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John Stuart Mill:

“It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify.

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.”

Everyday American

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Hillary’s spontaneous Chipotle stopover.

Chasing Rainbows, or The Conclusion That Must Not Be Reached

Charles Murray comments on a recent Washington Post article on IQ. Here.

Zap!

This should worry you:

The Shaming of Cheryl Rios

Because the world has got so small, everything collides with everything else. Attention from all parts of this flattened, shrunken system can swivel to focus on any node at any time — and attention can exalt or destroy. In this case, it is like stereotactic radiosurgery: the malignancy, once detected, must be annihilated.

This happens in a spontaneous, self-organizing way. It was always so, but the difference now is that in a heartbeat, any node of the social network can attract the attention of the entire civilized world. Also, because the connectedness that makes this “small world” possible exists only at the superficial level of electronic social networks, the connections lack the deeper, empathic linkage that characterize “real-world” relationships, and so there is nothing to mitigate the impersonal malevolence these ‘viral’ outbreaks bring to bear. Very few of us are so constituted, or situated, as to be able to withstand such a heat-ray, and so now we have a “new normal” in which human lives are casually, almost sportingly, vaporized.

On Punching

Recently the Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau criticized Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Islamic cartoons. He accused the magazine of using satire to “punch down” — that is, of abusing one’s own position of safety and privilege in order to harass the “disenfranchised”.

The blogger and columnist Daniel Greenfield has offered a tart response. Excerpt:

The left has adopted “Punching up” and “Punching down” as the legitimate metrics for comedy and satire, but real ‘Punching down’ comes from the establishment. When an establishment satirist like Trudeau attacks satirists who risked their lives challenging a real authority with the power to kill them, what he is really saying is that satire should only serve the ends and agendas of the establishment.

That is the very definition of “Punching down”. When the establishment tells you what satire is supposed to be, then anyone following those rules is punching down.

…There is in fact an easy way to tell whether your satire is really punching up or down. Try it and see what happens. If you run into a gigantic backlash that impacts your career and your safety, then you’re actually punching up. Just ask a rodeo clown out of Missouri who went out wearing an Obama mask and ended having to go into hiding while the Governor, a Senator and the Kansas City Star called for his head. Bans were issued, blacklists were assembled and Obama fans threatened to burn down his house.

That’s what real “Punching up” looks like.

Or, as Voltaire said:

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

Read the whole thing here.

Use Your Loaf

Here’s a little logic puzzle that’s been making the rounds.

There’s a ‘spoiler’ video at the bottom of the page, if you’re stumped.

As Expected

Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy today. Everybody knew it was coming. The anticipatory mood was like waiting for a sagging roof to collapse.

I have to say that I think the Democrats ought to be just a little worried to have all their eggs in this basket. Mrs. Clinton has an awful lot of liabilities — I won’t enumerate them here, because I have other things to do this week — and any one of them, let alone their cumulative tonnage, might be enough to sink her between now and the convention. (I say “the convention”, and not “the election”, because I don’t think she will even end up being the Democratic nominee.) Hell, she might even ship too much liquor some quiet Westchester evening and fall down the stairs. (From basket to casket.)

So, if she’s not there come Election Day, what have the Democrats got? I’ll tell you: bupkis, that’s what. Doesn’t this fact trouble them, just a little?

Mind you, I might be coming round to Hillary’s camp myself. As I mentioned in a comment last month, “there are times — and they are more frequent now — when I think that the only way to move beyond this tottering wreck, and begin to build whatever we can upon its rubble, is to help it fall, as quickly as possible.” If that’s the goal, then Hillary’s the gal.

What Media Bias?

Charles Cooke of NRO catches the New York Times in a tendentious lie. Here.

P.S. The Times has since updated its post.

The McGurk Effect

I’m not happy about this. Not at all.

Anarcho-Tyranny

Following on those recently linked posts by Victor Davis Hanson and Heather Mac Donald, which limned in dispiriting detail the total collapse of the rule of law as applied to illegal immigrants and the crimes, petty and otherwise, that they commit (see, for example, the corrosive vandalism and petty theft described by Mr. Hanson), we have today two items that illustrate the other prong of the anarcho-tyranny fork: the increasing (and increasingly capricious) burdens and indignities that are heaped upon those citizens (perhaps ‘chumps’ is a better word) who still attempt to play by the rules.

Perhaps, dear reader, you are not an illegal alien who works off the books and relies upon social-welfare programs for essential services. Perhaps, instead, you are a revenue-positive American citizen who, with Tax Day coming right up, wants to make sure that you are in compliance with the Byzantine complexities of the Federal tax code. Thank you! Now please stand in this line for several hours. Perhaps you’ll actually get inside the building before it closes for the day. If not, come back tomorrow!

We commend you also, docile citizen, for your willingness — nay, eagerness — to abide by the countless Federal, state, county, and municipal rules and regulations that curtail and compel your behavior. It is, of course, completely impossible for you even to know what they are. Nobody knows what they all are, or even, for that matter, how many of them they are. Rest assured, however, of two things: first, that any of them can, at the whim of a prosecutor or other government official, be invoked and enforced against you with the full power of the State; and second, that no matter who you are, or what you do, you are almost certainly in violation of one or many of them.

So: we thank you, citizens, for your dependable and supine complaisance. Meanwhile: it’s baseball season! Please enjoy this and other distractions.

Half Empty

Victor Davis Hanson is one of our pre-eminent gloominaries. This isn’t surprising, given that he is a scholar of history, and that his family has been farming California’s Central valley for generations. Both of these things give him an objective baseline against which to measure our civilization’s, and in particular California’s, accelerating decline and decay.

California is now suffering a severe drought. Again, to students of the area’s history this should come as no surprise: California, which is by nature a desert, has in the past undergone withering droughts that have lasted centuries. Despite this, though, the state has not only settled new inhabitants in numbers far beyond what the labile water supply can reliably support, but has also made foolish choices in the name of environmentalism — cancelling construction of reservoirs and other water-management projects, and even pumping hundreds of billions of gallons of clean fresh water into the ocean for the sake of an endangered smelt. (As with our institutional folly regarding fossil-fuel use and so-called ‘carbon pollution’, this is a consequence of choosing a standard of value that places a higher premium on non-disturbance of the natural environment than on human flourishing.)

Here is Professor Hanson’s latest essay on California’s existential predicament.

