November 30, 2015

AGE OF OFFENSE REACHES NEW LOW, Christine M. Flowers writes in the Philadelphia Daily News:

The reason? Well, they tried to dress it up in language that did not seem as if Tina Fey had written it for a Saturday Night Live sketch, but the truth was fairly obvious: “Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures . . . they are being taken from. Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga.”

The day that yoga becomes culturally offensive is the day that Mr. Rogers becomes a metrosexual icon. In other words, anyone who has a problem with Westerners (or rather, 21st-century colonialists) teaching yoga classes to disabled students — for free! — is a real pain in the asana.

This is up there with women on campus carrying around mattresses because they want the world to take their complaints about sexual abuse seriously (right, toting a Serta through the cafeteria line is exactly the way to avoid ridicule). This is up there with complaining about red Starbucks cups at Christmas. This is up there with Ivy League students being told what Halloween costumes they can wear so as not to offend indigenous zombies. This is right up there with a white guy going on a hunger strike until the University of Kansas instituted “mandatory, intense” racial re-education workshops for students (bro, look in the mirror). And yes, this is up there with allowing a same-sex couple to throw a legally compensated hissy fit because one particular baker out of the hundreds of thousands of millions in the world would not serve up a wedding cake.

Heh. Unless things have changed dramatically from when I last regularly read the Philadelphia Daily News 20 years ago, given the Bletchley Park-level sensitivities to offense of that paper’s readers, I’m surprised this article didn’t come with a giant red “TRIGGER WARNING” atop it.

Related: There Is No Bigger Threat to Millennials Than Liberalism.

GREAT MOMENTS IN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Firewoman allowed to graduate NYC Fire Academy despite flunking physical injured 10 days into job.

(Headline via Power Line.)

WASHINGTON POST: Hillary Clinton panders to middle-class voters with unrealistic tax promises.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT OVER THE WEEKEND: Walter Olson Highlights Demands Of Campus Activists.

JOHN LEWIS: Black Lives Matter Movement ‘Must Understand’ the Way of Peace.

I appreciate the sentiment — and I also remember Lewis’ role in racially demagoguing and playing the race card against an actual peaceful protest from the right.

SNOWFALLS ARE NOW JUST A THING OF THE PAST. Or, two London Independents in one!

● “Paris climate change talks: What the different groups attending expect from these crucial meetings.”

—Headline, London Independent, yesterday.

“Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.”

—Headline, London Independent, March 20, 2000.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Marco Rubio Vows to Restore Intelligence Programs Restricted by Obama.

From Roger Simon; article illustration by yours truly.


NEW YORK CITY BANS THE HOVERBOARD: The nanny state stands athwart the future, yelling stop.

New York’s punitive leftists are second only to Sacramento’s in starting each day thinking “What are we going to ban today?”

Related: “Rip Them Out.”

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: Everything The World Has Culturally Appropriated From The West.

Cultural appropriation is the idea that adopting elements of a foreign culture, from dressing up as Mariachis to wearing dreadlocks if you’re not black, is oppressive. Ein volk, ein culture. Naturally, the concept was invented by campus progressives.

The consequence of this regressive, segregationist view of culture is the rise of racial identity politics on campus. But that’s not what this article is about. In my research on cultural appropriation, I’ve uncovered a shocking truth, a great, unspoken crime against humanity, hidden in plain sight. It is the greatest, longest-running, and most heinous act of appropriation in global history.

The appropriation of Western Civilisation.

This diabolical act of appropriation has been hidden in plain sight. For centuries, nation after nation brutally, viciously, mercilessly appropriated western culture. Just as they did Rwanda, an uncaring world averted its eyes, and this act of global racism has gone unacknowledged. Until now.

Half-Pakistani in descent, I feel a personal sense of guilt at how non-western countries have unapologetically oppressed their fellow nations. I’ve therefore taken it upon myself to compile a list of all the things the world has culturally appropriated from the west, in hope that this injustice might one day be corrected.

Read the whole thing.


An outspoken and polarizing New York celebrity, who’s a bestselling author and familiar TV presence, decides to run for office even though he has no previous political experience. He’s famously contemptuous of political insiders, a seemingly contradictory stance considering he has an elite education and hails from a wealthy and well-connected family. His campaign ends up having significant impact on the national political conversation, in spite of the fact both the Republican and Democratic establishments are in agreement that his politics are too reactionary for him to actually win.

Sound familiar?

