Quotulatiousness

January 3, 2018

Oregon reacts in horror to the idea of pumping their own gas

Filed under: Business, Humour, Law, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Full-service gas stations have been on the endangered list for a long time … I can’t remember the last time I saw one in my travels. Apparently, if I’d been to Oregon, that’s all I’d have encountered because it’s one of two states that forbid drivers to pump their own gas. At least, that was until the start of 2018, when Oregon allowed certain rural gas stations to allow self-service, and you’d think the world was about to end, based on these Facebook comments:

Click to see Facebook comments.

Sandy Franklin I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian…..I say NO THANKS! I don’t want to smell like gasoline!

Cathy Dahl No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea. Grrr

Tina Good Not a good idea, there are lots of reason to have an attendant helping, one is they need a job too. Many people are not capable of knowing how to pump gas and the hazards of not doing it correctly. Besides I don’t want to go to work smelling of gas when I get it on my hands or clothes. I agree Very bad idea.

Kyle Allen One time, my dad came to Oregon and pumped his own gas. The street immediately lit on fire and he caused massive recession countrywide because he took away 20 billion jobs by pumping his own gas. I was in the back seat when brother was nabbed through the locked door by a transient creeper who raised him to be his human ottoman. My dad then tried wiping his windshield but the stuff he used turned out to be sulfuric acid. The car exploded with me in it and I died. My dad lost 3 parenting points because he was 2 feet away fueling his car when he could have had someone else do this very simple task for him.

Joseph Kimrey It’s official.
Oregon is full of mentally defective, full grown children, incapable of the most mundane of adult tasks.

Chris Donnelly Apparently most people in Oregon assume that in order to pump gas you must first remove all people from the vehicle and stand in the open while thugs attack from all angles, all while being sprayed with gas

Mike Perrone I’ve lived in this state all my life and I REFUSE to pump my own gas. I had to do it once in California while visiting my brother and almost died doing it. This a service only qualified people should perform. I will literally park at the pump and wait until someone pumps my gas. I can’t even

Shifty McQuick If your only marketable job skill is being able to pump gas, by god, move to Oregon and you will have reached the promised land.

Kelsa Freitas Yuck! Pumping my on fuel in freezing temperatures and handling a nasty ole fuel nozzle that 50 other people have touched that day (and who knows what cooties are on there), no thank you. It’s nice to not have to pump your own fuel.

H/T to M.A. Rothman for linking to the original post.

August 24, 2017

Heinlein’s “Crazy Years”

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In his recent USA Today column, Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds gives a shout-out to Robert A. Heinlein’s pre-WW2-era “Future History” timeline which included a segment presciently called “The Crazy Years”:

Very early in his writing career, about 1940, science fiction writer Robert Heinlein outlined a “future history” around which much of his writing would revolve, extending from the mid-twentieth century to the 24th century. Much of what he outlined hasn’t come to pass, but he nailed it in one respect: We live in the “Crazy Years.”

The Crazy Years, in Heinlein’s timeline, were when rapid changes in technology, together with the disruption those changes caused in mores and economics, caused society to, well, go crazy. They ran from the last couple of decades of the 20th Century into the first couple of decades of the 21st. In some of his novels set in that era — Time Enough for Love, for example — he includes random assortments of headlines that may have seemed crazy enough back then, but that seem downright tame today.

I’m not the first to make this connection — science fiction writers John C. Wright and Sarah Hoyt have remarked on it, and as Hoyt notes, “these are the Crazy Years” has become something of a stock joke among Heinlein fans.

But what does that mean? As Wright observes — invoking not only Heinlein but his contemporary A.E. Van Vogt, “craziness” comes when beliefs don’t match facts:

“Craziness can be measured by maladaptive behavior. The behavior the society uses to solve one kind of problem, when applied to an incorrect category, disorients it. When this happens the whole society, even if some members are aware of the disorientation, cannot reach the correct conclusion, or react in a fashion that preserves society from harm. As if society were a dolphin that called itself a fish: when it suffered the sensation of drowning, it would dive. But a dolphin is a mammal, a member of a different category of being. When dolphins are low on air, they surface, rather than dive. Putting yourself in the wrong category leads to the wrong behavior.”

