Always hatin on the cauliflower

What's a woke folk to do?  If we plant cauliflower in our community gardens, we're guilty of colonialism.  If we plant yucca and plaintains, we're culturally appropriating.  If we plant no community gardens, we're murdering Gaia and propping up Big Agriculture and capitalism, assuming we don't live in a produce desert.  What's left?  Planting in our own back yards?  Elitist pigs!  How dare we elevate ourselves over tenement dwellers, us and our land-grabbing culture?

If we grow no food, at least we can watch a culture consume itself.

Acting straight

This is one of those articles that send you to the thesaurus looking for an interesting new synonym for "unhinged."  Greta LaFleur worries that Pete Buttigieg's Norman Rockwell treatment on the cover of Time Magazine represents the triumph of "heterosexuality without women."  In this context, being straight has less to do with literal sex than with the awful sort of acting-white contagion that might lead black kids to do well in school in order to improve their lives and the futures of their communities.

We have oreos and bananas and apples as slurs for blacks or Asians or Native Americans who act too white.  It will be trickier to devise a slur for gays who act too straight, but I imagine someone's working on it.

Darth Vader takes over the Energy Star

It's hard to imagine a more irritating virtue-signal than Energy Star ratings, which apparently measure the degree to which an appliance lards on a lot of stupid options in an expensive cyborg brain that will only break expensively and often, while doing a poor job of whatever the appliance is supposed to do by restricting its use of water and power.

So I was delighted to see that the Koch brothers' evil plan to take over the universe has now advanced a step by bagging a coveted Energy Star award.  In a few days, no doubt, we'll see this award reversed as abruptly as some university department's ill-considered extension of a speech invitation to a wrongthink reactionary.

The smug party

In my distant youth I was taught to associate smugness with Republicans, not Democrats.  As Tucker Carleton hilariously put it earlier this year, Republicans always denied they were the party of the rich.  "We denied by the poolside, at the club.  'Boy, another bourbon, please!'"  I instinctively associated the Democrats with individual rights, dignity, and freedom as well.  Somewhere in the 90s all that changed for me.

A Quillette article ruminating on the existential shock of the Australian election included this chart showing the realignment of conservatives and liberals according to educational attainment, which tells us a lot about educational trends in the last few decades:

What the election actually shows us is that the so-called quiet Australians, whether they are tradies (to use the Australian term) in Penrith, retirees in Bundaberg, or small business owners in Newcastle, are tired of incessant scolding from their purported superiors. Condescension isn’t a good look for a political movement.
Combine this scolding with the demented balderdash emanating from ivory towers, and you've got a good recipe for people shaking their heads at the Church Lady and switching to another station.

How Much Is a Dragon Worth?

For aspiring knights and dames and hobbit-adventurers, Forbes staff writer Michael Noer does the analysis.

Last year, to quell lingering suspicions that we simply “make-up” the net worth numbers for the Fictional 15, our annual ranking of the richest fictional characters, I decided to publish the calculations behind my evaluation of Smaug’s fortune, the dragon from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (See “How Much is a Dragon Worth.”)

Taking into account a variety of factors including the estimated length of a dragon (64 feet), how many scales he has on his belly (822), the percentage of air in the treasure mound (30%) and the price of gold, silver and diamonds I estimated the ancient wyrm to be worth $8.6 billion.

The Internet disagreed.

Citing errors in everything from the value of the “Arkenstone of Thrain” to the price of mithril armor, Fictional 15 fans critiqued nearly every aspect of my calculation, usually concluding that I had vastly underestimated the old flamethrower’s net worth. One reader, gvbezoff, pegged Smaug’s wealth to be $870 billion, calling it a “conservative estimate.” For context, that’s about 12.5 times richer than Carlos Slim Helu, the planet’s richest non-fictional being.

Still, I am man enough to admit to making a few imaginary errors. So I carefully recalculated Smaug’s net worth taking into account the comments on last year’s post. And the Internet was right. He is worth a lot more than $8.6 billion. $53.4 billion more in fact. Let’s go point by point:

Click over for the point-by-point analysis if you wish.