Read the whole thing — and don’t miss the spot-on comparison of Barack Obama to John Lindsay, and the same type of obsequious court stenographers that enabled both men.

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THE NEW CAMPUS DISSENTERS: Not everyone is cowed by political intimidation at universities.

Even at the remove of several weeks, it is remarkable to recall that the disturbance at Yale University was over “offensive” Halloween costumes. But amid the protests, some important principles are now at risk, notably free speech. We asked at the time where the adults were on campus—either school presidents or boards of trustees? The answer, so far, is that most have caved like wet cardboard. The most hopeful adult response has come from 18- to 22-year olds—the students themselves.

At Claremont McKenna, where a dean was driven from office over a supposedly objectionable email, the student editors of the Claremont Independent published “We Dissent.”

The editors took themselves to task for not speaking out earlier. But no more. Their editorial ended: “We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement. We are not evil because we don’t want this movement to tear across our campuses completely unchecked. We are no longer afraid to be voices of dissent.”

This political courage may be catching on. At Princeton last week, students under the banner of the Open Campus Coalition sent President Eisgruber their own strong statement of dissent. It describes a student body intimidated to silence by the likelihood of being vilified, in public or on social media. It ends: “Princeton undergraduates opposed to the curtailment of academic freedom refuse to remain silent out of fear of being slandered.” They signed their names and class years, and we hope their professors don’t dock their grades for thinking for themselves.

With campus administrators and faculty cowed by political correctness run amok, these students are shaping a movement of principled, civilized dissent. Let’s hope it grows.




STOP LAUGHING: Their “socialist program” will create “a sustainable reduction in deficits and debt.”  Because, you know, cheese and also radioactive penguins — which are as likely to cause a sustainable reduction in deficits as socialism is. In Portugal, being a socialist is never having to say you’re sorry.

NOT AGAIN: King Tut’s Tomb: Secret Chamber Search Is On.

THEY’RE COATING THEM IN POLITICIANS: Totally repellent: Quick and easy coating process makes surfaces omniphobic.

OKAY THEN: A threesome may explain behaviour of galaxy’s most bizarre star.

THEY’RE JUST MESSENGER BOYS PHOTONS: Physicists set quantum record by using photons to carry messages from electrons almost 2 kilometers apart.

SHUT UP, YOU’RE INTERRUPTING THE NARRATIVE: Media Rushes to Call Colorado Shooter ‘Right-Wing Activist.’ Here’s the Evidence For That Claim.  They probably know it’s not true, but if they can taint you by association they can make you shut up.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FLAN: Avis Should Try Harder, In Order to Avoid Breaking the Law.


IT’S COME TO THIS: Craft brewers say new FDA mandate will limit beer selection.

STOP SCARING ME: Polling the refugees: getting to know you.

November 29, 2015

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Marco Rubio Vows to Restore Intelligence Programs Restricted by Obama.

68 YEARS AGO TODAY THE U.N. CREATED A JEWISH STATE — They’ve Been Trying To Destroy It Ever Since.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: At UNC, abdicating the obligations of leadership in scandal.

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT-RUN CITIES SUCH HELLHOLES OF CORRUPTION, RACISM, AND VIOLENCE? The Corrupt System That Killed Laquan McDonald. “Until it is reformed, more Chicagoans will die needlessly at the hands of police. The failures are especially inexcusable in the aftermath of both a relatively recent police torture scandal and an off-the-books holding facility scandal where rights to an attorney were willfully denied. Each scandal illustrated the importance of sunlight in the Chicago police department. City leaders kept blocking it anyway.”

JOEL KOTKIN: Climate Hysteria Fostering A Climate Of Intolerance.

The Paris Climate Conference, convening this week, takes place in the very place where, arguably, the most dangerous exemplar of hysteria, the Islamic jihadi movement, has left its bloody mark. Yet the think tank mavens, academics, corporate shills and endless processions of bureaucrats gather in the City of Light not to confront the immediate deadly threat, but to ramp up their own grisly scenarios and Draconian solutions.

Welcome to the age of hysteria, where friends and foes, and even those who blissfully talk past each other, whip themselves into an emotional frenzy that bears no discussion, debate or nuance. Rather than entering a technological age of reason, we seem to lurching towards a high-tech middle ages, where warring bands – greens, jihadis, libertarians, social conservatives, nationalists – immerse themselves not in intellectual competition but, inflating their own individual outrage. In this environment, exaggeration and hysteria are weapons of recruitment, while opposition is met with demeaning attacks, potential imprisonment and, at the worst, vicious acts of violence.

