December 2018, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

2018 Has Been One Of Those Years that inspired this old (and rather lame) joke:
They told me to cheer up, things could get worse.

I cheered up, and, sure enough, things got worse.
(I'll try to be more serious about this subject, soon.)
- 3:14 PM, 31 December 2018   [link]

"Dave Barry’s Year In Review 2018"  For those who have read these before, that should be enough.

For those who haven't, I'll just say that, as usual, it is long, funny — and thought-provoking.
- 10:27 AM, 30 December 2018   [link]

They Do What?!?  Inside this long Dennis Overbye article on the upgrading of the Large Hadron Collider is this little surprise:
B mesons have an exotic property:  They flicker back and forth between being matter and antimatter.
Overbye doesn't attempt to explain that exotic property — and I won't try, since I have no idea how that could happen.

(Is the rest of the article worth reading?  It's a readable description of how the LHC works and what has been found with it, so far.  If you are like me, you will want to look up some of the terms in Wikipedia, as you read.

Overbye does not explain why the United States lost our lead in this field.

B mesons)
- 2:52 PM, 28 December 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.
- 12:51 PM, 28 December 2018   [link]

Nancy Gets Nasty:  But funny.

(I wonder if she thought that line up herself?)
- 4:30 PM, 27 December 2018   [link]

The New Yorker Christmas Eve And Christmas daily cartoons didn't make me smile — but they did make me think, reminding me just how difficult Christmas is for so many in our society.

A small example:  Every year, the city of Kirkland puts up a Christmas tree.  For years they called it a "holiday" tree.  This year it's a "Winter Fest" tree.  As usual, it has no Christian ornaments on it, but it is still recognizably a Christmas tree, as any small child could tell you.

This pretense is funny, and more than a little sad.

(What should the city do?  Skip the pretense.  Instead offer to rent public spaces to any local churches that want to put up their own trees.)
- 2:51 PM, 27 December 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Charles Lane's piece on the Der Spiegel scandal, "I thought fraud in reporting was done for.  I was wrong.".
However, the unmasking of Der Spiegel’s erstwhile ace, Claas Relotius, as a phony on Dec. 20, mere days after he collected his fourth German Reporter Prize, shows yet again that my hope was naive.  Reporters keep inventing stories and getting prizes for them.

What’s going on?  Fact-checking and other procedural matters are relevant but not fundamental.  A great German philosopher . got closer to the point when he wrote:  “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

That includes journalism.  Reporters and editors are as susceptible to motivated reasoning and confirmation bias as readers are, though we say, and believe, that professional norms and training equip us to resist distorting influences.
To be fair, if the news accounts I have been seeing are correct, Relotius is far more crooked than most of us.

(Charles Lane)
- 7:30 PM, 26 December 2018   [link]

Two Christmas Stories That Were New To Me:   From NHK World, I learned that Christmas in Japan is a romantic holiday, not a religious or family holiday.

The growing proportion of single young people in Japan has made it harder for the bars and restaurants that cater to couples at this time of year — and so they are making special efforts to attract singles, too.

From Deutsche Welle I learned that Germans eat a lot of chocolates this time of year — and that 17 million Germans don't celebrate Christmas.  Germany's population is about 82.8 million, so that's more than 1 in 5.
- 10:40 AM, 26 December 2018   [link]

Home For The Holidays:  Smith, wondering why his friend Jones is making such an effort to be home for Christmas, asks him:  "Is it to see your family?"

"No", says Jones.  "I see them regularly during the year."

"Is it the Christmas ceremonies, the exchange of presents, and so on?"

"No, they haven't been important to me for years."

"What is it then?"

"Well, on Christmas my mother makes this wonderful sauce, with lemon juice, eggs, . . . "

"I see", Smith interrupts.  "You want to be home for the Hollandaise."

(Should I have warned you that awful pun was coming?  Perhaps.  I usually do when I tell the joke.)
- 8:16 AM, 26 December 2018   [link]

Merry Christmas!

To all those who are celebrating it today.
- 7:37 AM, 25 December 2018   [link]