URLs du Jour

2018-10-03

[Amazon Link]

  • A hilarious (but potentially paywalled, sorry) article from Jillian Kay Melchior: Fake News Comes to Academia.

    The existence of a monthly journal focused on “feminist geography” is a sign of something gone awry in academia. The journal in question—Gender, Place & Culture—published a paper online in May whose author claimed to have spent a year observing canine sexual misconduct in Portland, Ore., parks.

    The author admits that “my own anthropocentric frame” makes it difficult to judge animal consent. Still, the paper claims dog parks are “petri dishes for canine ‘rape culture’ ” and issues “a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of their gender and queering behaviors, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs.”

    Jillian goes on to reveal a widespread project to dupe a number of "grievance studies" journals into accepting hoax articles. Unfortunately now the cat is out of the bag, so …

    Hm, I just got an idea for a good article: "The Cat/Bag Metaphor: Gratuitous Animal Cruelty Considered as Intersectional Tensor of Oppression".


  • John Hinderaker at Power Line notes a report that European Union bureaucrats are looking to Shut Down the Sun!

    Ah, no, that's not their global warming solution. Instead, it refers to the British tabloid paper The Sun. Quoting from the linked article:

    The European Commission has come up with a new way to prevent people backing Brexit – not by winning the argument, but by curbing press freedom. They want to stop the British press encouraging ‘hatred’ of EU leaders and judges, and impose a ‘European approach’ of ‘smart regulation’ to control the views expressed by the tabloids and their supposedly non-smart readers.

    I could see President Kamala Harris floating a similar proposal to muzzle Fox News in (say) 2022.

    I've said this before: when pols describe their proposals as "smart" or "common sense", it's a red flag. If you oppose a "smart" policy, that—automatically—makes you stupid. If you're against "common sense" regulation, you are obviously working in bad faith, and probably in the employ of the evildoers.


  • Slashdot links to a Hollywood Reporter story that (in turn) summarizes an academic paper which purports to show that 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Negative Buzz Amplified By Russian Trolls, Study Finds.

    Is that clear? Good.

    The paper analyzes in depth the negative online reaction, which is split into three different camps: those with a political agenda, trolls and what ["Media/technology scholar, author and journalist" Morten] Bay calls “real fantagonists,” which he defines as genuine Star Wars fans disappointed in the movie. His findings are fascinating; “Overall, 50.9% of those tweeting negatively [about the movie] was likely politically motivated or not even human,” he writes, noting that only 21.9% of tweets analyzed about the movie had been negative in the first place.

    "A number of these users appear to be Russian trolls," Bay writes of the negative tweets.

    I liked The Last Jedi OK, except it being too grim and too long. And Princess Mary Poppins Leia. I guess that means I'm not a Russian troll, kind of a relief.

    Note: I think the paper's "Russian troll" evidence is very circumstantial and not particularly convincing.


  • Jonah Goldberg writes what could become an evergreen headline: You Idiot Reporters Are Making It Worse. Specifically, said reporters are lending credibility to President Trump's "fake news" charges.

    I’ve spent much of the last couple of years decrying the increasing partisan tribalism of our politics. I’ve earned some strange new respect from liberals (and at times regrettable new enmity from some conservatives) because I’ve been willing to call out my team. A case in point: I don’t like President Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric about the “fake news.” I don’t think it’s true or helpful or presidential. “Enemy of the people” is a totalitarian and authoritarian term of art unfit for our country or our president, and employing it gives license to the press to indulge its worst instincts.

    Which brings us to the current moment. Democratic senators who announced they would never vote for Kavanaugh under any circumstance keep getting asked if the FBI investigation they demanded will be “enough for them.” Enough for what? To still vote no? I’m not criticizing the Democrats themselves — though I obviously could — I’m criticizing the people who interview these senators. Time and again, these journalists interview the Democrats as if they were open-minded about this investigation when in every breath they insist that the investigation will be illegitimate if it doesn’t prove what they want it to prove.

    Yep. Credit Jonah with the strong stomach needed to watch said "journalists"; I've not bothered myself.


  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein asks the musical question: Is [Christine Blasey] Ford's Credibility Undermined by Her Refusal to Produce Her Therapy Records?

    We can't entirely dismiss the notion that this is a "recovered memory." I agree it's unlikely, but we have no way of knowing for sure, given that we know nothing about the therapy, or the therapist.

    In any event, "recovered memory" is a distraction, because while not impossible the much greater danger is that the therapist used a treatment modality, such as hypnosis, that affected Ford's perception of the memory, or engaged in suggestive questioning that doesn't arise to the level of "recovered memory," but skewed the memory. Details of memories from 30 plus years ago are already problematic from a reliability standpoint,* but memories that have been subject to hypnosis and related techniques are especially unreliable. Hypnosis can enhance memory, but it can also both lead the subject to add details to a memory, and to be much more confident that all the details of his memory are accurate.

    I'm leaning toward that likely explanation.


  • And Mental Floss reports the big news of the day: New Hampshire Man Grows 2528-Pound Pumpkin, Setting North American Record.

    Steve Geddes has grown a gourd that will put whatever you pick from your local pumpkin patch this year to shame. As The Boston Globe reports, his pumpkin weighed in at 2528 pounds at the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire last month, breaking the North American record for largest pumpkin.

    The hefty piece of produce emerged as the clear winner of the fair's pumpkin weigh-off [PDF] when Geddes, of Boscawen, New Hampshire, entered it into the competition at the end of September. After securing the first place ribbon and $6000 in prize money, Geddes learned that his bull-sized pumpkin also held the distinction of being the heaviest grown on the continent, besting record-breaking giants cultivated in previous years in Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and California.

    The Mental Floss writer did not find a way to work in a "Live Free or Die" reference into the article.