Friday, November 10, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
The fate of nations does not hinge on whether we drink daiquiris or Negronis.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Quote of the day

A little bit old, but FLG just read it, by Matt Levine:
What if Marx was right that capitalism would ultimately destroy itself, but the way that it does so is through index funds? 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Quote of the day

Steve Cortes:
If Georgetown removes recognition of a student group that merely affirms the teachings of the church, it’s time for John Carroll’s statue to get up off that perch and walk off campus.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

500 Year-Old Mic Drop





sexual chocolate randy watson animated GIF

FLG always wanted to put an image of Martin Luther with Randy Watson & Sexual Chocolate.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Politics and the English Language

FLG was reading this interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates and the final quotation stuck out:
 When he tries to describe the events that would erase America's wealth gap, that would see the end of white supremacy, his thoughts flicker to the French Revolution, to the executions and the terror. "It's very easy for me to see myself being contemporary with processes that might make for an equal world, more equality, and maybe the complete abolition of race as a construct, and being horrified by the process, maybe even attacking the process. I think these things don't tend to happen peacefully."
For Coates, even hope can be covered in blood.

It immediately reminded FLG of this quotation from Politics and the English Language:
While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement. 

And then Orwell's thoughts on that passage:
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

While FLG senses some insincerity, as if he is afraid to state plainly precisely what he means, to be fair, Coates isn't trying to hide behind much of a euphemism.  Although, it is Ezra Klein who uses the word 'blood,' whereas as Coates calls it a 'process' with which he can see himself being 'contemporary.' 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Well, That's A Very Specific Threshold

The Guardian:
If the attack is found to be a terrorist incident, it would be the first fatal jihadist knife attack at a public transport site in France.

FLG thinks this is the more important statement:
France, where more than 230 people have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2015, remains on high alert and under a state of emergency.

230 people!   Who gives a shit if it was the first one in the south of France on a Sunday in October in the afternoon in a train station?   France has Islamic terrorism problem.

Battle of Gaugamela

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Battle of Gaugamela.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Anybody Read This?

Delsol's Icarus Fallen: Search For Meaning In An Uncertain World

"With style and lucidity, Delsol likens contemporary Western man to the mythical figure Icarus, fallen back to earth after trying to reach the sun, alive but badly shaken and confused. During the twentieth, century, Delsol argues, man flew too closely to the sun of utopian ideology. Having been burned, he is now groping for a way to orient himself. But the ideas he once held so dear--inevitable progress, the possibility of limitless social and self-transformation--are no longer believable, and he has, for the most part, long since rejected the religious tradition that might have provided an anchor. Delsol's portrait is engrossing. She explains how we have come simultaneously to embrace the good but reject the true; how we have sacralized rights and democracy; and how we have lost our sense of the tragic and embraced the idea of zero risk."


Seems interesting.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Time Horizons

Of course, FLG liked this post, and it even included some Plato:
the victory over self is of all victories the first and best while self-defeat is of all defeats at once the worst and the most shameful.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Was Thinking About The Tarantulas Today

Don't have any insights, just thinking about it:

