16 October 2016

Dwarf-coat, elf-cloak, blade of the downfallen West, and spy from the little rat-land of the Shire -- nay, do not start!  We know it well -- here are the marks of a conspiracy ... These are the terms.  The rabble of Gondor and its deluded allies shall withdraw at once beyond the Anduin ... All lands east of the Anduin shall be Sauron's for ever, solely.  West of the Anduin as far as the Misty Mountains and the Gap of Rohan shall be tributary to Mordor, and men there shall bear no weapons, but shall have leave to govern their own affairs.  But they shall help to rebuild Isengard which they have wantonly destroyed, and that shall be Sauron's, and there his lieutenant shall dwell:  not Saruman, but one more worthy of trust.
--the Messenger of Sauron, The Return of the King


INSTEAD OF BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE, HILLARY IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT AT WHAT LOOKS LIKE A RIGGED ELECTION. THE ELECTION IS BEING RIGGED BY CORRUPT MEDIA PUSHING COMPLETELY FALSE ALLEGATIONS AND OUTRIGHT LIES AND EFFORT TO ELECT HER PRESIDENT. AND, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? IN FACT, TODAY, THE COUSIN OF ONE OF THESE PEOPLE -- [INDISCERNIBLE]...
A TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL SECURE AND DEFEND OUR BORDERS. YES, WE WILL BUILD THE WALL.





A WALL WILL NOT ONLY KEEP OUT DANGEROUS CARTELS AND CRIMINALS, BUT IT WILL KEEP OUT THE DRUGS AND HEROINE THAT IS POISONING OUR YOUTH. BY THE WAY, MEXICO, MAYBE THEY DON'T KNOW IT YET, MEXICO WILL PAY FOR THE WALL 100%. THEY COULD BE HELPING US MUCH MORE WITH THIS PROBLEM IF WE HAD LEADERSHIP IN THIS COUNTRY THAT SAID, FOLKS, YOU BETTER HELP. THEY ARE KILLING US. THEY WILL PAY FOR THE WALL IN SOME FORM. BELIEVE ME, THERE ARE ABOUT 12 FORMS THEY CAN DO IT. THEY WILL PICK THE ONE THAT LOOKS THE BEST. THEY WILL PAY FOR IT.

--DJT, Portsmouth, NH, yesterday (C-SPAN transcript)
  

09 October 2016


I do not know what is happening.  The reason of my waking mind tells me that great evil has befallen and we stand at the end of days.  But my heart says nay; and all my limbs are light, and a hope and joy are come to me that no reason can deny.  Eowyn, Eowyn, White Lady of Rohan, in this hour I do not believe that any darkness will endure!
--Faramir, The Return of the King

08 October 2016


If this is the day of the Trump campaign's siren song -- it's not totally clear yet, but when you've lost John Thune and Kelly Ayotte in addition to the too-thoughtful-for-his-party Ben Sasse, something's hit the fan -- we must thank the media.

Yes, that media that most Americans appear to despise.

Facebook did not discover this tape.  The military did not take it from any 'bad actors' (to use Ted Cruz's favorite, and perhaps self-referential, phrase).  Our best political scientists did not publish this tape in an academic journal.  This is the result of plodding work done by journalists, that is, people who are paid to uncover truth that Facebook will not uncover for you.  Jimmy Fallon is not a journalist.  People like Azam Ahmed are.

Having a well-educated populace is a good thing for our nation, but it is not enough to ensure social progress and a sane government.  Not too long ago Trump was leading Clinton 11 points among college-educated white males.  At a political rally last month I heard Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) speak about the greatest challenges of our time, and he said something I won't easily forget.  "I really think it's less about smarts than it is about courage and heart." (or words to that effect)

Smart people like Nate Silver* did not see Trump coming.  People with all the right academic credentials said Hillary would have a celebratory cakewalk to the presidency, at least up until the night of the New Hampshire primary.  The limits of their knowledge base have been revealed like seldom before by this year's events.


*I liked Silver's book The Signal And the Noise.  He should be respected for his intelligence and skill with statistics.  I am highlighting him only to point out that, as Gandalf once said, "even the wise cannot see all ends."

06 October 2016

Why I Support the "Unlawful Assembly" of Seven MBTA Workers

In these times we are constantly told that cash is dying, that it is a stupid relic of the analog ageWhen Pam Grier paid for a new pantsuit in cash in the 1997 movie Jackie Brown, wasn't that the last gasp of the old order?  Salvation was supposed to come down to us in the form of Bitcoin, at least for a while, before the problems with a currency backed by no government became obvious to everyone.  We've also been promised liberation in the form of RushCards, which periodically have massive glitches, and various other celebrity-endorsed debit cards -- because apparently yoga practitioners are inherently more trustworthy than bank or credit union tellers.

So, really, there should be nothing wrong with giving cash processing tasks to huge multinationals who promise to save their clients money.  Yes, jobs will be lost, and nobody except corporate board members living thousands of miles away and busy advising Donald Trump on debating strategies has any real oversight over what goes on in these workplaces, but CASH IS DUMB so it doesn't matter.  We will inevitably follow Sweden in becoming a cashless society, although God forbid we make high-speed internet access a legal right as they did in Finland , because The Constitution.



03 October 2016




Gallery of Underperforming Millennials.  (Stock photo from here at top; blogger at bottom.)



02 October 2016

The Awkward Whiteness and Maleness of Bloggingheads.tv


Bloggingheads.tv, along with its sister site meaningoflife.tv, is a well-respected and respectable website of intellectual discussion and humorous banter (the latter, at least with those pairs of guests who have become fixtures of the site with their own 'shows.')

To my chagrin, though -- and I expect site mastermind Bob Wright is not unaware of the problem -- the heads that blog, and talk, are becoming awfully monoracial and awfully male lately.  With the exception of African-American economist Glenn Loury, not one guest who is not both white and male has been seen on the site since September 13.  (Yes, this includes meaningoflife.tv guests.)

This is not to say that these white male guests have been poor-quality; I particularly enjoyed Anthony Silvia and what he had to say on gnosticism.  And yet I wonder when the old white guys will permit others to expound on the meaning of life, so to speak, and three-quarters of humanity will see itself reflected in the philosophical and political agora that is Bloggingheads.  I sincerely hope it will not take another year before we can have an Asian-American thinker like David Kim on the site, for example.