The Reporters: Viruses, bugs, traffic jams

A closer look at what’s going on out there.

The Virus Doesn’t Care about Your Policies.  Based on the data, there seems to be no relationship between lockdowns and lives saved. That’s remarkable, given that we know for sure that lockdowns have destroyed economies the world over. Nothing like this has been tried in the whole history of humanity, certainly not on this scale. It was pure speculation that lockdowns would suppress this virus, and that speculation was based on a hubristic presumption of the awesome power and intelligence of government managers.

beeI Asked Leading Entomologists: ‘What’s The Smartest Bug In The World?’ Unlike most insects, the honey bee is a social animal, which forces it to have many intelligent abilities that non-social insects (like, say, flies, or beetles) don’t need. And its smarts are legion: the insects are able to recognize and distinguish between human faces, a surprising trait given that it isn’t really necessary for their survival. Another one: bees can count. In an experiment, honey bees were rewarded for stopping at the third in a series of landmarks, and proved able to remember this location and to thus count.

New Disclosures Confirm: Trump Himself Was the Target of Obama Administration’s Russia Probe. Long-sought documents finally pried from U.S. intelligence agencies prove that the Obama administration used the occasion of providing a standard intelligence briefing for major-party candidates as an opportunity to investigate Donald Trump on suspicion of being a Russian asset. The target of the probe spearheaded by the FBI — but greenlighted by the Obama White House, and abetted by the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies — was Donald Trump.

newspaperThe Media’s Political Suicide. McClatchy had bought Knight Ridder for $4.4 billion to create the second largest news company. After going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, McClatchy was won in an auction by a hedge fund, which also owns the National Enquirer, in a secret bidding which started with $30 million cash and $270 million in debt. None of this says anything good about the future of its D.C. bureau, or the Miami Herald, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star, and other hollowed out husks of major urban papers carrying huge loads of pension debt and even bigger loads of radical left-wing politics.

trafficWhy a Traffic Flow Suddenly Turns Into a Traffic Jam. Envision a uniform traffic flow: All vehicles are evenly distributed along the highway, and all drive with the same velocity. Under perfect conditions, this ideal traffic flow could persist forever. However, in reality, the flow is constantly exposed to small perturbations: imperfections on the asphalt, tiny hiccups of the engines, half-seconds of driver inattention, and so on. To predict the evolution of this traffic flow, the big question is to decide whether these small perturbations decay, or are amplified.

The Week That Perished. If you have the remotest clue about how journalism is supposed to operate, you’d realize it’s effectively dead in the United States. So-called reporters now routinely capitalize “Black” while keeping “white” lowercase, they refer to people who are clearly a “he” as a “she,” and they keep using the words “racism” and “injustice” as if they were measurable rather than figments of the collective cultural fever dream.

The New Economy. We are seeing things today that classical and neoclassical economics said were not possible, at least not in the long term. All over the West, but particularly in the United States, we are seeing contradictions for which there are no explanations. It’s as if we have crossed into a new world that operates by different economic rules.

 

 

~ Grinagog

Dad Jokes: Ward Cleaver, call your office

“I was just looking at my ceiling. Not sure if it’s the best ceiling in the world, but it’s definitely up there.” ~ Dad

dadA couple of years ago Ashley Fetters, a writer for The Atlantic took a good long look at dad jokes. If you want to see what a serious journalist can do with a serious subject, this is your go-to article. You won’t finish it.

She elaborates:

Many varieties of jokes that get called dad jokes. Many dad jokes operate on “anti-humor,” or the deliberate denial of a clever punch line: “What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor? ‘Where’s my tractor?’” Others boil down to just playful, willful misunderstanding of a situation, for seemingly no reason. My granddad, for example, liked to pretend he thought my name was Mildred. (It is not.)

But if there’s one feature that can immediately categorize a joke as a “dad joke,” it’s wordplay, especially of the unsophisticated variety. Examples: “Hey, do you know what time my dentist appointment is? Tooth-hurty.” “You know why they always build fences around cemeteries? Because people are dying to get in.” The purposeful confusion of “smart feller” and “fart smeller.” This famous exchange: “I’m hungry.” “Hi, Hungry. I’m Dad.”