Lo, this is the tarantula’s den! Would’st thou see the tarantula itself? Here hangeth its web: touch this, so that it may tremble.
There cometh the tarantula willingly: Welcome, tarantula! Black on thy back is thy triangle and symbol; and I know also what is in thy soul.
Revenge is in thy soul: wherever thou bitest, there ariseth black scab; with revenge, thy poison maketh the soul giddy!
Thus do I speak unto you in parable, ye who make the soul giddy, ye preachers of equality! Tarantulas are ye unto me, and secretly revengeful ones!
But I will soon bring your hiding-places to the light: therefore do I laugh in your face my laughter of the height.
Therefore do I tear at your web, that your rage may lure you out of your den of lies, and that your revenge may leap forth from behind your word “justice.”
Because, for man to be redeemed from revenge— that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.
Otherwise, however, would the tarantulas have it. “Let it be very justice for the world to become full of the storms of our vengeance”— thus do they talk to one another.
“Vengeance will we use, and insult, against all who are not like us”— thus do the tarantula-hearts pledge themselves.
“And ‘Will to Equality’— that itself shall henceforth be the name of virtue; and against all that hath power will we raise an outcry!”
Ye preachers of equality, the tyrant-frenzy of impotence crieth thus in you for “equality”: your most secret tyrant-longings disguise themselves thus in virtue-words!
Fretted conceit and suppressed envy—perhaps your fathers’ conceit and envy: in you break they forth as flame and frenzy of vengeance.
What the father hath hid cometh out in the son; and oft have I found in the son the father’s revealed secret.
Inspired ones they resemble: but it is not the heart that inspireth them—but vengeance. And when they become subtle and cold, it is not spirit, but envy, that maketh them so.
Their jealousy leadeth them also into thinkers’ paths; and this is the sign of their jealousy—they always go too far: so that their fatigue hath at last to go to sleep on the snow.
In all their lamentations soundeth vengeance, in all their eulogies is maleficence; and being judge seemeth to them bliss.
But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
They are people of bad race and lineage; out of their countenances peer the hangman and the sleuth-hound.
Distrust all those who talk much of their justice! Verily, in their souls not only honey is lacking.
And when they call themselves “the good and just,” forget not, that for them to be Pharisees, nothing is lacking but — power!
My friends, I will not be mixed up and confounded with others.
There are those who preach my doctrine of life, and are at the same time preachers of equality, and tarantulas.
That they speak in favour of life, though they sit in their den, these poison-spiders, and withdrawn from life—is because they would thereby do injury.
To those would they thereby do injury who have power at present: for with those the preaching of death is still most at home.
Were it otherwise, then would the tarantulas teach otherwise: and they themselves were formerly the best world-maligners and heretic-burners.
With these preachers of equality will I not be mixed up and confounded. For thus speaketh justice unto me: “Men are not equal.”
And neither shall they become so! What would be my love to the Superman, if I spake otherwise?
On a thousand bridges and piers shall they throng to the future, and always shall there be more war and inequality among them: thus doth my great love make me speak!
Inventors of figures and phantoms shall they be in their hostilities; and with those figures and phantoms shall they yet fight with each other the supreme fight!
Good and evil, and rich and poor, and high and low, and all names of values: weapons shall they be, and sounding signs, that life must again and again surpass itself!
Aloft will it build itself with columns and stairs—life itself: into remote distances would it gaze, and out towards blissful beauties—therefore doth it require elevation!
And because it requireth elevation, therefore doth it require steps, and variance of steps and climbers! To rise striveth life, and in rising to surpass itself.
And just behold, my friends! Here where the tarantula’s den is, riseth aloft an ancient temple’s ruins—just behold it with enlightened eyes!
Verily, he who here towered aloft his thoughts in stone, knew as well as the wisest ones about the secret of life!
That there is struggle and inequality even in beauty, and war for power and supremacy: that doth he here teach us in the plainest parable.
How divinely do vault and arch here contrast in the struggle: how with light and shade they strive against each other, the divinely striving ones. —
Thus, steadfast and beautiful, let us also be enemies, my friends! Divinely will we strive against one another! —
Alas! There hath the tarantula bit me myself, mine old enemy! Divinely steadfast and beautiful, it hath bit me on the finger!
“Punishment must there be, and justice”— so thinketh it: “not gratuitously shall he here sing songs in honour of enmity!”
Yea, it hath revenged itself! And alas! now will it make my soul also dizzy with revenge!
That I may not turn dizzy, however, bind me fast, my friends, to this pillar! Rather will I be a pillar-saint than a whirl of vengeance!
Verily, no cyclone or whirlwind is Zarathustra: and if he be a dancer, he is not at all a tarantula-dancer! —
Thus spake Zarathustra.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

