Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ JUNE 1, 2016


1. Just when you thought 2016 might finally be the year you screw up the courage to follow through with years of idle threats by actually pulling the lever for the Libertarian Party candidate in November's elections, they go and hold the most screwed up party nominating convention since the Whigs' convention in 1939, in which nominee Henry Clay, who'd achieved a plurality of votes during the first ballot, blamed his second ballot loss to William Henry Harrison on the first ballot's third place finisher, Winfield Scott, prompting Clay to brutally pummel Scott during a drunken game of cards, an incident which nearly led to pistols at dawn. If anything, Seth Stevenson's Slate article about last weekend's Libertarian Party Convention goes a long way towards explaining why relatively popular Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson's next, best move might just be to immediately disown the Libertarian Party and pretend the convention during which he was nominated never took place. I mean, consider these excerpts:
Among the leading candidates for the party’s nomination were men who, by nigh any external standard, qualify as total nutters. 
Consider: McAfee—who fled his own Central American residential compound while under suspicion by the Belizean government for the murder of his neighbor; who openly admits that said compound featured a harem of teenage Belizean sex workers; who likes to talk about the time a 16-year-old Belizean prostitute tried to shoot him in the head at point blank range; who bounced around the hotel halls wearing a three-piece suit and a pair of Nikes like some kind of Mad Hatter on meth—had regularly polled in third place for the nomination in the lead-up to the convention and even seemed to have a puncher’s chance to win. 
Further consider: He was barely the weirdest candidate on the scene. Polling second coming into the convention, just ahead of McAfee, was a guy named Austin Petersen. Petersen’s 35 and looks 14, but question if he’s seasoned enough and he’ll yelp, “Tell that to the Marquis de Lafayette.” His go-to applause line: “I want gay couples to defend their marijuana fields with fully automatic weapons.” 
Polling fourth, one slot behind McAfee, was a fellow named Darryl W. Perry, who accepts campaign donations only in the form of precious metals and cryptocurrency and who opted to have his nominating speech delivered by an “erotic services provider” who goes by the moniker “Starchild.” Perry’s most animated moment in the debate came when he slammed his fist against his lectern, forehead veins a-popping, as he insisted that 5-year-old children should have the legal right to inject heroin without adult supervision.
Oh, and did I mention some of these "champions of liberty" appear to espouse the so-called "philosophy" of the so-called "Free Men on the Land" we've been hearing about so much in recent years? Google that shit for the some of the best evidence ever that bad ideas can be as contagious as the common cold.



2. Recently, an old pal sent along a link to The Kavli HUMAN Project, and asked me what I thought of it. On their front page, the Project describe their mandate in the following introductory paragraph:
The Kavli HUMAN Project will be the first true study of all of the factors that make humans… human. For the first time ever we are now able to quantify the human condition using rigorous science and big data approaches to understand what makes us well and what makes us ill by measuring the feedback mechanisms between biology, behavior, and our environment in the bio-behavioral complex.
My prediction? I suspect this project will probably yield a few interesting discoveries, followed by a whole bunch of philosophically questionable and morally bankrupt erroneous conclusions that will, in turn, lead to incredibly damaging policy shifts for a generation or two before ultimately vanishing into obscurity, just like every other technocratic attempt to digitally replicate, cybernetically quantify, and consciously control the ineffable that has preceded it. But hey... that's just me.

3. If you have yet to learn about the heart-warming, inspiring way in which the latest edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee went down, you owe it to yourself to check out this story. It did, however, leave me with one unanswered question: Why are so many people shocked and surprised when a couple of kids named Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar and Nihar Saireddy Janga turn out to be better at spelling than kids named Jason Jones, Holly Willis and Joey Smith? I mean, come on!

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