Tech volunteers wanted

We are looking for some assistance on the Big Fork team. Here is what we’re looking for:

  1.  Producer/Project Manager. Someone to keep track of what everyone is doing and free up Rifleman to focus on the coding.
  2. Mediawiki — has worked with the Mediawiki codebase and has deployed Mediawiki sites for at least 2 years, has worked on or is at least familiar with Mediawiki templates and extensions.
  3. PHP — understands the internal and external architecture of PHP, is aware of latest developments in PHP 7, HHVM and other optimizers, has experience with problems and solutions in large-scale PHP projects.
  4. Web application optimization — familiar with various methods of caching and parallelizing web applications, including load-balancing, proxy servers, Memcached, ElasticSearch, Varnish, knows Apache, NGinX.
  5. HTML/CSS/JS/AJAX — able to bridge the gap between web design and client-side development. Experience with modern Javascript UI frameworks like jQuery, Angular, Bootstrap, understands reactive design concepts.
  6. Javascript expert — understands the architecture of Javascript, including object-oriented and functional Javascript coding, performance optimization, cross-browser compatibility, future developments in Javascript,
  7. PostgreSQL Administrator — good understanding of configuration settings, performance tweaks, security, user account management, database/filesystem interaction, replication, failover, backup/restore automation.

If one of those roles fits you and you want to help out, email with BIG FORK in the subject. We’re making a lot of progress, but there is still plenty left to do.



What can have changed?

The US infrastructure is decaying and local, state, and federal governments all lack the wherewithal to effectively replace it. I wonder what could possibly explain this loss of capability?

Guess what blatant reactionary wrote the following words: “It seems plausible to wonder if government can build a nation abroad, fight social decay, run schools, mandate the design of cars, run health insurance exchanges, or set proper sexual harassment policies on college campuses, if it can’t even fix a 232-foot bridge competently.”

Stumped? The answer is Lawrence Summers, secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, presidential senior economic adviser in the Obama administration and, in between, president of Harvard, writing in the Washington Post. For more on the fiasco of the rebuilding of the Larz Anderson Bridge, between Cambridge and Boston’s Allston neighborhood, see another opinion article by Summers in the Boston Globe.

As it happens, I wrote a column myself back in 2010 on how long it was taking to fix the Humpback Bridge, a portion of George Washington Parkway which rises about 30 feet above an inlet of the Potomac. From the top of that bridge you can see the Pentagon, still the world’s largest office building, which was built in 18 months. I’ve had occasion also to write columns on how excellent books by Philip K. Howard, Peter Schuck and John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge which illustrate that, as I put it, “gummit don’t work good.” And I’ve written more recently on the tragic deterioration of the Metro, Washington’s “Great Society Subway.”

So even as we hear from Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton how government is going to painlessly provide us with free healthcare, free college and free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (uh, just kidding about the last one), we see all around us how government is unable to do things it could easily do 50, 100 and (think Flint water) 150 years ago. What makes anyone think it can take on additional tasks and perform them satisfactorily? Apparently Summers, lifelong Democrat and frequent advocate of more government spending on infrastructure, is having his doubts.

Interesting. “We see all around us how government is unable to do things it could easily do 50, 100 and 150 years ago.” I wonder what changed 50 years ago? When would that have been, 1966, right?

Now, what happened in 1965?

This is the result of losing a mere 4-5 IQ points on average. Imagine what the USA is going to look like when the idiocratic average declines another 5 points.


No free passes anymore

Journalists are astonished to discover that the subjects of their investigations can and will strike back these days:

Seeking to shine some light into the dark world of Internet trolls, a journalist with Finland’s national broadcaster asked members of her audience to share their experience of encounters with Russia’s “troll army,” a raucous and often venomous force of online agitators.

The response was overwhelming, though not in the direction that the journalist, Jessikka Aro, had hoped.

As she expected, she received some feedback from people who had clashed with aggressively pro-Russian voices online. But she was taken aback, and shaken, by a vicious retaliatory campaign of harassment and insults against her and her work by those same pro-Russian voices.

“Everything in my life went to hell thanks to the trolls,” said Ms. Aro, a 35-year-old investigative reporter with the social media division of Finland’s state broadcaster, Yle Kioski….

The hardest blow, Ms. Aro said, came early this year when a Finnish-language news site, MVLehti.net, which is based in Spain and mostly focuses on vilifying immigrants, dug up and published court records that showed she had been convicted of using illegal amphetamines in 2004. She had been fined 300 euros.

The website’s headline: “NATO’s information expert Jessikka Aro turned out to be a convicted drug dealer.” It also posted photographs of Ms. Aro dancing in a slinky outfit at a nightclub in Bangkok….

Ilja Janitskin, the founder and head of MVLehti, who is based in Barcelona, Spain, said in response to emailed questions that he had no connection with Russia other than his surname. His political views, he said, are closer to those of Donald J. Trump, not Mr. Putin.