FLG Can't Believe A Decade Later This Is Still So Little Understood

When Glass-Steagall was passed over 80 years ago, splitting up a bank was like dividing an apple pie in half. Today, trying to hive off commercial from investment banking would be more like pulling apart a layer cake – vertically.
In fact, knocking down the walls between financial services didn’t help cause the financial meltdown so much as help contain it. None of the institutions that ended up doing the most to prompt the financial meltdown was a financial hybrid. Most of the problems that sprung up among financial institutions in 2008 were among pure-play institutions, primarily investment banks – and their boutique activities would not have been circumscribed by the Glass-Steagall firewall. In fact, knocking down that legal wall actually made it possible for several investment banks to be rescued. If Glass-Steagall had not been changed, the commercial bank J.P. Morgan Chase would not have been able to rescue the investment bank Bear Sterns, and commercial Bank of America would not have been able to rescue Merrill Lynch.

Celebrity Sighting

FLG saw David Gergen at DCA waiting for a flight to Logan.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Quote of the day

Henry Grabar:
It is a temple for a political era built on paranoia, as good a symbol for our age as the corporate skyscraper was for the postwar era and the suburban megamall was for the end of the century. The airport is the place to understand America today.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interesting


Peter Harrison:
The thesis that ‘science causes secularisation’ simply fails the empirical test, and enlisting science as an instrument of secularisation turns out to be poor strategy. The science and secularism pairing is so awkward that it raises the question: why did anyone think otherwise?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stephen Fry On Statues



Jump to about 6:30.   Filmed way before the current controversies.

In Support Of Nancy Pelosi

FLG never thought he'd agree with her, but agree with her he does.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guess FLG Won't Be Buying This Book

FLG was considering buying James Poulos' book (because they're both Hoyas, he generally like Poulos, and loves Tocqueville), but after reading this review he decided against it.   It sounds like the prose is what would happen if Hegel wrote for BuzzFeed.

"With the mutability money confers comes commensurability. The more things change, the more things interchange. Money allows us to change like it does by allowing us to exchange - to "reconnect" (as we say) with our unity by participating in a kind of interchangeability that carries, however fleetingly, a sense of import. Our experiences of significant interchange are an inspiring bulwark against the dispiriting experience of our interchangeable insignificance. Without the commensurability of goods and services - in principle, any and all goods and services - access to that experience is imperiled or lost." (p. 132)

In Defense of the Loquacious and Mellifluous

The spread of mass media, the rise of motion pictures, and the popularity of Strunk and White all helped shape the sensibilities we have now.

While FLG can appreciate a well-crafted 200-word sentence, he can only do so every once and while.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bourgeois Virtues

FLG caught wind of this op-ed:

[Bourgeois] culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.
These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.


And then this response that makes wild and questionable links to the Charlottesville tragedy and then this:
extolling the virtues of white cultural practices of the ‘50s that, if understood within their sociocultural context, stem from the very same malignant logic of hetero-patriarchal, class-based, white supremacy that plagues our country today. These cultural values and logics are steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough i.e. black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.

Uh, okay.   But even the Brookings Institution says more or less the same thing:
Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

FLG eagerly awaits the March Against Fascism And Evil Incarnate down Massachusetts Avenue.  Justice demands that we confront, by any means necessary, the conclusions of Brookings Institution studies to prevent them from being normalized!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Anti-Climatic

** Game of Thrones Spoilers Ahead **

Now the Season 7 is over, FLG is somewhat disappointed with how the season went.   It feels like they are getting bored with the whole thing and trying to tie up loose ends and finish the story as quickly as possible.

FLG wonders if he is alone with being seriously disappointed with how The Wall fell.   For seven seasons, we were told The Wall was 700 feet high and had old, powerful magic in its foundation.  The dead couldn't pass, etc....in the books, there is a plot thread about the mythical Horn of Winter, which can supposedly bring down The Wall.

But after all that The Wall falls in like 30 seconds.   Look, FLG gets it.  It was really cool visually.    And the Night King needed to get a dragon to come up North, kill it, reanimate it, then fly it to The Wall in order to blast it down with crazy blue dragonfire or ice or something.   That's a lot to do.   Okay, point conceded.

