May Day Pariscope!

may-day-in-paris-2002-001Sorry about last week’s Pariscope walk. That was a bit of a bust because it rained all weekend and Leo was sick with a cold. So we wound up staying at home, playing with the cats, and eating scrambled eggs. It wouldn’t have been very interesting to broadcast that live.

But today, for the first time, we’re going to use this Periscope thingamajigger to do real journalism. Because today is May Day — the International Day of Laborers and the Working Classes promoted by the labor movement, anarchists, socialists, and communists, as well as an ancient European spring holiday — celebrated without irony and with a large cohort of riot police everywhere in the world but America, where we will never be so over the Cold War that we can use the phrase “International Workers Day” with a straight face. The weather report says it will be sunny and fine, so this should be a colorful day indeed for journalists such as ourselves.

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Saturday Night Science: Fractal Food

Self-Similarity on the Supermarket Shelf

Romanesco (broccoli/caulifower/cabbage family vegetable)Fractal forms—complex shapes which look more or less the same at a wide variety of scale factors, are everywhere in nature. From the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation to the coastlines of continents, courses of rivers, clouds in the sky, branches of plants and veins in their leaves, blood vessels in the lung, and the shape of seashells and snowflakes, these fractal or self-similar patterns abound. The self-similarity of most of these patterns is defined only in a statistical sense: while the general “roughness” is about the same at different scales, you can’t extract a segment, blow it up, and find a larger scale segment which it matches precisely.

However, some of the most pleasing patterns in geometric art exhibit exact or almost exact self-similarity. These are patterns which are composed of smaller copies of themselves ad infinitum, or at least until some limit where the similarity breaks down due to the granularity of the underlying material.

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Where Are America’s Drowned Cities?

image1Global warming lengthens the growing season, and increases net rainfall worldwide. The enrichment of atmospheric carbon dioxide accelerates the rate of plant growth. These are all very positive developments, both for humanity and for wild nature. As a result of climate change, the Earth is becoming a more fertile planet. Nevertheless, representatives of the green movement call for the imposition of economically destructive — and highly regressive — carbon taxes, lest global warming result in catastrophic floods of coastal areas.

This assertion is problematic because global warming has been going on for four hundred years. We can know this with certainty, not from the doubtful claims of researchers who assert that they can measure average global temperatures to within a tenth of a degree, but from readily available historical accounts. Civil War buffs are familiar with the massive snowball fights engaged in by Confederate armies stationed as far south as Georgia, and everyone who has read Dickens encounters tales describing much more severe winter weather in mid-19th century London than anything we see today. If we read back further in time, we hear of a world that is much colder still, with the Thames freezing regularly, sometimes for months on end, during the 1600s.

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Power LineEp. 34: Back In the Arena!

Power Line Back In the Arena!

The show has been on hiatus while John toured Australia and the Caribbean. But he’s back now, and this afternoon John, Scott and Steve recorded Episode 34 of the Power Line Show. Their guest was Pete Hegseth, an old friend from his days in the military and with Vets For Freedom. Pete’s new book is called In the Arena. He 20901talked about his experiences as a soldier in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan. Pete assesses Iraq as a tough war that was won, due to the surge, but then thrown away by the Obama administration. Afghanistan, he sees as a hopeless country and in that sense the wrong war. The conversation moved on to citizenship in a republic and the future of conservatism, two principal subjects of Pete’s book.

The remainder of the show was devoted to the current political scene. With Trump a near-inevitability, reactions ran from pessimistic to deeply pessimistic to let’s get out the popcorn. As Steve says, there’s got to be a morning after. And Scott says, yes, the morning after is when Hillary gets inaugurated.

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Radio Free DelingpoleEp. 7: The ‘Throne’ Returns

Radio Free Delingpole The ‘Throne’ Returns

James Delingpole and Toby are so excited that HBO’s Game of Thrones has returned, they insisted on recording a podcast this week to discuss (and have pledged to record a new podcast weekly for the duration of the season). In addition to the adventures of the Lannisters, Toby and James discuss Obama’s visit to London and its effects on the European referendum campaign, the total humiliation of Red Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London and one of the leading figures of the left, now exposed as anti-Semite. Oy vey.

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In Praise of Western Colonialism, White Men, and Modernity

AerialPPThe existing leftist social environment backed by political organizations, academia, and media is for white men, especially Europeans, to be eternally responsible for their colonial and imperial past. I consider white guilt to be one the most dangerous mentalities poisoning the western world.