Rather than address possible shortcomings in their models, climate change activists increasingly tend to discredit critics as dishonest and tools of the oil companies. There is even a move to subject skeptics to criminal prosecution for deceiving the public.

How much this does for our understanding of the complexities of climate seems questionable, but the incessant campaign on the issue clearly is having an effect on the society’s rationality. Canadian psychologists have already found elevated levels of anxiety among young people, who, after all, have been told that their world could be coming to an end, no matter what we do.

My solution: Tax the Blue Zones! Also, ban government funded travel for bureaucrats and academics. We have Skype now, and the planet is at risk!!!!

ODDLY ENOUGH, NOT AN ARTICLE ABOUT SMOD: Another danger of climate change: Giant flying boulders?


It was one of those stunning live-TV moments revealing the seamier side of TV news.  Pat Brown is a criminal profiler who has taken a principled stand on media appearances about mass murderers. She will not discuss individual criminals, their motives, etc., believing that to do so only increases the number of mass murders.

But when Brown appeared on CNN’s New Day this morning, co-host Christi Paul immediately tried to engage her in a discussion of Colorado Springs shooter Robert Dear’s possible “anti-government” views. Retorted Brown: “I’m a little disturbed because I made an agreement with CNN to appear this morning only under the condition that we do not talk about the particular shooter, use his name, or show his face.” Undeterred, Paul tried to lure Brown into a discussion of the shooting investigation, but again Brown rebuffed it There the interview ended, but co-host Victor Blackwell came on to claim that the agreement had been honored because neither Dear’s photo nor name had been used. Didn’t use Dear’s name? Really? Have a look at the screencap, Mr. Blackwell.

This is CNN.


On November 29, 1995, President Clinton grudgingly signed a highway bill repealing the much-hated National Maximum Speed Limit. In 1973, President Nixon signed the NMSL into law in an effort to force people to save gas. This law allowed the federal government to withhold federal highway money from states that didn’t drop their speed limit to 55 mph. Real-world fuel savings were negligible. Safety activists proclaimed that it saved a lot of lives, and would bring out charts showing that the highway fatality rate had dropped since the law was enacted. The starting point for said charts was when the law was enacted, and sure enough, the fatality rate decreased in the years after. Had they shown a chart going back decades, you would have seen that the fatality rate had been declining since the late 1940s.

Since she’s simultaneously running on nostalgia for the post-Cold War pre-GWOT go-go happy fun time 1990s and yet against so many of President Clinton’s policies, do we know what Hillary thinks about her husband signing this into law?

RAHM EMANUEL HOLDS OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE ON POLICE SHOOTING VIDEO, NOT HIMSELF: “If the video had come out during the election campaign, Rahm Emanuel would not be mayor today.”

Related: “Producer of anti-Islam film arrested, ordered held without bail.”

Also: “For violating a minor election law, Dinesh D’Souza was punished heavily. Even his liberal lawyer has realized his conviction was politically motivated.”

What is it with Obama and his associates such as Rahm (Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff) and Hillary (his Secretary of State) being complicit in suppressing videos and video makers?

ENVIRONMENTALISM HAS ALWAYS BEEN A RELIGION OF THE ELITES: Germans reluctant to go green, survey finds.

In fact, the modern environmental movement has its roots in efforts by rich landowners to block the (environmentally friendly!) Storm King pumped storage facility because they were afraid it would hurt their views. Not much has changed in 50 years.


Fans of state intervention in the economy — call them government creationists — insist on giving as much power as possible to an all-wise, all-powerful daddy figure whom they elect to, for instance, “fix” climate change or health care with a top-down agenda restricting innovation and imposing ever-more regulations. Their enemy is experimentation, incremental change — evolution.

Their intelligent designs turn out to be incredibly stupid in practice, and for their failures the central planners expect to be rewarded with more and more power. As British politician Douglas Carswell says in “The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy,” planners “consistently underrate the importance of spontaneous, organic arrangements and fail to recognize that the best plan is often not to have one.”*

Plus this:

The Internet is a similar story; Al Gore and Barack Obama brag that the government created it. The truth is that it wasn’t until government got out of the way that what was once the Arpanet, a Pentagon creation, evolved into the Internet. “If you really want to see the Arpanet as the origin of the Internet,” Ridley asks, “please explain why the government sat on it for 30 years and did almost nothing with it until it was effectively privatized in the 1990s, with explosive results.”

