URLs du Jour

2017-10-20

Proverbs 19:2 is … pretty good, actually:

2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
    how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

… especially when one makes a (textually unwarranted) connection between the two parts: if you're already fumbling in the dark while acting on some imprudent urge, don't make things worse by being in a hurry.


@kevinNR notes that, when it comes to the GOP, Unity Is Overrated:

The Republican party is either going to be a political outfit that supports free trade or it isn’t. The Republican party is either going to be a political outfit that supports free speech or it isn’t. Republicans will throw in their lot with Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan, or they will throw in with Putin, Le Pen, and Götz Kubitschek. The Republican party is either going to remember “When Character Was King” or it is going to forget all that happy talk about “family values” and make its peace with habitual dishonesty, adultery, and betrayal — so long as those things go along with winning elections. Which they very well may, but the Republicans will have to do it without my vote.

Unlike Kevin, I am still nominally a Republican, but only because I enjoy voting in primary elections (seemingly invariably voting for losing candidates, though). [Yes, I know there's a way around that, but it involves too much talking to people at City Hall.]


■ [Adapting a previous confession re Tina Fey:] I confess: I love Mayim Bialik. And when I say "love", I mean in a way that's completely inappropriate, given our age difference, our respective marital statuses, our incompatible social circles, geographical separation, and a host of additional irreconcilable differences.

So I was sad to read that she apologized for her NYT op-ed column about the Harvey Weinstein imbroglio.

In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.

And, well, if you are acquainted with how a certain type of feminist mind works, you'll know what happened after that.

Et tu, Emily Ratajkowski?

Anyway: you were right before, Ms. Bialik. You had nothing to apologize for.


■ Bryan Caplan diagnoses the ills of our current debate. We (and when I say "we", I mean "all those other people") are driven by Resentment Not Hate.

People often claim that their political opponents are motivated by sheer hatred.  Thus, we have "hate-mongers," "hate speech," "hate groups," and even "hate maps."  But almost no one openly claims "hate" as their political motive.  When accused of hatred, the normal reaction is something like, "My God, you're naive.  You can't even imagine that anyone on Earth sincerely disagrees with you.  Oh, we're all horrible villains."

I try not to "hate". But I will admit to a maybe-unhealthy degree of loathing. I should maybe work on that?


■ Veronique de Rugy provides an update in the continuing struggle over the Export-Import Bank: Ex-Im Cronyism Redux

Last week, Representative Charlie Dent (R., Pa.) introduced a bill trying the make the Export-Import Bank less accountable. This is yet another attempt by the lawmaker to get rid of the bank’s quorum requirements that there be three members on the board to approve loans of more than $10 million. Needless to say, this move is not meant to benefit the little guys but the Boeings and GEs of the world. The bank has only had two members for the last two years and yet, as you may have noticed, the sky didn’t fall. Exporters are exporting, foreign buyers are buying U.S. goods, Boeing is getting richer selling planes that don’t even have government support, and GE is still doing well too.

As I type, Dent's bill has 32 GOP co-sponsors, which pushes me a little bit more out the GOP door. And with respect to the item above this, I can't help but loathe these people.


■ At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff notes another milestone on the road to campus fascism: The campus shout-down movement takes its next logical step. At UC Santa Cruz, the activists were summoned to wreck a meeting of College Republicans.

Heeding this call, lefty students disrupted the meeting by banging open the door to the meeting space and shouting accusations that the members were “fascists,” “racists,” and “white supremacists.” The College Republicans say they offered to discuss the concerns of the protesters. The brownshirts replied: “dialogue is violence.”

Coming soon to the University Near Here? Or near you?


■ And Manchester Ink reports on the efforts to put Amazon's new headquarters in our fair state, with an LFOD shout-out: Ship free or die: Will Amazon find Londonderry a good fit for HQ2?

Londonderry is the new sweet spot for business in NH – or at least, that’s the pitch. On Wednesday Gov. Chris Sununu unleashed a formal invitation to Amazon to move to the “Live Free or Die” state and build it’s new headquarters. The 78-page proposal  promotes the state’s freedom loving motto, includes a big endorsement from Dean Kamen, and also a small jab at our metropolitan Massachusetts neighbor, with a section called: “All the benefits of Boston without all the headaches.”

