URLs du Jour

2018-06-21

[Amazon Link]

  • Hey, how's your summer going so far?

  • Proverbs 11:4 is a little ominous:

    4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
        but righteousness delivers from death.

    And don't we seem to be living in the "day of wrath" every damned day? I mean, check the news, if you can stand to do so.

    Still, wealth is not currently worthless—I just checked—so I assume things could get (even) worse, wrathwise.

    Which allows me to plug Pun Salad's choice for Best Movie of 1982 as our Amazon Product du Jour.


  • We have a (slight) theme today: what you can and can't say on Twitter. At the Federalist, Jon Del Arroz unintentionally discovered a thing you can't say: After I Said Transgenderism Is A Mental Illness, Twitter Blocked My Account

    Recently I logged into my account after a robust debate with a friend, only to find my Twitter account had been suspended. I had merely stated “transgendered people are mentally ill by definition” in a civil conversation about gender identity.

    Twitter’s response said I was violating their “rules against hateful conduct.” That was further defined as “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

    As usual, I'll revert to my mild Szaszianism: the concept of "mental illness" is deeply flawed. It was invented, in part, to relieve certain oddly-behaving people from moral stigma. If you're sick, it's not your fault. From a transgender point of view, that's a good thing.

    But it also implies dysfunction and the possibility of cure. And that's unacceptable for transgenderists, of course.

    I've become more convinced that someday, I hope soon, people will look back on our current understanding of "mental illness" as hopeless quackery.

    Anyway…


  • OK, so gender dysphoria isn't a mental illness according to Twitter, but you know what is, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)? USA Today tells us: Video game addiction is a mental health disorder. (They hasten to add "but some health experts don't agree").

    The Geneva-based WHO said it will include "gaming disorder" in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases, which is due out this month and is used by professionals across the globe to diagnose and classify conditions. It will describe the disorder as "impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."

    Ah, but can you say that on Twitter? Try it, and tell me what happens.


  • What (apparently) you can say on Twitter, according to Nina Bookout of Victory Girls Blog: Occupy Wall Street Tweets About Killing ICE Agents And Twitter Allows It.

    The narrative regarding ILLEGAL immigration and kids supposedly being forcibly separated from their parents and locked in cages is scaling new heights of pearl clutching. Facts don’t matter to those on the left and that’s been obvious for the last few days. However, this from Occupy Wall Street is horrific on every level.

    The post in question was entitled "What to do if you encounter an ICE agent", and among the suggested instructions (with graphic cartoon): "Grab the ICE Agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust breaking through his sternum" and "Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart".

    It's no longer on Twitter, but it's unclear who removed it. It's claimed that Twitter at least initially said that it "did not violate their terms of service".


  • Our Google LFOD alert rang for a WCAX [Burlington Vermont] story: More NH police departments using license plate readers.

    Well, specifically, one more:

    The Sunapee Police Department is preparing to roll out a new license plate reader for its officers. It will be only the second department in the Granite State to have one since a new state law was passed two years ago. And while many support anything that can help keep their community safe, others say it's just another example of big government busting into people's lives.

    The other community using LPRs is apparently Lincoln.

    But where's LFOD? Ah, here it is, in a non sequitur:

    "Jjust [sic] another way to infringe on our freedoms and our rights," said John Coleman, who is against the scanners.

    New Hampshrie's [sic] state motto is "Live Free or Die," and Coleman is among those that feel the LPRs are too intrusive. "Seems kind of unnecessary. This is supposed to be a free country. There is electronic surveillance everywhere you go," he said.

    John is, as near as I can tell, just some random guy (literally) on the street that the TV reporter decided to interview.


  • And Michael Ramirez with our Editorial Cartoon du Jour: The Pawn:

    The Pawn in illegal immigration game

    [Click through to Mr. Ramirez's website for an uncropped version.]

URLs du Jour

2018-06-20

[Amazon Link]

  • We've had a couple of good Proverbs in Chapter 11, but Proverbs 11:3 returns to mediocrity:

    3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
        but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

    Not great, but (let's be generous) not awful. As the author of our Amazon Product du Jour, Dennis Prager, might point out: a broken moral compass sends one astray.


  • You can't read much social psychology without encountering the disheartening tale of psych prof Philip Zimbardo's "Stanford Prison Experiment", in which it was allegedly demonstrated that normal people off the street would, given the opportunity, turn into sadistic prison guards. Many scholars pulled their chins and drew Deep Lessons from that result.

    But 'twas not so. At Medium, Ben Blum looks at the SPE: The Lifespan of a Lie.

    The appeal of the Stanford prison experiment seems to go deeper than its scientific validity, perhaps because it tells us a story about ourselves that we desperately want to believe: that we, as individuals, cannot really be held accountable for the sometimes reprehensible things we do. As troubling as it might seem to accept Zimbardo’s fallen vision of human nature, it is also profoundly liberating. It means we’re off the hook. Our actions are determined by circumstance. Our fallibility is situational. Just as the Gospel promised to absolve us of our sins if we would only believe, the SPE offered a form of redemption tailor-made for a scientific era, and we embraced it.

    "We" here being the psychological research community. The rest of "us" were just the suckers who trusted them.


  • At NRO, Rafael A. Mangual's headline threatens a long article: Elizabeth Warren’s Criminal-Justice Illiteracy. But relax, it's just the latest example. Senator Faux is quoted, at a gathering of like-minded progressives:

    [Criminal-justice reform] starts on the front end, with the activities we criminalize — for example, low-level drug offenses. More people [are] locked up for low-level offenses on marijuana than for all violent crimes in this country. That makes no sense at all. No sense at all. [Emphasis added.]

    Comments Rafael:

    She’s right, it doesn’t make sense — because it’s not true. In fact, it’s so at odds with the publicly available data that one can only conclude that Warren is either totally unlettered on the subject or was willfully deceiving the audience.

    And which of those would be worse?


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi points out the obvious: Our Debate On Illegal Immigration Is A National Disaster.

