Free Markets, Free People

Miscellaneous

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Stray Voltage

“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” Perry told local news station KMOV.

That’s a quote from a gay fellow who has decided he’s really a girl,  wears a wig and dress and therefore  believes he is “transgendered”.  In fact, he’s merely a cross-dresser since he’s not had any sort of treatment or surgery to change his gender.

As you might imagine, his demand that he be able to use the girls locker room (instead of a gender neutral bathroom available to him) has been met with stiff resistance by the girls of the school (and their parents).

A few back his demand:

But another 40 students expressed their support for Perry, who has identified as female since the age of 13.

Good for him … that doesn’t make him a female.  Biology 1o1.  He may want to revisit it, speaking of “ignorance”.

The above reminds me of a great rant I read this week:

The perpetually offended want to wrap themselves in metaphorical bubble wrap to ensure that no offense, no bad word, no insult – perceived or otherwise – grinds sand into their delicate vulvas. And they take it as a given that you must conform to their standards – protect them, spoil them, shield them from all possible indelicacies – or else…

That’s precisely what is happening in the school cited in the first paragraph.  Attention seeking narcissists and their “ignorant” backers demand others “conform to their standards” or else … bigots!

Read the whole thing.

A couple of CUNY professors write approvingly of the rise in the minimum wage (they claim government must set a floor for wages – uh, no, that’s what a market is for) but note a great number of disadvantages in doing so, among them:

Second, there are two reasons why minimum-wage increases do not significantly affect poverty rates. In 2010, only 12 percent of minimum wage workers lived in households with incomes below the poverty threshold ($23,000), and only one-third in households with incomes less than double the poverty threshold. Indeed, almost half of minimum-wage workers lived in households with incomes above the national median. Thus, the minimum wage is not well targeted to the poor.

In addition, among poor or near-poor households that do gain wage increases, most will lose significant government safety-net benefits. With higher incomes they qualify for less in food stamps, earned income tax credits, and housing and child-care subsidies. With increased payroll taxes, these households could easily give back at least half of their wage gains. For a significant share, it could be more than three-quarters.

They’ve almost convinced me that the raise would be worth it. Of course, getting all those off government benefits would never mean a tax roll-back, would it, so screw ’em.

But they do pop the bubble of the effect on poverty.

President Barack Obama locked in enough support in Congress Wednesday to ensure he can overcome bipartisan opposition and implement a landmark nuclear accord with Iran.

Yes, friends, the Democrats have again sold you down the river.  This is the Executive Department equivalent of ObamaCare and as usual, the Democrats have to pass it to see what is in it.

The NY Times remarks on the problem with murders in a number of US cities, to include, New York City:

Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014.

More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.

Name two things these cities all have in common.

And finally the “blender test” as applied to Hillary Cliton’s email excuses:

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tore into Hillary Clinton defenders Wednesday morning, saying anyone who believed her email excuses was too stupid to be trusted with household appliances.

“She’s Secretary of State,” the Morning Joe host said. “This is her only server. You would have to be really, really stupid–”

“It’s the blender test: Do I trust you with a blender in my home to not stick your hand in there and get it all gnarled up?” Scarborough continued. “If you believe that Hillary Clinton’s only account did not receive and send classified material in high volumes, then you should not be allowed within five feet of a blender.”

There are a whole lot of people out there who don’t need to be in the same room as a blender, then.

~McQ

Stray voltage

So many things, so little time.

-You have to laugh at this one, I don’t care who your are.

In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality.

About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman were able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails.

The left often times seems intent upon removing parody as a means of criticism by becoming parody proof.  And you wonder why tuition continues to spiral out of control?

-Special Snowflakes rule academia anymore, and they’re not fans of free speech. Collective tantrums apparently work. From the inaugural “Disinvitation dinner”, George Will:

“Free speech has never been, in the history of our republic, more comprehensively, aggressively, and dangerously threatened than it is now,” Will, who’s had his fair share of protests, panics, and bans, told the audience.  Today’s attack isn’t just about process, he noted: It’s “an attack on the theory of freedom of speech,” with a belief “that the First Amendment is a mistake.”