But come on...The Wall is huge and massive and ancient and the Night King goes through it like a hot knife through butter?    The Army of the Dead barely even slowed their march.   No battle, trickery, or strategery.  No nothing.   Just fly up, attack with a dragon, keep on going.     That was a lot of build up for almost nothing.   At no point, did anybody in the Night's Watch do a dragon threat assessment?

UPDATE:  Here's a comment from the show runners.


The Wall's kept these things out for 8,000 years, and there's no real reason that it can't keep doing that unless something puts a hole in the wall. There's one thing on the board from the beginning that is now big enough to do that, and that's a dragon. That just started to suggest itself as a logical way forward.

Still not quite satisfactory for FLG. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Thoughts On 2020

FLG will say this.  He, very reluctantly, voted for Hillary Clinton.

He will also say this, the Democrats, since the beginning, have misinterpreted, at the very least, FLG's vote.   Going back to Michael Moore the very next day:


If you woke up this morning thinking you live in an effed-up country, you don't. The majority of your fellow Americans wanted Hillary, not Trump. The only reason he's president is because of an arcane, insane, 18th-century idea called the Electoral College. Until we change that, we'll continue to have presidents we didn't elect and didn't want.
You live in a country where a majority of citizens have said they believe there's climate change, they believe women should be paid the same as men, they want a debt-free college education, they don't want us invading countries, they want a raise in the minimum wage and they want a single-payer true universal health care system. None of that has changed. We live in a country where the majority agree with the "liberal" position. 

At the time, FLG blew this off as, well, as he does will all things Michael Moore does and says.   But just to be clear, at least in FLG's case, a vote for Hillary should NOT be interpreted as a vote for the most progressive Democratic platform pretty much ever conceived.   It was more along the lines of choosing the turd sandwich instead of the giant douche.

Anyway, long story short, if they run Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or any number of far lefties, FLG's very likely going to vote for Trump, unless he literally starts a nuclear war.

And, again, to be clear, he more or less screams profanities at Trump's image on the Internet and Television almost every day.   It's not like he's happy with Trump by any stretch of the imagination.

Is FLG the marginal voter in an electoral college race?   Perhaps not.   But he is also pretty sure voters like him in Northern Virginia aren't inconsequential either.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

FLG Is Sorry For Repeating Himself

...but he enjoys reading Jacobin, if only because almost every sentence causes him to ask, Holy shit, people think like this?   Where do these people even come from?   Which is a health thing to do sometimes because it force one to revisit their own assumptions.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Who Knew?

FLG had no idea that what was next after changing marriage is that it is between one man and one woman is the changing the definition of what man and what woman means.  He thought the next step would be polygamy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Look What FLG Stumbled Across In His Morning Internet Browsing

A Rehearing for Rousseau by RITA KOGANZON

Canonical authors, it seems, are always on trial. Not only do they face a jury of contemporary readers disinclined to recognize their greatness, but they must re-argue their case with every succeeding generation that charges them with irrelevance. As the arbiters in this tribunal are biased and the prosecutors zealous and unprincipled, a skilled and tenacious advocate can be an extraordinary asset.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Quote of the day II

Eric Hutchinson:
the study of the Classics teaches us something about what it means to be human, both in terms of the ideal of what we would like to be and, at least as importantly, in the much more somber sense of what we all too often are. 

Depressing

FLG has long been interested in getting a salt block, but he never quite knew why and never actually bought one.   After reading this article, that was probably the correct decision.  But here's the depressing thing:

It’s fun, but I’m not sure I can justify the fun. Lot’s wife sits on the counter, giving me salty looks. She’s a hotty, but a high-maintenance one. I turn around and keep walking.

That the link to the wikipedia page was included made FLG depressed.   We're not talking about some obscure story, like Ehud in Judges.  This is Genesis.   This is Sodom and Gomorrah.   Are we at a point where we can no longer assume that people in the US or UK know the story of Lot's wife?

