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No Treat

Another Halloween has come and gone, and with it the very stupid children who repeatedly knock at my door every year even though the porch light is off and no one answers. The last one knocked three times, very hard, shouting “Let us in!” in a hostile, breathless, whiny little voice redolent with its owner’s thwarted sense of entitlement. He was clearly a future Republican senator, and it gave me great pleasure to disappoint him.

I was thinking next year I should put up a sign somewhat along these lines:

Attention Children:

Please go away. We are grumpy and have no candy for you.

Should you persist in your futile knocking, we will grind your bones to make a healthy, calcium-rich breadlike substance.


The Management

But I had to reject the idea. They’d knock anyway, and as soon as they realized I wasn’t serious about the bone-grinding, no one would be able to control them, not even their parents. Soon they would posses weapons of mass destruction. Confident in the knowledge that we were too weak to stop them, they would openly flaunt their dirty bombs and nerve gasses on the playground. Not all the festively wrapped miniature Snickers bars in the world would be enough to satisfy their need for conquest.

For the security of our nation, we will all have to live with the knocking.

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Journalism is Doomed

(Apologia: I finally finished this post late at night, with an encroaching headache. It’s probably half-baked and full of inane rambling, and I may revise it later. For now, I’m just glad I’ve finished something.)

Last week, P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula pointed to an Esquire article about “Idiot America”—a term used by author Charles P. Pierce to refer to “the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good.” Idiot America doesn’t just devalue the pursuit of knowledge. Idiot America is deeply suspicious of knowledge itself. The mere presence of expertise gives it a rotten, nauseous inferiority complex deep in the gut with which it makes its decisions. “If this expert claims to know more than me,” it reasons, “maybe he thinks he’s better than me.” In self-defense, Idiot America has surrounded itself with a strange mental landscape, a surreal place where a hunch is as good—hell, better than—knowledge; where feelings matter more than facts and a wild guess is worth as much as an informed opinion.

(But don’t start feeling too superior, because Idiot America is everywhere. Sometimes it finds its way into my head; and probably yours, too. It’s an insidiously comfortable place.)

Myers is especially aggravated by Idiot Journalism. He’s seen one too many scientific articles that balanced quotations from scholars and crackpots and gave no context at all:

Nobody at the New York Times seem to get it: they are one of the mothers of Idiot America, nursing the country on a strange ideal of balance, where every example of expertise is precisely neutralized with a dollop of inanity, which is treated as if it is as equally valuable as the actual facts.

Coincidentally, on exactly the same day, the local student newspaper published an absolutely perfect insight into where Idiot Journalists come from.

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