Ordinary World for 18 Oct 2018


“Thursday is perhaps the worst day of the week. It’s nothing in itself; it just reminds you that the week has been going on too long.”
– Nicci French, Thursday’s Child

Ordinary World
18 Oct 2018


[Wo1] 23 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better By Dylan Matthews: “But many of us aren’t aware of ways the world is getting better because the press — and humans in general — have a strong negativity bias. Bad economic news gets more coverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones. Survey evidence consistently indicates that few people in rich countries have any clue that the world has taken a happier turn in recent decades — one poll in 2016 found that only 8 percent of US residents knew that global poverty had fallen since 1996.”

[Wo2] China Is Building A “Social Credit” System. So Is The United States By Tomás Sidenfaden : “This decade will likely be remembered as the final chapter in the unregulated adolescence of our collective digital identities. The many calls to silence critics, curb misinformation, and improve the toxicity of our discourse are a cry for constraints on our freedom. China’s social-credit system seems like an Orwellian dragnet, and it very well may be, but the U.S. is quickly constructing a parallel scheme. Because much of this evolution is inevitable, it is our responsibility to demand transparency from the organizations that seek to catalog and classify us.”

[Wo3] World’s Oldest Fossils Aren’t Actually Fossils, New Research Suggests by George Dvorsky: “Two years ago, researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia shook the science world by claiming to have discovered 3.7 billion-year-old fossils in a rock formation in Greenland, a finding that pushed back the origin of life on Earth by 200 million years. New research is now casting doubt on this discovery, with scientists saying the rock structures are of non-biological origin.”


[Wo5] This Is the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Mike Pomranz: “If half-a-million dollars for a bottle of wine seems surprising, you’re not alone. Sotheby’s presale estimate for the vino put the top of the range at $32,000. The wine sold for 17 times that amount. And the run wasn’t over: Later, a second bottle from the same vintage sold for $496,000. Both bottles easily broke the record for the most expensive standard-sized bottle of wine ever sold—a title previously held by a bottle from Chateau Lafite Rothschild sold for $233,000 in 2010 in Hong Kong.”

Throwback Thursday

[TT1] Are Political Leaders Responsible for Supporters’ Behavior? By Elizabeth Picciuto: (2016) “There’s one way to look at this, which is that a politician bears no responsibility whatsoever for the actions of her supporters. People are going to do what people are going to do. As long as the supporters are fully autonomous adults, they make their own decisions, they alone are responsible. End of story. And surely each individual supporter is mostly responsible. Almost entirely. Very largely. But politicians are running for their offices in virtue of the fact, in part, that they can offer leadership. They are asking to influence our lives and behavior in the aggregate and showing us their skill at doing it.”

[TT2] Stop Making Excuses for the Internet by Tod Kelly: (2015) “I’ll go ahead and say it: The internet is a terrible, terrible place. Moreover, it’s a terrible place in a way that the rest of the world simply isn’t and people should really stop defending it. This is relatively new belief of mine, and in fact I am still only just beginning to believe it down to my bones. For the longest time I have more or less accepted the Gutenberg Internet Defense (GID). Simply put, the GID states that all new mediums are scary until they aren’t, and therefore criticizing the internet makes you the moral and intellectual equivalent of those who thought the printing press was a bad idea. But I am starting to see that the GID is one of those arguments that works better on paper than reality.”

[TT3] Punching Up, Punching Down, Punching All Around by Vikram Bath: “What is your model for how the number of punches you have to administer changes the number of people who sympathize with your position? Is it a monotonic function? If you punch one person for the environment, is that better than punching zero? I would guess it would be worse. People tend to sympathize with those getting punched. Maybe though, with enough dedicated punching you can change public sentiment. How many punches do we have to administer to get to that point? Millions? Well, we only have one planet but plenty of faces.”

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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5 thoughts on “Ordinary World for 18 Oct 2018

  1. TT2: Is it that the internet is so terrible, or that people on it are opting to behave in terrible ways? The internet’s a tool, kinda like a hammer – you can use it to build a house or bash someone over the head.

    If the internet went away 100% it would be hard for a lot of us weirdos out in the sticks who (a) don’t have a local “tribe” and (b) can’t get our esoteric hobby/food/book/whatever supplies easily otherwise. (Especially not since places like Sears seem to be dying off).

    Frankly, I think any large group of people is going to be terrible, doubly so if some of those people are working under the assumption they’re totally anonymous so they can “say” to someone crap they’d never in a million years say to that person’s face.

    I try to remember that I’m pseudonymous AT BEST online (heck, I have my personal e-mail up on my blog so if you know me in person and run across my blog, you totally know that’s me, doubly so if I’ve recently posted a webcam shot of me with whatever ridiculous stuffed toy I’ve recently obtained). Also I try to be civil.

    I do limit my circles though – I know people complain about not being able to retweet me some times but you know? Not having randos being able to tell me how I’m wrong about something that I actually know broadly and deeply (because they’re a rando and I’m a woman) is worth it. (Also not running the risk of a student finding me and following me, though I try not to complain too much – or too identifiably – about some of the odd things students do)

    It’s a genie that’s not going back in the bottle, I think, so maybe people need to step up and be more civil, decide not to feed the trolls, and be ruthless in blocking the jerks? I don’t know. I do know I’d be a lot more lonely without it.

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  2. Interesting article in the Weekly Standard:
    The Afghanistan War Is Over. We Lost.

    Maybe the most interesting thing about it is how little anyone seems to notice, or care.

    The author Thomas Joscelyn seems irritated that the President and Congress don’t seem to treat the war against the Taliban as a high priority, but doesn’t follow that question to its source of why the American people don’t seem to either.

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