He added that he had become interested in Ms. Aro only after she accused his website of “distributing Russian propaganda.”

I have zero sympathy for these idiots. For decades, they have been attacking, exposing, and attempting to publicly humiliate those their masters have told them to target. I’ve been the subject of more than a few hit pieces myself, everywhere from NPR and New Republic to the Guardian.

But now the Internet has leveled the playing field, so when someone lies about me, I can immediately set the record straight, or if I choose, launch an investigation into them. Notice how Aro is complaining about being the target of a man who only knew about her because she attacked him in the first place.

Shades of Scalzi and the SF-SJWs. Some people simply don’t understand that if you shoot at people, they will not only shoot back at you, but they have the option of continuing to do so long after you’d prefer a ceasefire. Remember, once you start something, you give up the ability to unilaterally decide that it’s over.


Mailvox: and this is me laughing at you

I always find it interesting to observe human behavior whenever I put up a music post. In addition to those who are locked in time and can’t pull their ossified preferences out of the 60s/70s/80s/90s through which they lived their formative years, I’m always somewhat mystified by those who seem to think that discussing music is some sort of competitive sport.

I mean, if instead of discussing the example at hand, your instinct is to say “you know what is even better!” (link), then how are you ever going to analyze or understand anything at all? I just don’t get that.

But what is probably funniest is those who appear to sincerely believe that they just happened to be between the ages of 14 and 19 when the greatest music in the history of mankind was recorded. Not only that, but even the young appreciate this when exposed for the very first time in their lives to music they have certainly never ever heard before and now vastly prefer it to the songs they listened to before, and continue to listen to afterwards.

No, Virginia, Journey is not the musical pinnacle of the human experience. Neither, I am sorry to inform you, is Led Zeppelin, even if “Stairway to Heaven” was the #1 request on KQRS for the 42nd year in a row this year.

(I have to admit, one of the unexpected pleasures of my life has been Millennials expressing a genuine appreciation for the various musical innovations of the 80s while snorting in derision at the lack of creativity, poor production, and technical inferiority of the Classic Rock that was repeatedly shoved down our Generation X throats by the Baby Boomers. Don’t get me wrong, I like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Carry On, My Wayward Son” as much as the next guy, but music from that era now sounds as technologically dated now as the music from the 1950s did in the 1980s.)

As Bill Simmons wrote of basketball, you can respect the classic BMW for doing what it did first while understanding that the modern car is simply a much better automobile across the board. Anyhow, in response to some of the comments.

Sorry, Vox, you have no musical taste whatsoever.

I appreciate everything from Wagner and Vivaldi to Babymetal and DNCE and I can tell you exactly why in each case. But how can all of that compare to Skynrd? FREEBIRD!

I would like to commend you on not allowing your musical taste to age as you do. Too many continue to listen to what was popular when they were teenagers and it is embarrassing when these people attempt to foist their taste on next generation.

I understand why so many people age out, and it is entirely normal, but I find it absurd to dismiss music simply because it happens to have been recorded after you passed the age of caring intensely about music. And it’s particularly stupid to say “X is just Y” because it’s not true. In fact, quite often, X is musically influenced by Y, and Y not only recognizes that, but appreciates it.

Ironically, musicians are much more catholic in their tastes and generous in their praise than most of their fans are. I’ll never forget hearing Tommy Lee waxing on about what great musicians the guys in Duran Duran were, at a time when every Motley Crue fan would have dismissed them out of hand.

This is a joke right? I mean there is nothing funnier in the world then seeing the millennials victimized by their own sick twisted thinking and philosophy. The first thing I thought of when I heard the lyrics was that a Section 8 negro or illegal immigrants stole his car stereo haha…

It seems many of you fail to understand that the songwriter should be judged on how well he manages to evoke the emotion he is expressing rather than how you feel about the emotions being expressed. The mere fact that so many non-Millennials reacted so badly to the Millennial sense of loss and the desire to return to “the good old days” of childhood demonstrates how powerful the songwriting is.

You can learn a lot about a generation by listening to the music of its youth, and you can learn a lot about the history of that time too. It’s almost heartbreaking now to hear the optimism of the early 90s; I can barely stand to listen to the wonderfully intelligent Jesus Jones song, “Right Here, Right Now”, because now we know that we woke up from history only to get run over by the bus it was driving. We thought that we could move any mountain and that something good was going to happen, and we were so absolutely wrong.

Great song, it sounds like they couldn’t make up their mind what genre
they want to be in, so they went with all of them (emo, rock anthem,
trance).

Even more than that. They can do anything from country to early 80s to techno. Moreover, they know it and are not above musically flexing their muscles to flaunt it.

All these songs I’m hearing are so heartless
Don’t trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that’s flawless
Honest, there’s a few songs on this record that feel common
I’m in constant confrontation with what I want and what is poppin’
In the industry it seems to me that singles on the radio are currency
My creativity’s only free when I’m playin’ shows

They say stay in your lane, boy, lane ,boy
But we go where we want to

They may not be confident about much, but they are certainly secure in their musical abilities and songwriting.