May 2, 2017

Cultural appropriation, to the max!

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

In the latest issue of Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith talks about the logical conclusion to the cultural appropriation discussion:

Not all of the transgressions that precious snowflake-thugs accuse real human beings of are sexual in nature. The most ludicrous I’ve heard of is “cultural appropriation”. If I were sitting here, writing this in my sombrero and grass skirt, instead of a t-shirt and jeans, I would be guilty of it. If I adopt any custom, article of clothing, item of cuisine, (yes, chili beans are evil, and kung-pao is beyond the pale) or turn of phrase from another culture (G’day, cobber!), I can be accused — and gotten rid of — by the Cult of Correctness.

But here’s the thing: there is no original American culture. The way we live — pass the spaghetti, please — is made up of bits and pieces from hundreds of different cultures, all mixed delightfully together. I can have Mexican beer — made by German brewers — with my pizza (or kung-pao) and my life is enriched. It is America’s great strength. The leftist crybullies know this, of course. I think it may have been Ayn Rand (we appropriated her from Russia) who pointed out the underhanded collectivist tactic of attacking a person or thing for its virtues.

If I eschew tableware (a French invention, I believe) and knap myself an obsidian knife before dinner, am I appropriating Neanderthal culture?

They don’t give a rat’s ass; it’s just another thing to get people they don’t like with. Whether they know it or not (most likely they do not), their moral exemplars are Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who infamously said “Property is theft.” and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who commanded them to “Eat the rich.” So deep and ancient is their resentment of the achievements of others and despite the fact that their ideological leaders have all hypocritically gorged themselves at the public trough, that they’d insanely rather see the right-wing wealthy destroyed than have enough to eat, themselves. […]

Proudhon and Rousseau are bandits on the highway of life, their “philosophies” a crude attempt to render theft respectable. And their vile spawn, Anti-fa, are giving anarchism a bad name. And that is the naked, unvarnished truth. Life is hard enough without trying not to commit “microaggressions” which are simply another way of playing the leftist Gotcha! game with people who actually work — and think — for a living.

March 4, 2017

Barcelona opens the first brothel in Europe “staffed” with sex dolls

Filed under: Business, Europe — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming (if you’ll pardon the expression):

A new brothel has opened in Barcelona that offers men the chance to fulfil all their fantasies – as long as their fantasies involve hyper-realistic silicone dolls.

Lumidolls, which operates from an apartment building in downtown Barcelona, claims to be the first sex doll agency in Europe and offers hour-long ‘appointments’ with one of its four dolls for just €80.

The dolls, which are individually crafted from thermoplastic elastomer to be unique, have three orifices and flexible limbs enabling them to be maneuvered in almost any position.

Such sex dolls have already proved a huge hit in Japan and China – especially with husbands working away from home who want to avoid being unfaithful – but Lumidoll claims to be the first such brothel to open in Europe.

H/T to Clodagh Doyle for the link.

Update: Amy Alkon on a related topic.

Men Aren’t “Dehumanized” By Vibrators And Women Aren’t “Dehumanized” By Sex Robots

People have intelligence higher than that of a cat, fooled by a laser pointer.

Yes, we are quite able to discern between, say, a microwave and a human chef and a sex robot and a woman. Despite what this hysterical numbskull writes at Prospect Magazine about the “huge problem!!!” in robotics and AI

And Maggie McNeill also chimes in:

Update the second, 23 March: It was reported last week that the Barcelona sex doll brothel has been forced to move, due to opposition from non-sex-doll prostitutes and their union:

The original location in Barcelona at 2 Baixada de Sant Miquel had been in the Spanish city’s Gothic quarter, north of the cathedral.

But the brothel, not far from La Rambla in the heart of the city has now moved to a mystery new location with a receptionist saying the address would only be given out to paying customers.

Prostitutes who work in the city with Aprosex – the Association of Sex Professionals – objected saying a doll cannot match the services of a real person and denigrates real sex workers to merely being an object.

A statement on their website read: “The sex-affection of a person can not be provided by a doll. They are different and compatible services. They do not communicate.

“They do not listen to you or caress you, they do not comfort you or look at you. They do not give you their opinion or drink a glass of champagne with you.”

