about political messages or anti-President Trump statements flying during CBS’ three and a half hour Grammycast. Artists expressing passionate opinions about real-life issues are the stuff of memorable moments, he said.

Boooooring... If I watch a show like The Grammys, it is because I want to be entertained by professional musicians showing us what they can do in a live venue. Their pathetic virtue signaling has absolutely zero interest to me. I am reminded of this epic rant:

Dear Hollywood celebrities: It’s time to wake up now. Get this! The only reason you exist is for my entertainment. Some of you are beautiful. Some of you can deliver a line with such conviction that you bring tears to my eyes. Some of you are so convincing that you scare the stuffing out of me. And others are so funny you can make me laugh uncontrollably. But you all have one thing in common. You only exist and have a place in my world to entertain me. That’s it. Nothing else!

You make your living pretending to be someone else. You play dress-up like a 5-year-old. Your world is a make-believe world—it is not real; it doesn't exist. You live for the camera while the rest of us live in the real world. Your entire existence depends on my patronage. I crank the organ grinder, and you dance.

Therefore, I don't care where you stand on issues. Honestly, your opinion means nothing to me. Just because you had a lead role in a movie about prostitution doesn't mean you know what it’s like to be a prostitute. Your view matters far less to me than that of a someone living in Timbuktu. Believe me or not, the hard truth is that you aren't real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer, and you cease to exist. Once I am done with you, I go back to the real world until I want you to entertain me again.

I don't care that you think BP executives deserve the death penalty. I don't care what you think about the environment. I don't care if you believe fracking is bad. I don't care if you call for more gun control. I don't care if you believe in catastrophic, human-induced global warming. And I couldn't care less that you supported Hillary for President. By the way, she lost!!

Get back into your bubble. I'll let you know when I'm in the mood for something pretty or scary or funny. And one other thing. What was all that “I'll leave the country if Donald Trump wins”? Don't you know how stupid that made you sound? What did you think my reaction was going to be? Oooh! I better not vote for Trump or we'll lose Whoopi Goldberg? Al Sharpton? Amy Schemer? Rosie O’Donnell? Leave. Good riddance. I don't care! And don't let the door hit you in the keister on your way out. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Even scare me. But realize this: the only words of yours that matter are scripted — just like your pathetic, little lives. I may agree with some of you from time to time, but in the final analysis, it doesn't matter. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment.

So, shut your mouth and dance, monkey, DANCE!

So true and yet, these poor people are so oblivious, they actually think their personal opinions matter to me.

President Trump's personality

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I have been reading Willis Eschenbach for a couple of years. The guy has led a fascinating life and writes about it and writes well. He started off posting at Anthony's but now has a blog of his own.

Today's post is a great insight into the personality of President Trump - stepping on toes, changing his mind, etc... Spot on:

The Building
Lately I’ve been considering why it is that I find it fairly easy to understand President Trump’s actions. Today I realized that we are both builders who are the sons of builders.

My dad, Benson Eschenbach, was an architect, a developer, and a builder. After WWII, he moved the family out to San Diego, California. There, he and a couple of partners developed one of the first architect-designed subdivisions where the houses were not just cookie-cutter boxes. He was instrumental in developing what was called the “San Diego Style” of architecture. Not all architects are builders, but he loved to work with his hands.

Much more at the site - just go and read. It will take about ten minutes - be sure to check out the comments too. Reading this will make a lot of things clear.

From the The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

The Met Makes Its Images of Public-Domain Artworks Freely Available through New Open Access Policy
Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today its adoption of a new policy: all images of public-domain artworks in the Museum's collection are now available for free and unrestricted use. This updated policy, known as Open Access, utilizes the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation. This policy change is an update to The Museum’s 2014 Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) initiative. The Met’s Open Access policy facilitates the use of more than 375,000 images of public-domain artworks for both scholarly and commercial purposes. The Museum is collaborating with global partners to enable greater access to the collection.

