Quotulatiousness

March 10, 2017

Free agency 2017 – the first day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

From the opening gun of the 2017 league year (and also the first day of official free agency), the news was flowing thick and fast … unless you were a certain former Viking first-time free agent running back. Day one of free agency saw a run on offensive tackles, with almost any free agent who’d ever taken a snap at that position being offered incredibly lucrative deals. Tackle, of course is the single weakest position on the roster of the Minnesota Vikings entering the 2017 season, with one former starter at the position decisively choosing to move on from his rookie deal (Matt Kalil signed a less lucrative contract, at least by rumour, to join the Carolina Panthers, where his elder brother Ryan is the starting centre) and others (Jake Long, Andre Smith) no longer under contract.

Minnesota reportedly attempted to sign several other highly sought tackles, but ended up signing only former Detroit Lion Riley Reiff, who will probably be the new left tackle by default (other players under contract include T.J. Clemmings, Jeremiah Sirles, Rashod Hill, and left guard Alex Boone, who could kick outside to tackle if required). Reiff, who was selected in the first round of the same draft after Matt Kalil, can play either tackle position and graded out as an average-to-below-average player for Detroit over his career … which still means he represents an upgrade over the Vikings’ 2016 offensive tackles as a group.

Other former Viking free agents moved on to other teams, including tight end Rhett Ellison, who got a very nice deal from the Giants ($18 million over four years, with $8 million guaranteed), and punter Jeff Locke accepted an offer from the Indianapolis Colts (terms not yet disclosed).

Among the other Viking free agents whose names didn’t get mentioned today, Adrian Peterson clearly didn’t seem to get the kind of buzz he and his agent may have been expecting. Other running backs were busy announcing visits to various RB-needy teams, but no teams appeared to involve Peterson in their immediate plans.

The Russian February Revolution 1917 I THE GREAT WAR Week 137

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 9 Mar 2017

Food shortages, an overall desolate supply situation and great political turmoil make Russia ripe for revolution and this week 100 years ago, the people take to the streets. The US adopts a policy of armed neutrality.

The two Elon Musks – the savvy businessman and the crony capitalist

Filed under: Business, Government, Space, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In The Federalist, Eric Peters describes the ways Elon Musk and his SpaceX crew manage to profit from government subsidies in the process of putting their Falcon rockets into space:

Image from SpaceX website.

Today, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration specializes in putting taxpayer dollars into the pockets of crony capitalist chieftains such as Elon Musk, whose SpaceX operation manages to get NASA to pay him to use its launch pads and other infrastructure — all provided at taxpayer expense. He also doesn’t cut NASA in when he uses its facilities — our facilities — to launch rockets carrying private cargo, meaning he effectively gets paid for it twice.

That’s once in the check he gets from the private business whose cargo his rocket is carrying; then again in the de facto subsidy he gets for the free use of NASA’s equipment at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Why isn’t Elon paying the freight, as opposed to blowing it up?

Incidentally, that happens a lot. Over the past five years alone, SpaceX has lost the same number of rockets as NASA did space shuttles over the 30 years it operated them. And the shuttle wasn’t a money-making machine for politically connected crony capitalists such as Musk. Taxpayers funded it, but no private citizens got a check from taxpayers.

The shuttle even made some money for taxpayers. Private businesses paid NASA to carry satellites into orbit, recovering some of the cost of building that infrastructure. The shuttle also did things useful for the public, like put the Hubble telescope in orbit. It has given humanity an unprecedented view of the universe, and not on pay-per-view.

I read a biography of Elon Musk soon after it was published … and it did a good job of pushing a more sympathetic view of its subject than the linked article above.

The rise of toxic “intellectual tribalism” on campus

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

George Leef on how the protests at Middlebury College in Vermont against Charles Murray show just how thin the veneer of civilization has become at America’s institutes of higher learning:

The reason why, I think, is explained by the intellectual tribalism that grips much of America.

I mean that many people label others as either being in their tribe (consisting of people who are righteous and always correct) and the opposing tribe (consisting of people who are evil, stupid, and wrong on everything). Real scholars never impart such ideas because they know that reasonable and moral people can disagree on almost everything. They also know that the only way for civilized people to counter error is through debate; they know that people cannot be persuaded with violence.