To be clear, FLG isn't lamenting that not everybody is a Jew or Christian, nor saying that people should believe the story.   He's just bummed that shared cultural stores of such power to convey ideas and thoughts are no longer assumed shared.   Will we soon have to provide wikipedia links to explain David and Goliath, having a cross to bear, brother's keeper, and picking up the mantle? 

Quote of the day

Heather Mac Donald:
The authors titled their study “Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect.” A more accurate title would have been: “Language from police body camera footage shows that officers treat all drivers courteously but are more colloquial with young black drivers.”

Isotopic Signatures Of Ancient History

FLG found this interesting.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oh, Tell Me Again How Trump's Rhetoric Is Too Heated

Here's what North Korea recently said, which frankly is pretty tame for them:
If the planned fire of power demonstration is carried out as the US is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks

Quote of the day

Conrad Black:
The question of why large numbers of intelligent people have been reduced to babbling idiots by Trump’s presence in the White House will be a matter of great historical curiosity, though I find it a rather hackneyed subject now.

Monday, August 14, 2017

On Charlottesville

FLG was shocked and deeply sadden by what happened in Charlottesville.  This is probably as close to FLG's take as can be:

FLG Doesn't Have Access To Read It

...but laughed at this headline, given his recent post:

How Does That Poll?

FLG continues to read Jacobin despite being ideological opposed to pretty much everything written there, but he finds it useful to read something, think, "Holy shit, people really believe this shit?"   Because it makes him ask himself, wait, they'd probably ask FLG the same thing.  And so he has to ask himself, why does he believe what he believes.

Anyway, FLG read this and wondered...ok, at least there is logical and ideological consistency here, but how would this poll?  Or perhaps more specifically, is this really a politically viable strategy?    He doesn't think so.  And certainly doesn't hope so.  But who knows?  He didn't think and didn't want Trump to win either.

People see Al Gore living a lifestyle that clearly has more of an impact on the world than theirs, and they resent climate change solutions that threaten to make his lifestyle their problem.
[...]
Fortunately for the Left, there’s a simple response to this talking point: reclaim class warfare. The fight against climate change has to be understood as a fight against capitalism. If you leave climate action in the domain of private decision-making, then of course rich people who make decisions to disproportionately pollute are hypocrites when they call for action against climate change. But if you understand climate change as a fight to take personal discretion out of the equation — to abolish private property and place control in the hands of democratic governance — that’s another matter.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On Writing

Stephen King wrote an entire book on writing, but FLG decided to read The Gunslinger, first novel in The Dark Tower series, while on vacation, and King included this passage in his foreword explaining why he revised The Gunslinger many years after being published:

Before I close, I should say a word about the younger man who dared to write this book.   That young man had been exposed to far too many writing seminars, and had grown far too used to the ideas those seminars promulgate: that one is writing for other people rather than one's self; that language is more important than story; that ambiguity is to be preferred over clarity and simplicity, which are usually signs of a thick and literal mind.

That last part, the part about preferring ambiguity over clarity and simplicity, resonated with FLG.   His current job involves coaching junior employees on writing, speaking, and presentation.  He's constantly appalled at the average person in his field's facility with language.  It's terrible.   He's seen supposedly professional written documents littered with run-on sentences and passive voice.

A couple of years ago, FLG worked in a job where most of his colleagues were educated at prestigious institutions...Ivies, Duke, University of Chicago, Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics...you get the idea.   Back then, he was shocked when they didn't know who Kronos was or know much about Shakespeare, but the vast majority could write a clear, concise, and coherent sentence.

Currently, most of his co-workers went to Big 10 schools or are former military who completed a degree online.   The vast majority are smart folks who can get stuff done.   Rather than, for example, writing a policy position paper on it, but damn is their writing ever awful.   Rather than a Coke, he's tempted to buy the world a copy of The Elements of Style.

