The most embarassing part of the Slavoj Zizek plagiarism scandal isn’t that Zizek committed plagiarism. It isn’t even that he plagiarized a white supremacist website. It’s the way the plagiarism was discovered. Steve Sailer was reading a Zizek book and noticed that part of it actually made sense. He wrote:
A reader inclined toward deconstructionism might note that Žižek summarizes MacDonald’s controversial argument quite lucidly. In fact, the superstar professor achieves a higher degree of clarity while expounding MacDonald’s message than in any other passage I’ve read by Žižek. I’m guessing that the last two sentences are Žižek’s denunciation of the preceding argument he quite ably recounted. But it’s striking how much more opaque Žižek’s prose suddenly becomes when he switches to elucidating what are, presumably, his own ideas, such as they are.
… and the idea of Zizek being comprehensible for even a couple of sentences so surprised Steve’s commenters that they looked up the relevant passage to see if it was plagiarized, and sure enough one of them found the real source.
I’ve previously mentioned Bir Tawil, the one part of the earth which, due to a quirk in colonial borders, is not owned by any country. However, it has now been claimed by a man who wanted his daughter to achieve her dream of being a princess.
Commenter Mark Dominus responded to my question about how to autogenerate “alien” text that linguistics and cryptographers can’t distinguish from a real language with his post on Artificial Finnish. Tomalle, äs nto tai sattia yksin taisiä isiäk isuuri illää hetorista. Varsi kaikenlaineet ja pu distoja paikelmai en tulissa sai itsi mielim ssän jon sn ässäksi; yksen kos oihin!. Looks pretty good to me – except I think a smart linguist might realize that – among other problems – Word N has no correlation with Word N+1 – whereas in real languages some words are more likely to follow others. I continue to think the problem is harder than most people appreciate.
Low Carb Diets Aren’t Anything Special. Interesting both for the data presented, and as a study in itself on how spin works. Thirty years of the establishment going “You must eat low fat diets, and anyone who eats a low carb diet is an idiot who will swell like a balloon and die!”, and when the research finally comes out to show a weak version of the low carb diet is only marginally better than low fat diets, the establishment declares that since it’s only marginal they were basically right all along and have won a humiliating victory over their opponents.
Tumblr holds a convention. Predictable results ensue.
Buck Shlegeris: What did I learn from California? – but less like the title implies and more on what it’s like to become an adult.
Time: The Dread Pirate Roberts Sails The Illicit Online Drug Trade Again. Valuable because it gets its analysis of the Princess Bride right.
The Salon parody Twitter that was making Internet waves got shut down recently, probably because too many people were confusing it for the real Salon twitter feed. Luckily, Nydwracu finds that Salon’s own headlines are pretty much self-parodies anyway. And Newsweek does an amazing job of pointing out my new favorite quirk of the real Salon Twitter feed: Jon Stewart Is A Violent Sociopath Who Must Be Stopped (extra link here if you can’t get into Newsweek).
The Most Popular Religious Groups In America, what each religious group thinks about each other group, and how demographics (race, politics, age, etc) affect how much you like each religion. Republicans don’t like Muslims, Democrats don’t like Mormons, nobody much likes atheists, and everybody likes Jews. The evil atheist plan to avoid stigma by mostly also being Jewish continues to pay dividends.
Speaking of religion, religious children are more likely to identify magical characters as real than atheist children.
[content note: sexual assault] The Satanic Panic, besides being the best name for a metal band, was a supposed incident in the eighties when a bunch of very gullible people believed that Satanists were going around murdering and torturing people. This caused everyone to become very concerned about how gullible people were and how easy it was to start panics over stupid reasons. But what if there never was a Satanic Panic, and the people condemning it were gullibly taken in by a Satanic Panic Panic?
Despite the common political idea that moochers vote Democrat in order to ensure the continued flow of free cash, in voters under 65 perceived dependence on federal spending is unrelated to vote choice.
Eliezer explains why he writes fanfiction, and it turns out to be a really really good reason.
From the Department Of Unconvincing Excuses: a Ukranian rebel commander suggests that maybe everyone on that Malaysian airliner was already dead for days before it was shot down.
Not entirely unrelated to the above: past exposure to Communism makes people less trustworthy
New York City is the most unhappy city in America, but I could have told you that. In fact, Ozy and I had a big argument when we were watching Rent, because they thought the moral was the power of friendship, and I thought the moral was everyone should get the heck out of New York City. But the article goes further and identifies the happiest and least happy places in America. Surprisingly, the happiest tend to be the ones that do worse on every other demographic measure – low income, poor health, high crime – like the Deep South. And Louisiana totally wipes the floor with everyone else.
A teacher just inside the borders of Palestine signs up for the dating app Tinder – which in her vicinity is used almost entirely by Israeli Jews. Does love – or more realistically animal lust – conquer ethnic hatreds, or does prejudice win out? Read Palestinder on Tumblr.
I didn’t realize the degree to which most Westerners before the nineteenth century were living in a bizarre Bible / Greek Mythology crossover fanfic. St. Jerome wrote a very nice chronicle describing events “from Abraham to the capture of Troy”, and there was an entire genre of texts that would have Greco-Roman mythological events in one column and Biblical events that occurred around the same time in another. Take Putnam’s 1833 Chronology, written back when subtitles were real subtitles (and mostly viewable on on Google Books). It tells us that Hercules participated in the Olympics twenty-three years (not twenty-two or twenty-four) after Gideon defeated the Midianites, and that the Voyage of the Argonauts happened exactly 207 years after Moses saw the burning bush. Also, in case you were wondering in which year Bacchus became god of wine, that was 1438 BC.
Closely related: the Table of Nations answers burning questions like: “Which of Noah’s grandsons did the Finns originate from?”
USA Today explains better than I did why self-flagellation about not repeating the moon landing is silly: “Why did we spend so much to go to another world, and then almost completely abandon the effort? It was because we did it for the wrong reason. The Apollo moon program was never really about space, or opening it to America or humanity. It was a peaceful battle in an existential war. In the post-Sputnik panic, the priority was not to do it affordably or sustainably but, to do it quickly”
The closest living relative to the mitochondria that power all higher forms of life is rickettsia prowazekii – the typhus bacterium.
“Mommy, how did the Great Israeli-Brazilian War start?”