The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

E-bike Riders Get More Exercise

| Comments

Electric Bike

Micah Toll writing for elektrek:

Believe it or not, electric bikes offer more exercise than pedal bikes on average. That fact might sound strange (and has been known to let the steam out of some fitness riders’ lycra outfits), but the science is clear. Now let’s talk about the “how” and “why”.

Study after study have shown that people who ride e-bikes get more exercise than those who ride pedal bikes.

Its obvious - the ease of electric bikes allows their owners to ride longer and more often.

Loving the Unborn

| Comments

Methodist pastor Dave Barnhart on Facebook on loving the unborn:

“The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

Oscar Best Picture - Muppets Versions

| Comments

Here’s a list of every Best Picture Oscar winner ranked by how good a Muppets version would be. Two of my favorites:

Rocky:

Rocky

The greatest sports movie of all time. THE underdog story. The Muppets boxing. Kermit screaming MISS PIGGY as half his face swells shut. That’s what the movies are all about.

And The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

The Return of the King

This would be the greatest movie ever made. I know it and you know it. Muppets Return of the King on its own would be the greatest thing ever put to film. The epic battles, the rousing speeches, the inspired acts of bravery. All of it, with Muppets, would be a transcendent piece of art that would ever so briefly unite humanity. Its existence would also mean that Muppets Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers also exist. A whole Muppets Lord of the Rings trilogy. Art is subjective and nothing can please everyone except for this. Everyone on earth would love this. We would be able to show it to extraterrestrial species to prove that we are worthy of joining the Galactic Senate. They would see it and realize we are a species that can contribute positively to the universe. All our problems would be solved. The Muppets Lord of the Rings will be our salvation.

These movies would actually get me back into the theaters.

Incentive for Clarence Thomas

| Comments

John Oliver

Ramon Antonio Vargas reporting in The Gaurdian that talkshow host John Oliver has offered to pay Clarence Thomas $1m annually – as well as give him a $2m tour bus – if the Republican judge resigns from the US supreme court.

So that’s the offer – $1m a year, Clarence. And a brand new condo on wheels. And all you have to do … is sign the contract and get the fuck off the supreme court,” Oliver remarked. “The clock starts now – 30 days, Clarence. Let’s do this!

You are a good man John Oliver. A real patriot. Unfortunately, Clarence Thomas won’t take it - we all know he makes more than that from his grifts to stay right where he is.

Enshittification at Scale

| Comments

Andy Brice writing on Large Language Models and the start of the technological singularity:

But I don’t think so. Human nature being what it is, LLMs are inevitably going to be used to churn out vast amount of low quality ‘content’ for SEO and other commercial purposes. LLM nature being what it is, a lot of this content is going to be hallucinated. In otherwords, bullshit. Given that LLMs can generate content vastly faster than humans can, we could quickly end up with an Internet that is mostly bullshit. Which will then be used to train the next generation of LLM. We will eventually reach a bullshit singularlity, where it is almost impossible to work out whether anything on the Internet is true. Enshittification at scale. Well done us.

I agree. Maybe this is the new SkyNet scenario - you don’t need to take controll of all the nukes and bomb humanity to the stone ages. You just need to load up the information highway with so much bullshit so that the modern internet is completely useless.

If It Walks Like an Insurrection and Talks Like an Insurrection …

| Comments

Jamelle Bouie in an op-ed for the New York Times:

The last point to make here comes from still another amicus brief, this one prepared and filed by the historians Jill Lepore, Drew Gilpin Faust, David Blight and John Fabian Witt. Section 3, they note, was not written for the past; it was written for the future. “In the 14th Amendment the United States now possessed the blueprint of a new Constitution, a new kind of federalism, a commitment to equality before the law and a method to legally guarantee the essential results of the Civil War,” they write. “That blueprint included prohibiting past officeholders from holding federal or state office after engaging in an insurrection against the Constitution.”

This was recognized at the time. “The language of this section is so framed as to disenfranchise from office the leaders of the past rebellion as well as the leaders of any rebellion hereafter to come,” Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri said as he cast his vote for the amendment.

Whatever the political arguments against disqualification — and whatever the practical considerations of keeping the former president off the ballot — both the Constitution and the historical record are clear. Trump is an insurrectionist, and he has no rightful place in the leadership of the American Republic.

Celebrating 50 Years of the Rubik's Cube: A Timeless Icon of Creativity and Challenge

| Comments

rubik's cube

This year marks a significant milestone in the world of puzzles and innovation as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube. Since its invention in 1974 by Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik, this iconic toy has captured the imagination of millions worldwide, transcending generations and cultures.

The Rubik’s Cube is more than just a puzzle; it’s a symbol of creativity, perseverance, and intellectual challenge. With its deceptively simple design of colored squares arranged on a cube, it presents an intricate problem that has confounded and delighted minds for half a century. What begins as a seemingly impossible task of aligning the colors quickly becomes a captivating journey of problem-solving and spatial reasoning.