    When emotionalism meets scaremongering, it’s difficult to have a useful debate about anything. Yet for immigration, those seem to be the two choices.

    The Trump administration has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy requiring law enforcement to prosecute illegal immigrants. Yes, the policy comports with the law. Yes, the Obama administration engaged in a similar policy on a smaller scale — and yes, the media covered it very differently.

    But, no, President Trump doesn’t “have to” temporarily break up families. He chooses to strictly implement the law, claiming, among other things, that it is a necessity in stopping gang violence. Trump officials’ inability to deal with the mess they created incompetently implementing their policy, and the public relations disaster resulting from that ineptitude, is on the administration, and no one else.

    But read on: Harsanyi notes the Democrats' cake of cynical political posturing with a thick frosting of cheap emotionalism. (Some Republicans too, of course.)


  • Mental Floss has the kind of article I am a sucker for: From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State

    There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

    It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

    Spoiler: New Hampshire's contribution to national misunderstanding is (according to Mental Floss) "X-Y-Z".

    What?

    It stands for "eXamine Your Zipper". If someone murmurs "X-Y-Z" to you in Penacook or Peterborough, they are telling you your fly is open.

    I have literally never heard that.

    Yeah, me neither.

    The linked PlayNJ article is a little more credible: it cites "bang a uey" (translation: "perform a U-turn") and "banger" (translation: "old car that you don't mind beating up"). I've heard those.


  • And, as the Babylon Bee reports, it's not all crazy news out west: New Ballot Initiative Proposes Dividing California Into Tiny Bits, Feeding It To Sharks.

    A new initiative proposing that the state of California be separated into hundreds of tiny, bite-sized pieces and then fed to sharks in the Pacific Ocean has made it onto the November ballot.

    The radical proposal claims that the whole nation would benefit from California’s decentralization and subsequent consumption by hungry oceanic predators.

    Works for me.

URLs du Jour

2018-06-19

[Amazon Link]

  • It is difficult to argue with Proverbs 11:2:

    2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
        but with humility comes wisdom.

    This is almost the famous "pride goeth before a fall". Usually, however, that bit of wisdom is credited to Proverbs 16:18. The humility recommendation is a bonus here.


  • OK, just one more P.J. O'Rourke article from American Consequences. This one's a cheer: Who Do We Appreciate? The Electoral College.

    The operation of the Electoral College is complicated, but the effect is simple: It gives the parts of America with a thin head-count more say over who becomes president than they would have if only thick heads were counted.

    However, before we discuss whether this is a good thing or a bad thing (although it’s obviously a good thing), let us first not discuss the 2016 presidential election.

    While it’s true that a certain person – who insists on repeatedly, constantly, endlessly reminding us – won the “popular vote” (or not quite, since she got 48.2%), it’s also true that she was, as it were, trumped by another person in the Electoral College, 304 to 227.

    BUT… The two of them knew the rules and campaigned accordingly. If they had been running to gain a majority of the popular vote instead of a majority of the Electoral College vote, they would have conducted different campaigns. Worse campaigns. Campaigns aimed at the lowest common denominator of voters – at the masses, the mob.

    The winner-take-all feature of electoral college votes isn't exactly "fair". Example: in New Hampshire, Hillary beat Trump 47.62% to 47.25%, less than 3K votes out of 743K cast. But Hillary got all four electoral college votes from the state. Hence, the 52.38% of voters who didn't vote for her… got nothing for that effort.

    Not that it matters, but while I was looking that up, I discovered that Reform Party candidate Rocky De La Fuente got 677 votes here, good enough for sixth place (behind Hillary, Trump, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and write-in Evan McMullin).

    This year, Rocky—I am not making this up—"filed as a candidate for US Senate in the 2018 elections in seven states, and remains in the running in six." (Specifically: Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming.) Interesting! What would happen if he won more than one?


  • Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO about Asymmetrical Capitalism.

    I have for many years argued that most people would be enthusiastic about capitalism if not for their interactions with a small number of businesses that unfortunately occupy critical positions in the everyday economy: banks and credit-card companies, insurance companies, cable providers, airlines, and a few others. Most of those companies have a few things in common. They tend to be located in industries that are heavily regulated, which leads to consolidation and weak competition. They generally are located at choke points, meaning that many people in the ordinary course of affairs are obliged to do business with them in order to simply get on with their lives. And they often are located at the intersection of big government and financial services. And in almost all cases, they put consumers on the losing end of an asymmetrical relationship.

    Here’s what I mean by asymmetrical: If I’m at Walmart and I’m told there’s going to be a six-hour delay at check-out, I flip the metaphorical bird to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, drop my purchases where I stand, and mosey on down the road to Target or AutoZone or Academy or whichever store it is that has what I want. Walmart and I have the right kind of free-market relationship, because we both have the power of exit: It’s easy for Walmart to say “No” if I want the company to start stocking Armani or to cut the price of bananas by 20 percent, and it’s easy for me to walk away if Walmart isn’t giving me what I want at a price I like. That’s why companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s — and other firms in markets that have lots of buyers and lots of sellers making lots of transactions — cannot simply raise prices or unilaterally set terms.

    Spoiler: KDW suggests that the odds be evened somewhat by giving consumers more power of exit.


  • You might have heard about it. Or maybe not: The Mass Shooting Nobody Will March Against. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air:

    In the pre-dawn hours yesterday [June 17], the nation experienced yet another mass shooting. One dead, 22 injured, including a 13-year-old boy. It took place at the crowded Art All Night Trenton festival in New Jersey. To their limited credit, a couple of cable news outlets mentioned the shooting in their coverage yesterday and this morning. The New York Times wrote a rather lengthy article about it, though it showed up on page A-17. It received similarly “not prominent” coverage in other major papers. The Associated Press took a fairly deep dive on it, but you need to search around a bit on their website to find it.

    Why the reluctance to wave the bloody shirt? Doesn't fit the narrative. Perps and victims were the wrong color. Weapons weren't those scary-looking ones. The dead guy had been recently released from prison, where he served 14 years of an 18-year sentence for aggravated manslaughter.


