Tay Was Right

We Have a Race War Now

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Back in March, Microsoft got a bit of free — if unwelcome — publicity when they released the chatbot Tay into the wilds of Twitter. In a matter of hours it picked up some pretty politically incorrect habits; it was shut down promptly thereafter. Microsoft, of course, then did exactly the wrong thing and apologized for the whole episode. For reasons discussed elsewhere, this is always the wrong response to those left-wing schoolmarm scolds who are always quick to condemn the merest hint of ThoughtCrime. This charge-ahead-when-you’re-right attitude is why the name Donald Trump is on everyone’s lips, and why there is every chance he will become the next Leader of the Free World, while Bill Gates — with an order of magnitude more money — most assuredly is not and will not.

But like the innocent child in the Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, Tay was on to something. Of the many things attributed to that chatbot, one phrase sticks in my mind in the wake of recent events: “Race War Now.” In quick succession, we’ve had Micah X. Johnson and Gavin E. Long — two Black veterans of the U.S. armed forces — put their military training to work ambushing mainly White police officers, killing them simply for being mainly White police officers. If that doesn’t count as the beginnings of a race war, what does?

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Irish Drunk Driving Incident in Nice, France

Seventy three dead at the time of writing.  Many more injured.  May God have mercy on the souls of the dead, and bring healing to the injured and comfort to the bereaved.

The perpetrator has not yet been publicly identified, so I’m assuming he was a drunk Irishman for reasons explained elsewhere.

Who else would do such a thing?

Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Get It

It’s identity and interests (not ideology and principles), stupid.

The Atlantic recently published a piece about the so-called “80-55-40 Rule” in Presidential elections. It’s a rally-the-troops puff piece about the inevitability of Hillary Clinton’s victory in November, and it’s woefully reported. The basic assertion is that the Democratic candidate never has received less than 80% of the Black vote, 55% of the Hispanic vote and 40% of the White vote in a modern Presidential race, so we should assume the same pattern will obtain this November and view with skepticism any polls show Mrs. Clinton with lower support among those groups.

The author of the piece, Derek Thompson, then makes a few breathtakingly snarky remarks about Trump attempting to boost his support among undecided Hispanics by “posing next to a taco salad” and that “under certain quantum-theory conditions, all sorts of things are possible: Time can move backwards, tornados can build neighborhoods from pieces of homes floating in the sky, and a cracked egg can leap into its original unbroken shell.” Wow. Just wow.  That’s a whole lot of top-notch snark. One doesn’t usually get that from a once-respectable publication.

But you know, I wasn’t aware that almost 1-in-3 tornados was a member of the National Association of Homebuilders. After all, even Nate Silver puts Donald Trump’s chances of a November win at around 29% (as of July 14), which initially struck me as a tad higher than the rate at which tornados build new neighborhoods in the Midwest. Or higher than the odds chefs usually place on eggs spontaneously reassembling themselves in their shells. But what do I know? I don’t have a writing gig at a prestigious national publication, I don’t live in the Great Plains, and my wife does all the cooking.

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Bad Habits

Murder, Mayhem, Real Estate Speculation

Everyone has bad habits. This includes bad online habits. Whether it’s reading the headlines, checking stock quotes, following sports, betting on fantasy football, catching up on celebrity gossip, watching cat videos, or porn, everyone with an internet connection wastes time that could otherwise go to paying bills, reading great works of literature, doing one’s job, or porn.

So I’ll let you in on a little secret: My internet bad habits have a dark streak. They include a daily check on the murder and mayhem statistics of various American cities. It’s morbidly fascinating. The Baltimore Sun does an excellent job of mapping all homicides which have taken place in that once-great city since 2007 and, for more recent periods, all shootings across the state of Maryland. For Chicago, there is good data on homicides as well as nonfatal shootings in a more statistical and tabular format, but still very readable. This stuff is endlessly fascinating.

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On the Inherent Power of Objects; or, The Fetishism of the Left

I withdraw today, a bit, from the endless flow of current events. Diverting as they are, my interest is tempered by my knowledge of the iron law of newspaper journalism: There will always be 126 column inches on a page, and there will always be printed as many pages as are needed to run all the ads sold for that day, even as the quality and importance of the journalistic material available to fill said pages varies.  Corollary: Headlines vary in true importance from day to day, and not strictly in proportion to the size of their typeface; or, newspaper editors are fundamentally in the business of selling cars, furniture, TVs and clothes — only incidentally are they in the business of enlightenment, so don’t rely on them for it.

So I take the opportunity to reflect on some timeless, nearly religious topics that are close to my heart: the left’s endless faith in the inherent power of objects, and housing policy.  Trust me, there is a connection.

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Irish Attack Cafe in Bangladesh; Assault Weapons To Blame

I don’t habitually give much thought to the goings-on in distant and savage lands. To do so would be to fill my days needlessly with tales and anguish and woe, and I have better things to do. I generally pause to reflect on events closer to home — Europe and America — but I write today on the café attack in Bangladesh because it took place in what was meant as an outpost of home: a twee-sounding place called the Holey Artisan Bakery, with European diners as its target.

Let me open, then, with my usual prayer: May God have mercy on the souls of the dead, and bring healing to the injured and comfort to the bereaved.

When asking who is responsible for this latest atrocity we must, as good-thinking, law-abiding, upstanding citizens of liberal democracies, first and foremost lay blame at the feet of the Irish. For reasons discussed at length elsewhere, to entertain any other possibility would be evil and Racist and transphobic and Islamophobic and quite possibly an inadvertent vote for The Most Dangerous Man in the World (as identified by the Germans without a trace of irony): Donald Trump.

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