Some of the junior employees appreciate feedback.  In fact, one took a job at an extremely prestigious organization.  Not long after, she wrote to FLG thanking him because she'd been put in charge of reviewing the formal written products her department puts out.  Her writing was that much better than everybody else's there.  (Perhaps reviewing might be the shit job in the department, but she didn't seem to think so.)

Others..not so much.  When FLG explains that fewer words are better...that their primary goals should be clarity first, followed closely by concision, they nod their heads and continue churning out rambling, ambiguous prose.   At one point, FLG took to editing an entire paper to show how he could reduce the length by 30% without losing an ounce of meaning.    (In fact, he thought he improved the clarity with the shorter length.)  'Oh, okay' was the response.

Getting back to the specifics of the passage above.   The thick and literal mind part resonated with FLG because in many cases the root cause of the ambiguous, lengthy prose is the desire to cover their ass, which in turn leads to tons of caveats in the argument.  Very literal and thick minds.   This is different from weaselly ambiguity because they lack the courage to write what they really want to say.   That's a problem as well, but not the literal and thick problem.    The literal and thick problem is when somebody can't write "The Sun is out during the day" without including "except during an eclipse" or "when it's really cloudy and it's there, but behind the clouds" or some such nonsense immaterial to the claim made in the sentence.

FLG fears he sounds like some sort of pedantic asshole.  And maybe he is.  But he steadfastly believes that if everybody wrote more short, concise, and active sentences, the world would be a much improved place.  And if being a pedantic asshole makes that happen, then he'll gladly accept the moniker.

FLG Doesn't Like Trump, But...

the North Korea situation isn't his fault.    Certainly not when taking the long view and not even taking the very short view.   Furthermore, he thinks many of Trump's critics are making themselves look foolish.

Long view -- The North Korean regime is a horrible regime.   Let's just state that at the out set.   More relevant to the discussion, however, is that it has has pursued nuclear weapons for decades, during the watch of presidents from both parties.  (Although, FLG places probably an unreasonably large and possibly unfair amount of blame specifically on Carter, a brilliant and caring man who somehow seems completely devoid of practical wisdom, and these types of statements only add to FLG's level of blame against him.)   They just happened to acquire or will very shortly acquire the capability to launch an ICBM against mainland US during Trump's tenure.   In the long view, any of Trump's actions, inactions, statements, tweets, etc are vanishingly small to the story thus far.    There is a reasonable argument to be made that the North Koreans are merely rational actors trying to use strategic nuclear weapons to deter the US, but, again, FLG sees Trump's presidency as immaterial to getting to where we are now.

Shorter view --  FLG thinks this is a stronger case that Trump is at fault, but ultimately it's still not compelling.   The North Koreans have been making completely irresponsible and outrageous statements for decades, a trend that has seemingly increased since the current leader took power.  FLG sort of understands the concerns of critics who say the US shouldn't use such rhetoric in return.  Too dangerous, might spook the North Koreans.  The only issue is their fear of the US, which this just exacerbates.     FLG thinks this is fundamentally misguided.   Kim Jung Un who in addition to being a horrible tyrant, which nobody refutes, whose regime consistently makes outrageously irresponsible and bellicose statements as a matter of course.  They've threatened to annihilate the US multiple times.   Yet, it's Trump that is somehow irresponsible all of a sudden?   The world has spent too long ignoring this type of language from North Korea.   Apparently, the regime that has been making outrageous threats for so long is unable to withstand the factual claim that the US will fucking wipe the country from the Earth if they loose a nuke at the US or her allies?    And maybe the madman theory will work in reverse to make the North Koreans or, more likely, the Chinese to get scared shitless, take a step back, look around, and say maybe there's something more we can do here.

Is this dangerous?  Yes, FLG is very scared.   But let's be clear here.   The North Korean regime is deadly serious, murderous, and very likely cares fuck all for what happens after any would be fall precipitated by causes either foreign or domestic.   Late night talk show hosts looks, see a jolly, fat guy, and think he's just goofing.   He's not ,and he definitely needs to know the consequences of any disastrous actions he might be thinking of taking.  