  • A bit of cheery news is related by Scott Johnson at Power Line: SPLC Hate Cult Pays Up. Specifically, $3.375 Million to the (self-described) "counter-extremism organisation" Quilliam International and its founder. From the press release:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc. has apologized to Quilliam and its founder Maajid Nawaz for wrongly naming them in its controversial Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. In a public statement, the SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, explained that “Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.”

    Can't help but wonder: How do your average SPLC contributors feel about their money being used to compensate victims of the SPLC's reckless sliming?


  • Speaking of hate cults: A recent WaPo op-ed was provocatively/wistfully titled Why Can't We Hate Men?. The author, Suzanna Danuta Walters, is "a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University".

    The wags at the College Fix took a gander at Northeastern's anti-"hate" policies, and said, hey, it could be amusing to get the college to weigh in on this. And: ‘Hate has no place here’: University responds to prof’s call to hate men. Or, mostly, doesn't respond.

    It is unclear if Waters discriminates against male students who enroll in her classes. Numerous Northeastern faculty members and officials, including Title IX coordinator Mark Jannoni and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Reached via email, campus spokeswoman Shannon Nargi emailed The College Fix a statement that simultaneously seemed to denounce Waters while defending her call for hatred as a “controversial idea.”

    “Northeastern University steadfastly supports a safe and inclusive learning and working environment in which hate has no place,” the statement reads. “The university has more than 1,000 faculty members whose viewpoints span the entire political spectrum. Consistent with our unwavering commitment to academic freedom, the opinions of an individual professor do not reflect the views of the university or its leadership.”

    Well, there you go. Can't help but think that any student-identifying-as-male enrolled in Prof Suzanna's class might be a tad concerned about fair treatment, though.

    I don't usually go to Rate My Professors, but Prof Suzanna's score is pretty dismal there (1.8, compared to 3.58 for the average Northeastern instructor). A recent comment:

    Do you want a good grade in her class? Then, agreeing with her is mandatory. It is probably the best if you just avoid taking a class from her.

    I will keep it in mind.

URLs du Jour

2018-06-18

[Amazon Link]

  • We move (backward) into a new Proverbial chapter today. Proverbs 11:1 notes that, at times, the Lord concerns Himself with the small details of life:

    1The Lord detests dishonest scales,
        but accurate weights find favor with him.

    Today, the watchful eyes of the Lord have been usurped assisted by the Office of Weights and Measures, part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (Hey, I used to live just across the street from there!)

    I have nothing but admiration for the diligent Federal employees who are no doubt doing the Lord's work in producing prose like this (from "Update for the Test Procedure for 3.13. Determining Net Contents of Compressed Gas in Cylinders"):

    The NIST Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) received an inquiry about compressed gases and legal metrology require‐ ments. Upon research and discussion with Dr. Eric Lemmon, NIST Thermophysical Properties of Fluids Group, we learned that NIST Handbook 133, “Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods,” Section 3.13. Determining the Net Contents of Compressed Gas in Cylinders test procedures did not provide an updated reference document. The current test procedure cites an obsolete NIST Technical Note 1079 (1985), “Table of Industrial Gas Container Contents and Density for Oxygen, Argon, Nitrogen, Helium, and Hydrogen.”

    Note that, unlike much of what Your Federal Government does these days, this is all quite Constitutional:

    The Congress shall have Power […] fix the Standard of Weights and Measures […]

    If only they had stuck to that.


  • P.J. O'Rourke writes on the 2018 Farm Bill, and his conclusion is: Stick a Fork in It, It’s Done.

    On May 18, the big, stupid, wildly expensive farm bill – the “Agricultural and Nutrition Act of 2018” – was voted down in the House of Representatives.

    Traditionally, a farm bill is a cozy bipartisan boondoggle. But in this case, the partisan doggles failed to cozily boon.

    Democrats refused to vote for the bill because they’re furious about its stricter work and job-training rules for Food Stamp recipients. And 30 conservative Republicans refused to vote for the bill because they’re furious about… all sorts of things… about the ridiculous spending in the bill, but also about the refusal of Democrats to compromise on immigration policy, and about other Republicans being complicit with Democratic intransigence, and…

    In short, the House of Representatives is so bitterly divided by ideology that its denizens cannot agree on even such an obvious piece of log-rolling and jobbery as the farm bill.

    The farm bill – which, with an even-handed picking of the taxpayers’ pockets – dispenses boodle, booty, and pelf to both the hopeless clodhoppers of stalwart Republicanism and the urban slobs of the Democratic base.

    The House of Representatives can’t get anything done.

    Thank goodness.

    But (as P.J. says): don't get your hopes up.


  • You may have heard that pretty damning evidence has been uncovered showing that Harvard put its learned thumb on the admissions scales to be sure they don't have too many of … those people … getting into their school. By which I mean: people of Asian descent. At NRO, Michael Brendan Dougherty calls it A Different Kind of Diversity.

    It’s been an open secret for a long time that Harvard and Yale viciously discriminate against Asian-Americans. Now it is getting even more public attention in light of a new lawsuit aimed to stop it. Harvard typically admits classes where roughly one in five students are Asian-Americans. This is done by systematically downgrading Asian-American students on the subjective portions of the admissions process. An internal review found that if Harvard only looked at academic achievement, Asian Americans would rise to 43 percent of Harvard’s class.

    Michael suggests that, instead of attempting to achieve "diversity" in exactly the same way, "elite" schools could adopt diverse (but explicit) admissions goals. While (say) Caltech just looks at raw academic achievement, Harvard could instead aim for a reasonably accurate mirror of US demographics, Yale could do … something else. And so on.

    Wouldn't matter, as long as schools were open and honest about their standards, and applied them fairly. And could get away with doing it without threats from Your Federal Government.


  • At Reason, Steve Chapman tells the sad story of How Trump's Republican Party Went Soft on Communism.

