Friday, July 21, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
The salt, for example, was exactly right in every dish: so entirely spot on that you enjoyed it while despairing of ever yourself knowing how to salt a dish to within three nanograms of the platonic ideal.

FLG is going to have to check this place out. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On Time

Paul Davies:

The flow of time is an illusion, and I don’t know very many scientists and philosophers who would disagree with that, to be perfectly honest. The reason that it is an illusion is when you stop to think, what does it even mean that time is flowing? When we say something flows like a river, what you mean is an element of the river at one moment is in a different place of an earlier moment. In other words, it moves with respect to time. But time can’t move with respect to time—time is time. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the claim that time does not flow means that there is no time, that time does not exist. That’s nonsense. Time of course exists. We measure it with clocks. 

FLG finds time fascinating, so of course he found the interview fascinating.

UPDATE:  Thought it might be useful to explain why FLG finds time fascinating.  It began when FLG was in second or third grade.  He was at Sunday school.

Sunday School Teacher:   And so that's how God made the universe.

FLG:  Ok, but who made God?

Teacher:   God was and always will be.

FLG:  That doesn't make any sense.  SOMETHING must have come before Him.

Teacher:  Before, after.  These require time.   What if God exists outside of time?

FLG:   No time?  It doesn't make any sense to me.

Teacher:  Time is a funny thing.   Einstein tells us that it slows down the faster you go.   But you said it doesn't make any sense to you -- the absence of time.   I'd imagine that if you could talk to a fish, life outside of water wouldn't make any sense to the fish either.  Yet, there is life outside of water.     Just because you cannot comprehend something, doesn't mean it isn't true.   Just because you can't comprehend existence outside of time, doesn't mean it isn't true.  Just so you know, lot's of serious, smart people have asked the same questions.  One day, when you get older, you should read Thomas Aquinas.  (The teacher probably said something like ipsum esse subsistens here, but FLG doesn't remember.  And the funny thing is, FLG isn't even Catholic.)

While FLG generally disliked Sunday school (there are only so many David and Goliath coloring pages a young lad can take), he remembers that conversation well for a variety of reasons.   In fact, his strong, visceral dislike of outspoken scientists who espouse strict materialist visions of the world probably goes back to the feeling he had at the end of that conversation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

SMH


Noah Rothman:
...invited panelists were all historians of the early Middle Ages. The idea behind the panel was that whatever the medieval understanding of “us” and “them” or “self” and “other” was, it is was quite different from what ours is today. So the Leeds International Medieval Conference had a white supremacy problem because—no, really—this one panel consisted of “white Europeans” who were not steeped in critical race and postcolonial theory. You cannot have a discussion of how people in the early Middle Ages thought of “the other” without panelists of color versed in highly politicized contemporary theories of oppression.

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people?

FLG Seconds The Motion

Todd VanDerWerff:

I’m no Sheeran fan, and I find most of his music cloying and ickily sentimental. But when I saw him in “Dragonstone,” I giggled, less because I was happy to see him and more because it suggests the older and more popular Game of Thrones gets, the more the show has a sense of humor about itself.

Quote of the day

Dark Knight Rises isn't even the Citizen Kane of Batman movies.

Friday, July 14, 2017

FLG Gets It's The New Republic

...but when one writes a apoplectic piece about evil Republicans looking to reverse wage hikes and painting the Fight for $15 as a glorious, noble crusade, one loses all credibility when one doesn't even mention that, apparently, Seattle's path to $15 may have hurt workers.  FLG'd even be fine with a one sentence acknowledgement of the Seattle studies, which are certainly not open and shut cases on $15, that includes a quick dismissal.    But not including even a mention totally undermines the entire piece.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

FLG Is Still Confused

Look, FLG doesn't get it.   What "it" does he not get?  He'll get to that.

FLG read a review of Richard Reeves Dream Hoarders, but he can't find the one he read to link to.   Then, he read David Brooks' column about the same.  And then Phoebe's post about David Brooks' column.

Returning to the "it," which FLG does not get.   It's not main thrust of any of these.  It's David Foster Wallace.  "hav[ing] the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality"   Now, to be fair, he's only mentioned in one line in David Brook's piece.  Nevertheless...

FLG lives pretty much at ground zero for Upper Middle Class people trying to hoard dreams for their children.   Obviously, not the only one, but definitely one.     Here's the thing -- FLG can't rememeber discussions about about intersectionality, gender norms, and certainly not David Foster Wallace.   