Janet, a prostitute with over 30 years in the industry, who works in the city’s Raval district said: “It is another strategy of the patriarchy that presents us as objects without rights or soul. A privilege of the wealthy classes.”

November 1, 2016

The weirdness that is the year 2016

Filed under: Humour, Politics, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

From Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “newsletter”:

This has been a weird year. But, frankly, things have been getting weird for a while now. For a few years, I’ve increasingly felt like someone was ransacking the conventional-wisdom warehouse and throwing away the old standards.

The D&D geek in me likes to imagine there’s some Gothic keep out there with a grand library full of jars containing the Unwritten Rules of the Universe, each filled with some kind of pixie or will-o-the-wisp free-floating within. Alas, a couple of precocious kids broke in, climbed up the sliding library ladder along the shelves, and then smashed each ancient jar on the floor. The ephemeral creatures within flew away, and took their rules with them.

The sci-fi geek in me imagines that maybe the code of the universal computer has been hacked or corrupted and so the dedicated and automated programs of daily life are weirdly misfiring. You laugh now, but let’s see how funny you think this is when Kim Kardashian cracks the formula for cold fusion or water starts boiling at 200 degrees.

[…]

As a Chestertonian at heart, I like and respect old things. I like it when stuff beats the law of averages for reasons we cannot easily fathom. The Hayekian in me thinks old things that last often do so for good reasons we just don’t — and sometimes can’t — know.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where we take the razor of reason to every little thing and strain to know the whys of it, as if knowing the why will empower the how.

For example, we know that kids raised in stable two-parent, religiously observant families will on average do better than kids who are not. This holds true despite differences in race, class, and religion. We all have theories for why this is so — but too many people think that if we can just isolate the variables, we can take the good bits and discard the husks we don’t like.

An even worse — and more prevalent — mindset is to not even bother with the why. If we can’t immediately grasp why some old practice, some ancient tradition, some venerable custom or Chestertonian fence is worthwhile, we tend to instantly dismiss it as outdated and old-fashioned.

But again, as Chesterton and Hayek alike understood, simply because something is “old-fashioned” doesn’t mean it wasn’t fashioned in the first place. And by fashioned, I mean manufactured and constructed. Customs are created because they solve problems. But they get less respect in our present age because they have no identifiable authors. They are crowd-sourced, to borrow a modern phrase for an ancient phenomenon. The customs and institutions we take for granted are crammed full of embedded knowledge every bit as much as prices are. But most intelligent people are comfortable admitting they can’t know all the factors that go into a price, but we constantly want to dissect the whys of every custom.

September 22, 2016

Arizona’s law to effectively criminalize parenting survives state supreme court scrutiny

Filed under: Law, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

If anything could symbolize the Crazy Years, this (insane) Arizona law certainly qualifies:

The Legislature passed laws ostensibly designed to punish child molesters, but apparently forgot to make sexual intent a requisite element of molestation.

As Slate legal writer Mark Joseph Stern notes, the laws prohibit any person from “intentionally or knowingly” touching “any part of the genitals, anus or female breast” for anyone under 15. That’s it:

    Indeed, read literally, the statutes would seem to prohibit parents from changing their child’s diaper. And the measures forbid both “direct and indirect touching,” meaning parents cannot even bathe their child without becoming sexual abusers under the law.

In response to a legal challenge by a man convicted of molestation because of the Legislature’s idiocy, three of five judges ruled there was no ambiguity in the law. They declined to

    rewrite the statutes to require the state to prove sexual motivation, when the statutes clearly contain no such requirement.

There’s some interesting discussion between the majority and minority over whether the law is nonetheless unconstitutional, even if it’s not ambiguous. The minority, per Stern:

    No one thinks that the legislature really intended to criminalize every knowing or intentional act of touching a child in the prohibited areas. Reading the statutes as doing so creates a constitutional vagueness problem, as it would mean both that people do not have fair notice of what is actually prohibited and that the laws do not adequately constrain prosecutorial discretion.

This terrible bit of legislative farce is actually a symptom of a much wider problem:

Let’s not forget, however, that if the Legislature had taken its job seriously and crafted legislative language that passed the laugh test, Arizona parents wouldn’t be in this position.