    If you had told Ronald Reagan in 1988 that in 30 years, the president of the United States would be chummy with communist dictators in China and North Korea, eager to please a brutal Kremlin autocrat, and indifferent to the needs of our military allies, he might have said: That's what you get for electing a Democrat.

    Today's Republicans make up a party he wouldn't recognize. For decades, the Russians and Chinese dispatched spies and enlisted American sympathizers to try to harm the United States and tilt its policies in their favor. Under Donald Trump, they don't have to. They have a friend in the Oval Office.

    Chapman notes that in the behavior of GOP leaders, there are weird echoes of the old CPUSA's whiplash reversals during the 1930s, to reflect whatever Stalin was doing at the time.


  • And our Tweet du Jour is from @Reverend_Scott:

    Ah, it's good to know my dog is, more or less, normal. For a dog.

URLs du Jour

2018-06-17

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:28 reassures the folks worried by death:

    28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
        along that path is immortality.

    We are told that the afterlife is rarely discussed in Jewish life, but that seems to be merely a matter of good manners on their part. Why needlessly irk the goyim?

    But speaking of paths…


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week, after extended pop-culture references, discourses about Staying on the Path.

    Staying on the path may be the most conservative concept there is. “What is conservatism?” asked Abraham Lincoln. “Is it not the adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried?” People who think conservatism is opposed to all change miss the point entirely. Paths go places. They might not get us where we want to go as fast as we would like. But the conservative is deeply skeptical of shortcuts and simple plans to save time or effort. The rationalist temptation to “out think” the simple rules — what Oakeshott called “making politics as the crow flies” — may not always lead to tyranny or oppression, but the odds that it will are too great to justify the attempt.

    The whole point of my book is that, for 250,000 years, humans wandered on the wrong paths — or without any paths at all — and then, accidentally, we stumbled through a miraculous portal that has delivered once-unimaginable prosperity and liberty. But rather than have a sense of gratitude for our good fortune, we bathe ourselves in resentment for the path we’re on and where it brought us. The rationalist progressives think they’re better cartographers and can map a better route. The hard or nostalgic nationalists want to double back to a shady bend in the road behind us. The ugly racists want to march even further backward. The sophomoric socialists are convinced that everyone should throw their kits onto the road and divvy up our wares more equitably. Others of a socialist bent are convinced that we can somehow get on a bus to the future, sparing us the effort and providing equal seating for all. The identity-politics obsessives think the path is a private road benefitting only white people or white men. But the path is for anyone willing to stay on it.

    And you know who was unwilling to stay on that path? The freakin' FBI, that's who.


  • Remember those Dos Equis ads featuring the Most Interesting Man in the World? An old acquaintance from my Usenet days, Mike Godwin, reviews the posthumous sorta-memoir from the guy who actually had a claim on that title: The Insanely Eventful Life of Grateful Dead Lyricist John Perry Barlow.

    John Perry Barlow, who died this year at age 70, was a Grateful Dead lyricist, a pioneer in the fight for online civil liberties, and possibly a mutant. As Barlow recounts in his posthumously published memoir, Mother American Night, his mother as a girl was treated for tuberculosis by a quack who administered a prolonged beam of X-rays right into her hip. Forty-five minutes of this treatment gave her radiation sickness. Her hair fell out, she suffered severe burns, and she was informed that, oops, she'd been sterilized.

    The sterilization didn't take. Two decades later, in 1947, she gave birth to John Perry Barlow. One of his X-Men superpowers seems to have been to unerringly locate centers of the American zeitgeist and discover some pivotal role he could play in them.

    I heard him speak once at a USENIX conference. His point of view was (… um …) unique and oblique. For a sample, this Washington Monthly article contains his essay "Sympathy For The Devil", on Dick Cheney:

    As I’ve mentioned, I once knew Cheney pretty well. I helped him get elected to his first public office as Wyoming’s lone congressman. I conspired with him on the right side of environmental issues. Working closely together, we were instrumental in closing down a copper smelter in Douglas, Arizona the grandfathered effluents of which were causing acid rain in Wyoming’s Wind River mountains. We were densely interactive allies in creating the Wyoming Wilderness Act. He used to go fishing on my ranch. We were friends.

    With the possible exception of Bill Gates, Dick Cheney is the smartest man I’ve ever met. If you get into a dispute with him, he will take you on a devastatingly brief tour of all the weak points in your argument. But he is a careful listener and not at all the ideologue he appears at this distance. I believe he is personally indifferent to greed. In the final analysis, this may simply be about oil, but I doubt that Dick sees it that way. I am relatively certain that he is acting in the service of principles to which he has devoted megawatts of a kind of thought that is unimpeded by sentiment or other emotional overhead.

    So I've paced Mother American Night on my TBR pile. Which just seems to be getting longer as the months and years pass, so…


  • At American Consequences, P.J. O'Rourke muses on The Coastals Versus The Heartlanders.

    They infest the metropolises of the Left Coast and the Eastern Seaboard and they swarm the atolls-of-the-trendy in between…

    You find them in Ann Arbor, Michigan… Austin, Texas… Boulder, Colorado… all the other places where the smell of pot is stronger than the smell of factory smoke, crop fertilizer, heavy equipment diesel fumes, or the sweat of hard work…

    They know all about organic, sustainable, non-GMO, pesticide-free, fair-traded, locavore, artisanal, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, and vegan. But they don’t know hay from straw…

    They are the “Coastals” – the enlightened, the progressive, the sensitive, the inclusive, the hip, the aware, the woke.

    They are also the tedious, the predictable, the arrogant…


  • And, finally, for Father's Day, Michael Ramirez draws his thoughts:

URLs du Jour

2018-06-16

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:27 is a precious puzzler:

    27 The lazy do not roast any game,
        but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

    The NIV translator notes about "roast": "The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain." Let's look at the always-amusing "Message" translation:

    27 A lazy life is an empty life, but “early to rise” gets the job done.

    I'm not sure that's right either. Let's resort to good old King James:

    27 The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.

    OK, that's fine with me. Taking it super-metaphorically: the diligent see a project through to its end, while the lazy drop off the track somewhere along the way, and wind up the poorer for it. How's that?