We interrupt this blog post to give you a break. Don’t worry. We’ll put you back together.

Stanley Dubinsky, an English professor at the University of South Carolina and the father of two young-adult sons, is a frequent deployer of dad jokes, mostly of the non-pun variety; he likes to deliberately mispronounce words sometimes, just to hear his kids groan and scoff exasperatedly. Dubinsky’s also a linguist and the co-author of the book Understanding Language Through Humor, and as he explains it, there’s a particular type of wordplay that gives a joke the dubious distinction of being a dad joke.

Polysemy, derived from the Greek terms for “many” and “signs,” is the coexistence of several meanings or uses for the same word. And as Dubinsky explains, dying to get in demonstrates the polysemy of the word dying by implying that someone is eager or desirous rather than in the act of perishing. “Most jokes rely on some semantic ambiguity or grammatical ambiguity,” Dubinsky says. “The things people call ‘dad jokes’ are the ones where the ambiguity is crushingly obvious.”

Fetters helpfully provides sources for dad jokes.

The Reddit page r/dadjokes, a forum where users go to share and enjoy “the jokes that make you laugh and cringe in equal measure,” has more than 1 million subscribers and amasses several new posts every hour. The online video series Dad Jokes, which pits comedians and celebrities against each other in dad-joke-telling competitions where “if you laugh you lose,” launched in 2017 and today has some 999,000 followers on Facebook. Twitter users, meanwhile, frequently call each other (and themselves) out for their simplest and squeaky-cleanest puns by tweeting “#dadjoke.”

There you go: public service journalism

“My wife is really mad at the fact that I have no sense of direction. So I packed up my stuff and right!” ~ Dad

~ Aischrolatreia

You must focus your reading time

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My default reading strategy is to peruse multiple online news aggregators, blogs and social media sites. I’m going to change that after reading what Seneca says. He was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist. He is known for his letters of instruction to Lucilius, procurator of Sicily.

In the second letter“On Discursiveness in Reading,” he urges Lucilius to focus his reading.

Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master-thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere.

When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.

Accordingly, since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read. So you should always read standard authors; and when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before.

And then this instruction:

Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day.

Pause to select one thing to carry through the day.

~ Elfdalian

They’re just Brian Williams wannabes

williams

Founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America, the National Broadcasting Company is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. It is sometimes referred to as the “Peacock Network,” in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company’s innovations in color broadcasting.

This company has become a woke joke.

brianAnchor Brian Williams foretold NBC’s future, when it emerged that he had a hard time telling the truth. He became essentially a laughing stock and rich source of Internet memes.

A parade of goofs followed in his footsteps. Take Noah Berlatsky, who rises to Brian’s level with this assertion: “Trump voters motivated by racism may be violating the Constitution. Can they be stopped?”

williams 2This week NBC News reporter Ben Collins rose to the Brian Williams challenge by letting everyone know he will cover the January 20 Virginia Second Amendment rally, and he described it as a “white nationalist rally.”

Chief foreign correspondent Richard Enge recently got in on the action when President Trump directed the killing of the world’s No. 1 terrorist: “Qasem Soleimani was no ordinary general. The U.S. classified him as a terrorist but in Iran, he was a national hero. Specifically, Soleimani was in charge of spreading Iranian influence around the world, and he was extremely good at it. Smart, charismatic, ruthless and bold … ”

So much more at the Media Research Center’s Newsbusters website.

~ Elfdalian

The Crazy Years: Does you dog need therapy?

aliens

“The main sign of when madness has possessed a crowd, or a civilization, is when the people are fearful of imaginary or trivial dangers but nonchalant about real and deep dangers. When that happens, there is gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions—the Crazy Years have arrived.” ~ John C. Wright

Aliens exist and may already be among us, says first British astronaut

“Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it,” Dr Sharman told the Observer Magazine.

Greta Thunberg to Lecture Leaders About Fossil Fuels at World Economic Forum

Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg plans to join other youth at the World Economic Forum later this month in Davos, Switzerland, where they will admonish world leaders for providing subsidies to the oil and gas industry, which is responsible, in part, for advancing civilization by providing abundant and affordable energy.