Immigration And The Death Of Law

The latest edition of Hillsdale College’s newsletter Imprimis features a strong essay by Heather Mac Donald on the nation’s descent into lawlessness with regard to immigration policy. A great deal of the blame belongs to the Obama administration — which has all but completely abandoned deportation as a response to illegal entry, even by repeat criminal offenders, and whose “executive amnesty” is a brazen usurpation of the power properly belonging to Congress — but hundreds of jurisdictions around the country have also abetted this drift into anarchy by declaring themselves “sanctuaries”.

I won’t post any excerpts, because you should go and read the whole thing, here.

War Of The Worlds

When I was young, I used to read a lot of science fiction. I remember the Hugo Awards being the Oscars of the genre, and it generally seemed to me that they were given to deserving recipients — Dune, the Foundation series, Stranger in a Strange Land, Ringworld, Rendezvous With Rama, Stand on Zanzibar, Neuromancer, etc.

I haven’t read any sci-fi-in a long time, and haven’t paid any attention to the Hugo Awards, either. But apparently they were on the itinerary for the Left’s “long march” through our cultural institutions, and have for some time now been politically subjugated by the usual suspects.

Apparently, though, this year there has been a gratifying backlash. Story here.

The Problem With Singapore

Singapore’s long-time leader Lee Kuan Yew died a couple of weeks ago. His death brought a surprising outpouring of praise from all quarters: even Barack Obama praised the man, and John Kerry, in a characteristically infelicitous phrase, said Mr. Lee ‘exuded wisdom’.

You should find this acclamation puzzling, because Mr. Lee was the polar opposite of a man like Barack Obama, and his extraordinary success in Singapore was built entirely upon — indeed, was a towering monument to — the summum malum of the modern Left, namely discrimination. He knew very well that people, and peoples, differ widely in the qualities that make for stable and productive societies, and so he wrapped his island nation in a semipermeable membrane, a kind of Maxwell’s Demon, that admitted for entry only those who would make a positive contribution to Singapore’s cultural and commercial well-being. (This is rather like what I saw happening at Google a few years back.)

The idea worked very well indeed: Singapore is one of the safest and most prosperous places on Earth. Imagine Yemen, dear reader, or Honduras, or Ferguson, Missouri — and you have imagined everything that Singapore is not. If one were to suppose that John Kerry were a humble, intelligent person capable of searching self-reflection (which I do not suppose), then one would imagine that, having characterized Mr. Lee as ‘exuding wisdom’, he would be forced to conclude that our own regime, therefore, exudes something completely different.

For all that Mr. Lee’s Singapore was a flamboyant success by most conventional measures, however, it had a serious problem: it was what neoreactionary thinkers have identified as an IQ Shredder. Most of you probably aren’t familiar with this concept, so I’ll explain it for you.

Observers of the life-cycles of civilizations long ago noticed that there is a natural demographic process that tends to enfeeble high civilizations as they reach their apogee. The idea is that as civilizations advance, they create more and more knowledge, literature, art, etc., and that for the civilization to continue to advance requires that there be enough people in each succeeding generation with the cognitive and behavioral capacity to absorb it all and carry it forward. The fact that these traits are highly heritable means that those in each generation who possess these necessary qualities must maintain a certain rate of fertility in order to ensure that there will be a large enough pool of such resources in the next generation.

The problem, however, is that high civilizations offer a great many agreeable distractions and diversions for these cognitive elites (not least of which is the work of building upon the knowledge and culture passed to them by their antecedent generation) — and so the messy, expensive, and time-consuming work of raising children becomes less and less attractive. Once the fertility rate drops below a certain critical point, there simply aren’t enough children of sufficient quality to shoulder the load, and the whole structure becomes more and more top-heavy. Eventually it collapses. This has happened again and again throughout history.

What Lee Kuan Yew realized was that the Singapore he had worked to create was just such a place: lots of money and high culture, and lots of fun and productive things for its affluent and intelligent population to do. The birth rate, however, is absurdly low — in 2012, it was 1.2 children per woman, which is far below replacement rate — and so Singapore constantly imports new residents. This is easy for Singapore to do, however, because it’s such a nice place to live. And because of that, Singapore can be very selective indeed about whom to let in.

What this means, then, given the high heritability of these desirable cognitive and behavioral traits, is that Singapore is effectively a kind of ‘black hole’ that continuously sucks in industrious, conscientious, high-IQ individuals from all over the world, and removes their genomes from the future human population. Hence the term “IQ Shredder”.

The term itself was coined by the blogger Spandrell in this post from a couple of years back. Nick Land discussed it also, last year, here.

Put Away Childish Things

One of the more spirited characters in our politically-oriented online media is the blogger who goes by the name ‘Ace of Spades’. Here’s a fine rant by Ace on this shameful Indiana business. (Warning: intemperate language.)

How Insensitive

Here’s a significant item: a new study from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology has found that that anthropogenic aerosols have been causing much less cooling than prior models had assumed. This means that these aerosols are doing less to offset putative warming caused by carbon dioxide, which means in turn that temperature sensitivity to CO2 is less than we’ve been led (perhaps I should say “commanded”) to believe.

You can read the Daily Caller‘s somewhat breathless comments on this news, here.

Freedom, Religious And Otherwise

This ruction about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is deplorable for many reasons — not least of which is the fact that Indiana’s law is nothing unusual, and resembles very closely similar laws in other states (including, for example, Connecticut, whose governor has ostentatiously called for a state-spending boycott of Indiana, and Illinois, where young Barack Obama voted ‘yes’ to a very similar bill). The Indiana statute also is more or less the same as the 1993 Federal RFRA — which was introduced by Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy, passed the House on a voice vote, was approved by the Senate 97-3, and was proudly signed into law by Bill Clinton.

So why the fuss now? It’s because the law, which was originally imagined to preserve the religious freedoms of marginalized minority groups (the Federal law’s original aim, for example, was to protect ritualistic use of peyote by American Indians), is now being used to defend the religious liberties of Christians who refuse to get in line behind same-sex marriage and other left-wing causes. Observant Christians, you see, aren’t a protected class in liberal America; indeed, they are increasingly seen (and rightly so!) as stubborn obstacles to the Left’s withering assault on traditional American culture. On this new cultural battlefield, laws like Indiana’s become nothing less than enemy fortifications, and so they must be shelled and degraded with all the heavy artillery the media can bring to bear.

