Odds and Ends Vol 11

Odds and EndsHowdy, friends and neighbors! I gotta tell you, I was not planning to do an Odds and Ends today, but we are more than overdo. You know who does a great Odds and Ends kind of thing? Our friend Infidel753. And we’re not just talking politics either, or even mostly. I get a lot of great stuff from him. By the way, I asked him about that 753 thing and he responded, “The 753 refers to 753 BC, which is the traditional (though likely apocryphal) date of the founding of Rome. I’m interested in Classical history, as I hope my occasional posts about it show.” So there you go. I probably should have known that, but as you all know, I have this thing about numbers, which probably blinded me to its historical significance. I think you can guess what number I would follow with that series: 7, 5, 3… Anyway, like a reasonable person, he just provides simple introductions to articles whereas I am forced (it is the way of my people) to yammer on and on. So on I yammer.

  1. For years, everyone rolled down the windows of their cars when it got hot, because the air conditioner was assumed to consume so much energy. But then, the air conditioners got more efficient, or at least we were all fooled by those Car Talk guys, and we learned that it actually used less energy because cars are so aerodynamic when the windows were rolled up. So I was very interested to read Joseph Stromberg over at Vox, who tells us, Why Rolling Down Your Cars’ Windows Is More Fuel Efficient Than Using AC. Now maybe this isn’t always true. If you have a super aerodynamic car and you are traveling down the road at 100 mph, then okay, maybe use the AC. But for normal people: use the windows. Plus: your dog will like it more, not to mention your Komodo Dragon. (Anyone know that film reference?)
  2. This next article is so old, it is from when Matt Yglesias was still at Slate. (Since then, he’s moved to Vox where his work is arguably even better.) This article tells us something I already knew, but which won’t change our vindictive society in the least, Big Data Says You Should Hire Criminals. Basically, ex-cons are more productive on average. No one knows why exactly. One theory is that ex-cons are just glad to have a job and so they try harder. I don’t doubt that’s part of it. But also a big part of it is that ex-cons are (to use a term from pool hustling) working under speed. If there are two candidates for a job that are identical in every way except that one of them has a felony drug possession charge, you know which one is going to get hired. So if two people are doing the same job and one of them is an ex-con, he’s undoubtedly more skilled, more intelligent, more everything, really. People (white people anyway) think that people who break the law, serve their time, and then its over. It isn’t. It is held against you for the rest of your life. We are a cruel and stupid people.
  3. Being a short man, I know that it sucks to be short. Women generally prefer tall men, even though in my experience sex is better when you are roughly the same height. (Just saying.) In the business world, you are ignored. If you try to be assertive, you are said to have a Napoleon complex. And by the way: two brief points about the Napoleon complex. First, Napoleon is not short; that myth was the result of a unit conversion error. (Damned imperial units!) Second, psychologists have studied this supposed complex and have found that it doesn’t really exist. One study “discovered that short men were less likely to lose their temper than men of average height.” But mostly, they don’t find any difference.

    Well, one thing about being short is very good: you live longer. A 50 year study of 8,000 men found that shorter men live longer—especially very short men—5’2″ and below. It is thought that we only have so many cells to create in our lifetimes and being short requires fewer.

  4. This is very interesting. Jason Jones of The Daily Show went to India to study democracy there, in a multi-part segment, India Jones and the Election of Doom. Now, despite all the recent bad coverage, India has a vibrant democracy—a hell of a lot better than ours. But in the segment, he hired a journalist to write a paid article in the Millennium Post, Poll shows US Number A-1 Star Jason Jones does best Indian Election Coverage. Well, it was taken down. When the editors found out, they wrote, Dear Readers. And then, Moutussi Acharya wrote an opinion piece, Jon Stewart, America’s Biggest News Douche. Clearly, the article comes out of annoyance about the Jason Jones piece. But it makes a number of valid points, including the contention that the show has to twist itself in knots in order to maintain its impartiality. I would also note that usually when going after liberals, the show just isn’t as funny. But that could well just be my perspective.
  5. If The Upshot is supposed to replace FiveThirtyEight at The New York Times, it has failed completely. Because The Upshot is far, far better than FiveThirtyEight ever was—and currently is, unless you are into sports, where it is probably great. Anyway, a week and a half ago, Michael Paulson wrote, Americans Claim to Attend Church Much More Than They Do. Well, that’s hardly a shock. According to the article, “Americans continue to report high levels of belief and participation—more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God or a universal spirit, and nearly 40 percent report weekly attendance at a worship service, numbers that have remained relatively unchanged for decades.” But it isn’t really about God. It is about this stupid American idea that being religious makes you a good person. Given how negative public Christianity is, I hardly think that’s true. But some researchers decided to check out how much people lie about their church attendance. They compared telephone surveys where people had to speak to other humans to online surveys where they didn’t. And they found that people reported a lot less church attendance when they weren’t trying to impress another human. Only 9% of white evangelical protestants (You know: the most hateful but also devout of the Christians.) admitted on the telephone to rarely or never going to church; online, the number almost doubled to 17%. Overall, 43% of Americans admitted that they rarely or ever went to church. The biggest disparity was among my fellow Catholics, who reported 15% on the phone and 33% online. But that’s to be expected; the great thing about being a Catholic is that getting forgiven is built right into the program!

    Speaking of Catholics, Brandon Ambrosino over at Vox published an article that didn’t surprise me, Catholics Are a Lot More Liberal Than Evangelicals. Part of this is the confessional. But I think a bigger part of it is that the Catholic Church doesn’t encourage people to read the Bible. All that Protestant garbage of finding God in that book of ancient folk tales only confuses people. And so they grab onto it in the most pathetic, simplistic, childish way. The Bible becomes literally true and inerrant. And what can they grab onto? Not the Holy Trinity, that’s one that professional theologians grapple with their whole lives. No, they grab onto homosexuality being a sin and women being subservient to men. No wonder the most explicitly protestant believers (the Evangelicals) are the most screwed up. I so wish there were an actual Christian God so that at some point, these people would be taken aside and told, “You know: you really blew it! You should have spent a lot more time on the Sermon on the Mount and a lot less on Leviticus. But you are forgiven, now go get your wings and harp…”

  6. You probably know Stuart Margolin as Angel on The Rockford Files and perhaps also that he is a big television director. But my friend Pow Wow reminded me that he is also a singer and songwriter. There isn’t much of him online. But here he is doing Chuck Berry’s great “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”:

Well, that’s enough for now. I’m going to have to create a category for these posts. Right now I put them in politics, but that isn’t right. They are their own thing. Anyway, until next time!

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