  • Well, you can't argue with science. Especially since: We’re all getting dumber, says science.

    Researchers at Norway’s Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research now have scientific proof of something we’ve long suspsected—we’re all getting dumber.

    In their paper, “Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused,” which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg report that IQ scores have been steadily dropping since the 1970s.

    Before you say: "Mike Judge saw this coming in Idiocracy", note that the researchers chalk the decline up to environmental factors, not that smart people are having fewer kids.

    Or my theory, that I've mentioned before: smart people leave Norway.


  • Speaking of smartness, Philip Greenspun looks at a new book: Losing the Nobel Prize (our Amazon Product du Jour). For all the current hoopla about STEM education:

    Battle is an apt metaphor for what we scientists do. There is a fierce competition that begins the day you declare yourself a physics major. First, among your fellow undergraduates, you spar for top ranking in your class. This leads to the next battle: becoming a graduate student at a top school. Then, you toil for six to eight years to earn a postdoc job at another top school. And finally, you hope, comes a coveted faculty job, which can become permanent if you are privileged enough to get tenure. Along the way, the number of peers in your group diminishes by a factor of ten at each stage, from hundreds of undergraduates to just one faculty job becoming available every few years in your field. Then the competition really begins, for you compete against fellow gladiators honed in battle just as you are. You compete for the scarcest resource in science: money. Surprisingly, not by brains alone does science progress; funding is its true lifeblood. Cosmology’s primary funding agency is the National Science Foundation. But the NSF proposal success rate is currently only about 20%, across all fields of physics and math: the lowest it has been in over a decade.

    As a onetime physics major myself, I stepped off that treadmill about ten years after I got on it. It didn't seem like a wise decision at the time, just a realistic one, but things basically worked themselves out.

    But this makes today's Proverb … whoa, kind of harsh, dude.


  • At Reason, David Harsanyi notes Trump's Awful Embrace of 'Fair Trade'.

    "Fair trade," once used predominately by progressives, is a neologism without meaning. It allows a person to oppose complex agreements for a litany of reasons. The word "fair" is elastic and ambiguous, which is why it's so popular with adolescents.

    The billions of people in developing nations who work tedious menial labor jobs probably don't find it "fair" that Americans use the savings we gain from their work to build our unprecedented wealth. Is it fair that some countries sit atop vast amounts of fossil fuels or prime farmlands while others sit on arid or barren land?

    Let's hope trade doesn't get "fair" for us any time soon.

    It's (grimly) amusing to see all the previous advocates of "fair" trade pirouetting to an anti-Trump-tariff position. Not too amusing to see a lot of Republicans embracing Trump's awfulness.


  • Just plain amusing is Steven Hayward's Power Line post, full of merry fun-poking at Food Justice??

    One of the central affectations of the modern left is the irrepressible practice of attaching a modifier to the noun “justice.” Apparently, seeking to achieve plain old ordinary justice is not enough, even though Plato should have taught us in The Republic that simple justice is difficult enough to attain without any special adjectives. But the left is all about “social justice” (is there such a thing as “anti-social justice”?), and, lately, “climate justice”—the phrase appears in the Paris Climate Accord. What does it mean: everyone is entitled to the same climate?

    Add to this “food justice.” Okay, maybe this could mean that everyone should be assured of basic nutrition, food being a daily necessity for all human beings. But that would be wrong, of course.

    Steven posts a picture of a slide present at a recent talk on "black veganism", which is just as mired in the bafflegab of modern identity politics as you might expect.

    If you didn't think "black veganism" was a thing, googling the term will bring you to surprising conclusion: it's a thing. A stupid thing, but still. For example, this page echoes some things seen at Power Line:

    Black veganism investigates the root and scope of colonial thought.[…]

    Black veganism forces us to consider the ways the idea of race extends beyond human bodies.[…]

    Black veganism scrutinizes how “animal characteristics” are negatively attributed to both nonhuman animals and non-whites.[…]

    Sure it does. But all this talk about food is making me hungry.


  • And the Google LFOD alert rang loudly for a local politico's announcement: Gov. Sununu files for re-election. But the LFOD deployment was reserved for NH GOP chair Jeannie Forrester's press release:

    For over a decade under Democratic Governors, our state lost sight of what Live Free or Die means by focusing on growing the burden of government not shrinking it, eliminating opportunity not increasing it, and putting the best interest of all Granite Staters last not first. Eighteen months ago Granite Staters decided the time had come to make a change and elected Governor Chris Sununu.

    True fact: Gov. Sununu won the Lydia’s House of Hope 2017 Lebanese Cook-Off:


  • And sad news for dads from the Babylon Bee for what you thought was gonna be your day tomorrow: Father’s Day Updated To ‘Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day’

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a special session called to order Friday, Congress voted unanimously to do a complete overhaul of Father’s Day, renaming the holiday “Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day” and redefining the day’s meaning to encourage citizens to heap shame and disgust on all fathers, current or potential.

    Well, shoot.

URLs du Jour

2018-06-15

[Amazon Link]

  • I am dubious of the implied causality expressed in Proverbs 12:26:

    26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
        but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

    Isn't it more likely, Mr. Proverbialist, that choosing friends poorly might lead one to wickedness, rather than the other way around?

    As we tell the kiddos: "Make good choices."


  • Kevin D. Williamson seems to have found a new (semi-permanent?) home at the Weekly Standard. His latest is an extended essay on the inconsistent rules for celebrity pariahdom: Watch What You Say. Someone Else Is. Long, but here's an excerpt that talks about an issue that's been bugging me of late:

    Consider, for example, the bubbling kulturkampf over transgender issues. To believe, as many radical feminists do, that Chelsea Manning is not a woman in the same sense that Chelsea Clinton is—or that Bradley Manning is no more a woman in that sense than Bradley Cooper is—may be controversial, but that belief alone does not place one among the infidels. What does bring out the takfiri tendency is “misgendering,” refusing to—or simply failing to—conform to the orthodox court etiquette touching these issues. The gentlemen at National Public Radio found that out the hard way when in the interest of journalistic clarity they used the name Bradley Manning in a story about Bradley Manning deciding to adopt a new name and to begin living as though he were a woman—which is to say, they used the name Bradley Manning at a time when everybody who followed the news knew who Bradley Manning was but nobody had ever heard of Chelsea Manning.