All you have to do is watch how speakers who rub the dominant feminist culture on any campus the wrong way are treated:

Witness Christina Hoff Sommers, a well-known author, former philosophy professor, and, most recently, a YouTube star. Sommers, who describes her approach as “equity feminism,” is a refreshing change from mainstream modern feminism, which long ago click-clacked aboard the crazy train, ripped up all return tickets, and then hit the bar in the club car hard — not in a fun way, alas, but rather to weep and mutter various bad words over low-grade apple martini knockoffs garnished with mascara smears. Partnering with the American Enterprise Institute, Sommers has made a splash with her “Factual Feminist” video series, in which she calmly challenges and debunks oft-accepted and frequently absurd feminist talking points.

Bad news for those in the cocoon.  So, instead of being intellectuals and curious, they retreat to their “safe spaces” or ensure that the speaker can’t be heard by themselves or others.

Sommers’ approach, in other words, is straightforward, fact-based, and lucid. But this, as the zealous, easily wounded students at Oberlin College and Georgetown University demonstrated over the past week, simply will not do. Faced with a speaker who thinks outside the box, campus groups lit up in protest. Students taped their mouths shut. Others heckled and jeered Sommers as a “rape apologist.” Still others advertised alternate “safe spaces” for students “traumatized” by a speech.

“The students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat to their safety,” Sommers told the website Campus Reform, that Oberlin officials “arranged for security guards to escort me to and from the lecture to protect me from the safe spacers.” This sounds sane, if it’s Opposite Day.

What’s a good comparison of the state of places of higher eduction that have enabled such behavior?  Well this seem right to me:

If you’ve ever been to a junior high slumber party, you might recognize the following scenario: In the midst of high jinks and general good times, suddenly one girl will drift off to a corner. Her feelings, somehow, have been hurt. Slowly, a few sympathizers, clear suckers for drama, make their way into her corner. They rub her back, ask why she’s crying, and, even if the answer is absurd, spend the rest of the evening casting baleful looks at the rest of the girls, who are oblivious, living large, sucking down Mountain Dew, and gleefully watching movies their parents would never allow them to watch. (In my case, this was almost always “Dirty Dancing.”)

Cowardice might not be fun, but for some, self-pity — cowardice’s common companion — certainly is. This is especially true if someone else is egging you on. Sadly, huge swaths of today’s college campuses, supposedly pinnacles of higher learning, have morphed into a giant preteen slumber party with an alarming population of sulking corner girls.

Indeed.

-The circus is back in town and the Hill/Billy act is just as tired and old as it used to be.  There’s a new book out pointing to how corrupt these people are … as if you needed a reminder.  The “dead broke” Clintons are multi-millionaires who’ve raised government influence peddling to new and even more corrupt heights.  And then we’re treated to the spectacle of Hillary flying coach and railing against the 1% and CEOs when she makes more money than any of them and her only child is buying a 10 million dollar Manhattan apartment.  Forget about questioning lack of accomplishment as SecState – look at the money the Clinton Foundation raked in while she was in office.  Quite an accomplishment wouldn’t you say?

Oh, and this:

“For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars.”

They just missed it … and, they’ll get away with it too, hide and watch.

-And while you weren’t watching, Erica Holder, er, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as AG by the Republican Senate.

~McQ

A Coupl’a Things

So, a few things have caught my attention over the last couple of days. None of them are related. They’re all just sort or random things I noticed in passing.

In response to the SJW freak-out over the owner of Memories Pizza in Indiana, Dana Loesch started a GoFundMe for the pizza shop that got over $800,000 in pledges. This made one SJW named John Furr unhappy.

Tweet

So, Mr. Furr tweeted how upset he was that GoFundMe allowed this project to be accepted and completed. He’s so upset that, even though he’s used the site for his prog-lefty fundraising, he’s going to boycott them from now on. Sure, he found the site useful to dredge up what money he could from his SJW sympathizers, but now that someone with an opposing political view has used the site, it’s become too corrupted to have anything to do with.

Apparently, it’s not enough for GoFundMe to be neutral in this political issue, and go about their business of allowing anyone to needs funding within their TOS to obtain it. Neutrality, is, in his view, just as evil as opposition in his quest for transcendental justice, I guess.