There was considerable whining from Boston about the "trash talk", but Boston's Mayor Walsh was pretty classy in his remarks.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-19

■ We open up a new Proverbial chapter today with Proverbs 19:1:

1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
    than a fool whose lips are perverse.

I'd say that's a safe bet. Still, here in the US of A, even perverse lips enjoy First Amendment protection (within well-defined bounds).


■ A dead-trees National Review article from @kevinNR, On Amazon and the Tech Monopolies, has burrowed its way out to the NRO website, and there was much rejoicing:

Everybody hates Amazon. It’s kind of weird.

Donald Trump, as a candidate, threatened to bring antitrust actions against Amazon and accused the Internet retailer of dodging taxes, and as president Trump has taken a special interest in the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which offends Trump by reporting on his antics from time to time. “Believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems,” he said. “They are going to have such problems.” Farhad Manjoo, writing in the New York Times, said Amazon’s behavior during its dispute with book publisher Hachette “is confirming its critics’ worst fears and it is an ugly spectacle to behold.” Tony Schwartz blasted Bezos for having an overly aggressive management style marked by periodic angry outbursts. (Tony Schwartz is the man who actually wrote Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal.) Paul Krugman insists Amazon “has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.” Krugman also suggested that Amazon was scheming to help Republicans’ electoral chances. The company has been the target of boycotts since the 1990s, and it has been criticized for its handling of taxes, for selling and not selling certain items, and for — incredibly enough — not making enough of a profit. Junie Hoang, an actress you’ve never heard of (Hood Rats 2: Hoodrat Warriors), once sued the company for revealing her age on IMDb, which Amazon owns. Whole Foods shoppers, who tend to be as crunchy in their political preferences as in their produce preferences, have lamented Amazon’s acquisition of the high-end grocery chain, perhaps unaware that Bezos’s politics are well to the left of those of Whole Foods’s libertarian founder, John Mackey. Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers pronounced himself “disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility” for kicking WikiLeaks off of its Web-hosting service.

Kevin's article is wide-ranging, thoughtful, and highly recommended.


[Amazon Link] An entertaining left-eats-its-own article at NRO from Kyle Smith: Mob Rule in the Book World. It's about American Heart, an upcoming book from Laura Moriarty.

American Heart, a young-adult novel to be published in January, is a kind of Huckleberry Handmaid’s Tale, only with Muslims. In a dim dystopian U.S. of the near future that’s been overtaken by a nasty “patriotic” movement, a white girl is oblivious to the burgeoning horror of Muslims being placed in internment camps, but she experiences an awakening and decides to strike out against them to rescue a Muslim immigrant from Iran, who is in hiding and needs to flee the country to save herself. Ho-hum, says the experienced observer. Since 9/11, the Left has been spooking itself with scary tales about how the anti-Muslim Inquisition is going to start any minute now.

Ah, but the book (apparently) runs afoul of a different leftist tenet about popular entertainment: Thou shalt not feature a "white savior" aiding your oppressed minority.

And you won't believe what happened next. Or maybe you will.


■ A replay of the 2016 Presidential election is shaping up in the Alabama election to replace Jeff Sessions, as in "which candidate do you have to hold your nose harder for". The GOP guy is Roy Moore, and, as chronicled by Robby Soave at Reason, Roy Moore Says Kneeling for the Anthem Is Illegal, and He’s Totally Wrong.

The former judge—who was twice removed from office for his conservative culture war agenda, contrary to the law—told TIME magazine that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem are actually breaking the law.

"It's against the law, you know that?" said Moore. "It was a act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That's the law."

The law in question is here. It appears to have been passed in 1931, when American pols were much more enamored with Fascism.


■ Matt Ridley writes from across the pond on The Curse of Good Intentions:

The curse of modern politics is an epidemic of good intentions and bad outcomes. Policy after policy is chosen and voted on according to whether it means well, not whether it works. And the most frustrated politicians are those who keep trying to sell policies based on their efficacy, rather than their motives. It used to be possible to approach politics as a conversation between adults, and argue for unfashionable but effective medicine. In the 140-character world this is tricky (I speak from experience).

