In 2016, one of the country’s two major political parties was rocked by an insurgent demagogue who prospered by pandering to ignorance, xenophobia, blind hatred and outright stupidity. So was the other one. One party fought back. The other didn’t.
I am aware that many people, and especially even readers of this blog (including myself at times) believe that the vast majority of polticians prosper by pandering to ignorance, xenophobia, blind hatred and outright stupidity. But the Trump/Sanders phenomenon took this to a whole new level. Never before in my memory have politicians with a real shot at the presidency been so aggressive in their refusals even to try making sense, or in their denials that making sense is a virtue. Never before have they been so forthright in their insistence that as long as we all hate the right people, everything will be alright.
For roughly 40 years now, the Democrats and the Republicans, in their highly imperfect and frequently corrupt ways, have offered competing visions for the country and have, in their highly imperfect and frequently dishonest ways, fostered debate about the merits of those visions. Highly imperfect, frequently corrupt and dishonest — but still with at least some nods toward the value of rational discourse, and, though less often than I’d like, sometimes with considerably more than nods. Politicians in both parties have been known to demonstrate by example that it is possible to be spirited without being mean-spirited, that there is a difference between an argument and an insult, and that your opponents need not be your enemies.
Our freedom and our prosperity depend on that legacy, and when it came under dire threat this year, it was the duty of both parties — more specifically of the men and women who run those parties — to resist. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, clandestinely and perhaps not for the purest of motives, did that. Reince Preibus caved in. As a result, the Democrats have a nominee with whom I profoundly disagree on almost everything, while the Republicans have a nominee with whom it is impossible to disagree because he is incapable of formulating a coherent thought — a fate the Democrats narrowly avoided, because Wasserman Schultz did her job.
I realize that many Democrats’ dissatisfaction with Wasserman Schultz is based on things other than her behind-the-scenes manipulations to keep the yahoos at bay. But at least she kept the yahoos at bay. That’s more than anyone at the Republican National Committee seems to have even attempted.
That’s a very strong opinion, but I can’t say that I disagree with any of it.
Landsburg intends this as praise for outgoing (and probably career-ruined) DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I guess this does improve my opinion of her somewhat.
When I visited the gardens they showed parts of a black and white movie filmed there.
I searched it out and here it is: it is a 1939 entry from a series of movie shorts called “Going Places”.
Of course, this reflects the times, so don’t be offended by the humanization of the chimpanzees.
It’s very strange watching this, after having seen much the same scenery almost 80 years later.
The backstory here is that in the 30’s, when Florida was still boomtown, this guy named McKee built a tourist trap called McKee’s Jungle Garden. It evolved towards an amusement park, before finally going bankrupt in the late 1970’s.
* I’m a sucker for botanical gardens, so I’m not unbiased. But, if you’re near Vero Beach, I recommend a visit. This place was abandoned for most of the 80’s and 90’s, and it is slowly being refurbished — so I found the small staff very helpful and informative.
College professors — at least the ones I know — get a good laugh out of students who say they’re too busy.
This summer, all my students seem to be at a higher level of Pokemon Go than me … and my whole family is really into it.
P.S. Just thinking that yes, I’d be in to fantasy baseball … if there wasn’t much baseball involved and I could figure out a way to use it to work on my programming chops for more important projects. Barring that, this isn’t going to be part of my life.
Maggie McKneely lists out and discusses all of the legacy media creations that are (strictly positive) stand-ins for Hillary Clinton.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the notion of a female president. But as early as the 1990s, TV shows have been promoting the idea of one specific female as president: Hillary Clinton.
Admittedly, she’s the best all-around candidate (no pun intended, really) for an artist to use as a model. Even so, we’ve had many other first ladies, a few dozen female senators, and the first female Secretary of State was a black Republican.
For my money, the quantity is ridiculous enough to call a weird fixation. McKneely lists out:
5 network TV series explicitly based on parts of the Clinton biography.
10 TV series with something between an episode and a story arc based on Clinton.
4 movies with Clinton-like leads. One of these, Primary Colors, was actually purported to be truthful.
6 musical numbers more or less about Clinton.
25 children’s books are currently on sale about Clinton, including these two:
Then there’s the Axis of Time trilogy targeting the adult science fiction audience with a post Clinton II world.