Until 1989, the government actually prohibited Arpanet from being used for private or commercial ends. Ridley quotes a handbook distributed to MIT users of the Arpanet that read, in the 1980s, “sending electronic messages over the Arpanet for commercial profit or political purposes is both antisocial and illegal.”

Read the whole thing.

* So the benefits of dynamism over stasim, to coin a phrase.

AP BLOCKED REPORT THAT PALESTINIANS REJECTED ISRAELI STATEHOOD OFFER. In 2009, “a long-time Jerusalem reporter learned of an Israeli offer that would give a majority of the West Bank and all of Gaza—including a corridor between them—to the Palestinians. But his scoop was blocked,” as former AP man Mark Lavie writes in his article at Tablet:

In March 2009, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was interviewed in Arabic on Al-Jazeera. When I saw the MEMRI translation I immediately understood its significance: Erekat disclosed that Abbas had turned down an offer that would have given the Palestinians a state in almost all of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and parts of Jerusalem. Then I found out about the map. No one else had the story.

Excited about this scoop, I raced into my bureau chief’s office at the AP in Jerusalem. Imagine my shock when I was told it’s not a story—and I was banned from writing about it. It just couldn’t be a legitimate story, in line with the new definition of journalism.

The profession I joined in the 1960s wasn’t about helping anyone. It was about reporting and explaining the news. This new definition of journalism, apparently requires choosing sides. This became clear to me as long ago as 1988, at the beginning of the First Intifada, when I saw a reporter jump out of her car in the middle of a Gaza riot and shout at the Palestinians throwing rocks at the vehicle: “Why are you doing this? I’m trying to help you!” Like most Western media sources, she wanted to frame the uprising—the Palestinians as people—as helpless victims, to pillory the Israelis as the cruel oppressors. Stories that didn’t fit that framework had a hard time seeing the light of day. Even a peace offer.

So, naturally, despite the fact that Israel offered the Palestinians a state twice—in 2000 and 2008—the world saw Israel as the intransigent side. The 2008 proposal was largely unreported in world media.


DON’T DISTURB THE LEFT’S NARRATIVE WITH REALITY: Top Political Donors: SEIU #1, Koch Brothers #49.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: If Billionaires are an Indicator, Going to a Top College Doesn’t Really Matter.

DANIELE STRUPPA: Beware The Slippery Slope Of Censorship. “Academia, once so fiercely supportive of free speech and against any form of censorship, is now beginning to question its value. Some, in fact, are proposing to put explicit limits on it.” A cynic might say that academia became fiercely supportive of free speech when such a stance was useful to protect leftists within its ranks, and lost interest in free speech once the leftists took control.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Four Tough Things Universities Should Do To Rein In Costs.

Universities in the United States are the best in the world, but the cost of attending them is rising faster than the cost of almost anything else. Professors blame administrative bloat, administrators blame a decline in state funding, politicians blame unproductive faculties who’ve become too set in their ways.

Yet while students are paying more, they are getting less, at least as measured by learning outcomes, intellectual engagement, time with professors and graduation rates. And although students are working more hours at outside jobs and receiving more tuition assistance, student debt now exceeds credit card debt and has become something of a national obsession.

So you would expect universities to have embarked on the fundamental restructuring that nearly every other sector has done to reduce costs and improve quality. They haven’t. Oh, yes, pay and hiring have been frozen, travel budgets cut, secretaries eliminated and class sizes increased, even as cheaper graduate students and adjunct professors have been hired to teach more. Everything has been done that can be done — except changing the traditions, rhythms and prerogatives of academic life.

“There is a cultural aversion to thinking about cost,” explains Carol Twigg, president of the National Center for Academic Transformation, who for more than 15 years has run successful pilot projects in course redesign that have significantly cut instructional costs while improving student outcomes at scores of universities.

Do tell.

Related: Michael Barone: Republicans need to think about cutting public sector jobs and universities’ administrative bloat.

Also: The shame of the campuses: Lying administrators.

IT TURNS OUT THAT CAR DEALERS aren’t all that enthusiastic about selling electric cars. “Industry insiders and those who follow the business closely say that dealers may also be worrying about their bottom lines. They assert that electric vehicles do not offer dealers the same profits as gas-powered cars. They take more time to sell because of the explaining required, which hurts overall sales and commissions. Electric vehicles also may require less maintenance, undermining the biggest source of dealer profits — their service departments.”


A TIMELY REMINDER: Amazon Carries Shooting Supplies.

IT’S NICE TO BE MENTIONED IN ARS TECHNICA: Could The Third Amendment Be Used To Fight The Surveillance State?