Think about what that implies. Either you give full-blown support to the appropriate Lefty causes or you’re simply an enemy. That’s the totalitarian face of the progressive Left. They aren’t interested in “tolerance”. They require approval. If you don’t want to weigh in and stand on the sidelines…well, that’s not good enough. You’re either all-in or you’re a class traitor. So, don’t kid yourself that they won’t come for you if they obtain the power to do so. You won’t get to be left alone.

These SJWs are totalitarians who demand a rigid conformity, and demonize anyone who won’t mouth the appropriate political line.

The Left could not be more effective at fomenting civil war in this country if they were trying to do so.

Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, has been made into a movie, and they showed it on FOXNews over the Easter weekend. It was weird.

In the movie, Jesus kind of announces himself to the world by having Peter haul in a butt-load of fish in a single cast. Nobody had seen anything like it. Anyway, the Sanhedrin convinces Pilate to crucify Jesus, and he’s put in the tomb, with the High Priest asking for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb to ensure the disciples don’t steal the body and claim he came back from the dead.

A couple of days later, some folks go to the tomb, where the stone has been rolled away, and the corpse is gone, with an empty shroud just laying there. The very next scene, Peter is back in Galilee, fishing, and looking all sad and puppy-like. Then, a whole bunch of fish swim into his net. He hauls in his record catch, and yells over to one of the other disciples, “He has returned!” Except that he, you know, hadn’t. So, basically, the whole Resurrection deal was just…disappeared from the movie.

Now, look, the Resurrection is kind of a Big Deal in Christianity. One might almost say that Christianity without the Resurrection is pointless. I mean, if you’re gonna do a Jesus movie, and play it on Easter Frickin’ Sunday, you might think that some mention would be made of the couple of hundred people or so whom the Bible asserts actually saw and spoke with Jesus for about a month after the crucifixion, or watched him fly up into heaven. But, you’d be wrong. The body just disappeared—with hints that the disciples took it—and the whole resurrection deal was symbolic thing, rather than Resurrected Jesus walking up to people and saying, “Yeah, It’s me. No really, poke my spear-holes of you don’t believe me!”

I found it odd that this Killing Jesus deal was hyped as some sort of authoritative look at Jesus life, and they just elided the whole Resurrection thing away. On Easter Sunday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia made a strange statement. They are suspending their report on state-level leading and coincident indicators. Why?

The recent benchmark data revisions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics produced greater changes to the Philadelphia Fed’s estimating methodology than are typical. While estimates for most states do appear to be reasonable, those for some states are not.

In other words, the BLS has “adjusted” the data so badly that they don’t make any sense, and the Fed can’t use them to produce the state leading and coincident indicators index. They are, in short, worthless. The BLS, of course, says they give us the real scoop, without any of that nasty political data massaging.

Apparently, the Philly Fed disagrees.

Sally Kohn is an NYU law school graduate. But, I’m going to assume it was the NYU School of Legal Things and Stuff for Kids That Don’t Think Too Good, because today she wrote this:

You could also argue that the government is forcing you to drive below the speed limit or wear a seatbelt in your car. But it’s not. There isn’t a police officer holding a gun to your head literally forcing you to buckle up. In fact, you are 100 percent free to speed and not wear your seatbelt—and simply deal with the consequences if you’re pulled over. Is the threat of the fine for breaking the law amount to “forcing” you to follow the law? No.

This definition of “force” contravenes literally everything we know about how law—and language—works. The whole point of having laws is to engage you with whatever force is necessary to stop you from, or punishing you for, disobeying them. You can’t even spell “law enforcement” without “force”.

So, the key takeaway: Progressives aren’t just raging totalitarians…they are dumber than wet stumps.


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Some of the week’s big stories in photos [with update]

First up: climate protestors in Australia demonstrate their philosophy towards actual data about climate science:

 

bondi-lead[1]

 

headsinsand[1]

Please savor the irony of them sticking their heads in the sand to demonstrate their own ignorance, while thinking they are supporting the leftist climate agenda.

Next, Hillary Clinton apparently has worn out her welcome in Iowa, and there continue to be questions about her health.

Salt-monster-46246874203[1]

Oh, sorry, wrong picture. Let me try again.

