(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Plural Of Trash Anecdote Is Garbage Data Edition

The Internet got pretty excited last week about a piece entitled COVID-19: Evidence Over Hysteria, written by former Mitt Romney staffer and “Silicon Valley growth hacker” Aaron Ginn. The article went, ahem, viral because it said a lot of things that people desperately wanted to hear, whether they are true or not. The ensuing backlash was fairly weapons-grade and it came from a lot of people with letters after their names so the article was unpersoned by Medium and banished to the Internet ghetto of ZeroHedge, which is where you can read it at the above link.

I don’t know enough to say whether or not Ginn is right — but I am also fairly sure that Ginn also doesn’t know enough to say whether he is right. My purpose here isn’t to discuss the article, but rather to suggest that much of the world is being run into the ground by people like Ginn thanks to what I can only characterize as a shared and immensely powerful delusion. Let’s call it the fake law of isomorphic data, or “Ginn’s Law” for the moment.

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Polar Opposites in Polo, Illinois…

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ESR Takes A Long Walk Off A Short Pier

Twenty-two years ago, when your humble author was a minor participant in the eventually-derailed-and-co-opted revolution known as “Linux”, we spent a lot of time talking about the Holy Trinity Of Linux Guys. Three authentic geniuses whose vision extended into the future just a little farther than everyone else’s:

  • Richard M. Stallman, who had invented the concept of a “free operating system” and built a framework to create the GNU programs which would eventually make up most of what we call “Linux” today;
  • Linus Torvalds, who did the one thing that Stallman’s team couldn’t quite manage, and that was to build a decent operating-system kernel around which Linux could coalesce;
  • Eric S. Raymond, who was the first person to truly understand the power of what we’d eventually call “Open Source Software” and whose The Cathedral And The Bazaar served as a Bible of sorts for those of us who truly believed that software could change the world.

Take any leg away from this stool, and your life would be different in ways that you cannot readily conceive. Billions of people who use the Internet today simply wouldn’t have the ability to do so. Computing would be much more like it was in 1995: restricted to people who could pay for $5,000 computers and $50,000 servers. Both the iPhone and the Android phones, for example, rely heavily on “open source” to operate. Without Stallman, there’s no iOS; without Torvalds and Stallman there’s no Android; without all three of them, you wouldn’t have the infrastructure necessary for “the cloud”.

All three of these men are known for speaking truth to power, which was acceptable when “power” meant functional and admirable institutions such as IBM, Xerox, and the United States Government. Nowadays, as WokeCapital notes, we “speak power to truth”, allowing our culture’s frankly insane delusions to trample the good, the true, and the beautiful en masse. This is not a world in which outspoken and socially awkward geniuses can possibly survive. The Western World loves “EQ” now and values it far higher than it does IQ, which it prefers to import in very limited quantities from Asia whenever doing so is absolutely unavoidable.

Here’s an example: Maya Angelou, whose vacuous mumblings form the heart and soul of our modern catechism, actually wrote that “…I believe talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.” Note that this is considerably stupider than the Insane Clown Posse’s “Fucking magnets, how do they work?” because magnetism is not all that well understood but electricity, by contrast, is. Think about that for a minute, if you will; this country awarded more than fifty honorary degrees and multiple Presidential commendations to a woman who didn’t understand the universe as well as “Shaggy 2 Dope” or “Violent J” and who furthermore reveled in every chance she got to demonstrate that inferior understanding to the American people. I think the edgy kids say “HONK HONK” now in response to that sort of thing.

It follows, therefore, that Clown World would eventually reward all three of these fellows with a public dragging. Linus was first: his lack of tolerance for midwittery ended up in him apologizing for being mean to people and leaving the Linux kernel. That’s right: the man who invented Linux and gave it to the world free of charge had to quit because of hurt feelz. Stallman was next, being shamed out of Free Software for giving a technically correct but politically ignorant opinion about Epstein’s Rape Island.

This left only Raymond, an omission which has now been rectified.