Amid all the agitation, there’s a more general question I’d like to ask: what are laws for? Given that, as citizens under the coercive power of the State, our behavior is constrained, and our liberties affected, by our laws, then presumably there ought to be some explicable rationale for every law we create. Generally speaking, it seems reasonable to imagine that the enactment of any new law has as its aim the prevention of some harm or evil that the State has a legitimate interest in eliminating. (If you have a better short description of what laws are for, our comment-box is open.)

The ‘evil’ that seems to dominate the Left’s rhetoric regarding these RFRA laws has, apparently, to do with discrimination against homosexuals, and in particular against homosexual marriage. The cases that we have already seen have involved same-sex couples who sought out the services of Christian bakers and photographers for their weddings. The businesses refused, because for them to participate in a celebration of something they consider morally wrong would violate their religious beliefs and affirmations. They paid a heavy price for this principled stance: their lives were upended, and at least in the case of Elane Photographers, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, they lost their business.

Did this have to happen? Of course not. There are lots of photographers in Albuquerque, and I’m sure that a homosexual couple pretty much anywhere in America can easily find somebody who’d be happy to photograph their wedding.

So who was harmed here? Who would have been harmed if Elane Photographers had simply been allowed to turn down the job? If there is an ‘evil’ to be detected and prevented here, it seems to me that the destruction of a couple’s livelihood, or conversely the public humiliation of innocent citizens by forcing them to violate their religious beliefs under crushing coercion, is a far greater ill than the minor inconvenience of having to call a different photographer to shoot your wedding, especially when it would have been easy to find others who would have been proud and happy to do so. And that’s the harm that these RFRA laws are intended to prevent. The problem now, though, as noted above, is that all of a sudden they are protecting people whom the Left would rather see harmed.

One last thing: as good as it is to see these religious-freedom laws offering some protection for dissent against the Left’s cultural juggernaut, I’m sorry that they only seek to protect dissent on religious grounds. I’m not a religious person, but I have, nevertheless, moral convictions that I feel as strongly about as any churchman. It would be nice if they were considered worthy of protection also.

P.S. Gratifyingly, I see that just today Arkansas has passed a similar law. Nice to see a little backbone.

P.P.S., April 1: I spoke too soon — looks like Arkansas is chickening out.

Coming Around

I’m much improved this week. I’m still full of powerful narcotics, but I’m getting around a lot better, and my “little grey cells” are starting to come back to life.

It’s hard to know where to pick up the thread of current and recent events; an awful lot has been going on.

There’s the Iran deal, which appears to be foundering (just as well, as every day seemed to bring new revelations of how bad the thing is).

There’s the Hillary Clinton email mess. It now appears that Ms. Clinton has completely wiped her server — and that she did so after having her emails requested by the State Department. Can you imagine the consequences, dear reader, if you or I tried such a thing?

As someone with actual professional expertise in what is known as “electronic discovery“, I’ll add that the way in which Ms. Clinton produced those emails she actually did hand over — she printed them out on paper — is utterly unheard of in this day and age, and was an act of brazen defiance. Some of the most important data to be gleaned from emails are the attachments, transport headers, and electronic metadata, and all of this is completely inaccessible in a text-body printout. Being a Clinton, she may be able to avoid criminal prosecution for such audacious evidence-tampering, but if she does run for president this will likely be yet another millstone around her neck. (I’ve already said I don’t expect her to be the next Democratic nominee: too old, too sick, too unprincipled, too incompetent, too dishonest, too nasty, too much baggage.)

There’s the Germanwings mass-murder. I don’t know what I’d have had to add to what everyone else has already said about it, but what an awful story.

There’s the resignation of Harry Reid, and his appointment of Chuck Schumer as heir presumptive. A look at Mr. Reid’s colossal, family-based influence-peddling industry would make for a very entertaining post or two. Or better yet, I recommend to you all this book, which examines Mr. Reid’s vast and spectacularly profitable shakedown machine (as well as John Boehner’s) in sickening detail.

There’s the Great Big Fuss about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the fundamental right — upon which the very survival of the Republic clearly depends — to force other people to bake you a gay-wedding cake. More about that one later, perhaps.

There’s President Obama’s declassification of a 1987 DOD report on Israel’s nuclear capabilities. (In the same report, other sections, having to do with France and Germany, were kept secret; only the part containing information about Israel was declassified.) Petulant, much?

There’s the ongoing conflagration in the Middle East, and the incoherence of a foreign policy that has us fighting alongside Iran in Tikrit, while fighting against Iran in Yemen (never mind the spectacle of our sending Iran flowers and kisses for Nowruz, while Iran’s supreme leader joins approvingly in calls for Death To America!! on the same occasion).

Then there were things like this.

… and much more, of course. I’ll just try to rejoin the flow over the next few days.

Meanwhile, I got this in the mail today:

 
Savor that line in the middle:

Just think of all the “likes” you’ll get when you post that selfie with President Obama.

This is what we have become. America, this is the future you chose.

I think I’ll have another Dilaudid.

Update

Sorry to have been down so long… this post-operative experience is everything they warned me it would be, and then some. The deep pain, and the meds one has to take to manage it, are so disorienting and exhausting that any sort of serious thinking, reading, or writing are just impossible. (Even typing is affected — I notice that the letters assigned to each hand end up on the page in randomly shuffled order. It’s taken me about fifteen minutes just to type these few sentences correctly.)

Better by next week, I’m told. Thanks all.

“Let The Healing Process Begin”

We hear this expression all the time lately. As a lover of language, I’ve done a little research, and it turns out that in archaic usage it could refer to actual injuries, too, and not just to somebody, somewhere, having said something uncomplimentary. Good to know!

I’m home again, but too exhausted and doped up to do much more than shuffle from bed to bathroom. Back to normal posting before too much longer, I hope.

Update

Knee replaced without incident. In hospital till later this week. Thanks again all.

– MP

Decline And Fall

Thanks all for the well-wishes in comments and emails, folks.

I’ll leave you all on this cheery note.

Service Notice

Back in January of 1996, I had a little mishap down at the kwoon. We had a cocky student who needed taking down a peg, and in the course of doing so I smote him with a jumping double kick — showboating on my part, really, because such things are hardly necessary for effective Hung Gar, but I knew that for this overweening upstart to be kicked twice, low and high, in a single instant would have a gratifyingly demoralizing result.