FLG thinks Obama's failure to press for robust missile defense might end up being what history views as his biggest mistake.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
You cannot stop terrible people from promoting sound ideas for bad reasons. Liberals who think that ad hominem is a sufficient rebuttal to a policy proposal should first stop to consider the role of Hitler’s Germany in spreading national health insurance programs to the countries they invaded. If you think “But Hitler” does not really constitute a useful argument about universal health coverage, then you should probably not resort to “But Jim Crow” in a disagreement over school funding.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

This Probably Says More About FLG Than Anybody Else

...but he just realized, all things considered, he'd rather have a White House with The Mooch in it than Ben Rhodes, that smug fuckhead.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

While FLG Is On The Subjects Of 80s Videos

Sometimes, randomly, the words "Give me a bottle of anything...and a glazed donut..to go!" pops into his head, and he chuckles to himself.

FLG is currently listening to



Old Skool.

Monday, July 31, 2017

This Will Only Make Sense To FLG

Somehow, a link to this commercial real estate listing in Westport, CT popped up in FLG's LinkedIn feed.   He's not sure why he clicked on it, but he did.  And as soon as he did, he almost teared up.  Because that was where Arnie's Place was, and FLG loved Arnie's Place.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quotes of the day

Two of them from the same Andrew Sullivan article.

[Trump] took a regular, civil, apolitical American gathering of mainly children and turned it into diatribe of deranged and nakedly partisan narcissism. He is actively despoiling our civic culture.

My best guess is simply that, for the far left, anything that is predominantly “of color” is preferable to anything, like Judaism and Christianity, that can usually be described as “white.” That’s how “intersectionality” can be used to defend what would otherwise be indefensible. The preoccupation with race on the far left is now so deep, in other words, it’s becoming simply an inversion of that on the far right.

Interesting

FLG found this interesting:
we have argued that shareholder welfare and market value are not the same, and that companies should maximize the former not the latter. One way to facilitate this is to let shareholders vote on the broad outlines of corporate policy. Note that if profit-making and damage-generating activities are separable, or if government has internalized externalities, or if shareholders are not prosocial, then the vote will yield the Friedman outcome: the shareholders will favor value maximization. However, in other cases the outcome will be different and we believe superior.

Of course, there are costs associated with voting. One cost is the risk of too many frivolous proposals being put forward by shareholders, which will distract management. But this cost can be minimized (if not eliminated) by requiring that a certain percentage of shares (say 5%) be behind a proposal before it is put to a shareholder vote. The second potential cost is that company money will be spent in promoting management’s point of view. Yet, the issues that we think should be put to a vote – such as the decision to sell high-capacity magazines in Walmart stores -- are a matter of individual preference, not of managerial expertise. Thus, company bylaws can reduce (and potentially eliminate) this cost by restricting management’s ability to use corporate resources for campaign purposes. Finally, in a wired world we regard the bureaucratic cost of administering proxy votes as trivial. 

 His first reaction is that with the increase in passive investing, will anybody but very motivated people engage and vote on these issues?   He thinks not, which he guess in the terminology above is that the shareholders might be prosocial, but the median prosociality level is more or less a shrug or confused look.   

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Quote of the day

Anthony Scaramucci:
I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.

This is all endlessly entertaining, but what the fuck is going on in the West Wing?    FLG puts the over-under that the Mooch is going to institute decimation over there in the next two weeks at around 50-50.    It's like watching Casino.

UPDATE:   After reconsidering, it's more like watching this.

Ignorance or Malice?

FLG saw some people sharing and liking this image on Facebook:

FLG's immediate reaction was to ask himself some questions:  Do they just like the idea expressed in the quote and have no idea who Robespierre is?   If they do know who he is, then is the bloodbath he launched a feature or a bug in the message?  Have they seen the cartoon where is he using the guillotine to kill the executioner because there's nobody left alive in France for him to kill?