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UPDATE: You Could Have Seen The Ark in Person at World of Wheels…

UPDATE: Well, the event has been cancelled to to all the germy germs and stuff. But what the heck I decided to let this run anyway. Laurie took some nice pictures!

March 20th through the 22nd would have been when the World of Wheels car show in Boston would have been held, but is now defunct-at least until next year! I’ve never been, but I’ve heard good things. Anyway, my pal Laurie Kraynick will be would have been there, and The Ark, her gorgeous aqua 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, will be would have been there too. To say she is was excited would be would have been a massive understatement.

Deep into detailing and prepping last weekend. With a rum and Coke, naturally.

As she related:

“World Of Wheels, can you phucking believe it? Been going to that event since I got my driver’s license, now, I’m an exhibitor, with THE ARK. Just can’t believe it, so blessed, so happy. And I believe WOW is *SOLD OUT* for exhibitors, outstanding. This is gonna be a blast, what a bucket list check!”

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Made In The USA, 50% Off: Thalia Capos, Phone Cases, And More

During Summer NAMM 2018 I had a chance to meet Chris of Thalia Capos, which had just opened. He explained to me how they make very high-end guitar capos AND phone cases in the United States. They’ve had a pretty good start but like many small businesses they are about to be in a world of hurt. They’re offering 50% off right now for most of their products, as long as you can wait until mid-April for delivery.

I’ve been using the Thalia capos for a while now — they are very serious pieces of hardware and have largely replaced the G7 Pro Capo I used for a decade or so. The intonation is particularly good, although if you own dozens of guitars it can be a hassle to switch the very specific pads which make that possible and which are supplied in bulk with every capo. They come in every finish and material you can imagine, plus custom designs to your spec. The same is true of their phone cases. I bought some stuff from Chris today and I think you’d be happy if you did as well. That’s all, folks!

Reading Recommendations: In Which Captain Save-A-You-Know-What Surrenders His Commission

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Thus spake Samuel Johnson, and he was correct. (Note to the reader: a fortnight is two weeks, or fourteen days, from the Old English.) Many of my friends expect the Boogaloo to come in a few fortnights. I don’t really believe in the Boogaloo, but I think there’s something therapeutic about it. Like religion, prison, and true love, the Boogaloo offers a drastic reduction of possibilities. It’s easier to worry about fields of fire from your second-story windows than to wonder what kind of a man you’ll be in society when you’re in the bread line with everyone else, and you’ve started having to pull your own teeth for lack of dental care. We all know in our hearts that a Great Depression, or even a Not-So-Great Recession, leads to years of quiet, grinding desperation. Far better to imagine that the future holds a series of running gun battles with depersonalized Others who will be morally inferior to us but also, one hopes, much less practiced in the manual of arms for the AR-15 (USA) or Marlin 1894 (Canada) or Maringer Vorpal (here in non-firearms-owning Riverside Green, where we study the blade).

You get the idea. It’s easier and more pleasurable to imagine violent action than lengthy misery. Yet here we are, with our focused minds. For me, this focusing has led to an odd… flattening of empathy.

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1982-84 Volvo 240DL: Old Reliable

Pop quiz, hotshot: What is the most boring 2020 model car in existence? Probably a Corolla, right? But what was the most boring, yet competent and efficient car of the 1980s? Not the Accord or Camry, for they hadn’t nailed rustproofing down yet. Those suckers dissolved like Alka Seltzer in the salty Midwest.

For those of you who missed the ’80s or were too young at the time to remember them, may I present the 1984 Volvo DL. It’s not a hot rod, not fancy, not exciting. But by God, it was competent, had comfortable seats, and were actually rust resistant, unlike some other ’80s fan favorites. There was good reason why in the ’80s, Volvo was known as “the car for people who think.” Well, as long as you didn’t mind paying Delta 88 money for one of these, ha ha.