(For those of you who might be interested, the thing I’m talking about looks like this, and I used to do it very well indeed. I should make clear, however, that unlike the man in the linked video, I would never allow myself to be seen in public in that silky orange getup. It’s simple black cotton at our place, thank you very much.)

Anyway, the technique had its desired effect, but I had whacked my target so hard that when I landed I was rotating slightly to my left. My left foot hit the floor and stuck, and my knee twisted so far that I heard something pop. I had a confident feeling that something very bad had happened, and I was not wrong: I had not only snapped my anterior cruciate ligament, but had also done considerable damage to the meniscus.

I had the thing repaired, but the surgeon told me that in addition to the ACL graft, he’d had to snip out a lot of cartilage. In twenty years or so, he warned me, there was going to be trouble. He was right.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because at six-thirty on Monday morning I’ll be presenting myself at the Hospital for Special Surgery, on East 70th Street (formerly the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled, which I think is a far more distinctive name) to have a total knee replacement. I’ll be in hospital for three or four days, and will be liberally medicated with powerful narcotics for some time to come (I have been assured by all that the post-operative experience is chiefly characterized by a great deal of pain). All this chemistry may interfere with my ability to think or write clearly, and of course if I can’t think or write clearly I’d rather not think or write at all. So things may go a bit quiet here for a little while (although I will try to dash off a little post, once I’m able, just to make the case that I have in fact survived the procedure).

I should add that I do indeed expect to pull through; the doctor assures me he’s done this sort of thing before. If I don’t, however, I’m afraid you’ll have to content yourselves with browsing our archives. The stuff’s piled pretty high in there at this point.

Sleeper Cell

Jonah Goldberg wrote an amusing item today about the Hillary Clinton email flap. I’ve had too much on my mind this week to write anything substantial, so for tonight I’ll just pass along an excerpt of Mr. Goldberg’s commentary:

As Bill Clinton said when the harem girls on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane finally announced they were over international waters: “Where to begin?”

One of my favorite movie clichés is the bit where the old pros — and maybe one eager rookie — get together for one last job. I’m thinking of movies like The Magnificent Seven, or The Return of the Magnificent Seven, or the first five minutes of the under-appreciated Extreme Prejudice. The collection of experts at the beginning of The Andromeda Strain is a great variant of the genre and so is the whole “There’s an Animal in Trouble” theme song from the Wonderpets and the first half of The Blues Brothers. But perhaps more apt would be the hunt for, or reuniting of, veteran grifters for a long con, like in The Sting or the Ocean’s Eleven franchise.

Anyway, the ChappaDataQuitIt or E-PotDome story (okay, we’re still looking for a better nickname) reminds me of those kinds of movies. The silent whistle has been blown. The sleepers activated. The old timers have been notified. I like to imagine Lanny Davis right in the middle of a meeting with an African dictator when, suddenly, his assistant hands him a note. All it reads is “Cankles Is Down.” Lanny abruptly terminates the meeting, pushes back a briefcase full of krugerrands, and races to some hellish Third World airport, telling his aide, “Let the Redskins know they’re on their own. The Clintons need me.”

Flash to a canoe on the banks of the bayou. James Carville has just caught a catfish with his bare hands and proceeds to tear apart the wriggling fish, Gollum-like. He eats the entrails first. Then, suddenly, a flare goes off above the tree line. That’s the signal. He throws the bulk of the carcass into the river, where gators churn the water to grab it now that the apex predator has departed. He makes his way to the shoulder of a dirt road where a limousine is waiting to get him to an MSNBC studio as fast as possible. His suit and tie, neatly pressed, are waiting for him along with as many hot towels as he may need to remove the fish viscera.

David Brock slinks out of his leather onesie and races to his command center, bustling with Dorito-dust frosted 20-somethings at computer terminals. “This is a level-one-alpha scenario. Cancel all leave. Turn off all X-boxes . . .”

Sidney Blumenthal, consciously dressed like that French guy in The Matrix, leaves his table-for-one, and heads home to sacrifice some creatures to Baal in preparation.

They’re all coming home.

Save for one. Poor Geraldo Rivera, locked in a reinforced steel cage deep in the bowels of News Corp, is pacing his cell like a vampire’s familiar ordered to return to his master but unable to. The sounds of his howling, can be heard, ever so faintly, in the background during the O’Reilly Factor. Poor Greg Gutfeld has been tasked with keeping him locked up and is using his cattle prod a bit more than necessary . . .

And scene.

The fact that Team Clinton is relying on the old rat squad once again is vastly more significant than most commentators have suggested. Yes, yes, it’s bad politics. A candidate looking to offer a fresh face forward, figuratively speaking, has no choice but to keep his or her own face (John Kerry notwithstanding). But she surely has plenty of options for who she picks to represent her in public. Mrs. Clinton has millions and millions of dollars at her disposal. She has people placed at the highest reaches of the government and the media. There are over 200 people working, formally or informally, for her as policy advisors already. And yet she chooses to get the old band back together instead.

Why? There are many possible answers, but the only plausible one is that a Clinton only trusts Clinton loyalists. This fits everything we know about the Clintons. And it speaks volumes about the thickness of her bubble.

…But it also speaks even louder about what kind of president she would be. If you want to know what Hillary Clinton would be like as president, you’re seeing it right now. There is no other Hillary. This is her.

You can say what you like about Mr. Goldberg, but when he’s feeling his oats he can be a very entertaining observer.

Whoops!

Here’s an interesting item from across the pond:

We were wrong to try to ban racism out of existence, says former equality chief

The modern order (there’s an oxymoron for you!) is all about careless destruction.

The Letter

Republicans in the Senate have sent a letter to Iran’s leadership informing them of the Constitutional limitations of any deal the President may make without the approval of Congress. This is in response to Mr. Obama’s apparent intention to make such a deal as an ‘executive agreement’ that he can conclude without seeking Congress’s consent. (And this, in turn, is due to the fact that he lacks robust support in Congress for his scheme, and so wouldn’t get such consent if he asked for it.)

