This is going to be a massive link dump. So, buckle up, bucko!

The FRASIER/AVENGERS connection (Ken Levine)

Ken Levine, baseball announcer and television creator extraordinaire, on why the comparison between Frasier and Niles with Doctor Strange and Iron Man in "Infinity War" doesn't work for him.

Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real World Tasks Over the Phone (Google AI Blog)

Given how much of my energy is spent automating text message conversations in various ways, I have zero doubt that this will become a major thing in my toolbox once it (or an equivalent) is available to third parties.

The Wealthy Are Hoarding $10 Billion of Bitcoin in Bunkers (Bloomberg)

Ignoring the fact that once the world is in "bunkers are relevant" territory when the lack of intrinsic value of random numbers people are calling currency is limited, this whole business seems like an investment in dealing with some basic functional shortcomings of Bitcoin that will either be addressed in a future version or in an alternative cryptocoin that supplants Bitcoin.

I'm going to laugh my ass off if this plays out like other Bitcoin wallets where someone stores everyone else's coins, then decides that it's easier to disappear with the coins (see comment above about functional shortcomings) instead of running a proper safe for volatile random numbers.

Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web (New York Times)

Pretty Loud For Being So Silenced (Current Affairs)

The first link is a decent primer to the "Intellectual Dark Web" (IDW), a group of folks carrying on a conversation in alternative media (podcasts, YouTube, etc.) that wasn't proving possible within their home institutions due to political correctness in modern university administrations, social justice campus protest culture (no platforming, in particular), and a growing antipathy to conservative and centrist viewpoints in the Ivory Tower (see Jonathan Haidt and other's work on viewpoint diversity at Hetrodox Academy). I wrote earlier on Jordan Peterson, but Joe Rogan's podcast was my initial introduction to this group years ago when it didn't have a fancy name and it was just interesting people talking about interesting things. As an intro to the IDW, you could do much worse than Bari Weiss's piece.

The second link is Nathan Robinson objecting to Weiss' framing that the IDW's views are being excluded and they are effectively pariahs for their view on free speech, political correctness, and other Dangerous Ideas. It's a very good objection and one that is backed up with sufficient evidence. The only issue that I have with the piece is this:

I’m open to being proved wrong here. I’m waiting for Shapiro/Peterson/Murray/Rubin to call and ask me (and/or a certain other leftist who is known to be perfectly willing to engage conservative ideas) to come and clean their clock in a debate. But so far, what I’ve seen is that when you do seriously challenge their arguments, they scamper away and pretend they haven’t heard you.

This is pretty disingenuous given Robinson's prior interactions with Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex. Alexander wrote a piece creating an analogy for "murderism" as a stand in for racism, to illustrate how the rhetoric around racism falls apart when you try to reconcile its academic definitions ("systemic racism") with its vernacular uses ("that joke's racist"). Robinson included a response to this in a larger article about David Brooks, and Alexander called foul in the subsequent response (linked to at the beginning of the paragraph):

And I get especially annoyed when it’s framed as an accusation that I don’t like to debate other people, listen to their claims, or engage with their ideas.

Nathan writes that “shockingly, the people who most loudly call for empathy and dialogue are the least willing to engage in genuine empathetic dialogue…”, and uses me as an example. I can only say in my defense that last month, I sent Nathan an email saying that I thought it would be productive to engage in dialogue with each other in a way “where instead of trying to disagree publicly, we’re trying to come to agreement privately, then present the results of that agreement”. I offered to do this with him on a topic of his choice. He wrote back saying he didn’t have enough time, which is fine. But when he then publishes an article in a national magazine announcing that I am a hypocrite because I refuse to dialogue with my political opponents, I feel pretty betrayed.

Robinson produced his take on the invitation to dialogue, in which he makes the flimsy excuse that Alexander erred by asking to have a dialogue with Robinson, instead of someone less privileged who is not Robinson. WTF?

In the original article attacking the idea that the IDW is being suppressed, it's entirely unsurprising that IDW members are not engaging with his personal invitation to dialog with him, given his previous weaselly actions with respect to Scott Alexander. In this case, Robinson is just as guilty of what he's accusing the IDW of doing (avoiding dialogue with tough opponents), and his objection to the IDW's "oppression" would have stood much stronger without that criticism and invitation given his past interactions with the IDW (if Alexander can be associated with that group). He simply has no credibility to make that charge anymore.

I'll wrap this post up here. I have a really fascinating pair of links about Ta-Nehisi Coates' florid and angsty take on Kanye praising Trump (Coates finds a way to tie it to Michael Jackson's changing personal appearance as deaths of Black gods) and Rod Dreher with a surprisingly introspective take on Coates' persistent despair. Since I imagine that the IDW links will generate enough discussion for today, I'll save the Coates/Dreher links for tomorrow's comment Ping Pong tournament.

Stay frosty, Facial Hair Bros (and Sisters)!

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