In making the announcement, Mr. Campbell said: "We have been working toward the goal of sharing our images with the public for a number of years. Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture and our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care. Increasing access to the Museum’s collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas. We thank Creative Commons, an international leader in open access and copyright, for being a partner in this effort.”

The gateways can be found at Creative Commons and at GitHub

There are degenerate people everywhere - check out this from The Daily Caller:

NAACP Head And Convicted Murderer Says He’ll ‘Fire Back’ If We Report On Embezzlement
A high-ranking official convicted of murder threatened to “fire back” if The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group (TheDCNF) reported that a new branch president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) embezzled during his tenure at a previous nonprofit.

Gerald Hankerson, president of the Alaska, Oregon and Washington State regional NAACP, told TheDCNF he wasn’t “authorizing” the disclosure because it “strikes a blow to the NAACP by indicating that we allow criminals at the leadership.”

The person in question:

TheDCNF reported Thursday that the Anchorage, Alaska, branch of the NAACP in November elected Kevin McGee, who had been convicted of using his previous position as president of a government employees union to steal from, as a court document put it, “the very people he was supposed to represent.” In a victim impact statement, the union called McGee “an opportunistic thief who has shown no remorse.”

Are people so blind that they would hire convicted criminals and give them positions of great power and authority. There were no checks and balances in that organization at all.

Running scared - Berkeley, California

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From San Francisco station KPIX:

Bay Area Conservatives Keep Meetups Secret Fearing For Their Safety
Some East Bay conservatives say they live a secret life. They can never tell anyone what they really feel like in fear of their safety.

Robert Ward is coming out conservative, but in a place he says is risky for those who share his beliefs.

“If you witness what happened in Berkeley, actually they are so violent on top of it. I mean being a conservative in the Bay Area is like being a heretic,” says Ward. “You lead a double life. You can never tell your friends and co-workers.”

Robert says several Bay Area conservatives have secret meet ups like the one KPIX 5 was invited to visit in the East Bay.

Robert had this to say:

“They seem to pride themselves on being diverse, and they are diverse about everything but their ideology,” says Ward. “I hope that in the future when people see Trump isn’t as scary as they think he is and a lot of the good things that happen and the prosperity comes back and the jobs come back, every one calms down a little bit.”

Do not count on it - the marching and rioting have always been run by the fringe and nothing satisfies them. As long as they have their Soros money lining their pockets, they will keep going. This is what defines them.

I love the Intel drones in the beginning act:

Great Hyundai ad - Super Bowl

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Best of the Super Bowl ads I have seen:

Major props to Lady Gaga

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She did the halftime show for the superbowl and had the chance to make a political statement - she was a Hillary supporter. Instead, she just sang. From Breitbart:

Lady Gaga Steers Clear of Politics in Super Bowl Halftime Show
Lady Gaga played several of her greatest hits and stayed away from making political statements during her performance Sunday night at the Super Bowl LI halftime show.

Opening with an a-capella mash-up of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” under a flurry of red, white and blue-colored drones, the 30-year-old singer dropped down from the roof into NRG Stadium in Houston and launched into her hit “Poker Face” from atop an elaborate tower structure.

Good move on her part. This did not go unnoticed. Her perofmance can be seen here - cannot embed the video. She was interviewed Saturday and said this:

“I believe in a passion for inclusion,” she said at a press conference in Houston on Saturday. “I believe in the spirit of equality, and the spirit of this country as one of love and compassion and kindness. So my performance will have both those philosophies.”

Great shot and chaser from Maggie's Farm:

I remember back in the old days, public conversations between liberals and conservatives usually went something like this:

1. liberal: says something
2. conservative: responds
3. liberal: you're a racist | sexist | bigot | pejorative du jour
4a. conservative: I am not a racist | sexist | bigot | pejorative du jour
4b. conservative attempts to give evidence for statement 4a.
5. liberal: not good enough
6. Go to step 3

The new, Trump-era "honey badger conservative" playbook appears to be this:

1. conservative: says something
2. liberal: you're a racist | sexist | bigot | pejorative du jour
3. conservative: fuck you.

