Merit vs. Brilliance: A Brutal Demonstration

I’ve had various feedback about the Two Cultures 2017: Merit vs. Brilliance post – ranging from “Yes…yes…now I see it” to “How dare you call these people brilliant?!” However, over Christmas, events gave us something better than another wall of text. They gave us a visceral object lesson, like so:

Langan was kidnapped by the Taliban and when Channel 4 convened to discuss a rescue plan, Young showed up proposing he fly immediately to Kabul and spearhead negotiations.

That’s right – the editor of a moderately amusing literary magazine and unfunny hottaker was going to negotiate the release of a hostage with the Taliban. Never mind that he’s never been closer to Afghanistan than the Ivy. Never mind that as far as I know he speaks no even vaguely relevant language. No, off we go, piece of piss, Brexit done in an afternoon. If it wasn’t personal brilliance and sheer neck he was relying on, what can it have possibly been?

And…can we stop already with this shit?

5 Comments on "Merit vs. Brilliance: A Brutal Demonstration"

    1. I’m actively working on this. Anything in WP that displays RSS seems to have become buggered in the last few months, which suggests to me that some WP update is responsible. Looking around at other RSS widgets, those that aren’t eight years past their last update, there seems to be a common mode issue across them all, and whatever it is affects both Pinboard and Flickr RSS feeds. I have a theory that they might not be able to fetch over HTTPS.


          1. trying to narrow in on this. SimplePie() as wrapped in the WP function fetch_feed() isn’t returning anything, according to my server log after I monkeypatched the RSS widget. Its own online demo works:


            So it’s evidently My Problem. The feed is reachable from the server. The PHP is all up to date and includes all the stuff it should do. Caching on or off changes nothing. Hmm.

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