Look, FLG doesn't have anything against David Foster Wallace.    He really likes the Fish Speech, in fact.  But he's never read one of his books, and as far as he knows doesn't know anybody else who has.   Well, at least, it has never come up in conversation that FLG can remember.    Almost everybody in FLG's neighborhood has advanced education and high incomes, yet, nobody has ever brought much of this stuff up.  And never David Foster Wallace.   Who are these people who have opinions about David Foster Wallace?   

The only thing FLG can figure is that maybe, if it were the 15-20 years ago, his neighbors and friends would have read David Foster Wallace.   In any case, it is certainly not a meaningful class distinction as far as he can tell.  

So, he's confused about the seemingly outsized focus on David Foster Wallace among media types.    Or maybe it's just David Brooks.

   

Monday, July 10, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

Quote of the day

Well, more of a passage than a quote, but FLG liked it nonetheless.  

Ross Douthat:
Schemes for a “Darwinian ethics” generally have a brazen artificiality to them when they aren’t leaping merrily toward tooth-and-claw, might-makes-right conclusions; in the genealogy of modern morals the Christian worldview is a progenitor of rights-based liberalism in a fairly straightforward and logically-consistent way; and the alternative syntheses are a bit more forced, a bit dodgier, and a bit prone to suddenly giving way, as the major 20th century attempts at genuinely post-Christian and post-liberal societies conspicuously did, to screaming hellscapes that everyone these days considers simply evil.
I concede that a worldview’s coherence doesn’t prove anything definitive about its truth. You can certainly preserve a preference for human rights or any other feature of the contemporary consensus on non-theological grounds. But in the quest for truth, coherence still seems like a useful signpost, and looking for its presence still seems like a decent-enough place to start.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Declaration of Independence

Apparently, NPR tweeted out the Declaration of Independence, and some Trump supporters got upset or something.  FLG doesn't fully understand and doesn't care to figure who was upset and who wasn't upset.   FLG is just shocked NPR tweeted the words "merciless Indian Savages" without somebody in management being rendered apoplectic.

On a related note, let's not consign the word "perfidy" to the dustbin of the English language through its disuse.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

F-111 & F-35

FLG remembers years ago when he read that the F-35 was going to be a single fighter for all the services.   This shared platform would save money, they said.   Immediately, FLG thought of the F-111:

The U.S. Air Force and Navy were both seeking new aircraft when Robert McNamara was appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense in January 1961.The aircraft sought by the two armed services shared the need to carry heavy armament and fuel loads, feature high supersonic speed, twin engines and two seats, and probably use variable geometry wings. On 14 February 1961, McNamara formally directed the services to study the development of a single aircraft that would satisfy both requirements.
Long story short, it didn't work out, and the Air Force got the F-111, which never quite met the original needs, and the Navy ended up with the F-14 Tomcat of Top Gun fame.    The desire to save money by building a shared platform ended up wasting a bunch of time and money.

Getting back to the F-35, when reading about how building one aircraft for all of our services and also for allies would save money, FLG was skeptical.   But hoped it would turn out better.   At first glance, their were a lot of requirements built into the design (stealth, computer systems, etc) that seemed like it could lead to cost savings, even after tweaking for each service branch.  Turns out FLG's skepticism was valid, with a long history of cost overruns.   Though the Pentagon disagrees with that characterization.

What FLG has learned from F-35 program is that the requirements for the different services are so varied (the Navy needs to land on carriers, the Marines need to takeoff and land vertically, etc) that there isn't much cost savings to be had, and in fact trying to shoehorn them all into the same platform means the services have to accept less performance or add massively to the cost to keep their desired performance.

“Despite aspirations for a joint aircraft, the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C are essentially three distinct aircraft, with significantly different missions and capability requirements,” the Senate stated in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017.
It seems the Navy and Air Force have learned that lesson AG for the second time:

Having learned from the $300 billion-plus, tri-service Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program that one size does not always fit all, the Pentagon will likely embark on separate next-generation fighter programs for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Quote of the day

William Deresiewicz:
everyone is in favor of their own free speech (including, for instance, Vladimir Putin). The test of your commitment to free speech as a general principle is whether you are willing to tolerate the speech of others, especially those with whom you most disagree. If you are using your speech to try to silence speech, you are not in favor of free speech. You are only in favor of yourself.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Leisure & Desire