Over the years, the Rubik’s Cube has evolved from a mere toy to a cultural phenomenon. It has inspired countless competitions, ranging from casual speed-solving contests to international championships where participants showcase lightning-fast reflexes and unparalleled problem-solving skills. Beyond competitions, the Rubik’s Cube has found its way into classrooms, where educators harness its potential to teach concepts in mathematics, logic, and perseverance.

As we reflect on the legacy of the Rubik’s Cube, it’s impossible to ignore its enduring appeal. Across generations, people have been drawn to its challenge, finding solace in the rhythmic twists and turns required to solve it. It serves as a reminder that in a world filled with distractions, there is beauty in simplicity, and joy in the pursuit of a seemingly insurmountable goal.

The 50th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube is not only a celebration of its past but also a testament to its enduring relevance in an ever-changing world. As we look ahead to the next 50 years and beyond, one thing remains certain: the Rubik’s Cube will continue to captivate minds, inspire creativity, and unite people in the shared pursuit of unlocking its secrets.

Whether you’re a seasoned speed solver or a curious beginner, take a moment to celebrate this timeless icon of ingenuity and exploration. Happy 50th anniversary, Rubik’s Cube - here’s to many more years of twisting, turning, and endless possibilities!

Why Americans Keep Voting for Trump

| Comments

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been legally determined to be a rapist, accused of paying hush money to a porn star and is facing 91 felony charges across four criminal cases. In any other election, a candidate with such legal issues would have been swiftly removed from consideration. Trump ,despite these allegations and legal troubles, how can still be a leading GOP candidate?

George Monbiot on an opinon piece for The Gaurdian:

But the shift goes deeper than politics. For well over a century, the US, more than most nations, has worshipped extrinsic values: the American dream is a dream of acquiring wealth, spending it conspicuously and escaping the constraints of other people’s needs and demands. It is accompanied, in politics and in popular culture, by toxic myths about failure and success: wealth is the goal, regardless of how it is acquired. The ubiquity of advertising, the commercialisation of society and the rise of consumerism, alongside the media’s obsession with fame and fashion, reinforce this story. The marketing of insecurity, especially about physical appearance, and the manufacture of unfulfilled wants, dig holes in our psyches that we might try to fill with money, fame or power. For decades, the dominant cultural themes in the US – and in many other nations – have functioned as an almost perfect incubator of extrinsic values.

[…]

When a society valorises status, money, power and dominance, it is bound to generate frustration. It is mathematically impossible for everyone to be number one. The more the economic elites grab, the more everyone else must lose. Someone must be blamed for the ensuing disappointment. In a culture that worships winners, it can’t be them. It must be those evil people pursuing a kinder world, in which wealth is distributed, no one is forgotten and communities and the living planet are protected. Those who have developed a strong set of extrinsic values will vote for the person who represents them, the person who has what they want. Trump. And where the US goes, the rest of us follow.

Ingenuity’s Mission Comes to an End

| Comments

Ingenuity

The mission of the NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has come to an end on the surface of Mars.

While the helicopter remains upright and in communication with ground controllers, imagery of its Jan. 18 flight sent to Earth this week indicates one or more of its rotor blades sustained damage during landing and it is no longer capable of flight.

Originally designed as a technology demonstration to perform up to five experimental test flights over 30 days, the first aircraft on another world operated from the Martian surface for almost three years, performed 72 flights, and flew more than 14 times farther than planned while logging more than two hours of total flight time.

Legal Immigration Is Winning the Lottery

| Comments

immigration lottery

Charts showing the the immigration lottery in the US is worth a look.

David J. Bier sums up the situation at the Cato Institute:

Legal immigration is less like waiting in line and more like winning the lottery: it happens, but it is so rare that it is irrational to expect it in any individual case.

[…]

… the system is restrictive compared with other countries. The United States ranks in the bottom third of wealthy countries for foreign-born share of the population. Even if it accepted 70 million immigrants tomorrow, it would still not surpass the likes of Australia.

Immigration benefits the United States, so there is no reason to place hard caps or strict categorical limits. Moreover, enforcing restrictive laws is costly and results in illegal immigration. The entire legal immigration system is actually designed not to be followed by most people, but to keep most people out. America should return to its system of openness that reflects U.S. traditions and benefits the country.

Boing 737 Max 9 Loose Bolts

| Comments

Boing Max 9 blowout

Tom Costello and Rob Wile reporting for ABC News:

The CEO of Alaska Airlines said new, in-house inspections of the carrier’s Boeing 737 Max 9 planes in the wake of a near-disaster earlier this month revealed that “many” of the aircraft were found to have loose bolts.

[..]

Minicucci, who became president of Alaska Airlines in 2016 and began his career as an engineer, said he was “incredulous” that something like the incident earlier this month could even happen.

“I knew that this was an issue out of the (Boeing) factory,” he said. “There was no question in my mind.”

