Sunday, December 11, 2016

Stories below the fold

One of Tolkien's more depressing stories (edited into a single book by his son) is the story of Turin. Depressing because Morgoth has cursed him to be a failure in everything he does, to punish his father Hurin.

TORN has an essay about Turin's wish to fight Morgoth (one of their discussion groups will ponder if he was wise or foolish to fight and buy time if the situation is hopeless)... But the introductory essay is interesting.


In contrast, Mark Steyn remembers the days when JFK said America would go to the moon,

'Forty years ago, we could do it—repeatedly—but since then we have not been to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability. 'Of course, the standard line is that humans stopped going to the moon only because we no longer wanted to go to the moon, or could not afford to, or something.... But I am suggesting that all this is BS. . . . I suspect that human capability reached its peak or plateau around 1965-75—at the time of the Apollo moon landings—and has been declining ever since.'

most sarcastic line is the last one in his essay

John Glenn must surely have wondered, as all the astronauts weathered into geezers, how a great nation grew so impoverished in spirit. Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies' bathroom. Progress.

should kids learn to read and write by hand?

Freakonomics podcast.


Mary Beard notes that a lot of what you "know" about ancient Rome is wrong.
caution: R rated.


Dirty money... literally.

If you are afraid of germs, stick to copper pennies.

for later reading: StrategyPage on the mess in Syria.

not just the Russians but now Turkey is trying to kill Kurds.


The government of India has declared jihad on cash, as in money.

"Black money" -- the colloquial name for a vast network of off-the-book cash transactions and unbanked savings -- is one of India's biggest scourges. Amounting to as much as $460 billion a year, bigger than the GDP of Argentina, all that money lies beyond the reach of the tax authorities, creditors and anti-corruption investigators.
translation: They don't really trust banks so keep money hidden in their house and buy from each other informally so there are no sales taxes collected. The state doesn't like this, because they can't collect income or sales tax.

Credit cards, smart phone transactions etc will be the way of the future...

As if they couldn't be hacked/stolen (did I mention my Federal personnel file was hacked? Plus my yahoo email? And of course Facebook knows all about me).

All this hacking of course will lead to pressuring people to accept the mark of the beast, but of course, only fundamentalist Christians and electronic privacy nerds worry about this.


Fuzzy lovable Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, who was famous for his charity.

But he wasn't exactly a fluffy helpless character in real life, as Arius could tell you. He got punched in the face at an Ecumenical council by jolly old St Nick for denying Jesus was God. Nicholas was jailed, but released after a miracle (Of course).

in some European countries, St Nicholas is followed by a helper who beats the bad children while he gives gifts to the good ones.

In Modern America, the list of naughty and nice is often ignored and everyone gets a gift.

more factoids about the good bishop here.

and there is a legend how he helped save a ship that had grounded and was in danger of breaking up, so he is also the patron saint of sailors.

DilbertBlog has a lot of posts on the way people frame reality and how Trump is understandable using a business point of view. And many of his posts are about cognitive dissonance.

His explanations are cynical, but they do give one a different point of view about the election and how folks cope when reality doesn't agree with their deep set beliefs.


Heh. The CIA just noticed that a lot of the stuff in certain "evil" news sites that dared to oppose Hillary might have originally been stolen by Russia who arranged it to be released via Wikileaks, to hurt Hillary.

Russian disinformation? Nothing new in that.

but this does not make it "Fake" news, as some are stating. One sided, maybe, but not fake.

No, it just means that Wikileaks (maybe with the help of Russia) is the new Woodward and Bernstein, daring to investigate the real story behind the lies of the government.

Live and let live is American. Using one person's "feelings" to bully around the majority is not.


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