Yesterday, FLG read this book review by Fr. Schall.   This passage reminded FLG of his thesis that the end goal of Marxism is Leisure, wrongly understood:

we are told that this “subjective freedom” constitutes the difference between classic/medieval and modern times. Classic/medieval freedom was based on reason, logos, not desire, on what is, not on will. Freedom is based on reason, not desire. To understand what is being said here, two more points need to be recalled. The first is that, according to Plato, desire, by itself, is unlimited. This unlimitedness is a good thing in itself for that is what desire, as such, is. The second point is that, according to Aristotle, the purpose of virtue is to rule our desires and so achieve our end, not just our desires. Desires allow no “end,” only more desires. In themselves, desires are good things but they are to be ruled by reason. The difference between modern and classic/medieval thought, then, has to do with where we locate the center of our being: in desire, which is unlimited, or in reason, which limits or rules desire because it knows the end which desires serve.

FLG probably should have more to say about this, but doesn't right now. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Quote of the day

Die, Workwear:
[G]ood tailoring is a beautiful thing, and it shouldn’t be beholden to some nut jobs. 

Recommended Reading

FLG knew he was going to like this one:
HOW FRENCH “INTELLECTUALS” RUINED THE WEST


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quote of the day II

George Friedman:

I think we are looking at the prospect of a few weeks of quiet diplomacy and noisy public threats that will lead to war.

FLG is very concerned about this. The media is distracted with other, frankly, less important, stories. 

Quote of the day

Victor Davis Hanson:

One of the most surreal paradoxes of Washington, D.C., is the number of progressives (including the former president of the United States) who put their children in Sidwell-Friends while passionately opposing charter schools and vouchers.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Quote of the day

FLG isn't quite sure which should be the quote of the day:

  • At first I picked up a bad smell; I thought maybe the guy next to me had farted.
  • High heels and diarrhea don't mix.
  • I've seen feces in a urinal once or twice, but never in the sinks.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Plato & Club Silencio

FLG caught the Club Silencio scene from Mulholland Dr. on cable the other day.  He thought to himself, this screams Republic Book X.   Need to do a blog post.    Which is funny, because he realized that he thought the same thing almost a decade ago.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Productivity

One of the big mysteries of the information revolution is the question of productivity. We keep using all this tech that clearly lets us do more with less, but instead of galloping higher, productivity levels have stagnated. What’s going on?
It’s possible that the productivity increases are appearing as lower prices rather than as higher incomes. If the price of oil falls from $100 per barrel to $50 per barrel due to increasingly cheap and efficient methods of production, then everybody in the industry is more productive in terms of barrels of oil per hour of work, but since the oil price has gone down, that productivity increase won’t be captured by statistical methods that calculate productivity in terms of money.

Friday, May 19, 2017

FLG Doesn't Get It

FLG has said it before and will say it again.   He doesn't get the appeal of Jean-Michel Basquiat.  In fact, FLG has never seen any of Basquiat's work that makes him think there was ever any talent at all beyond duping drugged up people in the art scene on the Lower East Side in the late 70s.  

$110.5 million for a painting that displays the artistic skill of a picture hanging on a refrigerator?   FLG is astounded.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Celebrity Sighting: MSP Edition

FLG is pretty sure that he saw Dean Ornish at the Minneapolis Airport on Monday.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quote of the day

T. A. Frank:
You almost have to bow down before someone who could host Shakespeare for dinner and make the agenda wind up sounding like a brochure for the Altria Group. At least Kafka would be on hand to capture the joy of the evening.

Friday, April 7, 2017

FLG Sort of Feels Bad

When FLG heard about this a few days ago, he thought to himself, Wow, sounds pretty cool.   Too bad he's not going to be in Venice any time between now and December:
Millionaire artist Damien Hirst has come to Venice early with an exhibit staged especially for this mysterious and watery city.
NBC News was given special access to the exhibition, "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable," featuring more than 180 statutes opening Sunday. According to curators, the collection is made up of a hoard of treasures retrieved from the Apistos, an ancient ship that sunk off the coast of Africa some 2,000 years ago.
Underwater footage and photos of the retrieval operation, which Hirst claims he funded, are integral elements of the exhibition.

Then, he read this:
Ultimately, though, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable offers scale in lieu of ambition, and kitsch masquerading as high art. Perhaps, when the exhibition closes in December, Amotan’s “treasures” should be returned, discreetly, to the bottom of the sea. 