These certainly are fun times.
(As I sit back in my chair and savor another drop of the finest spirit in the world - distilled from snowflake tears)

Fascism - a two-fer

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Saw on the web:

20170130-fascism01.jpg

20170130-fascism02.jpg

Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data

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The title of a class to be taught at the University of Washington, Spring Quarter of 2017 and looking into ways of making the lectures broadly available, be it on YouTube or via a more formal MOOC platform.

From the website Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data

The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit — and take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with bullshit of the second order. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.

We're sick of it. It's time to do something, and as educators, one constructive thing we know how to do is to teach people. So, the aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combating it with effective analysis and argument.

What do we mean, exactly, by the term bullshit? As a first approximation, bullshit is language, statistical figures, data graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener, with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence.

While bullshit may reach its apogee in the political domain, this is not a course on political bullshit. Instead, we will focus on bullshit that comes clad in the trappings of scholarly discourse. Traditionally, such highbrow nonsense has come couched in big words and fancy rhetoric, but more and more we see it presented instead in the guise of big data and fancy algorithms — and these quantitative, statistical, and computational forms of bullshit are those that we will be addressing in the present course.

Of course an advertisement is trying to sell you something, but do you know whether the TED talk you watched last night is also bullshit — and if so, can you explain why? Can you see the problem with the latest New York Times or Washington Post article fawning over some startup's big data analytics? Can you tell when a clinical trial reported in the New England Journal or JAMA is trustworthy, and when it is just a veiled press release for some big pharma company?

Bookmarking the page and will be checking it regularly. There is already a lot of wonderful reading there.

Obama's legacy - Education

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Failed. From The Washington Post:

Obama administration spent billions to fix failing schools, and it didn’t work
One of the Obama administration’s signature efforts in education, which pumped billions of federal dollars into overhauling the nation’s worst schools, failed to produce meaningful results, according to a federal analysis.

Test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment were no different in schools that received money through the School Improvement Grants program — the largest federal investment ever targeted to failing schools — than in schools that did not.

The Education Department published the findings on the website of its research division on Wednesday, hours before President Obama’s political appointees walked out the door.

“We’re talking about millions of kids who are assigned to these failing schools, and we just spent several billion dollars promising them things were going to get better,” said Andy Smarick, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who has long been skeptical that the Obama administration’s strategy would work. “Think of what all that money could have been spent on instead.”

This comes from doing what sounds good as opposed to doing what works well. It seems to be a big problem for liberals to tell the difference between the two.

From TMZ:

MARY TYLER MOORE DEAD AT 80
Mary Tyler Moore -- the television icon who charmed America with comedic brilliance and charisma on her hugely successful '70s show -- died in a Connecticut hospital ... TMZ has learned.

MTM's longtime rep, Mara Buxbaum, issued a statement to TMZ saying, "Today, beloved icon, Mary Tyler Moore, passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine."

"A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile."

Watched many an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show while growing up. She was a classic.

An email

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Joe at Fat in Indiana received this email from his brother:

Dear Hollywood celebrities: It’s time to wake up now. Get this! The only reason you exist is for my entertainment. Some of you are beautiful. Some of you can deliver a line with such conviction that you bring tears to my eyes. Some of you are so convincing that you scare the stuffing out of me. And others are so funny you can make me laugh uncontrollably. But you all have one thing in common. You only exist and have a place in my world to entertain me. That’s it. Nothing else!

You make your living pretending to be someone else. You play dress-up like a 5-year-old. Your world is a make-believe world—it is not real; it doesn't exist. You live for the camera while the rest of us live in the real world. Your entire existence depends on my patronage. I crank the organ grinder, and you dance.