The article links one of my USA Today columns, but I have a more extensive treatment in this piece from the Tennessee Law Review’s Third Amendment symposium.


THEY TOLD ME IF WE RE-ELECTED BARACK OBAMA, SHARIA LAW WOULD GOVERN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Univ. of Missouri prof arrested for dragging hijab-less teenage girl by the hair. “Youssif Zaghwani Omar, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse this past week for ‘allegedly grabbing a 14-year-old female relative by the hair and dragging her into a car after he noticed she wasn’t wearing a hijab.’ Omar was at a local high school when he saw the girl without the Muslim headscarf.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Gaming Out The Holidays, and Why You Should Think Hard Before Doing It:”

So, you want to run a holiday-themed adventure for your tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) campaign.  Let’s skip ahead: yes, you really want to run one. No, you don’t care that they’re usually contrived and heavy-handed attempts to run a joke into the ground. Alas, you don’t have any other ideas right now — or, worse, you have this one killer idea, and you’re all agog to make your vision a reality.  Have I summed it up properly?

OK, So… this is going to happen, then.  Well, let’s see if we can mitigate the damage:

From Moe Lane at PJ Lifestyle blog. And yes, given the headline, I had fun putting together the Photoshop to accompany it:


IN THE MAIL: From Lois McMaster Bujold, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

Plus, today only at Amazon: iRobot Roomba 780 Vacuum Cleaning Robot for Pets and Allergies, $369 (38% off).

And, also today only: 75% or More Off Winter Coats & Jackets.

Plus: Amazon Echo: Only $149.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 934.


As the administrative state distorts the United States’ constitutional architecture, Clarence Thomas becomes America’s indispensable constitutionalist. Now in his 25th year on the Supreme Court, he is urging the judicial branch to limit the legislative branch’s practice of delegating its power to the executive branch.

In four opinions in 112 days between March 9 and June 29, Thomas indicted the increasing incoherence of the court’s separation of powers jurisprudence. This subject is central to today’s argument between constitutionalists and progressives. The former favor and the latter oppose holding Congress to its responsibilities and restricting executive discretion.

“The Constitution,” Thomas notes in Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads, “does not vest the federal government with an undifferentiated ‘governmental power.’ ” It vests three distinguishable types of power in three different branches. The court, Thomas says, has the “judicial duty” to enforce the vesting clauses as absolute and exclusive by policing the branches’ boundaries.

Particularly, it should prevent Congress from delegating to executive agencies the essentially legislative power of formulating “generally applicable rules of private conduct.” Such delegation, Thomas says, erases the distinction between “the making of law, and putting it into effect.” This occurs when Congress — hyperactive, overextended and too busy for specificity — delegates “policy determinations” that “effectively permit the President to define some or all of the content” of a rule of conduct.

Today, if Congress provides “a minimal degree of specificity” in the instructions it gives to the executive, the court, Thomas says, abandons “all pretense of enforcing a qualitative distinction between legislative and executive power.” As a result, the court has “overseen and sanctioned the growth of an administrative system that concentrates the power to make laws and the power to enforce them in the hands of a vast and unaccountable administrative apparatus that finds no comfortable home in our constitutional structure.”

Yes, the judicial abdication has been stunning.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Walter Olson: Some Highlights Of The Student Campus Demands.

AT AMAZON, deals galore in the Holiday Gift Guide.

And there are fresh “lightning deals” every hour, so keep checking!

HOW’S THAT WHOLE “ARAB SPRING” WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? Ross Douthat compares Syria with Spain in the 1930s.

PETER THIEL: If You’re Serious About The Environment, You Need To Back Nuclear Power.

The single most important action we can take is thawing a nuclear energy policy that keeps our technology frozen in time. If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power, so the choice is stark: We can keep on merely talking about a carbon-free world, or we can go ahead and create one.

We already know that today’s energy sources cannot sustain a future we want to live in. This is most obvious in poor countries, where billions dream of living like Americans. The easiest way to satisfy this demand for a better life has been to burn more coal: In the past decade alone, China added more coal-burning capacity than America has ever had. But even though average Indians and Chinese use less than 30 percent as much electricity as Americans, the air they breathe is far worse. They deserve a third option besides dire poverty or dirty skies. . . .

What’s especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie “The China Syndrome,” about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled. If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago.

The anti-nuclear movement was put together by Tom Hayden et al. in the 1970s as a means of keeping the Vietnam-protest infrastructure alive. It was a very expensive choice for America, but what did they care? They were externalizing costs and internalizing benefits, just like the polluters they purported to despise.