Western civilization has done a world of good in human history. Western culture has given us Bernini, Mozart, Montesquieu, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Newton. The western world has given us individual liberty, freedom of expression, a culture of human rights, and the rule of law. It has given us electricity, clean water, airplanes, computers, medicines, and automobiles. The west has given the world modernity.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Good Profit Part II with Charles Koch

In Part II of our interview with Charles Koch, he covers politics and the role of corporations in our society. Koch, making the case to end corporate welfare, tells us what he admires about Bernie Sanders and why he is less sanguine about President George W. Bush. He also believes technology can be used to promote free market ideals over democratic socialism, especially for the younger generation.

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Post-Convention Cruz

DecisionTreeLet us assume, for the sake of argument, that Ted Cruz is not the GOP nominee for the presidential election. What does he do? This breaks into two, interlinked, questions: what does he do between the convention and November, and what does he do after the election?

If Trump is the GOP nominee, then Cruz could:

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Need to Know with Mona Charen and Jay NordlingerEp. 157: Condemnation Special

Need to Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger Condemnation Special

There are too many people to condemn to fit into one podcast, but Jay and Mona do their level best to race through some of the most deserving: John Boehner, Bob Corker, Terry McAuliffe, Will Ferrell, Mike Pence, and Hillary Clinton. But there are a few bright spots: the late Harry Wu, a hero, former Senator Tom Coburn, ditto, and well, that’s it for heroes. These are not good times. Still, this podcast sets some records for sheer number of topics covered – and with pizazz!

The music is from Tom Lehrer’s That Was The Year That Was.

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Will Ferrell Drops Plan for Reagan Alzheimer’s Comedy

willferrellOn Wednesday, Variety reported that comedian Will Ferrell would play Ronald Reagan in a new comedy about the former President’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The plot involved a false narrative in which the President began suffering from dementia at the start of his second term and only made it through because an intern convinced him that he was an actor playing a part.

The script was widely acclaimed in Hollywood and Will Ferrell, most famous for mocking George W. Bush, signed on as the producer and the lead. Needless to say, the backlash was swift and merciless. The Alzheimer’s Association blasted the idea of a movie that would turn the devastating illness into a punch line. Michael Reagan, the President’s son, tweeted that the filmmakers “should be ashamed” because “Alzheimer is not a comedy.” He added that the disease “First robs you of your mind and then it kills you.”

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The Ricochet PodcastEp. 302: Sweet Sowell Music

The Ricochet Podcast Sweet Sowell Music

One of the nice things about being the Top Conservative Podcast is that we get to have the coolest and smartest people on the right stop by to chat. Case in point this week as we welcome two of the biggest brains on the right, Yuval Levin and Dr. Thomas Sowell. Yuval’s WSJ essay The Next Conservative Movement is a must read, and while you’re at it, order his forthcoming book The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of IndividualismRe-building the party is topic of Yuval’s segment, and we welcome your suggestions in the comments below. With Thomas Sowell, things get a little more somber as he is no fan of the presumptive nominee of the party. The good doctor explains why he’s not a fan of The Donald, or of the voters who have propelled him to where he is today. Finally,we send out 90th birthday greetings to Jerry Lewis from a certain podcaster with a French brother-in-law. Guess who.

Music from this week’s episode:

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Three Martini LunchThree Martini Lunch 4/29/16

Three Martini Lunch Three Martini Lunch 4/29/16

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud former CNN and NBC reporter Campbell Brown, who is blasting the news media for making their networks all Trump all the time in a quest for ratings. They also slam the people behind a new film that intends to mock Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Disease and pretend he had it while president. And they discuss the wild first night of the NFL Draft, where a top prospect watched his prospects plummet after a sudden video of bong hits and admissions he was given money by coaches in college.

Update: Will Farrell has pulled out of the Reagan film project.

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US Politics Is Badly Infected with Economic Nostalgia

Main StreetThe current state of American politics has led to a rediscovery of working-class philosopher Eric Hoffer. Probably Hoffer’s most well-known work is “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements,” published in 1951. As a recent Daily Beast story on his new found relevance explains, “Hoffer’s big insight was that the followers of Nazism and Communism were essentially the same sort of true believers, the most zealous acolytes of religious, nationalist, and other mass movements throughout history.”

Hoffer is amazingly quotable — and tweetable for that matter. Here’s one a bit of wisdom that seems particularly applicable at the moment: “All mass movements deprecate the present, and there is no more potent dwarfing of the present than by viewing it as a mere link between a glorious past and a glorious future.”

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Share Your Local Traffic Nightmares

There is a certain kind of traffic intersection in which the design transcends mere incompetence and inattention and enters the realm of genuine malice. These atrocities don’t just inconvenience or endanger commuters and pedestrians, but embody active hatred and threat against them. For example, our own Fred Cole recently brought to my attention this horror show, which is — blessedly — being renovated but, in the interests of gaining a certain kind of dark knowledge, I propose the following contest: Let’s see who among us has the worst traffic intersection in their area.