Hillary-Clinton-jobs-620x435[1]

Yeah, this whole “Hillary is inevitable” thing probably has a sell-by date of about February 1, 2016. Or sooner.

Finally, a feminist sets a world record for demonstrating her own insecurities, all because of this shirt.

newgunnergirlstshirt[1]

Included in this spectacular effort: envy of other women’s bodies, intelligence envy, sexual self-doubt, actual accomplishment envy, imaginary bad motives in her critics, pleasure at causing pain in others, and neediness for attention.

Most notable results of this harpy’s bloviating: 1. The guy in question cried during an apology, making this bint look like a bully and 2. the shirt is sold out. So trying to shame one guy into not wearing it causes a whole bunch of other guys to wear it just to piss off feminists. In other words, about the same results that leftist collectivism usually obtains.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend.

Billy

*** Update 17 Nov 2014 10:30 AM ***

And here is what happens when the gap between government and kindergarten gets too small:

You can be a guinea pig!

So, I got this email from a researcher who’s looking for libertarians to respond to a study:

I am conducting research on ideology and public opinion.  Most studies on public opinion ask subjects whether they are liberals or conservatives. Options to identify as “libertarian” (or anything else) are almost always left out. To say that libertarians are underrepresented in academic research wouldn’t be enough; they aren’t even given a chance to identify themselves as such.  Therefore, I would like to include libertarians in one of my studies regarding opinions of candidates and their policies.  To do this, I need to seek them out through blogs and websites. I was wondering if you would be interested in posting a link to my online survey on your site or in an email distribution. 

Some important things to know about this survey:

-All responses are 100% anonymous. There is no way for me to link any identifying information to the survey responses.

-The survey has been cleared by an Institutional Review Board at Stony Brook University.  It satisfies all the requirements for a study that uses human subjects. 

-It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete

-It does not seek to promote any kind of ideological agenda

The survey can be found here: https://stonybrooksurveys.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_87ChNJu5zdzMgDP

If it’s something you feel like you want to participate in, please feel free. I took it. Seems harmless.


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A response to Amazon’s editors: my own suggestions for a well-read life

A few months ago, the “Amazon Book Editors” put up a list with the description “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A bucket list of books to create a well-read life”.

It contains some good (1984, Pride and Prejudice, The Right Stuff), some decent-but-thought-provoking (Man’s Search for Meaning), some leftist cant (Silent Spring), and a disproportionate amount of lightweight fiction, books for children, and books for young adults. I’m guessing this is a consequence of Amazon editors skewing rather young.

I think the list lacks broad perspective. It is weak on science, with only the often-purchased-but-seldom-read Brief History of Time plus an obscure book on nutrition. There’s nothing on technology, nothing on business unless you count Moneyball, nothing military (though it does have two books about the victims of WWII), and weak on history. 

Fittingly for a Seattle-based company, the list leans left. I mentioned that Silent Spring is there, which is disturbing given the damage and death caused by its inaccuracies and environmental hysteria. It also contains Fahrenheit 451, which is the soft lefty’s go-to entry when they think they just have to cite a science fiction book. I could name a hundred better science fiction books off the top of my head, but most are from authors who have a nasty habit of not leaning left.

While the list is worth browsing through, I thought the largest bookseller in the world should have done better. That started me thinking about the list I would recommend. My list would contain books that gave me some of the greatest return on investment in reading them. That might be by changing or refining my worldview. It might be simply great entertainment. Some of the very best combine both.

It would be the best books I could name from a wide variety of fields. Being easily bored, I’m more of a generalist than a specialist, and I like to read lots of different kinds of books. So I began composing a list, and extended and refined it several times over a few months.

Creating such a list involves some tough choices between certain books that cover the same territory. I have dodged that by having some of my entries be categories, in which I think a well-read person should be exposed to the category, but not necessary any single work in the category.

For some works and authors, I also included some follow-on suggestions.

I ended up with about 50 books and categories. Here, then, are the books I think ought to be a bucket list for a well-read person, in alphabetic order except that I separated out the science fiction and placed it at the bottom.

The ones that are also on Amazon’s list have an asterisk. No doubt I’ve left off some obvious works, and no doubt our sharp and excellent commenters will remind me.

