January 6, 2011

QotD: The “information elite”

Filed under: Media, Quotations, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 16:50

I noticed in the mid-nineties the new buzzword was “the Information Elite,” a proposed new class that included, by definition, anyone in the media, no matter how low-level or rote/mechanical in their actual job function. And you know who couldn’t get enough of talking about the “Information Elite?” The media, of course! Because everytime they brought it up, and fretted about this new class distinction that might have harmful effects for sooociiiiety, they were of course flattering themselves by naming themselves “the Elite.”

While pretending to worry about this new class, of course they were all delighting inside. Who wouldn’t? The dirty little secret is that pretty much anyone wants to be “elite” in some way or another. So any cute new catchphrase putting you into some new elite is going to be, well, a little attractive.

Anyway, that’s how class distinctions harden, I’m pretty sure, at the lower levels of the class, among the more marginal/aspirational members of the purported class, because they want the class to exist, because they need for it it to exist — in order for them to belong to it.

The low-level line producer at MSNBC needs the fiction of the “Information Elite” as a class a hell of a lot more than, say, Steven Spielberg does. Steven Spielberg doesn’t really have to worry about his status or position in the pecking order. He has enough individual accomplishments that he has no need to inflate his ego with the accomplishments of other people, to whom he is connected only by his purported class.

Ace, “The Illusion of the “Professional” Class and the Rise of the Liberal Aristocracy”, Ace of Spades HQ, 2011-01-06

Drug-sniffing dogs nowhere near as accurate as billed

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:17

Everyone loves dogs, right? They’re “man’s best friend”. They’re also a significant part of the war on drugs. And they’re far from infallible:

Drug-sniffing dogs can give police probable cause to root through cars by the roadside, but state data show the dogs have been wrong more often than they have been right about whether vehicles contain drugs or paraphernalia.

The dogs are trained to dig or sit when they smell drugs, which triggers automobile searches. But a Tribune analysis of three years of data for suburban departments found that only 44 percent of those alerts by the dogs led to the discovery of drugs or paraphernalia.

For Hispanic drivers, the success rate was just 27 percent.

For something as important in the arsenal of drug warriors, drug-sniffing dogs and their handlers don’t appear to have training standards of any consistency:

But even advocates for the use of drug-sniffing dogs agree with experts who say many dog-and-officer teams are poorly trained and prone to false alerts that lead to unjustified searches. Leading a dog around a car too many times or spending too long examining a vehicle, for example, can cause a dog to give a signal for drugs where there are none, experts said.

“If you don’t train, you can’t be confident in your dog,” said Alex Rothacker, a trainer who works with dozens of local drug-sniffing dogs. “A lot of dogs don’t train. A lot of dogs aren’t good.”

The dog teams are not held to any statutory standard of performance in Illinois or most other states, experts and dog handlers said, though private groups offer certification for the canines.

No standards for training? Lucrative police department budgets? Nope, no possible way that unscrupulous folks would ever take advantage of that opening.

Orders of magnitude, US dollar version

Filed under: Economics, Randomness, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 07:53

Page Tutor provides a very useful visual reference to the terms Million, Billion, and Trillion:

Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

H/T to Tim Harford for the link.

Mark Steyn on the state of Britain

Filed under: Britain, Education, Government, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:38

From a longer column on the general state of decline in the Anglosphere, Mark Steyn points out the negative aspects of British public education on modern day “Britons”:

In cutting off two generations of students from their cultural inheritance, the British state has engaged in what we will one day come to see as a form of child abuse, one that puts a huge question mark over the future. Why be surprised that legions of British Muslims sign up for the Taliban? These are young men who went to school in Luton and West Bromwich and learned nothing of their country of nominal citizenship other than that it’s responsible for racism, imperialism, colonialism, and all the other bad -isms of the world. If that’s all you knew of Britain, why would you feel any allegiance to Queen and country? And what if you don’t have Islam to turn to? The transformation of the British people is, in its own malign way, a remarkable achievement. Raised in schools that teach them nothing, they nevertheless pick up the gist of the matter, which is that their society is a racket founded on various historical injustices. The virtues Hayek admired? Ha! Strictly for suckers.

When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want,” to be accomplished by “cooperation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from the vicissitudes of fate, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams: Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity. Churchill called his book The History of the English-Speaking Peoples — not the English-Speaking Nations. The extraordinary role played by those nations in the creation and maintenance of the modern world derived from their human capital.

What happens when, as a matter of state policy, you debauch your human capital? The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers; marriage is all but defunct, except for toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims. For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ’s Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population. One-fifth of British children are raised in homes in which no adult works. Just under 900,000 people have been off sick for over a decade, claiming “sick benefits,” week in, week out, for ten years and counting. “Indolence,” as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a free society, but rarely has any state embraced this oldest temptation as literally as Britain. There is almost nothing you can’t get the government to pay for.

And this bit where he shows that the British government defies parody:

For its worshippers, Big Government becomes a kind of religion: the state as church. After the London Tube bombings, Gordon Brown began mulling over the creation of what he called a “British equivalent of the U.S. Fourth of July,” a new national holiday to bolster British identity. The Labour Party think-tank, the Fabian Society, proposed that the new “British Day” should be July 5th, the day the National Health Service was created. Because the essence of contemporary British identity is waiting two years for a hip operation. A national holiday every July 5th: They can call it Dependence Day.

Even Time Lords could get confused by this matchup

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:18

I can’t improve on The Register‘s take:

Doctor Who the 10th, David Tennant, is planning to get hitched to his fictional daughter Georgia Moffett, who also happens to be the real daughter of his fictional fifth incarnation.

Moffet is the real-life fruit of former Time Lord Peter Davison’s loins, and played Who offspring Jenny in 2008’s The Doctor’s Daughter. Davison and his future son-in-law Tennant appeared together in 2007’s Children in Need Doctor Who special Time Crash, well after Ms Moffet really existed, but before she was spawned as her soon-to-be husband’s television child.

Paradoxically, this means that Davison and Tennant came together as both individuals and the same person, while one was the father of the future daughter of the other.

Powered by WordPress