That singer is a whiny little bitch. I prefer Sabaton when I’m lifting weights in the gym.

And then I eat red meat, raw, and throw down a couple of brewskis before I go out and slay some pussy!

I still say he needs a beatdown. It would straighten out his thinking a lot.

This is backwards. They are already beaten down. That is why they are looking backwards rather than forwards. That is also why they are so offensive to the Baby Boomers, who can’t help but react to their implicit rejection of Boomer assumptions and ideals.

In my view, those of previous generations who dismiss Twenty One Pilots for being quintessentially Millennial are completely missing the point and failing to ask the salient question. Why do they express such a sense of loss? What is it that they are missing, what is the yearning in their generation that they express so vividly? There is a depth there that is absent in the vapid self-absorption of Boomer music as well as in the optimism turned bitter of Gen X music, to say nothing of the superficial posturings of more than three decades worth of the musical dead end that is rap.

They may not have the answers, but they are asking the right questions. And they may not be the fighters, but they will raise them.


Seriously good

I don’t mind being older and out of it musically. Every now and then the itch to write and record strikes me, but I haven’t paid any attention to new releases for over a decade, and what I hear at the gym and on the radio seldom gives me any cause to regret that. I liked rap back in the Public Enemy and NWA days, but it really has turned out to be the musical dead end some said it was always bound to be.

Now, I did like “Stressed Out” a lot, but for all its potential to serve as the Millennial anthem, it sounded like just another good one-hit wonder band to me. I mean, “Cake by the Ocean” is even catchier. But then I heard this, which has me going through their entire catalog now, which is surprisingly interesting. “Semiautomatic” and “Lane Boy” are nearly as good, and “House of Gold” is nearly as pretty, but this is just a very, very good song… just be sure to stick with it until the third minute.

I promise you, it doesn’t go where one naturally assumes it will; it’s more than white Millennial emo-rap. And, of course, I can’t help but notice that techno is one of their musical influences or that there are Christian themes woven into their lyrics.



The Post-Americans

Do tell us again how more American than American these immigrants are:

And yet, they somehow always seem to find the time to “honor” obscure third-world trivialities of whom few have ever heard and about whom even less care. Strange, how that works.


The ignorant atheist

This is why atheists remain so furiously ignorant. Once they are apprised of the relevant history and statistics, their arguments vanish into thin air:

The article, by Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College, is entitled “Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions” and, unlike Plante’s article, it cites detailed studies of the areas in question.
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Zuckerman analyzed a wide array of data comparing religious nations to less religious nations and also, interestingly, religious states within the United States (i.e. “Bible-belt” states) to less religious states. While I encourage readers to examine the article directly through the link above, here are just a few of the highlights:
Criminal Behavior:

Citing four different studies, Zuckerman states: “Murder rates are actually lower in more secular nations and higher in more religious nations where belief in God is widespread.” He also states: “Of the top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries.”

Within the United States, we see the same pattern. Citing census data, he writes: “And within America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be the highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be the among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon.”

And these findings are not limited to murder rates, as rates of all violent crime tend to be higher in “religious” states. Zuckerman also points out that atheists are very much under-represented in the American prison population (only 0.2%).

Zuckerman cites a 1999 Barna study that finds that atheists and agnostics actually have lower divorce rates than religious Americans.

I’ve dealt with most of these in The Irrational Atheist.

  1. The more secular vs more religious nation argument reflects on race, not religion.
  2. The 50 safest cities are also a racial argument, not a religious one.
  3. This is a variant of Sam Harris’s Red State argument. It’s also wrong at both the city and county level.
  4. Again, a racial argument.
  5. Atheists are actually overrepresented in prison if “No religion” is counted as atheist, as it usually is by atheists when they’re not trying to downplay the number of atheists.
  6. It appears Zuckerman failed to correctly understand the relevant data or was not privy to it. While it is true that 3 percent more Baptists – who along with
    Episcopals have the highest rate of Christian divorce – are divorced
    than atheists, only 34 percent of atheists are married in the first
    place. In other words, 26.4 percent of atheist marriages fail compared
    to 15.7 percent of Baptist marriages, even though a much lower
    percentage of atheists ever get married.

Closed Brainstorm tomorrow night

This is just an FYI. We’re having the May Members Only Brainstorm event tomorrow night from 7 PM to 8:30 PM EST. This is going to be a general strategy session; there is a lot to discuss as we’re rapidly moving towards the next stage on one major front and poised for a lot of activity on another one. Bring your thinking cap and keep your mind open. I’ll also be providing information on Castalia’s upcoming releases, including at least one that will surprise you.

I’ll be sending out the invites later today, so keep an eye on your email if you’re a member. The Keen transcript is still being cleaned up, but I’m hoping to get the Cernovich one out with the invite. It’s remarkably good; practically a mini-mindset book in itself.