Continue reading

A long time fan of the book reviews the “Ender’s Game” movie

Movies made from books seem to have the odds stacked against them, especially science fiction books. My favorite author, Robert Heinlein, wrote two books that were made into movies after his death, and both sucked toxic waste: Puppet Masters and Starship Troopers

There have been a few excellent movie adaptations, mostly in other genres. Hopscotch and Being There come to mind. In both cases, even the book author liked the result.

More recently, the last Harry Potter movie did quite a good job of adapting the book. I started reading that series to my then-young children when it came out. Most of the movie adaptations in the series were fair, but the last one was worthy of several repeated viewings. Many Tolkien fans swear by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They’ll sit through twelve hour marathons to watch all three movies again.

I wish I could say Ender’s Game is in the same league, but I can’t.

I’m assuming most readers have read the book at some point, so I’m not worried about spoilers. For those of you who have not read the book, I suggest that you don’t bother with this movie. It will probably feel like another generic “kid saves the universe” story, with special effects trying to carry a sketchy plot. If you plan to see it despite this advice, then you might want to stop reading now.

For those who have read the book, let me explain my mixed feelings about this movie.

If you already understand the story, this movie isn’t awful. It’s nowhere near as bad as the Heinlein adaptations I mentioned earlier. It has generally good casting and good special effects. If you are a really big fan of the book, as I am, it’s worth a viewing. It really works to stay faithful to the book.

In fact, the movie’s biggest problem is that it tries too hard to stay faithful to the book.

I cited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 because it is an excellent example of adapting the story to the needs of a movie. There are many things that depart from the book. For example, in the book, Voldemort can’t feel when a Horcrux is destroyed, and Harry can’t just sense their presence. But the movie needed those shortcuts for dramatic effect, and they work very, very well in the film.

Ender’s Game feels like a Cliff’s Notes version of the book. Or perhaps a Cliff’s Notes version with every other page missing.

Every major theme and turning point is included, but most of them are in matchstick drawings instead of fleshed out drama. For example, the battle room scenes are well done from a production standpoint. But there are not many of those scenes. The development of Ender’s skills and leadership is compressed to a mishmash, with one battle against other teams mashing together several battles in the book, simply extracting key scenes from each one. The result feels disconnected and contrived.

When the script does depart from the book, it’s done badly. They obviously wanted the character of Petra in that major battle room scene, so they contrived a sprained ankle by a team member and a dispensation from Graff to get her there. But just before that, it’s explained that Ender’s team is a bunch of misfits anyway. At that point, Petra doesn’t have her own army, so why not just put her in Ender’s and skip the contrivance? That’s the kind of spackling over a problem that makes a movie adaptation smooth.

The final battle is fairly well done. The set for it was perfect, and the use of holographic technology and gestures was as good as any movie I’ve ever seen.

Then that was spoiled with a heavy handed resolution about the battle being real instead of a simulation. That entire part of the movie bends over backwards to slap people in the face with the supposed peaceful nature of the buggers, and how terribly awful it was to kill all of them. As the book made clear, they started the conflict and killed many millions of people. When the survival of one’s species is on the line, giving the benefit of the doubt to an enemy who attacked first is mushy, politically correct sillyness.

Casting is reasonably good. They apparently wanted the gruff version of Harrison Ford here, so that’s what they got the entire movie. They could have done lots worse for the role of Graff. Ben Kingsley was fine as Mazer Rackham.

Most of the kids are good enough to get by. The actress in the role of Petra turned in a good performance, but she looked too soft for my vision of Petra. Plus, she resembled the actress playing Valentine enough that I got confused at least once about which one Ender was talking to.

I have no idea if the kid playing Bean is any good, because they didn’t give him enough of a part to find out. I realize the story had to focus on Ender, and Bean was pushed to the background to allow that. It still grated on me to see one of my favorite characters reduced to wallpaper.

Bottom line: this movie isn’t awful, but it isn’t great either. As I said, if you really liked the book, you’ll probably want to see the movie at some point. You probably won’t be shouting at the screen in rage the way I did at Starship Troopers. But unless you liked it better than I did, you won’t be watching it twice.

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