    No one seriously believes that the people who manage editorial practices at NPR have the sexual politics of Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee. And if hooked up to a polygraph machine by electrodes attached to the genitals associated with the sex assigned to them at birth, not many people would take seriously the insistence that a biologically male human being who entered this vale of tears capable of fathering children becomes a woman in the same sense as a biologically female person who walks this Earth capable of bearing and nursing children simply because we monkey around with a few pronouns and call the result a “trans woman.” Much of the social tension associated with gender dysphoria could be managed with such old-fashioned bourgeois values as kindness and liberality rather than the carefully cultivated group psychosis currently prescribed. But bourgeois values are unfashionable to speak about, especially among those who profit most handsomely by living in accord with them. Some of that is homeopathic magic straight out of The Golden Bough, but more of it is etiquette obsession straight out of Versailles.

    Watch what you say: Someone is.

    Helpfully defined: "A takfiri is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy—of being impure."


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi (a straight-shooter in my book) lists 3 Takeaways From The IG Report That Seriously Undermine The FBI’s Credibility. Only three? Commenting on the now-famed Strzok→Page "We'll stop it" text:

    According to the IG, Strzok claims he doesn’t remember sending the text, BUT he also somehow remembers that text was “intended to reassure Page that Trump would not be elected, not to suggest that he would do something to impact the investigation.”

    Now, texts don’t necessarily prove an agent acted unprofessionally. Maybe Strozk was showing off to his lover. Maybe Strozk was blowing off steam. But if a law enforcement agent charged with scrutinizing your business says he’s going to “stop you” — on top of dozens of other statements demonstrated high levels of prejudice, including one self-righteous exchange where he praises himself for being in a position to stop the Trump “menace” — would you consider that person professionally unbiased? There’s no reasonable argument that can guarantee that this agent’s work was uncontaminated by his animosity for Trump.

    Somewhere, someone is wondering: in these hyper-politicized times, how do you trust any branch of the government to investigate possible wrongdoing by government officials or political candidates?


  • At Cato, Trevor Burrus asks the burning question: Did Minnesota Lose Their Free Speech Case at Oral Argument?

    In a 7-2 decision today, the Supreme Court struck down Minnesota’s blanket ban on wearing anything with a political insignia at a polling place. Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion agreed with many parts of Cato’s brief, particularly regarding the inherent unworkability of such a broad ban on political speech. The decision is a small but important victory for free speech.

    In highlighting the unpredictability of the what counts as “political,” Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion cites one moment from oral argument that Supreme Court observers found particularly telling. When asked by Justice Alito whether the law would ban a shirt with the text of the Second Amendment, Daniel Rogan, counsel for Minnesota, said “I think that that could be viewed as political.” Alito then immediately asked whether the same would be true of a shirt with the text of the First Amendment. Observers in the courtroom laughed, and Rogan said “no your honor, I don’t think the First Amendment,” only to be interrupted by the Chief Justice, “No what, that it would be covered or wouldn’t be allowed?,” Roberts asked. “It would be allowed,” replied Rogan, but the Chief Justice seemed surprised, “it would be?,” he asked.

    I am somewhat surprised that the decision wasn't 9-0, but the Unwise Latina, joined by Justice Breyer, couldn't find anything wrong with Minnesota's selective dress codes.

    The relevant New Hampshire law, in case you're wondering:

    No person shall distribute, wear, or post at a polling place any campaign material in the form of a poster, card, handbill, placard, picture, pin, sticker, circular, or article of clothing which is intended to influence the action of the voter within the building where the election is being held.

    Order our Amazon Product du Jour to test the Constitutional waters at your polling place. (NH Primary coming up on September 11.)


  • Jeff Jacoby has some advice, and that is to Leave Google alone. A sample:

    Google gives away its foremost product, Internet search, for free. Ditto most of its hundreds of other products, from Gmail to Translate to Google Earth to Waze. It plowed $14 billion into R&D last year, more than any company in America except Amazon. Of the brands Americans love most, according to Morning Consult's authoritative polling, Google is number one.

    Yes, Google's left-wing bias can be obnoxious. But to target a private corporation because of its politics is something no conservative should favor. This conservative certainly doesn't.

    As Jacoby points out, the tech landscape is littered with the barely-twitching remnants of former dominant players: AOL, Yahoo, MySpace,… Is Google somehow immune from humbling competitive forces? Hey, maybe. But that's not the way to bet.


  • And our close personal friend, Dave Barry, writes an early Father's Day column: On Father's Day, don't forget the soccer dads — or their 'warrior' daughters.

    This Father’s Day I want to sing the praises of soccer dads. I am one. My daughter, Sophie, started playing youth soccer 14 years ago, when she was 4 years old and roughly the same height as the more mature dandelions on the field. Back then my primary responsibility as a soccer dad was to stand on the sideline with the other parents and shout “Sophie, kick the ball!” several hundred times per game.

    Not that it helped. Sophie went two solid years without ever kicking the ball. You think I’m exaggerating, but I am not. Sophie has always been a cautious, meticulous person; she hates to do the wrong thing. Even at age 4, she was afraid that, if she kicked the ball, she might kick it in the wrong direction (not that there really is a “wrong direction” in 4-year-old soccer). Sophie’s strategy back then was to hover near the ball, frowning at it with concern, but to leave the actual, physical kicking of the ball up to the other players.

    Dave is noted for his weird, one could say un-American, love for soccer. But we forgive him.


Last Modified 2018-06-15 7:03 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2018-06-14

[Amazon Link]

  • A small note on our Amazon Product du Jour: the seller seems to think this is a pro gun control message. In which case we'll classify it as "unintended honesty".