If you're not sure how to reliably distinguish between: "here's what I think would be a good idea" and virtue-signalling, Ridley's column is a good place to start your inner discussion.


■ Opting for a higher position on the "do as I say, not as I do" list: Bernie Sanders’s Senate Campaign Spent Nearly $40K on Private Jets Last Quarter.

The campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) spent nearly $40,000 on luxury private jet travel during the third quarter, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Sanders, who has said global warming is causing "devastating problems" and is in favor of a carbon tax, made the payments for the posh private travel arrangements from his Senate campaign committee, Friends of Bernie Sanders, to Apollo Jets, a New York-based private charter company that is "dedicated to providing a luxury flight experience based on superior safety and exceptional customer care," its website states.

Bernie is running for re-election to the Senate in 2018. But he won re-election in 2012 with 71% of the vote—it's Vermont—so I'm skeptical about how much money he really needs to spend on his campaign.

As previously noted, Bernie will be within walking distance this coming Sunday. While I don't want to shell out $20 for a ticket (that would only cover 0.05% of his private jet travel), maybe I should make a sign and do the activist thing outside the venue.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-18

Proverbs 20:30 is the last verse in the chapter, and it is …

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
    and beatings purge the inmost being.

Whoa. Disturbing. Kinky. Sick. I don't want to see the movie.

Today's pic is one of the milder ones displayed when you type in the obvious search term at GettyImages. Stop hitting yourself, Proverbialist!


■ While in the USA, we're busily making up purity tests for historical memorials, @kevinNR relates that, in India, they are wondering: should they Knock Down the Taj Mahal?

Indian architecture is very old — the Mahabodhi Temple, which is still in use, was built around the time of the First Punic War — but the Republic of India is very young: It is, in fact, younger than Donald Trump. Inevitably, most of the historically important architecture and public monuments were built during India’s long period of domination by alien powers, and often built by those alien powers. This is, understandably, a sensitive subject. India also is having a particularly ugly period of Hindu chauvinism, which has manifested itself in ways that are serious — the emergence of violent anti-conversion campaigns targeting Christians and anti-conversion laws in several Indian states — and in ways that are comical, for instance the exclusion of the Taj Mahal from a government-published guide to historical sites in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. About 10 million people a year visit the Taj Majal, but there is an effort under way to read Islam and Islamic rulers out of India’s history.

Knocking down stuff doesn't change history. But it makes certain people feel like they've "done something".


■ Also see Jonah Goldberg on the Arch of Titus:

I keep thinking of the Arch of Titus, the model for similar arches all around the world, including most famously the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. For those who don’t know, Titus — who would later become emperor — led the siege of Jerusalem in the first Jewish-Roman War. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, mostly non-combatants, were slaughtered, and the Second Temple — the holiest site in Judaism — was destroyed. Tens of thousands of Jews were captured and sold into slavery.

So how do Jews react to the Arch of Titus? Sensibly, keeping their dignity and memory intact.


<voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone!</voice> Amazon Has a Chance to Redefine Corporate Responsibility! Or so says Virginia Postrel, and she's almost always correct about this stuff.

To be a good corporate citizen requires acting to protect the efficiency and fairness of the system that allows the company to prosper in the first place. True corporate social responsibility prohibits using political influence to undermine competition and erode legal equality. It means not soliciting favors that hurt rivals or offer advantages unavailable to those without connections.

So Amazon has a choice. It can act as a responsible corporate citizen, viewing its headquarters search as a challenge to get cities thinking about how to create better environments for all sorts of enterprises. Or it can ignore ethics and go looking for handouts.

Speaking as an Amazon customer since 1995, I hope Mr. Bezos listens to Ms. Postrel.


■ At the WSJ, William McGurn notes The New York Times’s Double Standard on the NFL. Specifically, the NYT has editorially demanded that NFL players must be allowed to "take a knee" during the National Anthem without employment repercussions. But when it comes to their employees….