Lawmakers have gotten a little too comfortable in trusting that they can pass any idiotic law – perhaps to sate their rabid, ignorant constituents – and judges will save them from the consequences.

Then they can rail against “judicial activism” and get re-elected. It’s a perfect scheme.

If more judges were to let lawmakers suffer the consequences of their foolishness, perhaps voters would sober up and stop demanding the most draconian, unjust, utterly pointless measures against sexual offenses, real or perceived.

October 1, 2013

Candy-coat my world and keep me safe from my trouble and pain

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 15:04

I linked to an entertaining rant by Ace last week that talked about the “nummification” of modern life. At risk of being identified with the “get off my lawn you [26-year-old] kids” bracket, here’s another tale of western society’s almost complete flight from adulthood by Christopher Taylor:

But the culture has become a bit too childish and cutesy for me. If you look around you can see what’s happening easily enough. Adam Carolla recently went on a rant about Starbucks “coffee” and how childish its all become. I won’t link it here because it gets pretty foul and sexualized, but the basic gist is this: you didn’t have a coffee before work, you had a shake. That Caramel Moccachino with whipped cream and sprinkles on top wasn’t a coffee, it was candy in a cup.
You can extend this further. I saw an ad recently on TV for adult vitamins, clearly targeted at men. The selling point? They’re gummy vitamins. Multi-Vites! They’re chewable and sweet! Take a few of those in the morning before your coffee shake. And for lunch? A “power bar” which is a candy bar with vitamins in it.

This isn’t adult behavior, its Halloween all day long. Remember when you were 11 and mom wouldn’t let you gorge yourself out of the plastic pumpkin bucket you filled on Halloween night? And you kicked the side of the bed vowing that when you grew up you’d eat all the candy you wanted?

You’re supposed to grow out of that stage.

[…]

I’ve written about the annoyance of frat boy culture here many times, where men are perpetually the party boy they imagined themselves being in college. Never grow up, never get serious, always avoid responsibility. Your hair getting gray? Return it to your “natural” color with dye! Hey, idiot, gray is your natural color. Put away the Viagra, you’re old. Deal with it.

Except that’s not even the problem any more. We’re being told that adolescence now extends to age 25 by sociologists. Yes, I know sociology is about as much science as astrology, but this isn’t a suggestion, its a diagnosis.

Taylor also links to this BBC News Magazine article from last week, which advances the notion that expecting young people to become adults at 18 or even 25 is no longer realistic:

Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, says we have infantilised young people and this has led to a growing number of young men and women in their late 20s still living at home.

“Often it’s claimed it’s for economic reasons, but actually it’s not really for that,” says Furedi. “There is a loss of the aspiration for independence and striking out on your own. When I went to university it would have been a social death to have been seen with your parents, whereas now it’s the norm.

“So you have this kind of cultural shift which basically means that adolescence extends into your late twenties and that can hamper you in all kinds of ways, and I think what psychology does is it inadvertently reinforces that kind of passivity and powerlessness and immaturity and normalises that.”

Furedi says that this infantilised culture has intensified a sense of “passive dependence” which can lead to difficulties in conducting mature adult relationships. There’s evidence of this culture even in our viewing preferences.

“There’s an increasing number of adults who are watching children’s movies in the cinema,” says Furedi. “If you look at children’s TV channels in America, 25% of the viewers are adults rather than children.”

He does not agree that the modern world is far more difficult for young people to navigate.

“I think that what it is, is not that the world has become crueller, it’s just that we hold our children back from a very early age. When they’re 11, 12, 13 we don’t let them out on their own. When they’re 14, 15, we hover all over them and insulate them from real-life experience. We treat university students the way we used to treat school pupils, so I think it’s that type of cumulative effect of infantilisation which is responsible for this.”

September 26, 2013

Selling things by amping up the “numminess” factor

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 17:01

I think Ace is making a good point here … modern culture is being retuned to a younger, less adult-oriented default:

A moccachino, topped with lots of nummy whipped cream, is not a sophisticated taste. We emerge from the womb craving the sweetness of sugar, after all.

Again, it’s one thing to indulge in a treat. But it’s another thing to decide to simply revert to one’s childhood self.