Worst places to live

Someone has figured out the worst towns to live in for all fifty states.  Most of them are pits for the usual reasons of poverty, joblessness, and crime, but some states, like Nebraska, apparently are so uniformly liveable that all the surveyors could find to complain about is that residents didn't have ideal access to fresh produce.  The case against Derry, New Hampshire, is particularly thin:  the cost of living is high in this well-employed, safe little town.  In one Utah town--horrors--the nearest hospital was 10 miles away.  I wish.

At least no one mentioned limited Starbucks accessibility or the over-prevalence of Chick Fil-A.  Two other subjects studiously avoided were demographics and politics.

I have decided to ride up and join Rolling Thunder with some of my old comrades. I will be a week or so. There may be updates from the road.

There Is No Such Thing as "Scientific Proof"

A helpful reminder from Psychology Today.

Nothing But Process Crimes

Byron York says what I have also been thinking: Mueller's failure to find a single plausible Russian agent, or even coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, largely puts paid to this saga. Most of the convictions were guilty pleas that weren't court-tested; many of them were for process crimes, that is, crimes that didn't exist until the investigation itself created them.

The "obstruction!" talk is an attempt at another process crime. There's no underlying crime whose investigation could be obstructed (to say nothing of the glaring absence of formal and even legal modes of obstruction, such as the exercise of executive privilege vs. Mueller). Impeachment is a political process, and you can in a sense impeach for anything you want, but it makes no sense to impeach a President over allegations of a process crime.

I am beginning to think that the Republican congressman who joined calls for impeachment is really working for Trump. It'll be even harder to ignore calls from the hard left base with a Republican siding them, but on the House side where his apparent defection doesn't change the math. Either the Democrats give in and spend the 2020 election season failing to remove the President in the Senate trial, or they refuse and demoralize/split their base going into the 2020 election cycle. Either way, Trump comes out ahead.

They should bury this and "Move On" as quickly as possible. But maybe they can't, with the flipside investigations into how the investigation came to be coming due.

The View from Hornyhead

No trail to the summit, just a long push through the brush to reach this summit at the southwestern corner of the Middle Prong wilderness, Nantahala National Forest. The last hundred plus vertical feet are a real fight, bare stone precipices rather than anything you can walk upright. It's a long way from anywhere. Too bad there aren't more places left that are.

The real problem with fake SAT scores

You may have thought the real problem with monkeying around with measurements of scholastic aptitude was that lying to ourselves only leaves us with less trustworthy information to guide our actions with.  No, no.  The real problem is that jimmying the SAT scores to reflect the impact of adversity only obscures the real point, which is racial quotas, because they alone can purge the sin of slavery.  Well, maybe racial quotas and a healthy dollop of reparations.  Apparently only pitifully demoralized liberals still think measurable adversity is the real problem.  Besides, how would you measure it?  Quit wasting time and show us the money.

By the way, remember when "SAT" stood for "Scholastic Aptitude Test," before we started to pretend it was simply three neutral letters chosen more or less at random?  "Scholastic" raises all kinds of uncomfortable issues, as does "Aptitude."  "Test" produces anxiety.  Soon we'll have to call it "banana," and we'll have to get to work on that hateful term "score."

Climate what?

We were talking recently about the exhausting task of updating terminology in order to stay among the elect in the field of woke.  The Guardian style guide is right there to help us:

The new terms aren't mandatory (yet).  This is just a heads-up to would-be members of the elect, like a warning that the network will be down between 4 and 5 pm for updating.  The true woke don't wait for written orders, anyway.  They are exquisitely sensitive to more vague and preliminary currents than that: a frown, a slight turning away, a decrease in invitations to the right parties, signs that your own head could be next on the chopping block.

I applaud "climate crisis," with its built-in urgency scrubbed of any specifics, and "climate breakdown" is admirably content-free, but what's with "climate heating"?  I thought the whole idea of "climate change" was to avoid the embarrassing lack of evidence for increased Btu's.  Heating is such a stark term, no nuance, no subtlety.  If "change" sounds too cuddly or Obama-like, surely they could try "disruption" or "shock."  We've had a good run with "trauma" and "bombshell" lately.  Climate annihilation?  Climate Ragnarok?  Climate weasels-ripped-my-face?