JAZZ SHAW: What to Do About Guns and the Mentally Ill?

LOVING BIG BROTHER: Occidental Professors Voting to Give Students Power to Report Them for Microaggressions.

ON CAMPUS, A CLIMATE OF FEAR: Student publication Mocks ‘Safe Spaces’ And Gets Targeted for Defunding.


Don’t worry, I’m sure they don’t mean it — and “unexpectedly,” neither does AP.

NOBODY TELL NOTORIOUS ROBOPHOBE MATT YGLESIAS: The ‘world’s sexiest robot’ revealed: Eerily life-like female android turns heads in China.

RATHERGATE: Hollywood Trying to Rewrite History Again.

DAN MCLAUGHLIN: The Myth of “4 Million Conservative Voters Stayed Home in 2012.″

To the extent that any of these analyses are based on the proposition that Romney got millions fewer votes than McCain, they are provably wrong. What happened is pretty simple: some states and localities take longer to count the votes than others – some big cities are notorious for this, some count absentee ballots slowly, California traditionally counts very slowly, and some of the jurisdictions hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were understandably slow getting finalized. But the final numbers are not what was originally available in the immediate aftermath of the election:

In 2004, George W. Bush got 62,039,572 votes vs 59,027,115 for John Kerry.

In 2008, John McCain got 59,950,323 votes vs 69,499,428 for Barack Obama – in other words, McCain lost about 2 million votes from what Bush had received, while Obama gained over 10 million vs Kerry’s total.

In 2012, Mitt Romney got 60,934,407 votes vs 65,918,507 for Obama – a million more votes for Romney than McCain, and 3.5 million fewer for Obama (but still up around 6 million compared to Kerry).

Presumably, some of Bush’s voters in 2004 stayed home in 2008 and 2012, while others switched to Obama or one of many minor third party candidates. But even if we compare Romney to Bush, he’s off by only a little over a million votes, not such an enormous number in an electorate of around 130 million people. And exit polling doesn’t really support the notion that self-identified conservatives were noticeably missing. . . .

So, the cavalry isn’t coming. The number of people who voted for a past Republican presidential candidate and not for Mitt Romney likely isn’t be much above the 1 million to 1.5 million range, not enough by itself to cover the distance between Romney and Obama, and the missing stay-at-home voters did not appreciably cut into the proportion of voters who think of themselves as “conservatives.”

But this doesn’t mean the electorate really is static, or that there’s no opportunity to improve on it. What it means is that the missing potential Republican voters are mostly people who have not been regular voters in the recent past, and many of them may not be politically engaged people who think of themselves as conservatives, whether or not their actual beliefs are.

Read the whole thing.

MY FRIEND BLAKE POWERS IS HAVING A BLACK FRIDAY SALE: Flight of the Fantasy is 99c; Slaughterhouse is free; and A Different View, with an introduction by yours truly is also 99c

PROBABLY A COMET: Alien megastructure? Nothing to see around formerly weird star, scientists say.  Yes, Yes, I know.
awiensHappy now?

IT’S MY BACKUP IF SMOD FAILS US AGAIN: CERN’s Large Hadron Collider hits 1-PeV milestone with heavy ions (and re-ignites doomsday talk).

BUT WHAT SOUND DOES GRASS MAKE AS IT GROWS: A Graphene Microphone Could Pick Up Sounds Far Beyond the Limits of Human Hearing.

SO IT’S NOT FOR SEX: What is it for? Why Are Tarantulas Blue?

INSOMNIA THEATER (FIREFLY EDITION): I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving! As a celebration of the holidays, today’s post features a fun blast from the past: legendary author Neil Gaiman takes a look at an absurd case at the University of Wisconsin – Stout that combined two of my passions—freedom of speech and the beloved, yet short-lived sci-fi series Firefly.

Back in 2011, UW-Stout tried to censor the posters Professor James Miller had put on his office door, including one featuring a quote from Firefly. Stout stood by its actions until FIRE’s advocacy campaign on Miller’s behalf inspired Gaiman, along with Firefly actors Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, to take to Twitter to encourage their millions of followers to contact the university with their support of free speech.

You can check out the video below, as well as my write-up of the whole Stout-Firefly debacle over at The Huffington Post.

FASTER PLEASE: Super-Strong Diamond Nanothread Has People Dreaming Of A Space Elevator.