Now when he was on this rant, I thought he was full of shit and just being annoyed because Being Annoyed is how Adam Carolla makes his rent.

He also, I’m sure, went off on his typical rant about adult men watching Super Hero Movies, which does in fact hurt my butt. And I’m sure he connected that to the New Nummy.

[…]

We are indeed becoming a more childlike people. We are more and more shirking the expected obligations of adulthood, such as marriage and procreation, and even more basically, we’re rejecting the obligation of adults to actually think, in terms of numbers, and of best outcomes, and so forth.

The national mode of thinking is now Nummy. “We” — and by we I mean Americans, not “we” meaning us here right now — increasingly think in terms of cute, and easy, and glib, and dumb, and fun.

[…]

Why, Yes, actually. Because having all of your trivial cultural preferences flattered by impersonal corporations at every turn is itself Very Nummy Indeed. All little girls want to be told that they’re the Best and Prettiest Little Girl there is, and all little boys want to be told they will play for the Yankees when they Get Big.

To have one’s head patted and cheeks pinched by Admiring Grown Ups at all possible times is the Nummiest Nummy Thing there is.

[…]

Now I have to caveat this: Prior to Tweener Girls becoming the default National Tastemakers, our national culture was determined by the tastes of 19 year old boys, per the Zanuck Postulate.*

So this isn’t just a sexist thing. It’s about losing at least those seven years of maturation, too.

We are drowning in nostalgia and crushing debt and we can’t see the latter because we’ve checked out into our Happy Place to chase the former.

I can’t blame the White House or BuzzFeed for these trends. They’re pushers, but they didn’t create the sad addiction. This stuff works in America.

But why? Why does it work?

When did we all check out of adulthood to revert to tweenerhood? And when did we stop thinking that might be a little indulgent and shameful?

The Crazy Years – you’re soaking in it

Filed under: Books, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Robert Heinlein plotted out the entire arc of his “Future History” stories on a chart that included technological, social, and political events that either featured in or were key drivers for individual stories:

Click to view full size

Click to view full size

While our actual technological advances haven’t matched Heinlein’s predictions, you could make a strong case that the sociological column got it right by calling the era from the late-sixties onwards “The Crazy Years”. Samizdata‘s Johnathan Pearce linked to this post by Charles Steele which makes the case quite well:

In his Past Through Tomorrow and other works, Robert A. Heinlein explored a possible future history for homo sapiens. One of things he foresaw was a period at the end of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st that he called “the Crazy Years,” in which cultural fragmentation and decay in advanced countries generates political and economic decline and social disruption. He was prescient in recognizing what happens when commonly accepted principles such as an individual’s responsibility for self are forgotten and political correctness and multiculturalism run amok. As advancing technology places increasing power in human hands, human ethics fail to keep pace. In Heinlein’s world, humans do manage to navigate these shoals without destroying themselves and eventually do settle on a MYOB sort of libertarian ethic…but only narrowly averting nuclear self-destruction and environmental self-destruction, and not without going through periods of dictatorship as well as societal chaos.

Heinlein’s story isn’t just fiction. In the course of the development of the Soviet SETI program, astrophysicist Nikolai Kardeshev developed a theory of civilizations and what we might look for in trying to detect them. Kardeshev’s work — which has been further developed by others — gives a classification system based on the scale at which a planet-based civilization can harness energy. The lowest level of civilization, Type I, has the capability of harnessing the entirety of the energy of its planet. As a sort of corollary, it’s hypothesized that a species that is approaching Type I mastery potentially goes through a very dangerous period, akin to Heinlein’s “Crazy Years.” Their advanced level of technology gives them power capable of destroying the civilization if misused. If the species fails to develop behaviors, ethics, institutions, etc. that prevent this it can annihilate itself. I’m uncertain how much of this corollary is in Kardeshev’s original contribution, but physicist Michio Kaku suggests that one thing we could look for in SETI is the wreckage of civilizations that failed to make the transition to Type I. And of course, our civilization is our one example, so far, of a civilization entering this transition.