  • Proverbs 12:25 isn't very profound:

    25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
        but a kind word cheers it up.

    … a sweet fortune cookie, undeniably true.


  • At NRO, Joseph Siegel shares my distaste for the increasing invocation of "common sense" in national debates: Parkland and the Trouble with Appealing to ‘Common Sense’

    Since the shooting in Parkland, Fla., gun-control advocates have escalated the vitriol in an already polarized political climate. These activists publicly berated Marco Rubio at a good-faith debate and brandished $1.05 price-tag stickers: allegedly the value of a Florida student’s life in NRA contributions. Abetted by the media, they essentially claim that Republican legislators all know that we could eliminate school shootings, but choose to do nothing because the NRA is so deep in their pockets — or because they simply do not care enough about kids being shot in class.

    After Parkland, Barack Obama also shared his thoughts, once again calling for “common-sense gun safety laws” on Twitter. While Obama’s favored policies certainly lack sense, it is the rhetoric of his pet phrase, now widely assimilated into the gun debate, that has committed the greatest harm, toxifying our discourse to its current post-Parkland state.

    I speculate that usually "common sense" is used simply because it focus-groups well. And it only indicates that "common sense" advocates are happy to insult the intelligence of their listening audience. "You can be persuaded by meaningless feelgood question-begging phraseology."

    But Joseph is right that it implies the venality of your opponents: if you're not in favor of "common sense", you are obviously operating in bad faith and in the employ of the evildoers.


  • At Reason, Veronique de Rugy laments Trump’s Economic Ignorance on Tariffs. (I know: longest article ever written, amirite? But trust me, it's short.)

    Another week, another bumbling trade declaration from President Donald Trump. After a very confrontational G-7 meeting, he threatened to cut all member countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom—off from the U.S. market if they don't reduce their tariffs on American exports. He told the press, "It's going to stop, or we'll stop trading with them."

    As a reminder, this whole drama started when President Trump imposed stiff steel and aluminum tariffs on everyone, including our closest trading partners, friends, and security allies. Adding insult to injury, he argued that imports from these friendly countries are a security threat to the United States, even though the Department of Defense said they are not.

    Could we please have some small symbolic concessions that might persuade Trump to declare trade-war victory and bring the troops home restore (at least) the status quo ante?


  • But at International Liberty, Daniel J. Mitchell is encouraged by some Trumpian rhetoric, that the G-7 countries mutually remove all tariffs: Trump’s Zero-Tariff Proposal: Throwaway Line or Serious Offer?

    Let’s treat Trump’s statement as a serious offer. Or as something that could evolve into a serious offer.

    And I’ll start by observing that mutual disarmament on trade among G7 countries would be good for America, especially from a Trump-ish perspective. That’s because the U.S. currently is slightly better on trade according to the Fraser Institute’s measures of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, so other G7 countries would have to do more if we had complete trade liberalization.

    Dan has interesting numbers at the link.


  • Are you looking for some theory that might explain our country's mass psychosis? Aren't we all? Well, bunkie, Megan McArdle has tracked one down for you: The game theory that explains our country’s mass psychosis. For example, Robert De Niro's recent Tony awards outburst.

    When a successful man in his 70s is screaming profanities at another septuagenarian, to wild applause, it seems safe to say the whole country has lost its bloody mind.

    Two things about this bout of madness are striking. The first is that not just celebrities but ordinary adults as well have started to make public displays that would have horrified them a few years back — and yet they are still outraged when the other side throws a similar tantrum. The second is that everyone defends this behavior as having been made necessary by the appalling outbursts across the aisle.

    As far as game theory goes, Megan notes the strategy is pretty basic: "tit for tat". And quotes a game theorist: “One little slip up and the cooperation of tit-for-tat unravels.”

    And we get (for another example) a Texas city councilwoman screaming at a 14-year old for wearing a pro-Trump t-shirt in a cookie store.

URLs du Jour

2018-06-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:24 sounds kind of ominous for the indolent:

    24 Diligent hands will rule,
        but laziness ends in forced labor.

    I suppose this means something like: Hard work eventually pays off. You get to be in charge! Sloth, on the other hand, results in … slavery? Sounds unpleasant. (But perhaps you could use our Amazon Product du Jour!)


  • Ronald Baily, at Reason, notes that Trump's Totally Free Trade Idea Is Really Smart.

    However, the subhed: "It's a damned shame that he doesn't seem to really believe in it."

    At the G-7 summit meeting in Quebec, President Donald Trump reportedly suggested the idea of totally free trade to the leaders of Canada, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. "Ultimately that's what you want, you want tariff free, no barriers, and you want no subsides because you have some countries subsidizing industries and that's not fair," Trump said. "So you go tariff free, you go barrier free, you go subsidy free, that's the way you learned at the Wharton School of Finance." Let's call that insight waging trade peace.

    Well, hooray! Tariffs and other trade barriers are taxes on consumers and protections for the profits of uncompetitive corporations. So how high are tariffs now? According to the World Bank, U.S. tariffs applied to all products average about 1.6 percent. That happens to be the identical rate for Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Japan's average is 1.3 percent and Canada's is the lowest at 0.8 percent. In other words, we and our allies are well down the path toward totally free trade.

    Ron also points out that the USA loves to subsidize its agricultural sector. Will Trump throw his weight toward getting rid of those? Don't hold your breath.


  • A bit of good news, reported at the Tech Freedom blog: Court Rejects Trump DOJ Suit to Block AT&T/Time Warner Merger

    Last November, the Department of Justice stunned the antitrust world by suing to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. No such “vertical” deal (between two companies that do not compete directly) had been blocked in four decades. President Trump’s relentless attacks on CNN, Time Warner’s crown jewel, prompted widespread speculation that the DOJ was stretching antitrust law to serve the President’s political agenda. AT&T made this argument in court, asking to cross-examine Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, about White House interference in a law enforcement action.

    Today, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia handed AT&T a complete victory — delivering a stinging rebuke to the Trump Administration and handing the DOJ its first loss in an antitrust case since 2004.