WHY NOT RUBBER DUCKS: The internet has united to photoshop Isis fighters as rubber ducks.

IT’S NOT THE TOOL, IT’S THE ART: Man doesn’t want to waste money on software, creates brilliant illustrations on Excel instead.

AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY MY DESK HAS A HEAD-SHAPED DENT: The Week in Pictures: Climate Terror Edition.

IT’S SANITY THAT WOULD SURPRISE ME: Prepare to Be Blindsided in 2016.

THEY’LL BURN THEIR FINGERS: Feds finding ways to grab control of Internet.

UH OH.  WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO: Short of developing bi-location, of course. Sitting further away from your boss makes you a better worker, study suggests.

PURSUING THE ELUSIVE WILL: Shakespeare’s kitchen discovered in dig.

BARONESS MUNCHAUSEN CLINTON: Hillary Clinton’s million little lies.


November 28, 2015

WHY A DUCK? Why the internet is putting rubber ducks on heads of Isil fighters.

AT AMAZON, trade in your used Video Games.

ASHE SCHOW: Thanksgiving Dinner With the 2016 Presidential Candidates.

BUT THAT WOULD MEAN GIVING UP ON SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT AND SELF-IMPORTANCE AND CONTROL OVER OTHERS: The Food Cops and Their Ever-Changing Menu of Taboos; After decades of failure, maybe government should get out of the business of giving dietary advice.

With the release of the eighth edition of the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines expected by year’s end, it seems reasonable to consider—with the “obesity plague” upon us and Americans arguably less healthy than ever before—whether the guidelines are to be trusted and even whether they have done more harm than good.

Many Americans have lost trust in the science behind the guidelines since they seem to change dramatically every five years. In February, for example, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee declared that certain fats and eggs are no longer the enemy and that cholesterol is “not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” This, after decades of advising Americans to “watch their cholesterol.”

Such controversy is nothing new. U.S. Dietary Guidelines were first released by the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services in 1980. One nutrition expert at the time, Edward “Pete” Ahrens, a groundbreaking researcher on fat and cholesterol metabolism, called the guidelines “a nutritional experiment with the American public as subjects . . . treating them like a homogeneous group of Sprague-Dawley rats.”

The original goals were to: 1) increase Americans’ carbohydrate consumption to 55%-60% of caloric intake; 2) reduce fat consumption to less than 30% from 40% of caloric intake; 3) reduce saturated fat to 10% of calories and increase poly- and monounsaturated fats each to 10% of calories; 4) reduce cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams a day; 5) reduce sugar intake by 40%; and 6) reduce salt consumption by 50%-80%.

These six goals, viewed in the context of what we know today, could hardly be more misdirected.

If only we could hold them liable the way we would if they were pharmaceutical companies that produced similarly defective and harmful products.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S hypocrisy on Syria. “In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency promising that he would heal our political divisions. Instead, Mr. Obama has been as polarizing as any president in the history of modern polling. The debate over the Syrian refugee crisis illustrates why.”

AT AMAZON, gifts for the Grill Master.

Plus, Family Games.

OKLAHOMA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University! “If you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.”

BRENDAN O’NEILL: It’s Time To End The Domestic Imperialism Of The Welfare State.

Welfarism should be radically rethought not in order to save a few billion quid but in order to reverse the state’s spread into communities and to repair the self-belief and independence of working-class and poorer sections of society.

Both the right and left are failing on welfarism. The right ought to oppose it in the name of shrinking state interventionism. And the left ought to oppose it for the reason that many working-class institutions did oppose it when it was first being developed in the early twentieth century: because it makes people unproductive, and rips them from the society they live in, and because we should have full employment not paternalistic handouts.

The end result of this right/left failure is acquiescence to the rise of a new feudalism: millions of middle-class people employed by the state to look after millions of poor people. It is a scandal. It is domestic imperialism.

And, like the old-fashioned variety of imperialism, it provides employment for the unimpressive offspring of the gentry, as well as splendid opportunities for graft.

KATHLEEN PARKER: Trump is the Personification of America’s Vices.

Funny, that’s what many of us were saying about the candidate Parker endorsed in 2008 after years of posing as a conservative.

THE 21st CENTURY ISN’T TURNING OUT AS I’D EXPECTED: People having sex with horses is on the rise in Switzerland.


TRIBALISM IS NOT SCIENCE. SO YEAH. ‘I was tossed out of the tribe’: climate scientist Judith Curry interviewed.