Because within three weeks of blasting those who believe NFL players have no First Amendment right to use the football field to make political statements, Mr. Baquet issued a memo about social media warning Times reporters not to use their “vibrant presence” on these platforms to express their own, uh, deeply felt fears and grievances.

Oh well. To steal a cute phrase someone made up: without double standards, the NYT would have no standards at all.


■ But we aren't done with football, because Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column, the one you don't have to like football to enjoy, is out. One of this week's musings concerns, gee, why are Americans so cynical and disillusioned about government. Well, consider…

(Here’s your obligatory “spoiler alert” about the plots of some small-screen shows.) The latest season of Homeland, for instance, wrapped with the CIA dragging away members of the cabinet so traitors in the White House could rip up the Constitution. In the latest iteration of Fox’s 24, the Director of National Intelligence secretly is an Islamist fanatic who cackles about slaughtering innocent Americans. On NBC’s Timeless, America is secretly run by “Rittenhouse,” a Freemason-style plot whose goal is to turn the United States into an absolute dictatorship. Among other things, the show’s protagonists discover that the 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes was to erase Richard Nixon discussing his fear of being murdered by the all-powerful Rittenhouse puppet-masters. On ABC’s Designated Survivor, traitors at the top blow up the Capitol during the State of the Union Address, murdering most of America’s government—a government so incompetent that no one noticed thousands of pounds of explosives being placed under the Capitol Dome.

He could have added the invariably evil corporate bigwigs that also show up in movies and TV. But that would make a long column even longer.

It makes for a certain amount of dramatic sense. If you want your protagonists to engage in an epic struggle against powerful foes, the foes' power has to come from somewhere. Government and wealth are the obvious sources. (Or you can play the Stephen King game, and have it spring from the inexhaustible supernatural.)


■ And our LFOD alert rang for an article at CalvinAyre.com, a site "covering the global gambling industry." But they noticed poor little us: New Hampshire online gambling bill springs to life.

New Hampshire legislators have dusted off the state’s online gambling bill after sitting idly in Congress [sic] for months. […] The bill [HB 562-FN] is a stub, seeking only to insert a new subparagraph exempting “gambling done over an internet connection on a website on the internet” from the state’s list of illegal gambling offenses.

There may be something going on behind the scenes involving an online state lottery. Yay! Make it easier for stupid people to throw their money at the state! But anyway:

In the off chance that HB 562-FN makes the grade in the Live Free or Die state, its provisions would take effect January 1, 2018.

A coercively-enforced monopoly to ensure that private citizens are prohibited from doing what the state does? That doesn't sound like LFOD to me.

Fedora 27 Beta

Some Informal Notes

Fedora

I've been using the Fedora Linux distribution since, well, since there was such a thing as Fedora. (Wikipedia dates this as November 2003.) Over the past couple years, I've taken to installing pre-release versions. Occasionally Alpha releases, but they stopped doing that. Fedora 27 Beta (F27) was released on October 3, I installed it on my home workstation that very day, and it has been "in production" since.

This is not an installation tutorial—other people out there do that better—but I did run into a "gotcha" that may affect a handful of folks. Unfortunately, it requires some background explanation.

I would probably fail a Linux geek purity test, because I don't install Fedora on "bare metal". Instead, I run Oracle's (free) VirtualBox software on a Windows 10 host, and install Fedora as a virtual guest. I started using this method back on my pre-retirement work computers, and it worked so well-like having two computers, one Windows, one Linux, at my fingertips—I continued the scheme at home, post-retirement.

Also: over the past few releases, I've grown fond of the Cinnamon desktop over the default GNOME desktop Fedora provides. Your mileage may vary, and that's fine, but there's a reason that (as I type) Googling "arrogant GNOME developers" gets "about 85,900 results".

I have, by now, ritualized the upgrade method. Which, oddly enough, doesn't involve an upgrade of the existing system. There are a lot of advantages to virtualization, and one of them is that it's easy to generate a new OS installation from scratch, keeping the previous one in reserve in case you mess up.

One of the goodies of Virtualbox is its so-called Guest Additions, which installs into the guest OS and provides (among other things) "shared folders", directories available to both the host and the virtual guest. That's useful to an easy upgrade, as we'll see.