Former Green Party Candidate Claimed to Be Jesus While Killing His Dog With a Hammer

Joseph Cryer has been sentenced to more than five months in prison for killing his dog. Cryer told police he was Jesus Christ and had sent the dog to heaven.

ACLU calls for tampons in men’s rooms in order to achieve ‘menstrual equity’

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling for men’s restrooms to include tampons in order to prevent discrimination against “every person who menstruates.”

Steep rise in pets needing treatment for anxiety as insurance claims skyrocket

The number of insurance claims to treat cats, dogs and rabbits for mental health problems has sky-rocketed. Owners are claiming for treatments to tackle a whole host of psychological problems, including anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

~ Eutrapely

Ya want a punch in the face with that?

man.jpegFast food restaurants in America serve 50 million customers per day. More than 36 percent of adults – or more than 1 in 3 – consume fast food on a given day.

Trans fats are found in most commercial baked goods and fried foods. Studies have shown that high levels of trans fats may reduce serotonin production in the brain, leading to depression as well as adversely affecting memory.

Let’s check in to see how these folks are getting along.

Taco Bell customers arrested after argument reportedly leads to behind-the-counter fight

Chick-fil-A customer desperately tries to escape high chair after sitting in it on a dare

Let’s all enjoy together:

Florida woman arrested for threatening to get McDonald’s sauce by any ‘means necessary’

[Editor’s Note: Florida Man could not be reached for comment.]

Grubhub Driver Attacked Burger King Workers

Arizona woman tries to set boyfriend on fire for not celebrating new Subway job: police

Floridians Sue McDonald’s Because They Had to Pick the Cheese Off Their Quarter Pounders

McDonald’s customer arrested for pulling gun over ketchup mix-up

Popeye’s Customer Wrecks Car While Cutting Line For Coveted Chicken Sandwich

~ Portcullis

The Reporters: Shopping carts, bad meds, etc.

Reportage on the passing parade.

bad-parking-1

Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts?

Supermarkets can try and guide our behavior with receptacles or cart attendants, but they’re competing with our own self-serving goals, which in this case may be staying dry, keeping an eye on our children, or simply getting home as quickly as possible, and we’re being guided by the ways others behave on top of that.

Russiagate Investigation Now Endangers Obama.

Former US President Barack Obama is now in severe legal jeopardy, because the Russiagate investigation has turned 180 degrees; and he, instead of the current President, Donald Trump, is in its cross-hairs. Although he, of course, cannot be removed from office (since he is no longer in office), he is liable under criminal laws, the same as any other American would be, if he committed any crime while he was in office.

The medications that change who we are.

They’ve been linked to road rage, pathological gambling, and complicated acts of fraud. Some make us less neurotic, and others may even shape our social relationships. It turns out many ordinary medications don’t just affect our bodies – they affect our brains. Why? And should there be warnings on packets?

Watch your step: why the 10,000 daily goal is built on bad science.

Ten thousand steps is a completely arbitrary figure, one that originates from a Japanese marketing campaign in the mid-60s. The company Yamasa designed the world’s first wearable step-counter, a device called a manpo-kei, which translates as “10,000-step meter.” “There wasn’t really any evidence for it at the time,” says kinesiology Prof. David Bassett. “They just felt that was a number that was indicative of an active lifestyle and should be healthy.”

The 1997 merger that paved the way for the Boeing 737 Max crisis.

In a clash of corporate cultures, where Boeing’s engineers and McDonnell Douglas’s bean-counters went head-to-head, the smaller company won out. The result was a move away from expensive, ground-breaking engineering and toward what some called a more cut-throat culture, devoted to keeping costs down and favoring upgrading older models at the expense of wholesale innovation

~ Splanchnic

What’s the safest seat in a restaurant?

coffee shop

Where would you sit in this coffee shop? I always sit where I can see the door. Let’s examine that.

Greg Ellifritz has been a police officer since 1995 and spent 13 years as the full-time tactical training officer for his central Ohio police department. He was responsible for developing all of the in-service training for his 55-officer police department. More of his impressive credentials here.

Here’s where he would sit and not sit in the coffee shop above.