Ouch.   Nevertheless, FLG admires the sheer ambition and audacity of the exhibition.

On an art related note, FLG was walking by The Frick Collection the other day and lamented he didn't have time to stop in and see this exhibition:  Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wu Tang Triumph

FLG has probably mentioned this before, but Wu Tang's Triumph is probably his favorite rap song.   Inspectah Deck's opening is probably his favorite of any rap song ever.   He also really likes RZA's verse.   The word play of terminal, as in illness, with Grand Central Station is particularly clever.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Celebrity Sightings: Delayed At DCA Edition

On Wednesday, FLG was at DCA trying to fly up to New York.   It was windy as shit across the entire East Coast; so windy, in fact, they shut LGA down for a bit and then only had one runway open.  Given that flying to LGA is a pain in the ass in the best of times, things weren't going well.  Anyway...

While waiting, FLG saw Katie Couric.   Seems like she had just flown in.  She walked fast and kept her head down, clearly didn't want to be recognized, but definitely her.

Not long after, FLG saw Mark Halperin boarding a flight to JFK.   Halperin was not walking fast or keeping his head down, as only FLG and like three other people who watch Morning Joe would've known who he was.

The next day, when FLG when he got of his return flight, he saw Trent Lott and his wife.

Updating the list.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

On Andrew Jackson


Each generation gets to choose the heroes it feels comfortable with. But the case of Jackson should afford a reminder that history is complicated. America didn’t become the country it is today without significant contributions from people once deemed heroic but now thought embarrassing or worse. The problem, if it is one, is not with Jackson; the problem is with American history. That history contains chapters we aren’t proud of, and shouldn’t be.
But while it would be a mistake to celebrate those chapters, it would be a greater mistake to tear them out of the history books. They’re part of what we are today. And they suggest that we’re no innocents ourselves: Almost certainly, we’re doing things that will puzzle and mortify our grandchildren.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Quote of the day

Camile Paglia:
Too many gay men have lost the scathingly cruel wit for which they were famous in the pre-Stonewall era.

FLG isn't quite sure why that stuck out to him, but he chuckled. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Not Relevant To Anybody Really

But FLG really wishes there were a Stew Leonard's in Northern Virginia.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Obama's Foreign Policy

Paul Miller:
In his eagerness to avoid making Bush’s [foreign policy] mistakes, [Obama] made a whole new set of mistakes. He over-interpreted the recent past, fabricating the myth about a hyper-interventionist establishment. As a result, he overreacted to the situation he inherited in 2009 and, crucially, never adjusted during his eight years in office. In this sense and others, he contrasts starkly with Bush, who made major changes in his second term. The result is that Obama retrenched when he should have engaged. He oversaw the collapse of order across the Middle East and the resurgence of great power rivalry in Europe while mismanaging two wars and reducing America’s military posture abroad to its smallest footprint since World War II. Despite the paeans of Obama’s admirers, this is not a foreign policy legacy future presidents will want to emulate.


An aside:   Try as he might, FLG cannot prevent his view that Ben Rhodes is an insufferable hubristic douchebag from influencing his thoughts on Obama's foreign policy, given the supposed mind-meld and all.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FLG Is Just Confused

The whole Milo Yiannopoulos thing popped up on FLG's radar not long before the riots at Berkeley, back when there was a shooting in Seattle.   FLG watched some videos, read some writings.   Thought he was a definitely a troll, maybe a misogynist, but didn't see evidence of white supremacist statements and was uncomfortable with people using such labels so blithely.   And he certainly thought there were left-leaning reporters who were biased against Yiannopoulos, his supporters, and generally  those who came to listen to him.

Next thing FLG knows, the man is on Bill Maher.  And like five seconds later,  he's accused of supporting pedophilia, loses his book deal, and resigns from Breitbart.  Something about it didn't quite sit right with FLG.   Were Yiannopoulos' statements portrayed correctly?   Why did a year old interview all of a sudden get national attention?  Seemed weird.