“And it’s clear to me that we received an airplane from Boeing with a faulty door. Now the NTSB investigation is going to figure out why that was a faulty door, whether it was bad installation, missing hardware, a manufacturing issue, but there’s no doubt that Alaska received an airplane off the production line with a faulty door,” Minicucci said, referring to the National Transportation Safety Board’s probe.

This is what happens when you put MBA spreadsheet jockeys in charge.

US 'Has Never Been a Racist Country'

| Comments


Okay Nikki – you think America isn’t racist? Why don’t you ever use your real name given at birth: Nimarata Nikki Randhawa? We will quickly find out how America isn’t a racist country.

This women is a sell outo the MAGA nut jobs, an embarrassment to her Indian heritage and trading on a fantasy revisionist view of American history. Truly disgusting.

Congratulations Nimarata Randhawa - you have just joined the ranks of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Carly Fiorina in history on the Republican clown train.

Battleground of 2024 Is Emotion

| Comments

MAGA emotions

Anand Giridharadas sums up the current political environment perfectly:

One of the strange dynamics of the Trump era is that, as the right has become, more and more, a movement of passion more than reason, of emotional appeal more than policy solutions, the political left has, as if to be symmetrical, drifted the other way.

Today’s electoral left is highly cerebral. It is suspicious of the politics of passion. It doesn’t do emotional appeals. It doesn’t have much of a role for music, for the body, for in-person communing in public spaces, for catchy slogans, for arresting visuals. The more Trump becomes a carnival barker, the more it seems leaders on the left embrace coming across like the inoffensive heads of state one sees in many European capitals — people who are working very hard not to be interesting, who seem to associate life force in politics with danger. Today’s left seeks to appeal to human beings through a small sliver of all the ways in which human beings take in the world.

If this were an age defined by big policy questions and little else, that would be one thing. But it is an age defined by Big Feelings. By anxiety and fear and future dread and a great confusion among millions of people about who they will be on the far side of head-spinning change. By the emotional crises of men unsettled by a future of gender equality, and of white people unsettled by a future of racial equality, and of young people who know deep down that their parents love them but wonder why they have left them a burning, doomed planet. By the dour vibes of people who know that, on paper, the economy is good, but who cannot shake the feeling that the American dream is a lie. All around us, people are lost, not sure how to make sense of their place in a world of upheaval. In an era such as this, leaving the politics of emotion, of passion, to aspiring autocrats is a dangerous abdication.

Spinal Tap Sequel

| Comments

spinal tap

Andrew Pulver reporting for The Guardian:

Paul McCartney and Elton John will appear in the sequel to cult mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, for which filming is due to get under way early next year, it has been revealed.

[…]

News of plans to make a Spinal Tap sequel broke in May 2022, when the project was shopped at the Cannes film festival international market. Reiner said then: “I can tell you hardly a day goes by without someone saying, why don’t you do another one? For so many years, we said, ‘Nah.’ It wasn’t until we came up with the right idea how to do this. You don’t want to just do it, to do it. You want to honour the first one and push it a little further with the story.”

The original film’s main cast of Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest are due to return, although Tony Hendra, who played cricket-bat-wielding manager Ian Faith, died in 2021. The plot will reportedly centre on Faith’s death, after which his widow inherits a contract that requires the band to do one last concert. Reiner is also due to return in the character of film-maker Marty DiBergi, a figure supposedly based on Martin Scorsese, who had directed celebrated music documentary The Last Waltz in 1976.

This sequel goes to 11 – one louder.

The Struggles That Define America

| Comments


Jon Meacham, a distinguished presidential historian, contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review, contributing editor at TIME, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, delves into the roots of American history, contending that conflict is the crucible from which history emerges. In his exploration, Meacham dissects the shaping of America’s soul by the juxtaposition of “our better angels” and our darker instincts. Drawing from pivotal moments such as the post-Civil War Reconstruction, the tumultuous rise and fall of the KKK, and the establishment of the NAACP, he offers insights into the forces that have shaped the nation.

Meacham contends that an honest examination of the unvarnished history of the United States is essential for every American. By understanding the past, we gain the ability to navigate away from previous pitfalls and propel the country forward purposefully. His observations and perspectives on the expansive sweep of American history instill hope we exercise “our better angels”.

The documentary, which spans over three hours, is advocated as essential viewing for every American. Meacham’s comprehensive exploration serves as a call for citizens to invest the time and effort to absorb the genuine, unfiltered history of the country, fostering a collective understanding that can guide the nation towards a more enlightened and inclusive future.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

| Comments

Mad Max: Fury Road emerged as a cinematic masterpiece, standing out as one of the finest films in recent memory. Renowned for its intense car chases, it gripped audiences from the very first frame, keeping them on the edge of their seats throughout.

Now, the trailer for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga has been unveiled, and it’s nothing short of fantastic. The production team for Furiosa boasts the talent of editor Margaret Sixel and several other award-winning individuals from the Fury Road crew, heightening expectations for this upcoming installment. Anticipation is soaring, and I can hardly wait for what promises to be another exhilarating chapter in the Mad Max universe.