I EXPECT THESE CALLS TO GROW LOUDER — AND, POSSIBLY, TO COME FROM OUTSIDE OF GERMANY AS WELL: Leader of German anti-immigrant party calls on Merkel to resign.

WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES IN ORDER TO LIVE: At City Journal, Ian Penman reviews a new biography of Joan Didion that isn’t quite up to its subject; Penman’s own profile of Didion is a great read, though:

If Didion possessed a quieter sensibility, it would be a mistake to peg it as a more defiantly “feminine”—or even feminist—one. Friends in liberal circles were delighted when she sent up “pretty” Nancy Reagan; less pleased when she did the same thing with some of the more starry-eyed avatars of the Women’s Liberation movement. She already had a sharp eye (and ear) for the little fudges and blind spots in ideological syntax on both sides of the street. As a working mother herself, she naturally saw the need for certain pragmatic political demands, but she talked also of “the coarsening of moral imagination to which . . . social idealism so often leads.” She seemed ill at ease with the all-or-nothing verities of an emergent identity politics: “The idea that fiction has certain irreducible ambiguities seemed never to occur to these women, nor should it have, for fiction is in most ways hostile to ideology.” And while it’s probably fair to say that she was never going to run for, or place, in any kind of Republican Mom-of-the-Year contest, she could offer scathing put-downs of her own gilded social circle: “[t]he public life of liberal Hollywood comprises a kind of dictatorship of good intentions, a social contract in which actual and irreconcilable disagreement is as taboo as failure or bad teeth, a climate devoid of irony.”

She certainly had Woody Allen’s number in the late 1970s; while most critics were dazzled by Manhattan’s gorgeous black and white cinematography and Gershwin score, Didion was astute enough to write:

This notion of oneself as a kind of continuing career — something to work at, work on, “make an effort” for and subject to an hour a day of emotional Nautilus training, all in the interests not of attaining grace but of improving one’s “relationships” — is fairly recent in the world, at least in the world not inhabited entirely by adolescents. In fact the paradigm for the action in these recent Woody Allen movies is high school. The characters in Manhattan and Annie Hall and Interiors are, with one exception, presented as adults, as sentient men and women in the most productive years of their lives, but their concerns and conversations are those of clever children, “class brains,” acting out a yearbook fantasy of adult life. (The one exception is “Tracy,” the Mariel Hemingway part in Manhattan, another kind of adolescent fantasy. Tracy actually is a high-school senior, at the Dalton School, and has perfect skin, perfect wisdom, perfect sex, and no visible family.

Tracy’s mother and father are covered in a single line: they are said to be in London, finding Tracy an apartment. When Tracy wants to go to JFK she calls a limo. Tracy put me in mind of an American-International Pictures executive who once advised me, by way of pointing out the absence of adult characters in AIP beach movies, that nobody ever paid $3 to see a parent.)

These faux adults of Woody Allen’s have dinner at Elaine’s, and argue art versus ethics. They share sodas, and wonder “what love is.” They have “interesting” occupations, none of which intrudes in any serious way on their dating. Many characters in these pictures “write,” usually on tape recorders. In Manhattan, Woody Allen quits his job as a television writer and is later seen dictating an “idea” for a short story, an idea which, I am afraid, is also the “idea” for the picture itself: “People in Manhattan are constantly creating these real unnecessary neurotic problems for themselves that keep them from dealing with more terrifying unsolvable problems about the universe.”

And the grownups would be in short supply ever since.

(By the way, fans of Virginia Postrel’s The Power of Glamour will find much to appreciate in Penman’s discussion of the timeless semiotics of the photo that accompanies his review.)

CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE: Late Thanksgiving night, I watched a surprisingly enjoyable documentary recently added to Netflix titled William Shatner Presents: Chaos On The Bridge, in which a curiously subdued Shatner* interviews the cast and many of the surviving — and still battle-scarred production team members of Star Trek: The Next Generation, to explain why the show was so cringe-worthy in its first two seasons. I started to write a post on it for Instapundit last night, then decided that given its length, it would be more suitable at Ed — please beam over** and read the whole thing.

* Because Shatner himself has to have some amazing stories about butting heads with Roddenberry and discovering in 1986 that he wouldn’t be starring in its first spin-off TV series.

** Sorry — but I really let my inner Trekkie out in the actual post.

FALLEN ANGELS WAS JUST A SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL, RIGHT GUYS? RIGHT? GUYS? Obama Sees Need for More US Icebreakers: Former Coast Guard Commandant.

(Via James Taranto.)