FLG's favorite quote by Robespierre, because it illustrates very clearly what he stood for, is:
La terreur n'est autre chose que la justice prompte, sévère, inflexible; elle est donc une émanation de la vertu ; elle est moins un principe particulier, qu’une conséquence du principe général de la démocratie, appliqué aux plus pressants besoins de la patrie.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Another Thing FLG Wondered

Why do so many people seem to assume that self-driving cars means the end of private car ownership?  

FLG kinda sorta gets it in a place like Manhattan.   Parking is a nightmare.   An Uber service that is even cheaper because there is no driver involved would likely lead to an increase in quantity demanded.   But most people in Manhattan don't own cars as it is.   (FLG thinks like like 20% or something.)

But for FLG doesn't see it for the people who live in the suburbs.   They'd still own cars and ride leisurely into the city.   Whatever the cost savings are (estimates FLG has seen put it around $5000 per year), FLG strongly thinks they'd rather pay that cost and have the privacy and comfort of their own car regardless.

FLG Wondered Today

How many people today who call themselves scientists have read Bacon's Novum Organum?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

That Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

FLG was reading this when he got to this passage:
How else to explain that though a majority of Americans want a single payer healthcare system, an effort to achieve it in California has been killed 
FLG thought to himself, hmm, really, do a majority of Americans want a single payer healthcare system now?   That would be a big swing in the polls.    He didn't think it was out of line because, well, he thinks a single payer is unfortunately more or less a long run foregone conclusion at this point.  So, maybe there has been a huge swing and FLG wasn't aware.   Anyway,  he clicked the link that the author used to support that claim, assuming he'd find evidence.  Not so much...

Overall, 33% of the public now favors such a “single payer” approach to health insurance

WTF?   Maybe there's a new fangled progressive math that allows them to claim majority support for any left leaning policy, if it polls higher than 10%.  Seriously though, FLG wonders if it's laziness, stupidity, or intentional misleading.   He almost wanted to yell -- FAKE NEWS!

Algebra Is Too Hard?

FLG objects.  Or at the very least is deeply skeptical.  

He is definitely open to the idea that a course in statististics and probability might be more useful for citizenship, but in his experience it appears that too often the replacement course in stats is far less rigorous than the algebra course in level of effort and difficulty.  If the course works up to the ability for the student to understand and interpret the results of a liner regression by the end, then that's probably good enough.  

Actually, now that FLG thinks about it, his economic stats course required not algebra but calculus.   So, maybe he is still aiming too high.

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.



Thursday, February 16, 2017

This Poll Makes FLG Feel Better

Boston Herald:
In a Politico/Morning Consult poll released yesterday, any unnamed Democrat beats President Trump in a 2020 presidential matchup. A dust mop with a “Democrat” sign on it beats Trump. But the Senate’s liberal darling doesn’t. Trump, despite his own series of stumbles, still beats Warren — one of the Democrats’ most prominent national faces — 42-36.

FLG finds Warren insufferable and was beginning to worry the American people didn't.   Here's hoping the Dems actually pick a good candidate.

Monday, February 13, 2017

So True

Saw The Matrix sequels on TV the other day and this is so, so spot on:

Andrew's Back

FLG is exicted to see Andrew Sullivan will be writing more regularly, and he begins thusly:
I want to start with Trump’s lies. It’s now a commonplace that Trump and his underlings tell whoppers. Fact-checkers have never had it so good. But all politicians lie. Bill Clinton could barely go a day without some shading or parsing of the truth. Richard Nixon was famously tricky. But all the traditional political fibbers nonetheless paid some deference to the truth — even as they were dodging it. They acknowledged a shared reality and bowed to it. They acknowledged the need for a common set of facts in order for a liberal democracy to function at all. Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false. It was comical, but also faintly chilling.


FWIW, FLG has been fascinated by Wilde's Platonic dialogue, The Decay of Lying, since he recently discovered it.    Along with Camille Paglia's contention that the emergence of transgenderism signifies the end of Western culture, it has sparked a keen interest by FLG in the mauve decade.  He's convinced there are lessons to be learned there.

 
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