    The lawsuit was a silly waste of time and taxpayer money.


  • Hey, kids, what time is it? At NRO, Robert Poole has the answer: It’s Time to Rethink America’s Failing Highways. He notes the poor condition of some thoroughfares, while the public and many pols resist raising fuel taxes to pay for fixes.

    Fuel taxes were sold to the public last century as “highway-user fees.” And originally, they were used solely to build and maintain highways. Yet that is far from the case today. Nearly one-fourth of all federal fuel taxes are used for non-highway purposes, and it’s worse than that in some states. In California, over the next 30 years, $18 billion of state gas-tax money is pledged for paying off bonds issued to build Jerry Brown’s high-speed-rail boondoggle.

    It’s not hard to see that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we fund and manage the highways we all depend on. Highways are one of our basic public utilities — along with water, electricity, natural gas, telephones, etc. Yet we don’t have huge political battles over how to pay for those utilities. Every month you get a bill from your electric company, water company, phone company, and satellite or cable company. You pay for the specific services you used, and the money goes directly to the company that provided those services. None of that is true for highways.

    Yes, Robert is a "sell the streets" libertarian. Check him out, you might become one too.


  • Arnold Kling comments on Eric Weinstein on the IDW. Which is the so-called "Intellectual Dark Web".

    Although he uses different terminology, Weinstein seems to suggest that institutions of the mainstream media–he names CNN, NPR, the NYT, and “magazines like The Atlantic“–have degenerated into put-downs and expressions of outrage at the expense of reporting the news. Stories that would reflect badly on the ability or moral conduct of oppressed groups, or that would reflect favorably on the moral conduct of privileged groups, cannot be processed by these institutions that hitherto were fairly reliable curators of news. The IDW is a reaction against, or an alternative to, the dereliction of duty on the part of the mainstream outlets. Not an alternative news source, but an alternative source of discussion and analysis.

    Eric Weinstein is the brother of Bret, who, you may remember, objected to the "Day of Absence" at Oregon's Evergreen State College, in which white people were "encouraged" to not show up.

URLs du Jour

2018-06-12

[Amazon Link]

  • I find the first part of Proverbs 12:23 to be … a bit overstated:

    23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
        but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

    I want to argue with the Proverbialist: "Come on. You have to say that, in many cases, prudence dictates that knowledge be shared with others. How else are people supposed to learn stuff?"

    But the second part is on-target. Of course a fool's heart blurts out folly.

    Not literally, though. That would be gross.


  • At Cato, Roger Pilon is disappointed with everyone on the Supreme Court except Justice Gorsuch: Legislative Presumption and Judicial Deference Trump the Contracts Clause

    If you designate a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, should you expect your intent to be honored upon your death? You may not be able to if you live in Minnesota or more than half of the nation’s other states. So said the Supreme Court today—despite the plain language of Constitution’s Contracts Clause, which categorically prohibits states from passing “any … Law impairing the Obligations of Contracts.” The case was Sveen v. Melin. The decision was 8-1, Justice Elena Kagan writing for the Court. The dissent by Justice Neil Gorsuch goes to the heart of the matter.

    Yes, Neil Gorsuch was the only one on the side of the Contracts Clause. (Et tu, Clarence Thomas?) For the other eight justices, maybe get a copy of our Amazon Product du Jour.


  • In the "Of Course It Did" Department, Katherine Rohloff at Daily Signal reports: Government Agency Funds ‘Trans Theater Works’ With Taxpayer Dollars.

    Among the $3,381,375 the NEA awarded to Massachusetts in its Spring 2017 grants announcement, $15,000 was given to the Boston-based Theater Offensive for its production of “They, Them, Theirs: Showcasing Trans Lives."

    The NEA said that the grant would be used “to support the development, production, and tour” of the show, as well as “a post-show analysis about the topics raised through forum theater techniques, discussions, and workshops.”

    Once production began, the show’s name was changed to “The Heart of the Matter.” It focuses on the lives and experiences of transgender and “queer” youths and adults of color through narratives set in both the past and the present.

    “[‘The Heart of the Matter’] utilizes immersive, participatory performance strategy to challenge theatrical conventions and confront audiences with adult, white, middle-class culpability in the oppressive systems LGBTQ youth face,” Matt Gelman, associate managing director of the Theater Offensive, said in a press release.

    I know there are weightier matters. But could we please just defund the National Endowment for the Arts?


  • At Reason, Robby Soave does his poop-scooping due diligence and finds: This Study, 'Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks,' Is, Uh, Real

     Have you always harbored a secret desire to lurk at dog parks, tirelessly inspect the dogs' genitals in order to record their sexes, observe how frequently they hump each other, and ask their owners personal questions?

    If so, you might enjoy a new study, "Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon." Yes, the paper is about dog-on-dog rape and what it means for feminism and queer theory. Essentially, it posits that studying "rape culture" among animals at the dog park is a useful vehicle for understanding rape among human beings.

    Robby read the "study" and found that it wasn't quite as ludicrouse as one might imagine.

    The author, one Helen Wilson, lists her affiliation as with the "Portland Ungendering Research Initiative", an organization that I strongly suspect is entirely made up of (and by) Helen Wilson.


  • And our Google LFOD News alert rang for an ABC News story (via Good Morning America), from the other side of the state: Mindy Kaling shares practical and inspirational advice during Dartmouth commencement speech.

    Mindy Kaling returned to Dartmouth College to deliver a commencement speech filled with hilarious tidbits from her time on the campus, practical advice -- like, "buy a toilet plunger" -- and other inspirational advice that anyone could use.

    Kaling, an alumna of Hanover, New Hampshire, Ivy League college, began her speech by reflecting on her time at the school. She reminded graduates, students and proud parents alike that the New Hampshire state motto is "Live Free or Die."

    "But when you're here in January, die actually sounds like a pretty good option," the comedian quipped.

    Although the story claims the speech contained "hilarious tidbits", none were actually quoted.