I’ll go on record as saying that I think this was a needless and needlessly polarizing gesture, unless one makes the (not wholly unpersuasive) argument that more polarization, or indeed anything that hastens the inevitable crisis and final showdown in this fatally fractured nation (of which the current political polarization is only a symptom) is something to be encouraged. Even if you accept that argument, though, it’s silly to think that Iran’s leaders aren’t fully aware of the Constitutional limitations of Mr. Obama’s powers here, or of how deeply divided we are over the deal he’s trying to make. So it’s important to be clear that the letter is nothing more than a public rebuke of the President, and a public airing to the rest of the world of the depth of our internal fissures — an increasingly pugnacious conflict that some have already called, and I think rightly, a cold civil war.

Liberals, of course, consider the Republican epistle a shocking violation of protocol and intranational solidarity, and something closely akin to treason. The corresponding opinion on the Right is that this President, in the service of an ideology that is deeply inimical to the traditional American nation, its people, and its values, has been defying our Constitutional order in every way he can, and should be checked and countered wherever possible. The signatories of this letter also believe, I suppose, that the agreement being pursued by Messrs. Obama and Kerry is almost certain to be a bad one, and so they are doing everything in their power to snuff it out in utero.

The letter, however, accomplishes nothing, and just seems petulant. So I think it was a silly idea.

Scuttlebutt

Rumors are going round that Ayatollah Khamenei’s cancer has now killed him. That would certainly complicate any pending deals, unless there’s a successor and an agreement that have just been waiting in the wings. Hard to see how things could coalesce that fast, or that reliably, though.

Bright Side

Overheard in a checkout line yesterday:

Shopper #1: “Tomorrow night’s Daylight Savings Time.”

Shopper #2: “Yeah. ‘Spring Ahead’, right? So we lose an hour of sleep.”

Shopper #1: “Yeah… but maybe the extra hour of sunlight will help melt all this snow!”

Extremism

People talk about the “second childhood” of old age. What relates the second childhood to the first is high “time preference”; that it cares more about the present than the future.

The edges of our lives are unlike the middle. The child is unaware of its future; the old man has none.

I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning

Well, it seems as if this story about Hillary Clinton’s emails has caused quite a commotion. (As it should.)

From Jim Geraghty’s morning newsletter (my emphasis):

The primary feature of Hillary’s “home-brewed” system was that it could destroy e-mails completely and permanently — no backups or third-party records that you get with Yahoo or Gmail. It would be particularly odd to build a special e-mail system with this “permanent destroy” capability and never use it.

On Greta Van Susteren’s show last night, ABC News political director Rick Klein said he was at a loss to come up with an innocuous explanation for Hillary’s “home-brewed” system. There is no innocuous explanation. The whole point of it was to create an e-mail system that Hillary and her team would control completely, that would be beyond the range of federal record-keeping rules and laws and beyond the range of FOIA requests. If any message seemed embarrassing, politically inconvenient, or incriminating, she could erase it, and rest assured it was gone forever, beyond the reach of any investigator, FOIA request, or subpoena.

Of course, it wasn’t particularly secure from hackers and/or foreign spies. And let’s face it, if you’re the Russians or Chinese — heck, maybe the Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, or other regimes — if you’re not trying to hack into the e-mail systems of American officials, you’re not earning your paycheck.

We don’t know if foreign intelligence services ever cracked the (apparently flawed) code and got to read Hillary’s private e-mails. We do know that we would be fools to assume they hadn’t. This prospect makes a lot of Obama’s first-term foreign policy look a little different in retrospect. Was there any particular time when a foreign power seemed one step ahead of our policies? Did Moscow, Beijing, or other foreign capitals seem to know what we were thinking in our negotiations before we began? Any of our spies get burned, or sources of intelligence dry up? Was Hillary Clinton’s e-mail effectively a leak all along?

(By the way, in the interim, every imaginable White House official should be brought before Congress and asked why it didn’t seem unusual to them that Hillary Clinton never used a state.gov address, ever, at all, in a four-year span. Her use of a private e-mail was not secret within the administration.)

The answers to these questions are above my pay grade and security clearance. But if foreign spies were reading the e-mail of the Secretary of State for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe, and one that is entirely the fault of Hillary Clinton herself.

No doubt there are those who will rise reflexively to Ms. Clinton’s defense — why, we may even be acquainted with one or more of them — and will see all of this as nothing more than partisan political warfare. And I’m hardly impartial myself: this thoroughly loathsome woman is a political target that I, and many others, would very much like to see reduced to rubble (if not gravel). In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would never again occupy any public office anywhere in the land. (Well, not quite: in a perfect world, she would never have risen to public office, or even the public’s attention, in the first place.) But wherever your sentiments lie, this is, beyond all argument, a beautiful Clintonian trifecta: secrecy, damage control, and a belief that rules are for little people.

I’ve said for some time now that I do not believe this woman will be the next president, or even the next Democratic nominee. I think the odds just got even better; the mood even on the Left seems suddenly to have shifted. (Why is this? Perhaps it’s that, because this issue falls on nobody but Hillary, and doesn’t affect anybody else in the party, influential players on the Left now see a long-awaited chance to scrape off the baggage-laden Clintons in favor of, say, Elizabeth Warren, without any collateral damage to other Democrats.)

Of course, any gloating over here on the Right must be tempered by the fact that, as Mr Geraghty said, “if foreign spies were reading the e-mail of the Secretary of State for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe.” And there can be no doubt that our foreign policy under Ms. Clinton’s stewardship was, indeed, a catastrophe. But as far as the fate of the nation is concerned, even that catastrophe pales in comparison to the appalling prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. So on balance I have to see this as a positive development, however cynical that may seem.

Separation Of Powers

Heard on the radio today: “There are three coequal branches of government in the United States: the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and Anthony Kennedy.”

Netanyahu’s Speech

Benjamin Netanyahu just gave a magnificent, and in my opinion historic, address to Congress on the dangers of the pending deal with Iran. He was interrupted 43 times by thunderous applause.

The shade of Winston Churchill, who was the only other foreign leader to have addressed Congress three times, hovered approvingly over the proceedings. Mr. Netanyahu nodded to him in a remark about how sanctions were supposed to have encouraged Iran to change and moderate its behavior. “Some change!” he said. “Some moderation!

The many points of comparison with Churchill are obvious — above all, the spirit of the man, and the existential crisis his nation and people face. The contrast with the petulant Barack Obama, who by comparison is a moral and intellectual pygmy, was just made excruciatingly obvious to the nation, and to the world. (In fact, John Boehner, recognizing all of this, has made a gift to Mr. Netanyahu of a bust of Churchill — a gesture that has as an important subtext the fact that one of Mr. Obama’s first acts upon entering the Oval Office was to remove the bust of Churchill that had stood there.)