What’s the connection between Heinlein and Kardeshev? Think of just a few examples of the dangers we face today:

  • Iranian or Al Qaeda religious fanatics obtaining nuclear weapons…
  • An American federal government — especially the executive branch — working to acquire unlimited power, and already apparently having the power to spy on essentially all communications, everywhere…
  • A growing segment of the population — some poor and some very rich (think Goldman Sachs) — who live as parasites on the productivity of others while creating nothing of values themselves…
  • An intelligentsia that cannot bring itself to condemn Islamism for fear of being seen as insensitive or racist or ethnocentric, but which regularly denounces, in the most hateful terms, anyone who opposes the continued expansion of state power…
  • An intelligentsia that praises socialism, hunter-gatherer economies, massive interventionism, anything but the one system that actually works, free market capitalism, a system they bitterly condemn…
  • A “press,” our mainstream media, that sees its job as promoting political positions and readily lies when lies serve this goal better than truth, and spouts nonsense the remainder of the time, apparently because reasoned analysis is too hard.

Yes, we’re in the crazy years, for sure.

And yet, in spite of all this, he’s still optimistic about the future.

February 16, 2013

Scott Feschuk challenges your detection skills

Filed under: Humour, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:19

In his Maclean’s column, Scott Feschuk wants to see how perceptive you are:

Looking for a fun getaway? Here are five theme cruises. Four of them you can book right now. The other? I made it up. Try to guess which one. (For the answer, scroll down past the end of the column.)

The Wizard Cruise. “Imagine!” the website says. “Imagine 600 Harry Potter fanatics, dressed in their finest wizard robes and brandishing magic wands, descending upon a modern luxury liner.” Do you have that image in your head? Now imagine all of the other passengers pointing and laughing. Imagine the three female “wizards” on board getting tired of hearing the same pickup line: “Wanna pet my hippogriff?” Imagine quidditch being a letdown because the snitch is a beach ball and a muggle keeps deflating your water wings.

Listen: I’m not saying this cruise is likely to attract a homely group of passengers, but before the voyage there will be a brief pause as the ship is christened the Self-Love Boat.

August 19, 2012

The end of the world is nigh

Filed under: Books, Environment, Media, Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:07

Sell all your posessions! Live for the now! Repent your sins! Or, as Matt Ridley suggests, keep calm and carry on:

This is the question posed by the website 2012apocalypse.net. “super volcanos? pestilence and disease? asteroids? comets? antichrist? global warming? nuclear war?” the site’s authors are impressively open-minded about the cause of the catastrophe that is coming at 11:11 pm on December 21 this year. but they have no doubt it will happen. after all, not only does the Mayan Long Count calendar end that day, but “the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years.”

When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives. And the prophets of apocalypse always draw a following — from the 100,000 Millerites who took to the hills in 1843, awaiting the end of the world, to the thousands who believed in Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster who forecast the final rapture in both 1994 and 2011.

Religious zealots hardly have a monopoly on apocalyptic thinking. Consider some of the environmental cataclysms that so many experts promised were inevitable. Best-selling economist Robert Heilbroner in 1974: “The outlook for man, I believe, is painful, difficult, perhaps desperate, and the hope that can be held out for his future prospects seem to be very slim indeed.” Or best-selling ecologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s [“and 1980s” was added in a later edition] the world will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now … nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Or Jimmy Carter in a televised speech in 1977: “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”

Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests. Yet there is no sign that experts are becoming more cautious about apocalyptic promises. If anything, the rhetoric has ramped up in recent years. Echoing the Mayan calendar folk, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight at the start of 2012, commenting: “The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth’s atmosphere.”

March 21, 2012

Converting teachers into pre-grief counsellors

Filed under: Britain, Education, Health, Randomness — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:51

Dennis Hayes on the recent trend in teaching: preventing children from having “best friends” because the emotional pain of losing a best friend is too much for kids to bear.

In some English schools, having best friends can now get you in serious trouble with teacher. At the weekend, it was reported that primary school children in certain areas are being discouraged from having best friends to avoid the ‘pain of falling out’. Gaynor Sbuttoni, an educational psychologist working with schools in south-west London, told The Sunday Times, ‘I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn’t have a best friend and that everyone should play together… They’re doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend.’ Sbuttoni is not the first to speak out against this trend in the UK, and ‘no best friend’ policies have been in place in some US schools for quite a while.