For my own local example, I refer you to Neponset Circle. Located at the extreme southern edge of Boston, this spiteful, vindictive geometric sprawl links no fewer than five different roads, three of which are center-divided, and one of which is a half-mile-long bridge. Add to this two — two! — 180-degree turnarounds that are not part of the circle itself, multiple shortcuts between some of the roads, and a northbound-only freeway entrance (sorry, southbound drivers!), and you’ve got a sense of it. Oh, did I mention that it’s also crawling with traffic signals? Because it’s totally crawling with traffic signals.

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Fast Way Up the Ladder: Borrow from Your Family

shutterstock_38771464An interesting study that comes to the wrong conclusion, in Forbes:

It’s no surprise that friends and family are a valuable resource providing help and support when needed in America, at all levels of income. But in a new study released today, The Pew Charitable Trusts has quantified the financial support they’re most apt to provide—showing that the persistent debate over income inequality in the United States extends deeper than you might think. While households of all incomes help members of their families financially, wealthier families tend to provide financial assistance toward paying for education or housing—areas that build wealth. But when lower-income families turn to their relatives for help, it is most often to cover short-term financial needs and emergencies according to Diana Elliott, research manager in financial security and mobility with Pew.

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Trump and Expatriatism

RIPI wasn’t going to write about Trump anymore. (In fact, I suspect some of you explicitly paid me not to write a book about Europe, but to shut up about Trump.) But I want to sort out my thoughts about his foreign policy speech. A bit.

I didn’t realize America was a country that could propel a character like Trump to frontrunner status. The surprise of this has made me more open-minded than I’d usually be. It’s led me to reading things I wouldn’t usually spend money to read. (Before buying a book on Amazon, I always look with guilt at the hundreds of unread books on my shelf, asking myself reproachfully why I need a new book when I’ve never once opened J.F. Bernard’s biography of Talleyrand.)

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You Are Hereby Ordered …

shutterstock_403591747Imagine you’ve been convicted of no crime — in fact, imagine you’ve not even been charged with a crime — but have been incarcerated for nearly seven months. This is the current situation of a former Philadelphia police sergeant who has been housed at a federal detention center for refusing to comply with a court order to divulge information which could be used to charge and convict him of possessing child pornography. During an investigation into users of a secure file sharing network, he became a person of interest, and a warrant was served on his residence to collect evidence to support the government’s suspicions. Authorities sized two encrypted hard drives during the search, but lack the ability to view their contents unless unlocked by a password. When the man evoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination at a grand jury, the presiding judge ruled that he could not be compelled to provide the encryption passcodes for the drives. Failing to secure an indictment through the normal process, prosecutors turned to federal courts.

On the affidavit of Homeland Security agent (what DHS has to do with a local child porn case is beyond my ken) a warrant was issued by the federal court for a search of the hard drives. “After obtaining the warrant, the government made an application pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, for an order compelling Mr. Doe to ‘produce’ the drives ‘in an unencrypted state’ … Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter so ordered.” Upon instruction from the judge, the man entered several passcodes that failed to unlock the devices. When ordered to explain his inability to successfully unlock the devices he refused, was held in contempt, and has been jailed since, without conviction and without charges being brought against him. The case is now on appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Do You Like Ike?

dwight-eisenhowerWith the unexpected direction this election cycle has taken, I’ve found myself repeatedly asking “What kind of president do the American public/Republican primary voters/Tea Partiers/Trump supporters really want?” Whenever we compare contemporary presidential candidates to historical figures, we tend to refer back to a short list of 20th century figures: Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton. But one name is conspicuously absent, a name associated with both the period of fastest growth and the most popular presidency of the 20th century: Dwight Eisenhower.

From the perspective of today’s politics, it’s hard to see how someone like Ike could even exist: A fairly non-partisan leader who was genuinely pragmatic; A supporter of the New Deal and public works projects who, nonetheless, didn’t want to cram the government down every throat; A staunch Cold Warrior who still warned against military excesses; And, of course, a man willing to use his executive power to deploy the US military into an matter of social politics. Indeed, the period of his presidency is constantly cited by members of all ideologies as the benchmark of American success and the American Dream. But if Eisenhower was such a success, why do we rarely ever mention him anymore, while we invoke Reagan’s name more frequently than the Lord’s at church?

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Boehner Calls Trump His “Buddy” and Cruz “Lucifer in the Flesh”

Trump_BoehnerJohn Boehner, avatar of the loathed GOP establishment, took the stage at Stanford University Wednesday night to get a few things off his chest:

Much of the discussion — and laughs — focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

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