Which country is the most rectangular? Wait for it … wait for it …
Someone actually coded this out and has a ranking of countries along with images. It seems to work pretty well except for countries made up of many similarly sized islands.
The method is pretty simple. Assume a rectangle with the same area as the country. Overlap them. Take the ratio of the area of the rectangle to that of the country, getting a number between 0 and 1. Then have an optimization algorithm optimize over changing the length and width of the rectangle.
For Egypt, that ratio is 0.955. For the U.S. it’s only 0.735 (mostly because of Alaska). Even Canada is more rectangular than the U.S., because it’s northern archipelago is closer in to the central region of the country than Alaska is to ours.
Gee. I wonder if you did this for states if Colorado and Wyoming would tie at 1.
The vXboy is a bit of an online geography quiz nut. I can’t wait to show him when he gets up in 3-5 hours.†
Contemporary obesity rates have never made much sense to me: there are too many just-so stories to explain it. And all of them seem to feature bad guys wearing black hats: gluten, agribusiness, high fructose corn syrup, weak morals, and so on.
A somewhat different one that’s always gotten me is that obese people aren’t getting enough exercise. Every spent some time around an obese person? The heavy breathing, sweating, and weariness look to me a whole lot like they’re getting more exercise doing normal things than the rest of us are.
All of this raises a provocative question. “It is so accepted that obesity is bad for you, but why is it bad for you?” Dr. Virtue says. “If I put a 50-pound weight on your back and asked you to walk around all day, you would be a superhealthy person.”
Continuing research on leptin (you know, the hormone they made the hugely fat mice with years ago) is pointing in new directions. But it isn’t leptin that’s the direct issue. Instead, it’s the amount of fatty tissue people have.
Fat people develop metabolic disorders because their brain is driving them to eat more food than their bodies can store as fat. Their fat tissue has reached its limit. …
This is also why some people find that their metabolic disorders improve with just a small weight loss — they are eating less and their fat tissue can respond properly.
It also explains why 10 percent to 20 percent of obese people never develop metabolic disorders, Dr. Scherer said. These so-called healthy obese are like his fat mice, with an unusual ability to expand their fat tissue to store calories.
A good hallmark of something that isn’t a just-so story is that it provides a symmetrical explanation. In this case, obese people without metabolic disorders are those with more fatty tissue to begin with, while thin people with metabolic disorders are those with less fatty tissue to begin with.
Do note that I keep writing “fatty tissue” rather than fat. Fatty tissue stores fat properly so that it doesn’t make the body sick. So if your fat storage works properly, and there’s enough of it … you don’t get metabolic syndrome.
And here’s some totally weird supporting evidence:
… The mice … had almost no fat tissue. And like her, they developed all of the conditions associated with obesity.
What would happen, the researchers asked, if the mice had a bit more fat tissue?
They transplanted fat tissue into the rodents, and two weeks later, the mice had normal levels of glucose, insulin and triglycerides. Their livers and muscles went back to normal, too.
If that worked, the scientists wondered, could a limitless amount of fat tissue prevent the syndrome, even if copious amounts of fat were stored in that tissue?
… They engineered mice that could make an almost limitless amount of fat tissue. As a result, there was no end to the amount of fat the animals could store. They were, Dr. Scherer said, “the fattest mice under the sun, the mouse equivalent of an 800-pound human being.”
6,000 Romans went missing in 53BC. 17 years later, Chinese fought an army with soldiers using roman formation.
Here’s more detail:
The history record reminded researchers of the story floated in the 1950s by an Oxford history professor – Homer Dubs – who proposed the following chain of events that could have brought a band of Roman soldiers to Han Dynasty China.
Battle of Carrhae - In 53 BCE a Roman army under Marcus Licinius Crassus fought and lost a war against Parthian Empire near the town of Carrhae. 6,000 Romans were captured by Parthian and sent to their eastern frontier, but was never found agian.
Battle of Zhizhi - In 36BC, Han army under Chen Tang assaulted a border town known today as “Taraz,” located in Kazakhstan near the border of Kyrgyzstan. Chinese historian noted that: 土城外有重木城 palisades of heavy tree trunks，步兵百餘人夾門魚鱗陣 Hundred infantry in “fish scale” formation 漢軍大勝 Han victory，生虜百四十五人Captured 145 降虜千餘人 Surrendered 1,000+.
The “fish scale” formation is almost certainly the well-known Testudo formation.
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