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1970 1/2 Ford Falcon: Bargain Basement Torino

Despite a massive snowstorm back in February, The Year Of Our Lord 2013, things were going pretty good for me at the time. To keep it short, I’d been out of work for approximately a month, but through a mutual friend, Sunday Saunders, I was able to interview for a full-time accounting position at a local company. And I got the job. And still hold the job as of this writing. I was very happy, Anyway, back to 2013: Just after I left a voicemail message accepting the job, I started the car and prepared to drive away from the North Park Mall, where I’d been browsing at Barnes & Noble, and what did I see? This rather clean 1970 midsize Ford, parked at Olive Garden. In Winter. In the Midwest. Highly unlikely. But, wait? Is this really a Torino?

Despite the lack of Falcon scripts on the rear quarters, I believe it to be a 1970½ Falcon, of which 30,445 sedans were built. To my surprise, the Falcon sedan actually outsold the mid-line Fairlane 500, which sold 25,780 copies, as well as the Torino sedan, which sold 30,117.

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Weekly Roundup: Strategic Control Over Medical Products Edition

It is sobering to realize that the coronavirus will likely kill my mother, who has very little lung function left after years of sarcoidosis. It may well kill my grandmother, who would otherwise probably clear the 100-year mark with ease. But the worst part of this is having a conversation with my father in which he rather wistfully says, “At least there was a moment or two of national unity after 9/11,” and realizing just how right he is about that. There won’t be any national unity during the “Wuhan flu” (discussing the origins of which is now considered to be racist) or in the long tail of its aftereffects.

This virus seems tailor made to divide us along every possible fault line. The left wing literally wants to use it as a bioweapon against their political opponents. Young people call it the “boomer remover” and cheer on the idea that it might affect the election in their favor by killing older voters en masse. Secure in the knowledge that they were unlikely to themselves die from the virus they would pass on to others, a group of young women I know decided to take a week-long trip to Amsterdam for a non-stop indulgence in drugs and, ahem, party behavior: presumably whatever strain they bring back could be called COVID-69. Students are being forcibly ejected from their dorms by police, and some of them are copying the riot techniques they’ve learned from watching Antifa on YouTube.

Meanwhile, many of my more, ah, militant friends are going full Cormac McCarthy. I’m hearing stories of people loading a few dozen AR-15 magazines, doing home bullet casting “just in case”, and making plans for an armed response against the first group of “looters” to appear in their (literal) sights. I’ve watched the value of that palladium coin I was looking to sell here a few weeks ago jump to north of three grand then sink to south of two — in a twelve-hour period. A friend made a million dollars in a single day shorting resource stocks, starting with a new Accord’s worth of seed cash.

We’ve come to believe that nothing truly bad can happen on a large scale in what I think of as the Long Now Of Late Stage Capitalism — but it could. What form the chaos will take (Dow 5,000? New York and San Francisco burning to the ground? Citizen militias being raised in every suburb to throw lead against anyone trying to find food outside the city?) is beyond the scope of my crystal ball. There is, however, one very important, even critical, benefit to society which will come as a result of this catastrophe. Unfortunately, that benefit is going to cost us more than a few innocent lives in the process of being realized.

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Big Pimping, Mothers Not Dog Moms, The Love Song Of A Redhead Model

…Maybe give your child real and positive reasons to avoid sexual activity with the other, even more disgusting pubescents in their class. Help them cherish, even fantasize about, the idea of a future family and their own children.
Raise mothers, not dog moms.
Raise women, not wine aunts.
Raise ladies, not cat ladies.

I’d be careful about repeating the above words from “Peachy Keenan” and The American Mind out loud. I’m frankly a little nervous about even quoting them. We’ve taken ideas which were until recently the very foundation of American moral thought and made them too radioactive to touch. The idea that young women shouldn’t be trained to be sexually available to their classmates, or anyone else, in sixth grade? That’s racist! Or sexist. Or one of the many other words which used to have discernible meaning but which have now been effortlessly Newspeaked into just meaning “ungood”. You could be fired. In the UK, you can be denied medical care now for holding the wrong opinions. This is serious business. No fun involved.

Unfortunately for me and my stubborn personal commitment to placing truth above pleasantries, I’ve recently seen something which suggests that Ms. Keenan is, in fact, more correct than anyone would like to admit. Yes, it was on a sex worker’s Instagram page. Why do you ask?

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