Forgive my rather simplistic effulgence here, but it’s been a long while since a real leader stood at that podium.

Watch the speech here. Read it here.

This And That

I won’t comment on Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress tomorrow, other than to note that President Obama has nothing on his public schedule at 11 a.m., and that the boycott of the address by the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats is not something they ought to be particularly proud of. (My own representative, Yvette Clarke, whose Brooklyn district awkwardly includes lots of blacks and lots of Jews, says she is “conflicted”. I wonder why.)

(Related: this.)

I’ve said already that I do not think that Hillary Clinton will win the Presidency in 2016, and that I do not even think she will be the Democratic nominee. Among the reasons I listed recently was “too much baggage”. In today’s news it appears there may be yet another valise for the porter to handle.

In recent days we’ve commented on the FCC’s Internet takeover (see here and here). Here’s a brief item from John Fund that might be of interest. (Trigger warning: right-leaning commentary.)

Here’s something I haven’t had time to get my head round yet: apparently some physicists have published a paper arguing that quantum ‘weirdness’ can be accounted for in a classical model after all. See here, here, and here. (We may end up asking our commenter Henry, who is a physicist, to unpack this for us.)

I’ve been away from the Outer Cape since late January (for business and medical reasons), and just got back late last night. (The drive, which usually takes five hours or so, took nine-and-a-half hours this time, thanks to heavy snow on I-95.) The far end of the Cape, which is usually relatively mild in the winter and doesn’t get a whole lot of snow, has been absolutely buried in the stuff this year, and due to the unusual cold, the bay and harbors and inlets are choked with ice. Here are a few photos taken today:

The tidal flat at Lieutenant Island:

 

The little one-lane bridge on Lieutenant Island Road (passable only at low tide):

 

The path over the dune to Duck Harbor:

 

Chaotic ice at Duck Harbor:

 

The town harbor, low tide:

 

Sufficient Unto The Day Is The Evil Thereof

It’s getting hard to keep up with the engulfment of every aspect of our lives by the government, and of every aspect of government by the Executive branch. Most worrisome of all is the extent to which regulatory control of the nation’s affairs, and the disbursement of the nation’s wealth, have fallen under the supremacy of a vast administrative apparatus, elected by and accountable to nobody. This leviathan, which wields almost unlimited power, is an agglomeration of departments, agencies, and federal corporations with vague and often overlapping mandates. Nobody even knows exactly how many of these agencies there are, and nobody knows even approximately how many regulations they have, in aggregate, imposed upon the ovine American masses. (Because of this no citizen can possibly be sure, as he goes about his business, that he is wholly in compliance with this great regulatory reticulum, but it is almost certain that he is not, and is therefore liable, at some functionary’s whim, to Federal prosecution.) Once created, these administrative agencies are generally immortal, and the cost of their operation tends to rise, automatically, in every budget cycle. The whole thing can best be imagined, in both form and prognosis, as a great, metastatic tumor.

Yesterday this aggressive neoplasm claimed another vital organ, as the Federal Communications Commission seized regulatory control of the Internet. As I described in an earlier post, it did so by adopting a secret 332-page White House plan on a partisan 3-2 vote. The nation, and the peoples’ representatives in Congress, pleaded with the Commission’s chairman at least to make the plan public before the vote was taken, but he would not.

Also from yesterday’s news: the President taunted the timorous GOP, daring them even to try to stop his flamboyantly lawless amnesty plan for illegal aliens — a plan that, it is increasingly obvious, is first and foremost an act of naked racial and cultural aggression against the traditional American nation, and against the supremacy of the Constitution. Today, the Republican Senate leader has compliantly abandoned his only weapon against this usurpation of power, namely a DHS-funding bill that had explicitly withheld money for the President’s amnesty program. The Senate’s new, ‘clean’ bill now goes to the House, where it will meet stiffer resistance.

There is some hope yet on this front: the whole thing may be a ploy to avoid a Senate filibuster. If the House now amends the Senate bill and sends it back to the upper chamber, my understanding is that the amended bill may only require 51 votes to pass. (I may be mistaken about this.) Meanwhile, the House is reportedly now considering a stopgap bill that would fund the DHS for three weeks.

Finally, yesterday I learned that the Treasury Department had gone ahead and handed over about three billion dollars of your money to health insurers, despite having been explicitly denied Congressional authorization to do so. Asked by the House Ways and Means Committee to explain themselves, they refused.

I know: penny-ante stuff. Chump change. But it all adds up. As someone once said, “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Soup And Sandwich

An interesting item over the transom this morning from our reader and commenter The Big Henry:

Data Mining Indian Recipes Reveals New Food Pairing Phenomenon

I’d never even heard of this ‘food pairing’ business. It uses chemical analysis to determine which foods have shared ‘flavor components’, and should go well together.

Just A Sleepy Little Town

Here.

Here’s Johnny!

A little while ago we remarked on the government’s disingenuous account of the ‘root causes’ of ‘violent extremism’. Both President Obama and the State Department’s spokespigeon Marie Harf have painstakingly refused to identify Islamic jihad as Islamic jihad, and have tried to persuade us instead that the real problem is a lack of business opportunities.

It would be tempting to jeer at this as mere ignorance or stupidity (and many on the Right have done just that), but that’s obviously wrong: I know lots of ignorant and stupid people, and they have no trouble understanding that Islamic jihad is what it says it is. This is something else altogether.

Anyway, we ourselves were tut-tutted in our comment thread for reacting with such scorn to this populist propaganda. It is ‘trite and obvious’, we were told, that throughout history lack of opportunity has led to radicalization, and so all that stuff Mr. Obama and Ms. Harf were trying so hard to get us to swallow wasn’t the usual multi-culti Kool-Aid, but rather the cooling nectar of sweet reason.

This is hogwash, and everybody knows it. The idea that a lack of Western-style job opportunities is a sufficient explanation for ISIS’s campaign of conquest, rape, beheadings, torture, enslavement, immolation, vandalism, and related horrors is immediately and effortlessly rebutted by the fact that poverty and lack of opportunity are everywhere, and yet throughout the world today it is only Muslims who seem to be drawn to this behavior en masse. If your theory is correct, Ms. Harf, then where are all the mass beheadings by Brazilians, Haitians, Papuans, Eskimos, Gypsies, and Hindus?