Reading the reports, it might seem like this is just a silly intervention by meddling teachers, which simply needs to be stamped out. But that underestimates what is going on in our schools. The teaching profession is being reformed as a therapeutic profession, often prioritising the delivery of therapy over education to ‘vulnerable’ children and young people. As this new therapeutic profession develops, more and more interventions like ‘no best friends’ will arise, either spontaneously in classrooms or as a result of conscious intervention by school heads, local authorities, government and, of course, Ofsted, which runs with every fad and fashion.

Meddling in young children’s emotional lives is the worst feature of contemporary schooling. Children are now trained to have ‘appropriate’ emotions through emotional literacy classes and so-called subjects like SEAL — the ‘Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning’. The training on offer in such sessions is nothing short of emotional manipulation. Children are taught to be moderate; empathy is good, anger is bad. They are taught to be emotionally dead, out of touch with all the emotions that make up human relationships, passion, anger, jealousy, hatred and even love, which is sentimentalised and sanitised. This is the anodyne therapeutic ethos that now dominates education at all levels.

January 26, 2012

The Crazy Years: today’s exhibit – the junction between bad parenting and bad nutrition

Filed under: Britain, Health, Randomness — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:21

May we present Stacey Irvine, 17, the new poster girl for neglectful parenting and test case for even more Nanny State intervention:

A teenage girl who has eaten almost nothing else apart from chicken nuggets for 15 years has been warned by doctors that the junk food is killing her.

Stacey Irvine, 17, has been hooked on the treats since her mother bought her some at a McDonald’s restaurant when she was two.

[. . .]

Miss Irvine, who has never eaten fruit or vegetables, had swollen veins in her tongue and was found to have anaemia.

[. . .]

Her exasperated mother Evonne Irvine, 39, who is battling to get her daughter seen by a specialist, told the newspaper: ‘It breaks my heart to see her eating those damned nuggets.

‘She’s been told in no uncertain terms that she’ll die if she carries on like this. But she says she can’t eat anything else.’

She once tried starving her daughter in a bid to get her to eat more nutritious food – but did not have any success.

Miss Irvine, whose only other variation in her diet is the occasional slice of toast for breakfast and crisps, said that once she tried nuggets she ‘loved them so much they were all I would eat’.

Of course, this is reported in the Daily Mail, so the story’s relationship with reality may be a bit looser than one might hope.

January 24, 2012

The Crazy Years: today’s exhibit, the $100 hot dog infused with 100-year-old cognac

Filed under: Cancon, Randomness — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:55

There are undoubtedly culinary discoveries yet to be made, some of which may well be amazingly tasty. Pulling together unlikely combinations is certainly one way to discover new and interesting flavours. This one, however, strikes me as being just a little bit crazy:

dougieDog Hot Dogs, a popular Vancouver eatery renowned for its creative all-natural hot dogs, has just added the Dragon Dog to its menu — with a price tag of $100. The hot dog features a foot-long bratwurst infused with hundred-year-old Louis XIII cognac, which costs over $2000 a bottle. Also on the dog, Kobe beef seared in olive and truffle oil and fresh lobster. A picante sauce (ingredients undisclosed) ties the flavors together for 12 inches of absolute culinary decadence.

“In designing this hot dog I wanted to come up with something super tasty and high-end that stays true to the traditional identity of the hot dog — a hot dog that any hot dog lover would enjoy,” explained dougieDOG proprietor and Chief Hot Dog Designer dougie luv.

I’m surprised the owner’s name isn’t C.M.O.T. Dibbler

December 2, 2011

“There is no prophecy for 2012. It is a marketing fallacy”

Filed under: Americas, History, Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:14

The BBC attempts to debunk the “2012 is the end of the world” notion that the Mayans are supposed to have predicted.

The date marks the end of one of the periods of roughly 400 years into which the Mayan calendar is divided.

Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropological History has also tried to counter speculation that the Maya predicted a catastrophic event for 2012.

Only two out of 15,000 registered Mayan texts mention the date 2012, according to the Institute, and no Mayan text predicts the end of the world.

“There is no prophecy for 2012. It is a marketing fallacy,” Erik Velasquez, etchings specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told Reuters.

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