Therefore, I don't care where you stand on issues. Honestly, your opinion means nothing to me. Just because you had a lead role in a movie about prostitution doesn't mean you know what it’s like to be a prostitute. Your view matters far less to me than that of a someone living in Timbuktu. Believe me or not, the hard truth is that you aren't real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer, and you cease to exist. Once I am done with you, I go back to the real world until I want you to entertain me again.

I don't care that you think BP executives deserve the death penalty. I don't care what you think about the environment. I don't care if you believe fracking is bad. I don't care if you call for more gun control. I don't care if you believe in catastrophic, human-induced global warming. And I couldn't care less that you supported Hillary for President. By the way, she lost!!

Get back into your bubble. I'll let you know when I'm in the mood for something pretty or scary or funny. And one other thing. What was all that “I'll leave the country if Donald Trump wins”? Don't you know how stupid that made you sound? What did you think my reaction was going to be? Oooh! I better not vote for Trump or we'll lose Whoopi Goldberg? Al Sharpton? Amy Schemer? Rosie O’Donnell? Leave. Good riddance. I don't care! And don't let the door hit you in the keister on your way out. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Even scare me. But realize this: the only words of yours that matter are scripted — just like your pathetic, little lives. I may agree with some of you from time to time, but in the final analysis, it doesn't matter. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment.

So, shut your mouth and dance, monkey, DANCE!

Talk about speaking truth to power monkeys.

A new approach to Education

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Charter Schools are good but they are subject to the same bureaucratic meddling from governments that public schools are. Here is a private school started by a Libertarian businessman which charges one quarter what regular private schools charge and the kids get a better education:

Thales Academy from Infogalactic, the Academy website

This is fun - welcome aboard!

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It is not just bitter clingers and baskets of deplorables who are stocking up on food, water and ammo - from Vocativ:

Liberal Preppers Stock Up On Guns, Food As Trumpocalypse Looms
Colin Waugh bought a shotgun four weeks before November’s election.

An unapologetic liberal, he was no fan of firearms. He had never owned one before. But Waugh, a 31-year-old from Independence, Missouri, couldn’t shake his fears of a Donald Trump presidency — and all of the chaos it could bring. He imagined hate crimes and violence waged by extremists emboldened by the Republican nominee’s brash, divisive rhetoric. He pictured state-sanctioned roundups of Muslims, gays, and outspoken critics.

“I kept asking myself, ‘Do I want to live under tyranny?'” said Waugh, who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and later backed Hillary Clinton. “The answer was absolutely not.”

With Trump now days away from assuming the White House, Waugh’s preparing for the worst. He’s made “bug-out bags” stuffed with ammo, energy bars, and assorted survival gear for his wife and their three cats. He’s begun stowing water and browsing real estate listings in Gunnison County, Colorado, which he’s determined to be a “liberal safe-haven.” Last month, Waugh added a 9mm handgun to his arsenal.

This is the whole Y2K scare all over again. Back in 1999, people thought that civilization would come to a halt because it was found that some computer systems could not handle the date roll-over properly. That was fixed and life went on as usual. It was fun because there were lots of nice generators and guns and prepper gear for sale in late 2000 and early 2001 Cheap!

A bit more:

“We’re tired of being perceived as wusses who won’t survive when shit hits the fan,” said Stacy, a Texas Democrat who recently caught the prepper bug. She spoke with Vocativ on the condition we not publish her last name. “I, for one, don’t like to be thought of as some precious snowflake.”

After years cast as a fringe survival group, preppers entered a kind of golden age during the Obama presidency. A horrific housing crash and the spectacle of Hurricane Sandy helped give rise to reality television shows like Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Bunker, and fueled a multi-billion dollar survival industry. Branded by some as a foreign-born, gun-grabbing socialist, Obama aroused deep suspicion among the patriot groups, right-wing conservatives, and apocalyptic Christians at the center of the growing movement.

