URLs du Jour

2017-01-06

Our periodic reminder: there's an implied "Read the Whole Thing" attached to most of these links.

  • At Reason, David Harsanyi speaks for people who can hold two ideas in their minds at once: "Russia Isn't Our Friend, but That Doesn't Make the Democrats' Conspiracy Theories True". Paraphrasing: (1) Putin is a danger, both to his Russian citizens and to freedom-lovers everywhere; (2) he didn't "hack" our election.

    Now, I understand why so many on the left want to force Republicans to choose between these two statements. They'd like to delegitimize the democratic validity of Trump's presidency (in much the same way they did with President George W. Bush) and smear those who don't join them in this endeavor as unpatriotic Putin-defending lackeys. Considering their own past and Obama's accommodating attitude toward the Russians (and the Cubans, the Iranians, Fatah, Hamas and other illiberal regimes), this seems an uphill battle.

    I wonder if there's some way to invest in political double standards. It's a booming market.

  • John Ekdahl set off a Twitter storm by idly wondering how many of his co-journalists knew anyone who owned a pickup. As a metaphor for the journalistic bubble, this worked great. Kevin D. Williamson offers his thoughts: "The Search for the Real America".

    The responses were predictable: The sort of smug progressives who are proud of their smugness scoffed that pick-ups, pollution-belching penis-supplements for toothless red-state Bubbas, are found mainly in the sort of communities where they’d never deign to set foot; the sort of smug progressives who are ashamed of their smugness protested that it is a silly question (which it is — that’s part of the point) and made strained connections with pick-up-owning childhood friends back home in East Slapbutt; conservatives mainly said “Har har stupid liberal elites.”

    But, really: Read the Whole Thing.

    Personal note: as I was musing to my co-workers, friends, and family about retirement, I said I was gonna get (1) a dog and (2) a pickup. Because every week I went to the Rollinsford NH "Transfer Station" (AKA the dump), it seemed that everyone there but me had both.

    Now retired, I did get a dog. He's a sweetheart. And I take him to the dump with me.

    But when I looked at pickup prices, and thought long and hard about whether I actually needed one, after decades of not needing one, I wimped out and got a Subaru Impreza instead.

  • Speaking of my ex-coworkers, the Portland Press Herald has a great article touching on one of them: Marty England. And there's a Rollinsford connection too.

    At the time, Martin England never understood why his father made him mow the lawns of the old ladies who lived in downtown Rollinsford, New Hampshire, where England grew up. But whenever the lawns needed mowing, England’s dad dropped him off with a lawnmower and paid him for his time.

    Marty's now doing good works in North Berwick, Maine, running an "arts collective" that helps aspiring kids from rural Maine pursue music and art by providing instruments, mentoring and incentives." All while leading a band and keeping his day job at the IT Department of the University Near Here.

    Marty also kept a "Bernie 2016" bumper sticker on the back of his car way after Bernie's campaign was over. (It may still be there, I haven't checked lately.) (Update: checked today. Yes, still there.) So we don't share a lot of political common ground, but he's a fantastic guy.

  • Via Bruce Schneier, a look at the cryptographic capabilities of the Barbie Typewriter.

    When the E-115 was adopted by Mattel as an addition to the Barbie™ product line, it was aimed mainly at girls with a minimum age of 5 years. For this reason the product was given a pink-and-purple case and the Barbie logo and image were printed on the body. As it was probably thought that secret writing would not appeal to girls, the coding/decoding facilities were omitted from the manual. Nevertheless, these facilities can still be accessed if you know how to activate them.

    The encoding is a weak substitution cipher, but would-be spies have to start somewhere.


Last Modified 2017-01-06 3:25 PM EST