URLs du Jour

2017-04-28

■ Proverbs doesn't always hold to the simple 1 proverb/verse rule, and Chapter 27 takes five verses to make its point. 27:23-27:

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.
When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field.
You will have plenty of goats' milk to feed your family and to nourish your female servants.

Oy vey! We get it: prudence is a good thing. We knew that. An off day for the Proverbian.

■ Roger L. Simon asks the musical question: Will Fascism Come to America through Its Colleges and Universities?. Spoiler alert in paragraph one:

If fascism comes to America, it will be through our college and university system.

Thanks for making that point upfront, Roger. But seriously, folks:

The biggest cowards in our country today are many, if not most, of our college and university administrators followed closely by a fair amount of their faculty. They are allowing their institutions to be taken over by a monolithic world view that is increasingly totalitarian and antithetical to the diversity of opinion on which the search for truth depends.

There are cowards, no doubt. The university life can be safe, secure, and profitable for those unwilling to rock the boat, go with the "collegial" flow, and keep their heads down as necessary.

That said, there are a lot of administrators/faculty who are eager and willing activist Marcusians, evangelizing their hard-left theology to the kiddos, eager to shut down any dissenting opinion.

Roger's right: that's a toxic brew.

■ At Reason, Steven Greenhut articulates an idea that was bouncing around my cranium too, because of the "March for Science": Yes, Science, But How About a March for Math?.

It's a stretch to suggest that the prominence of scientific knowledge in general is falling under "hard times" because of recent proposals to trim the budget of some massive government bureaucracies. Judging by the anti-Trump signs and demands for more funding for various programs that proliferated at the marches, it seems they were more about political science than the kind of hard science that March for Science organizers had touted.

Nevertheless, the marchers are onto something, although their concept should be applied instead to a different discipline. "I think we need to have a March for Math. How you gonna be over $19 trillion in debt and still spending?" wrote commentator Julie Borowski. Indeed. Our political leaders, in California especially, are enthralled by climate science and have embraced myriad programs to deal with the issue of man-made global warming.

I keep going back to my CongressCritter/Toothache Carol Shea-Porter's remarks at the local march, that "we" need to "take this country back from people who don’t believe in science".

How about math, Carol? How are you on math?

■ Even though I enjoy a Netflix subscription, I do not need to watch Bill Nye's series thereon to find that Bill Nye’s View Of Humanity Is Repulsive. But David Harsanyi did, so:

Bill Nye has some detestable ideas about humanity. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Many environmental doomsdayers share his totalitarian impulses (Nye has toyed with the idea of criminalizing speech he dislikes) and soft spot for eugenics.

I wish Netflix would spend its money (some of which used to be my money) on expanding its movie selection instead of funding tedious propaganda.

■ Ever wonder what fans of The Handmaid's Tale prefer to ignore? Fortunately, Jim "Indispensable" Geraghty is on that: What Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale Prefer To Ignore. Margaret Atwood's American-set dystopia isn't very credible, but…

But Margaret Atwood could have set her tale in other places and made it practically a modern-day documentary: Say, Saudi Arabia. Or any corner of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Or (as Geraghty continues) Yemen, the Congo, Egypt, Sudan,… But those less reality-challenged sites wouldn't make convenient vehicles for bashing conservative evangelical Christians.

■ In USA Today, Tom Nichols asks: Are Trump voters ruining America for all of us?. He keys off the notion that nearly all Trump voters (a poll says 96%) have no regrets over their votes.

The wide disagreement among Americans on the president’s performance, however, is more than partisanship. It is a matter of political literacy. The fact of the matter is that too many Trump supporters do not hold the president responsible for his mistakes or erratic behavior because they are incapable of recognizing them as mistakes. They lack the foundational knowledge and basic political engagement required to know the difference between facts and errors, or even between truth and lies.

Or stream-of-consciousness bullshit, which continues to rain down on us from the White House.

■ Today's Getty image is the surviving members of the Monkees in concert. Which I looked up because I enjoyed Wesley Stace's review of Mike Nesmith's memoir, Infinite Tuesday.

The most famous thing about “ Mike Nesmith ” is that he was in the Monkees, the groundbreaking 1960s TV show and the band, remembered universally with almost unmitigated joy. The most famous thing about Michael Nesmith is that he has spent the rest of his life distancing himself from Monkee Mike, which has left him in the unenviable position of seeming to sneer at the one thing most people like about him.

The title, Infinite Tuesday, is explained in the review (no spoilers here). It's funny, yet Nesmith seems to extract zero amusement from it. That theme, according to Stace, resonates throughout the book.

I wonder if I still have those old Monkees records on vinyl…


Last Modified 2017-04-29 5:25 AM EDT

Zodiac

[Amazon Link]

This is early Neal Stephenson, his second novel after The Big U. He says on his website that it took "about a month" to write. It's set mostly in the Boston environs, and thanks to occasional Red Sox shoutouts, we can determine that it's set in the late 1980s, the era of Dwight Evans, Sam Horn, and Marty Barrett.

I enjoyed it, although it's not on the par with later work like Snow Crash, Cryptnomicon, and so on. To a certain extent, it's refreshing to know that, a few decades back, Stephenson was merely "pretty good" as opposed to "masterful."

The protagonist, Sangamon Taylor, is a self-described "granola James Bond", an eco-warrior working for a Greenpeace-like organization called GEE ("Group of Environmental Extremists"). He's kind of an asshole (and Stephenson, in his "Acknowledgments", avers that this is what he was going for). He has an unfortunate laughing gas habit, but his heart is in the right place.

Mostly his work involves publicizing, and semi-illegal vandalizing, of firms' criminal toxin-dumping. Plugging pipes that dump dioxins into rivers, for example. But he runs across something very nasty around Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor—you don't want to eat those lobsters, fellah. Before you can say "massive conspiracy", there's murderous gunplay (and boatplay) involving (maybe?) the Mafia, a presidential candidate, an evil corporation, mad scientists, Satan-worshipping fans of a metal band ("Pöyszen Böyzen"). A lot goes on.

Needs a map of (at least) Boston and Boston Harbor so the interested reader can follow Sangamon on his travels. As an occasional visitor, I was able to mostly keep track, but someone less familiar might get swamped in the geography.