Trump’s provocative posturing and unpredictability is now inspiring a fresh wave of panic on the left. Those who spoke with Vocativ have envisioned scenarios that could lead to military coups led by loyalists of the president-elect and internment camps packed with political opponents, bloody social unrest and an all-out civil or nuclear war. Sound bonkers? Perhaps. But, for many, so was the prospect of a President Trump.

You just go ahead - we will be more than happy to by your stuff off you for pennies on the dollar once prepping is no longer 'hip' or 'cool'. Besides, everyone knows that the real shit-hitting-fan moment will be on  03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038 - any questions? I will be in my bunker.

Good morning - a great meme

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Swiped from Bayou Renaissance Man who reminds us of H. L. Mencken's famous definition of puritanism: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

20170114-liberals.jpg

Heh - Michael Ramirez on Meryl Streep

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20170112-streep.jpg

From his website: Michael Ramirez

Empathy and Meryl Streep

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A long wonderful essay on empathy by Bulldog at Maggie's Farm:

Has Lack of Empathy Been Pathologized?
I am not delving into the psychology of empathy. I'm not trained in it, and I don't know enough to make a statement from that position.  I can, however, write about its effect on my own experiences, from my own therapy, and from a recent event which sparked a challenging debate.

That event was Meryl Streep's Golden Globes acceptance speech.  I watched about 5 minutes of it, then left.  Because I can, and I chose to.  While I agreed with a bit, there was far more there than I was interested in hearing.  To begin with, I don't watch award shows, I happened to switch it on at just that moment and thought I'd like to see her receive her award.  If I am going to watch an awards show, I want to be entertained, not lectured.  I turned it off.  I did read the text the next day when the brouhaha around it began.  Mainly because New York, the center of 'if you disagreed with her, you're insane and wrong and must have something wrong with you' began to show its ugliness.  In other words, "Hillary lost and WE STILL HAVE NO CLUE HOW AND WHY IT HAPPENED SO WE MUST LASH OUT!"  Meryl was offered a moment to lash out, and she did.  Following some kind of empathic tribal code, her supporters rushed to demonize anyone who didn't 'feel' the same way Meryl did.

Before rejecting what Meryl had to say, I'll point out what I agreed with.  I do agree Trump needs to show more decorum, and engage better behavior, if he wants to be a good president.  He is thin-skinned and often disrespectful.  It's unbecoming.  I also agree the press does need to pay attention to what is happening and remain vigilant, and maintain its proper role as the Fourth Estate - a role it has given up in the last 20-odd years, unless a Republican is in office.  I agree the press and foreigners play an important role in society.  I agree we need to be civil toward each other, and not act like bullies.  If these simple statements were made, I'd have said "Nice speech."

But she said so much more.  The issue isn't just that she said more, but also where she said it from, and how she positioned herself in saying it.  I was left to think "Just who the hell does this person think they are?  They can't really be serious. How can she represent so many positions?"  Turns out she can't, but believes she can.

One more taste:

In other words, Meryl's lack of empathy was astounding.  Her inability to understand why others did not vote as she did leads her to make odd accusations and create false memes to help herself cope.  In her speech she exhibited everything that is wrong with Democrats right now.  A complete misunderstanding of what empathy is, and what it's meant to be used for.  For them, empathy is only understanding how they feel - they really don't give a damn how you feel.  Which is fine by me, because when it comes to politics, I don't let my feelings get in the way.  I need facts, not feelings.  Call me a heartless bastard, but using empathy to create a moral high ground from which to pass judgement on those you deem lacking empathy?  That is new to me.  It's uniquely fascistic, but I've seen this become more common.  It is frequently used in the workplace to chastise managers who try to get more out of Millenials.  We're simply not being "empathetic" about who they are.

Well worth reading the entire thing. The writing at Maggie's Farm is always excellent - a daily read for me.

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