URLs du Jour


Proverbs 15:14 is close to following our Mad-Libs Proverb Generator:

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

We could gripe about the ancient concepts of anatomy: what did the Ancient Israelis think the brain did, anyway? The Proverbialist always saw the hearts and mouths running the show.

But enough with the kvetching. The Proverb is a pretty good description of human nature, written millennia before anyone uttered the term "confirmation bias".

■ And speaking of fools' mouths feeding on folly: a while back I decided to bounce up to MSNBC to see what Rachel Maddow was saying. She was going on an on about some Stunning New Revelation in the Trump-Russia Collusion Scandal. All the time, a thought kept nagging at me: this reminds me of something, but what?

Now, much later, I have my answer. From David Marcus at the Federalist: The Russia Probe Has Turned The News Into ‘Ancient Aliens’.

If you don't know the History Channel show "Ancient Aliens", I'll wait here while you bone up. … Done? Good. Here's Mr. Marcus:

These days, the news, especially when covering the Trump administration, has been following [the "Ancient Aliens"] format in troubling ways. The coverage of the Russia investigation is a prime example. There are plenty of juicy and accurate facts to fill the opening of a segment of foreign interference in the election. Donald Trump Jr. did meet with a Russian offering opposition research against Hillary Clinton, Michael Flynn did lie about Russian contacts, WikiLeaks did try to damage Clinton by attacking the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems.

But, just as in “Ancient Aliens,” so far these interesting facts don’t tell the story the news media wants to tell. So too often we wind up with anchors or experts saying something like this: “Could the Trump campaign have colluded with Russians to interfere with the election? News media experts say, ‘Yes!’”

Here's the "Ancient Aliens" impresario, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, with the basics:

Key quote: "The only way the ancient astronaut theory can be disproven is when the extraterrestrials show up and say we were never here in the past."

Note that would not work with the Trump/Russia thing. If Putin showed up and said "Ve did not collude with the Donald, dollink", the Maddowites would nod sagely and say: "Just what I expected him to say."

■ People (1) of a certain age with (2) long memories will recall the 1980's "Nuclear Winter" brouhaha, popularized by Carl Sagan, that era's Neil deGrasse Tyson. Matt Ridley speculates on The Russian role in the nuclear winter theory.

Who started the scare and why? One possibility is that it was fake news from the beginning. When the high-ranking Russian spy Sergei Tretyakov defected in 2000, he said that the KGB was especially proud of the fact “it created the myth of nuclear winter”. He based this on what colleagues told him and on research he did at the Red Banner Institute, the Russian spy school.

The Kremlin was certainly spooked by Nato’s threat to deploy medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe if the Warsaw Pact refused to limit its deployment of such missiles. In Darwall’s version, based on Tretyakov, Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB, “ordered the Soviet Academy of Sciences to produce a doomsday report to incite more demonstrations in West Germany”. They applied some older work by a scientist named Kirill Kondratyev on the cooling effect of dust storms in the Karakum Desert to the impact of a nuclear exchange in Germany.

Tretyakov said: “I was told the Soviet scientists knew this theory was completely ridiculous. There were no legitimate facts to support it. But it was exactly what Andropov needed to cause terror in the West.” Andropov then supposedly ordered it to be fed to contacts in the western peace and green movement.

Sagan wasn't a Commie, but he was probably a Commie dupe.

■ Mrs. Salad got to the print WSJ before I did yesterday, and I heard her laughing. And when I read it, I laughed too: What’s The Most Useful Form of Cash? (Hint: It’s not a $100 Bill). Spoiler: it's the $2 bill. And as a one-time Apple nerd, I enjoyed this:

Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak routinely buys uncut sheets of $2 bills. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing gift shop sells uncut sheets of four, eight, 16 and 32 notes at a hefty premium. Mr. Wozniak enjoys taking out a pair of scissors at store registers and cutting out the bills he needs. Sometimes he hires a printing company to perforate four-bill sheets and gum them into notepad format.

In the mid-1990s, he tore off a couple perforated $2 notes to tip a Las Vegas waitress. The tip attracted the attention of a casino security manager. “They don’t make them with perforations,” Mr. Wozniak recalls the man saying.

“They don’t?” Mr. Wozniak responded in mock surprise.

Here's why we laughed: Back in the 1970's Mrs. Salad hoarded $2 bills. Because she was convinced they were going to be worth much more than that someday. (The mechanism was unclear; unlike silver coins, there's no underlying "melt value" for paper currency.)

I'm pretty sure she still has her $2 bill stash around here somewhere…

■ OK, that article was probably behind the WSJ paywall. Which isn't there for print subscribers like me. But it has recently been upgraded from a "wall" to more like a semi-permeable membrane. Description at NiemanLab: After years of testing, The Wall Street Journal has built a paywall that bends to the individual reader.

The Wall Street Journal thinks it might know your reading habits — and your potential spending habits — better than you know them yourself.

For the past couple of years, the Journal — home to one of journalism’s oldest paywalls — has been testing different ways to allow non-subscribers to sample its stories — refining a subscription prediction model that allows it to show different visitors, who have different likelihoods of subscribing, different levels of access to its site.

So if you ignore WSJ links because of past trauma in hitting the paywall, you might want to give it another go. Google Chrome users might try the "Open link in incognito window" option from the menu you get when right-clicking a link.

I don't know how they measure the likelihood of someone subscribing. You might try putting on a Mr. Monopoly top hat and firing up an expensive cigar before clicking a link. Let me know if that works.

■ And, finally, Mr. Michael P. Ramirez (click through for an uncropped version):

If you see something

"Indeed." We can't even get the safeguards we have in place to work, but I'm sure imaginary "common-sense gun control" will flawlessly make us all safer with no unintended consequences.

Last Modified 2018-03-02 4:30 PM EST