It isn’t even true that poverty is correlated with radicalism among Muslims. Examples of well-to-do jihadis abound, but here’s today’s exhibit: the celebrity ISIS noggin-chopper known as ‘Jihad John’, who is, as it turns out, a Kuwaiti software engineer, from an affluent family, who has a C.S. degree from the University of Westminster.

No, I’m afraid the truth is what we all know it to be. The problem here is not the absence of jobs. It is the presence of Islam.

Acronym Of The Day

…is ‘TATO’.

It stands for ‘TATO And TATO Only’.

(hat-tip: D.R.H.)

Q.E.D.

A few weeks back I noted that global warmism was, in many cases, a secular repurposing of the religious impulse, and that its narrative is a near-perfect parallel of the Christian Fall-and-Redemption mythos:

In the beginning, there was only God.

From God arose Man.

Before his Fall, Man lived simply, and in perfect harmony with God. It was a Paradise on Earth.

Then a disaster happened. Man acquired a new kind of Knowledge: knowledge that he did not need, but that conferred upon him enormous temptation. In his unwisdom, and against God’s wishes, Man succumbed. His new Knowledge gave him great power, but at a terrible cost: he had turned his back on God, and his Paradise was lost. In his exile, he would wield his ill-gained power in prideful suffering and woe.

But then came a Messenger, offering the possibility of Redemption: if Man were to renounce his awful Knowledge, and learn once again to surrender himself to the love of God, he would be forgiven, and could find his way back to Paradise. It would not be easy — it would require that he make terrible sacrifices, atone for his many sins, and give up his worldly comforts and much that he had come to love — but if his faith was strong, his Salvation could become a reality, and he could once again live in Paradise, in sweet communion with God.

In order to move from the old religion to the new one, we need only substitute “Nature” for “God” in the passages above.

Today, I learned that Rajendra Pachauri, the director of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has got himself into a spot of trouble, and is stepping down. If that weren’t gratifying enough, he also went out of his way, in his resignation letter, to confirm my memetic diagnosis. He wrote the following:

[T]he protection of planet earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.

Thanks, Raj. Don’t let the door hit ya where the dog shoulda bit ya.

The Thrill Is Gone

Those of us of a “certain age” will note with sorrow the loss of Sam Houston Andrew III, the guitarist and co-founder of the psychedelic-era band Big Brother and the Holding Company. He died last week at 73, of complications following a heart attack.

Like It Is

It’s nice to see Rudy Giuliani standing firm on his remarks about Barack Obama. Mr. Giuliani has obviously reached the point where he is answerable to nobody: he is independently wealthy, and has no voters to appease. The Cathedral’s levers therefore having (for now at least) no point of purchase on him, he is free to speak the truth, and cannot be made to grovel or recant. This has the effect, to paraphrase an occasional commenter here, of making “left-wing heads explode”.

The late British reactionary Jonathan Bowden (PBUH) said this:

No people can survive if it incorporates as a mental substructure an anti-heroic myth about itself.

Rudy Giuliani understands this. And he sees, as anyone not blinded by ideological partisanship or crippled by C.I.V. ought to be able to do at this point, that this ‘anti-heroic myth’ is the chief feature of the modern American Left, and of the man who leads it.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I was out doing errands just now, and stopped in at the local Asian fruit-and-vegetable shop. I had grabbed several things that were three for a dollar, five for a dollar, etc., and the young woman behind the counter quickly summed up the total in her head. I complimented her on her calculating skill. She smiled and said, completely un-selfconsciously: “I’m Chinese — we’re good at math!”

I cannot tell you how how startlingly refreshing this was. How alive! How different from our own sickly self-abnegation!

Same As It Ever Was

Our reader and commenter Whitewall has brought to our attention an excellent article, by the blogger and columnist Daniel Greenfield, on the modern West’s dreamy image of Islam. The gist is this:

Islam never became enlightened. It never stopped being ‘medieval’. Whatever enlightenment it received was imposed on it by European colonialism. It’s a second-hand enlightenment that never went under the skin.

Read the whole thing here.

The Great Game, 2015

From the indefatigable JK: video of a U.S. air-to-ground attack. Here.

- Erratum: I had originally referred this as a “drone team”. Thanks to commenter El Gringo for the correction.

Getting Hot In Here

I understand President Obama said some things today about ‘extremism’. I haven’t read what he said, so I won’t comment for now. I’m sure I’m going to love it.

I did, however, get not one, but two nice little notes from Mr. Obama’s ministry of propaganda today, telling me that it was time to “beat back” “climate change” “deniers”.

One of the emails boasted of Senator Kelly Ayotte’s having recanted her heresy by joining in a Senate vote last month intended to measure the chamber’s ideological purity. It seems, though, that despite her walk to Canossa, OFA still finds her lack of faith disturbing:

It’s not a solution, but she’s no longer denying the science of climate change, and so we’re taking her off our list — but not off our radar.

Their ‘list’? That doesn’t sound good. Better watch what you say, Senator.

I suppose they’ll be training their sensors on the great Freeman Dyson, too. He’s a bad’un, and no mistake.

They certainly seem to have a sense of urgency about this, I have to say. So many voices to silence; so little time!

New From DARPA: Anti-Gravitas

My God, we are ruled by children. If this weren’t bad enough (and it is), we have now put forward a feather-headed teenage girl by the name of Marie Harf as the public face of America’s foreign policy. Yesterday, as noted at Twitchy.com, she explained to Chris Matthews that the real answer to defeating ISIS is not to kill them, but to help its members find jobs.

“If we can help countries work at the root causes of this — what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?” she squeaked.

Weep for your nation, readers.

And when you have dried your eyes: for an adult’s take on ISIS, read this excellent article at The Atlantic.

This Thing All Things Devours

On February 26th, a five-member panel of FCC commissioners will vote on adopting a plan to apply government regulation to various aspects of the operation of the Internet. This will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects — and given the scale of the Federal government, of the Internet, and of the conflicting interests that will be affected, there can also be no doubt that many of the consequences will be adverse, unintended, and costly in ways that the consumer will have to bear, and that the whole thing will be a bonanza for lawyers, lobbyists, and political grifters.