When I am choosing seats in a restaurant, he writes, I use the following selection criteria:

1) I prefer tables to booths.  Tables are easier to maneuver around.  Tables can also be overturned and used for cover/concealment.  It’s much harder to do that in a booth.

2) I want a clear view of the front door to see any potential threats enter.

3) I want a view of the cash register (if there is one).  If there are any problems, they will occur at the cash register.

4) I want a table that is close to the kitchen/alternate exit.

5) I prefer an area where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic moving behind me

Here’s what Ellifritz sees in the diagram.

There’s too much foot traffic heading to the bathrooms for tables a, bi and c. I don’t want to have to physically check out people as they move behind me to use the toilets.

Criminals call the seats with their backs in a corner where they can see every other seat in the venue the “cop seats.” That’s where cops sit. The criminals know this and will take out the “cops” at the first opportunity. Sometimes the best seat in a venue is also the worst seat.

I suggest occupying seats 1 or 2 at tables D, E, or F as the best seats in this layout. You can see the front door. You can see the cash register. You are close to the emergency exits, but you don’t have constant bathroom traffic moving behind you to evaluate.

An alternate plan:

waitress

~ Singultus

The compleat list of lists

lists

It seems that listicles have fallen from fashion of late, so let’s give a try to instigating a revival. Publishers put these together at this time of year because there is no real news. That’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it as a public service.

Top 12 Get-Trump Bloopers of 2019

Sample: That’s easy for her to say. 

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell destroyed impeachment with a short, half-hour speech of his life, Nancy Pelosi was reduced to . . . well, watch it for yourself. Hey, where’s her drink?

The Decade’s Top 10 Most Spectacular Falls From Grace

Sample: Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger (2011, 2013, 2016)

Of all the politicians to find themselves in a sexting scandal, it had to be the one whose last name is Weiner. In 2011, Anthony Weiner, the married representative from New York, resigned after being caught sending explicit photos of his genitalia to several young women, some underage.

Top 10 Most Bizarre Viral Hoaxes of 2019

Sample: Mainstream media falsely reports conservatives are “outraged” over a video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) dancing.

Despite never being given examples of a conservative doing anything more than shrugging the video off, the mainstream media ran with the narrative anyway, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to post another video of herself dancing in front of her congressional office, tweeting: “I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous. Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too!”

2019: The Year of Massive Big Tech Data Breaches

Sample: Capital One breach puts 100+ million at risk

In July of 2019, Breitbart News reported that a 33-year-old transgender woman who worked as a software engineer in Seattle was arrested in relation to a massive data breach which put over 100 million Capital One credit card applicants at risk. Paige A. Thompson allegedly accessed information from the Capital One bank through an improperly managed security feature and posted this information on a data-sharing site, a criminal complaint alleges.

Six Lessons Jussie Smollett Taught Us About America’s Culture War in 2019

Sample: The road to success is paved with victimhood instead of hard work.

As it has been portrayed, the motivation in staging this attack was to gain publicity and enhance Smollett’s public profile. In theory, this would lead to more prominent acting roles and bigger pay checks (for Jussie and the Nigerian brothers, presumably). There was a time in America that people sought to advance by practicing relentlessly and persevering through challenges. Today, if you successfully claim victim status you’ll likely be promoted before other, more deserving candidates.

The 2019 Breitbart News Fake News Awards

2019’s ‘Fox Staffer Caught Kissing Future Employer Jeff Zucker’s Ass the Most’ Award: Andrew Napolitano

2019’s ‘Fox Staffer Caught Kissing Future Employer Jeff Zucker’s Ass the Second Most’ Award: Chris Wallace

Ave atque vale 2019

 

Sample: JOHN CONYERS, pantsless parliamentarian

Like most of his colleagues, lifetime legislator John Conyers didn’t bother reading the 2,700-page health-care bill he voted for. As he said with disarming honesty, he wouldn’t understand it even if he did: “They get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” It would be churlish to direct readers to the video posted on the Internet of Representative Conyers finding time to peruse a copy of Playboy while on a commuter flight to Detroit.

What did I miss? Send your favorite to our Department of Lists. Representatives are standing by. This is because we can’t afford chairs.

~ Craig Millar