URLs du Jour

2019-06-06

  • For the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we'll go with Michael Ramirez's illustration of the Generation Gap.

    Generation Gap

    Sorry if that stings a little, kids.


  • At National Review, Kyle Smith tells us about slightly more recent history: a mere 35 years ago, How Bruce Springsteen Helped Reelect Ronald Reagan. He recalls George Will's reaction to the Boss's 1984 album, "a grand cheerful affirmation: 'Born in the U.S.A.!'"

    Ronald Reagan, running for reelection, picked up on Will’s theme six days later while campaigning in Hammonton, N.J.: “America’s future,” he said, “rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire—New Jersey’s own, Bruce Springsteen.”

    It's a near-cliché that "Born in the U.S.A." features a classic mismatch between its downer lyrics and upbeat everything-else.

    The non-political song "Dancing in the Dark" had the same incongruity. Even though I'd been a Springsteen fanboy for decades, I literally did not get what "Dancing in the Dark" was about until I heard Mary Chapin Carpenter's version:

    Anyway, thanks for helping to re-elect Ronnie, Bruce.


  • Speaking of my fanboyism: Landing on my doorstep with a thud the other day was Neal Stephenson's new 800+ page tome, Fall. Just as soon as I finish Heinlein's The Door Into Summer, I'll be starting on that. At Reason, Peter Suderman asks the musical question: If We Told You Neal Stephenson Invented Bitcoin, Would You Be Surprised?. (And Betteridge's law of headlines applies.)

    Consider the possibility that Neal Stephenson is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin.

    If he is, it would hardly be his only accomplishment: Stephenson is the author of some of the most prescient and beloved science fiction of the last 30 years, including Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and Seveneves. He has been both disciple and muse to the most powerful men in tech—the inventors of the internet and the iPad, for starters. He was an early employee at Blue Origin, the private space firm founded by Jeff Bezos, and has worked with the Long Now Foundation to promote optimistic science fiction designed to lead to actual technological innovation. He is the sort of writer whose novels include descriptions of vast nanotech defense systems, as well as of incredibly elaborate methods for eating Cap'n Crunch, complete with a special spoon. He keeps his head shaved and wears a gray-streaked goatee, a look that is part heavy metal wizard, part monk.  

    He's dropping by Portsmouth on his book tour next week, and I'll be in the audience.


  • At Minding the Campus, Allen Farrington writes on When Radical Ideologies Corrupt Universities. It's full of good stuff, but I liked this especially:

    Premchand Brian, a friend of mine from Singapore, was until recently studying for a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. By his own account, he joined the UoE’s Black and Minority Ethnic Liberation Group but was ejected within a couple of months for wrong-think. “I said that ‘cultural appropriation’ is an invalid concept,” he told me, “because 1) nobody can own a culture, 2) even if ‘stolen’ the original owners still have it, and 3) cultural exchange was historically important in human progress and still helps combat bigotry. I was told my ideas were ‘triggering,’ ‘offensive,’ and ‘making people of color feel ‘unsafe,’ so I was told to retract them. I refused and got kicked out.”

    Getting kicked out of a club with "Liberation" in its name can be … liberating. Is that irony? I can never tell.


  • And the latest and greatest optical illusion is The Perpetual Diamond. That link goes to an academic explanation (recommended), but here's a taste of the moving object that doesn't actually move:

    Spooky. And a reminder that your brain isn't always trustworthy.


Last Modified 2019-06-13 11:14 AM EDT