As part of FLG's research into this issue this evening, he came across this video, which has that crazy series of connections that one has trouble following, which is so common of conspiracy theories, but nevertheless did make FLG want to learn more about GamerGate.  Because after a little more googling, FLG is actually a little bit concerned that there are a coordinating group of hardcore progressives in the media who were involved in GamerGate, who were burned and believe revenge is a dish best served cold.  (Because despite what the media portrays, FLG things the gamers actually won GamerGate.)  If if that's true, he'd like to at least be aware who they are.  At the same time, he's only slightly less worried he's getting into tinfoil hat zone and overlooking intentionally hateful speech, rather than just extremely provocative jokes. 

Anyway, FLG is very confused about the whole thing.   A large reason why is that he simply doesn't trust journalists to report fairly and accurately on this topic, which means no sources a credible, and the it takes way more time than he really cares to put into it to figure out the truth.   Milo seemed to have said that the legal age of consent was about right, but that his personal experience led him to believe it's an arbitrary age decided in law and that some individuals may be, in fact, be able to engage in sexual activity at a younger age without negative ramifications, perhaps even beneficially, but Yiannopoulos, as far as FLG can tell, didn't advocate changing the law, nor breaking the law. 

By the way, you might be asking....FLG, he was a troll who said a variety of mean things, some consider the things he said to be the various -ists (sexist, racist, etc),  now it appears he said something supportive of pedophilia, why are you even worried about it?     He's not a sympathetic character and it's not worth the effort to find out.    Agreed, he's not sympathetic, but FLG hates the outright mischaracterization and bias of reporting about Yianopoulos.   Troll?  Definitely.   Misogynist?   FLG thinks somethings he said could be considered misogynist.   White supremacist / Neo-Nazi?   Nope, didn't see that.  And it matters to FLG a great deal to see people called something when there isn't evidence of it.   (Though, in fairness, he did say some kinda nice things about some of the more white supremacist / Neo-Nazi wing of the Alt-Right, but FLG doesn't think that's the same thing.)  

Similarly, FLG is also concerned about the people on the Left's increasing accusations of so-called dogwhistles.  That's literally saying that the meaning of the word is different from the commonly understood meaning of the word, so they said one thing but mean another thing that is horrible, but they didn't actually say the horrible thing you have to take their political enemies word that they meant the horrible thing.   It's dangerous allow frivolous claims of this type to become normalized.

To close out a meandering post, FLG is similarly concerned about the post-Truth Trump stuff, but he thinks that's being analyzed to the hilt.   He doesn't need to add yet another post on how Trump's relationship with the truth is a threat to our republic. 



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
Countries with a big hammer will inevitably end up using it in ways that turn out to be stupid. (See: Iraq.) It also, inevitably means that the security umbrella of the world will be used in ways that the country that owns it likes. (See complaints by every country except the U.S., many of them justified.) But for all that, you can certainly imagine a country with an America-sized military advantage doing much worse things with it. Many worse things. In fact, when you think about alternative histories, we’re pretty far into the “happy” zone of the spectrum. Not all the way to utopia, mind you. But a lot better than you’d imagine, if you’d never heard of the United States of America and you were plotting out your science fiction novel with a dominant, heavily armed nation.

Science Is Probably Correct, But Even It Has Limits

FLG totally understands why many or even most scientists are atheists.   Make sense.  Not a problem.   But sometimes, like all of us, their belief system leads them astray.  For instance, the claim by Brian Cox that the Large Hadron Collider disproved the existence of what he called "ghosts," but from the quotes FLG would argue is more a soul, specifically the immoral part of us that exists after death.

I would say if there's some kind of substance that's driving our bodies, making my arms move and legs move, then it must interact with the particles out of which our bodies are made. And seeing as we've made high precision measurements of the ways that particles interact, then my assertion is there can be no such thing as an energy source that's driving our bodies.

Look, FLG understands why scientists question the existence of these types of supernatural things.   One can argue, very compellingly, about the complete and utter lack of scientific evidence for them.   Got it.  Point conceded.  But to say that we've seen no evidence of supernatural forces after smashing together protons at blistering speeds means that this DISPROVES anything about the afterlife is fallacious.

There's an argument that FLG has heard.   If you say there is an elephant in the courtyard, but we look and don't see one, then the existence of the elephant has been disproven.  But what if you are claiming that there is an elephant that is invisible, tasteless, odorless, silent, and massless.   Well, one, that's not an elephant by an definition FLG has ever heard of, and, yes, the burden of proof is most definitely upon you for making such an outlandish claim, and yes, a rational person would be justified in not believing such an elephant exists and living their life assuming you are delusional.   But, nobody has definitely disproven your claim.



 
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