The plan originated in a 332-page recommendation emanated by the White House. The panel consists of three Democrats and two Republicans, which means the proposal will almost certainly be approved. That the scheme is bitterly divisive, however, is made clear by two “fact sheets” released by the FCC: one by Chairman Thomas Wheeler, which sings the plan’s praises (“Protecting the Open Internet“), and another by Commissioner Ajit Pai, which lists its drawbacks (“President Obama’s Plan to Regulate the Internet“). (Read them and see for yourself. They are brief.)

Apparently Chairman Wheeler and his masters have sought to prevent Congressional interference by invoking Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 as justification for extending Federal regulation to the Internet. They have also refused to make the full text of the plan available to the public, or even to Congress.

Regardless of how you may feel about “Net Neutrality”, you should reflect on how this thing is being done: the sovereign arm of the State is to be spread over the untamed vastness of the Internet, based on a 332-page plan that nobody is allowed to see. To circumvent any interference by Congress, it will be done by piggybacking the new regulations on a Federal statute dating back to the Roosevelt administration. The adoption of this plan will grant, to the lumbering Federal leviathan, regulatory control over the fastest-evolving, and arguably the most pervasive, aspect of modern life, and in doing so it will set a crucial precedent for further expansions of government authority. There will be titanic legal battles about the interpretation of the new rules, and the extent of their reach. Great swathes of currently unregulated activity will suddenly be subject to the whims and shifting moods of unelected bureaucrats, and to the intrigues of occult Congressional skulduggery. The thicket of regulations will swiftly become impenetrable, and to ensure compliance, corporations will need to retain the services of entirely new orders of the Washington priesthood. This clerisy will consist of those former agency and Congressional staffers who will have written the new regulations, and will be the only people who actually understand them. As always, they will have taken care to make their rules bewilderingly ramified and opaque, and supervenient upon even deeper layers of administrative and legislative macaronics, in order that no service provider will ever be able to know whether it is obeying the law without consulting these ecclesiastics at ransomous expense. All of this will stifle innovation, and will give a competitive edge to big corporations over smaller, independent players who will no longer be able to muster the cost of compliance. Thousands of entrepreneurial ventures will simply never come into existence. Businesses that do manage to cope with the new regulatory environment will foist their higher costs onto you and me. And all of this is to be brought into effect by a 3-2 majority on a panel of unelected functionaries, accountable to nobody.

In an age of exponentially accelerating technological innovation and disruption, where successful and responsive organizations are increasingly flexible, scalable, nimble, lightweight, and agile (see my friend Salim Ismail’s new book and website devoted to this subject), we are now going to put the sclerotic, nerveless and morbidly obese United States Government in charge of the Internet.

Forward!

Search Me!

Every January or February (depending on when I remember to do it) I present a sampling of the search keyphrases that brought visitors to this site during the previous year. Here’s the 2014 selection.

This year’s winner was the mysterious phrase “lwica lwica”, which occurred 318 times. You may also notice some perennial favorites.

compelling natural force
installerex crunchbase
he’s no fun he fell right over
old winter’s song
claire handscombe has a commitment problem online
fucking of the abu zubai girls
rawls theory on abortion
old winter’s song
moral heat death
ten voiders of islam
holly and diwali
how to create an equal and free society
is walter sear one in the top ten highest iq
epic pigeon
hogswaddled
solioonensius
which chapter in the bible says do not say waka
for posting rubbish waka
dark enlightenment quacks
narcissistic salute
smooth blue surface
codpiece on the runway
bukimi no tani genshō
art schlonga
motor vessel strange attractor
the gropes of wrath
hot chip day and night gurdjieff
what is a consonant in ice cream
where does waka waka take place
every morning i waka up
ویلیام چونگ
slimmer women’s waist is associated with better erectile function in men independent of age
college inn chicken shortbread
suppuration of powers
pale blue green lichen
crassostrea virginica
reality african tribal sex whith asian girl
hillary is a goofy bitch
an infection called waka waka
cast out spirit of poverty
bury the dog deeper
snow in town
tiger head dao
froccoli
rut-roh
long weapon
effeminization
verlyn klinkenborg on don van vliet
explain to me in student language what idols of the tribe is
something to think about ornette
moths of south africa

Let Me Count The Ways

On an end-table next to where I do most of my reading there is a lamp with a ‘three-way’ bulb. Last night one of its filaments burned out, and I found that I had no more of these bulbs in the house.

I’ll go looking for another tomorrow. I know that these ‘three-way’ bulbs were once on a short list of incandescent lamps that our Federal overlords had graciously allowed us still to purchase, but I haven’t bought any in at least a year or two, and things may have changed — as these things relentlessly seem to do, generally without my ever having been consulted.

It will be a pity if these bulbs are now forbidden to us. I’ve always liked ‘three-way’ lamps, even though I suppose they offer no rational advantage over a dimmer; generally, the range of luminance options they offer has always seem to me more than adequate for a table lamp.

The name ‘three-way’, however, is obviously wrong, because these lamps offer not three, but four possible states: off, low, medium, high. And that’s another reason why I’m fond of them: I realized long ago that they offer a splendid tool for explaining the binary number system to children:

The bulb I have to replace has two filaments: one that uses fifty watts and one that uses a hundred. Each has two possible states: off, which we can represent with a 0, and on, which we can represent with a 1. If we put the fifty-watt filament in the ‘ones’ place, and the hundred-watt filament in the ‘twos’ column, then we can represent the four states of the bulb as:

      0 0 – Off.
      0 1 – Fifty watts.
      1 0 – One hundred watts.
      1 1 – One hundred fifty watts.

In binary terms, we’d say that the fifty-watt filament is the ‘lower-order’ bit, and the hundred-watt filament is the ‘higher-order’ bit. The bulb, then, is a four-state binary display.

This also means that it’s easy to tell which filament is burned out (if you should happen to care). If the fifty-watt, low-order filament is the one that still works, then as you turn the switch the bulb will cycle through the pattern off-on-off-on (which, of course, is the sequence of ones and zeroes in the right-hand column of our little table above). If it’s the hundred-watt filament, then the pattern will be off-off-on-on.

I’m sure these lamps are not long for this world — no doubt the environmental clerisy has already determined, in its ‘settled’ way, that there’s a fjord missing its glacier somewhere solely on account of my lingering attachment to this primitive technology — but if they still have these bulbs at the hardware store tomorrow, I’m going to buy as many as I can carry home.

So Much For That

“When you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”
Lord Kelvin

“Yes, and when you can express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”
Jacob Viner