URLs du Jour

2018-01-10

Proverbs 16:2 on self-delusion:

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Fortunately, there are those of us whose ways are Lord-certified pure.


■ Daniel J. Mitchell notes an interesting NYT story about a town in Mexico. And wonders A Libertarian Paradise in…Mexico? The NYT reports:

Fifteen-foot stone turrets are staffed by men whose green uniforms belong to no official force. Beyond them, a statue of an avocado bears the inscription “avocado capital of the world.” And beyond the statue is Tancítaro, an island of safety and stability amid the most violent period in Mexico’s history. Local orchard owners, who export over $1 million in avocados per day, mostly to the United States, underwrite what has effectively become an independent city-state. Self-policing and self-governing, it is a sanctuary from drug cartels as well as from the Mexican state. …Tancítaro represents a quiet but telling trend in Mexico, where a handful of towns and cities are effectively seceding, partly or in whole. These are acts of desperation, revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat.

But, as Mitchell notes, that last bit would be more accurately edited: "revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat." ("There, I fixed it.")


■ Gregg Easterbook's TMQ this week covers the first weekend of the NFL playoffs, but devotes a major section to the corruption of gambling on sports generally, and the NFL in particular, likely to be made worse by the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas.

Easterbrook is no libertarian, and I disagree with his prohibitionist tendencies. But this is right, exactly right:

Forty-four states plus the District of Columbia have government-sanctioned lottos whose purpose is to fleece the poor and working class. There is deep cynicism in state governments claiming to want to help Americans escape poverty, then setting up glittering gambling traps that cause men and women to become mired in cycles of debt. Some lotto players lose everything; the typical state lotto player loses about $120 a year after the token winnings designed to feed gambling addiction. As the Motley Fool notes, “The average lottery player in America loses roughly 40 cents for every $1 in tickets purchased. Talk about a bad return on investment.” Regular state-lotto players are mostly low-income, actively preyed upon by government. That the highly subsidized NFL also preys on the poor by marketing lottos is shameful.

Derek Thompson puts the big picture together, and the key word that applies to the lotto business—sanctioned by government, encouraged by sports owners who boast about their civic responsibility—is shame.

This particular horse has long left the barn, so the gripes of Easterbrook and Hunter are futile. But that doesn't make them wrong.


■ Greg Piper, at the College Fix locates another higher-ed Deep Thinker at the oxygen-deprived University of Denver: Professor defends laziness as a ‘virtue’ that ‘combats the neoliberal condition’.

Prof. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve, whose background is “primarily out-of-classroom learning contexts with non-dominant youth,” argues today in the research journal Qualitative Inquiry that “lazy practices can become useful for postqualitative inquiry that seeks to disrupt normative explanations of the world.”

This immediately recalled Larry Wall's three virtues of a great programmer: Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris. Where "laziness" is understood to be:

The quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful and document what you wrote so you don't have to answer so many questions about it.

I don't think that's what Prof Gildersleeve had in mind. He should have, but didn't.

Also not what Gildersleeve had in mind: Robert Heinlein's "The Tale of the Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail" in his novel Time Enough for Love.

This story concerns a 20th-century United States Navy cadet named David Lamb who rises in the ranks while avoiding any semblance of real work by applying himself enthusiastically to the principle of "constructive laziness". Shortly after telling the story Lazarus mistakenly calls David "Donald", which is intended to make the reader think the story is fallacious, while actually pertaining to Lazarus directly.

Now that I'm retired, I have no shame about laziness whatsoever.


■ The Daily Caller is reporting that Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites.

Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results. No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.

This is, regrettably, unsurprising. Google's explanation is here: "Reviewed claims: This shows up when a significant amount of a publisher’s recent content has been reviewed by an authoritative fact-checker."

Google's "algorithm" relies on hopelessly biased fact checkers like Politifact, who are only "authoritative" inside the Progressive bubble.


■ In related news James Damore is suing Google, his former employer. Power Line tells the story in Up From Google. It contains a link to the Scribdized complaint. PL Comments:

Putting the merits of the lawsuit to one side, and the issues raised by its pursuit as a class action, the complaint makes for interesting reading. I have a close friend who is both an extremely successful businessman and a man of character whom I greatly respect. He got my attention yesterday with a message transmitting the complaint against Google: “I couldn’t stop reading this. I cannot even imagine how miserable it would be to work at Google with management like this.”

The complaint contains examples of how Google has inherited the worst of higher-ed's Progressive "inclusiveness" — which requires the elimination of all non-Progressive dissent within the organization. As a retired programmer, I really liked this internal memo, from Googler Christopher K. Davis:

It's time again for the too-frequently-needed reminder that "cargo cult programming" is a problematic phrase that is both racist in origin and often insulting in use.

If you think code is being unnecessarily repeated, say so in those words. It's best to do so while offering a solution for removing the redundancy, since the original author may not be aware of the best ways to reuse code and/or definitions in a givn language. (This particularly goes for things like GCL, where I've managed to break things more than once while trying to limit redundancy.)

We mustn't be disrespectful to the Cargo Cultists! Although I think Davis misunderstands what the term denotes: it's not redundant code, it's an attempt to reuse code without understanding what it does.


■ And finally, your Tweet du Jour.

Not shown: people who look at this diagram and think: "Ooo, boobies!"


Last Modified 2018-01-10 11:54 AM EST