Unfortunately, intellectual tribalism is spreading like the Black Death among so-called progressives. Anyone who disagrees with progressive policies is likely to be labeled an enemy, much as Karl Marx labeled everyone who rejected his beliefs a “class enemy.” The more influential such a person is, the more vehement the attacks and hatred against him. Murray, for example, is called a “racist” and “white supremacist” even though he is neither.

(Try this thought experiment. What would have happened if one of the good, liberal students had piped up and asked, “But shouldn’t we find out if this guy really is a white supremacist before we shout him down?”)

And turning to the toxic effects of this indoctrination, one is the growing idea that the enemy tribe must be fought by any means necessary. Not only do evil people like Murray not deserve to be heard, they deserve to be punched.

Professor Michael Munger of Duke University recently commented on this disturbing phenomenon after he discovered a flier on campus. The flier, he wrote, “encouraged students to ‘bash the fash!’ meaning physically assault fascists. The definition of ‘fascist,’ conveniently, appears to be anyone who disagrees with the smothering leftist orthodoxy that the flier-istas embrace.” Just smear your opponents with a nasty name and it’s easy to whip up hatred and violence.

In Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother’s regime utilized the Two Minute Hate against an imaginary villain to maintain support among the people. At Middlebury, it was more like two hours, and the “villain” perfectly real, but the effect was the same. The leftist zealots “won” by preventing discussion and forcing “bad” people to flee in fear.

The veneer of civilization is thin enough under the best of circumstances. Education ought to strengthen it by making people more willing to listen respectfully to others, disagree rationally, and peacefully walk away from intractable disputes. The behavior of the Middlebury mob shows that for a significant number of students, education has taken them away from civilization, putting them back into the mindset of primitive tribalism.

BAHFest Sydney 2016: Dr. James O’Hanlon “Why do males have nipples?”

Filed under: Humour, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on Feb 26, 2017

Watch Dr. James O’Hanlon discuss how nipples are actually rudimentary balance organs that detect the bodies orientation in space assisting terrestrial mammals stay upright.

The first BAHFest Sydney took place at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences on Friday, August 19th 2016.

For more info about BAHFest and upcoming shows in your part of the world, visit http://www.bahfest.com

QotD: Most “Authentic” cuisine is anything but authentic

Filed under: Business, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Americans of a certain social class love nothing more than an “authentic” food experience. It is the highest praise that they can heap on a restaurant. The ideal food is one that was perfected by honest local peasants in some picturesque locale, then served the same way for centuries, the traditions passed down from mother to daughter (less occasionally, from father to son), with stern admonitions not to dishonor their ancestry by making it wrong.

These American diners are constantly in a quest for their own lost heritage, along with the traditions of other peoples they don’t know very well. We live, the lore says, in a fallen state, victims of Big Agriculture and a food industry that has rendered everything bland, fatty and sweet. By tapping the traditions of centuries past — or other, poorer places — we can regain the paradise that our grandparents unaccountably abandoned.

And who could be against wanting a more authentic, genuine food experience? I’m so glad you asked.

In fact, authenticity is an illusion, and a highly overrated one. Most of the foods we think of as “authentic” are of relatively recent vintage — since capsaicin-containing hot peppers are native to the Americas, any spicy cuisine like Szechuan or Thai is by definition a Johnny-come-lately invention. Or take artisanal breads, like that crusty, moist peasant bread that most of us eat too much of at restaurants: Nathan Myhrvold, the mad genius of the cookbook world, says that this is a new invention. Our peasant ancestors, who got a large portion of their calories from bread, did not make these richly hydrated doughs, because they’re a pain in the butt to work with. Ciabatta, another bread that America likes because it sounds very authentic, was invented in the 1980s to compete with the baguette. (Itself a product of Industrial Revolution bakeries, not the proud local peasant.)

Megan McArdle, “‘Authentic’ Food Is Not What You Think It Is”, Bloomberg View, 2017-02-24.

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