An outline of my upgrade process:

  1. Save my custom configurations and data from Fedora N to a shared folder. (I have a script to do this, so I don't forget anything.)

  2. Shut down Fedora N.

  3. Install Fedora N+1 in a new virtual guest. (The sainted Fedora developers make this easy for Cinnamon-preferers: they provide a Fedora Cinnamon Spin on the same release schedule as default Fedora.)

  4. Install any and all necessary custom packages not included in the default install.

  5. Install VirtualBox's Guest Additions and restore the shared folder configuration.

  6. Restore the saved configurations and data from the shared folder in step 1 into the new guest.

And that's it! I'm eliding a lot of gory details. But…

In Step 4, it's not always obvious what non-default packages you should install, for two reasons: First, the default installation package set always changes between releases, so you might need to explicitly install something you didn't have to previously. Second: You don't want to install something you don't need. So, in practice, it's an iterative process; you observe some breakage due to something you missed, you go back to figure that out. (To a certain mindset, this detective work is kind of fun. As long as you're not racing against the clock to fix something critical to your organization. But I'm not in that position any more.)

But what happened this time is Step 5 failed silently. Why?!

Two reasons:

  1. Cinnamon (apparently) has a new default terminal emulation application: tilix. Which is fine (this isn't Russia) but as near as I can tell, they don't install any other terminal applications.

    Problem occurs when the Guest Addition script runs: as it turns out, it looks for a terminal emulation program using a list of fixed names: Konsole, gnome-terminal, mate-terminal and xterm. So the script fails. Silently.

    So: install xterm and try again…

  2. And we fail again, because the Guest Additions installation requires the dkms (Dynamic Kernel Module Support) package to be installed. Also no longer in the default set of installed packages. So install that and try again. (This also drags in the C compiler and kernel development packages.)

And then things worked. Yay!

Finally, not that it matters, but: tilix is not my cup of tea. I've grown used to/fond of a gnome-terminal feature: tabbed sessions in a single window. You can't do that in tilix, and the developers say: Sorry, no.

The Crossing

[Amazon Link]

I continue to consume Michael Connelly novels. Have I mentioned that he's a masterful storyteller? Only a few dozen times, I imagine. This is billed as "A Bosch Novel", as in Connelly's prime protagonist, Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch. But Harry's half brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller, shows up prominently too.

Harry is no longer working for the LAPD, thanks to a small mistake he made in the previous book that allowed his departmental enemies to wreck his career. Well, he was getting close to retirement anyway, so he's been working on restoring an old Harley-Davidson bike. But we know something he doesn't: his heart isn't in it.

Enter Mickey, who's famous for getting his guilty clients off on technicalities. But he has a sympathetic client he really thinks is being framed for a brutal murder. And his usual investigator, Cisco, has been sidelined by a nasty bike accident. (Except we know, from page 4, that it really wasn't an accident at all.)

Harry's reluctant; he would be "crossing" over to work for one of the LAPD's bêtes noires. But after a few looks at the evidence, he sees some loose ends. And there's nobody better than Harry at pulling at loose ends until the whole nasty mess unravels.

Yes, it's really good. Of course. Keep 'em coming, Mr. Connelly.


Last Modified 2017-10-17 1:32 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2017-10-17

Proverbs 20:29 shows that the wisdom of the Proverbialist was not confined to musings on God, kings, sins, and virtues. No, sometimes the Proverbialist just wants you to know what he likes:

29 The glory of young men is their strength,
    gray hair the splendor of the old.

So there you have it. But that's not why we have Bernie Sanders in our Pic du Jour. It's because of…


■ … this story in the Concord Monitor: Sanders making second trip to NH in less than two months, fueling 2020 speculation.

The longtime independent senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate will headline the Strafford County Democrats’ Fall Celebration this Sunday at the American Legion Hall in Rollinsford.

I would not mention this otherwise, but the Legion is literally within easy walking distance of Pun Salad Manor. Specifically, I usually walk the dog down that way every morning; we take a loop around the ball field, along the banks of the Salmon Falls River. It's quite nice, and he likes to poop there.

Unfortunately, the Strafford County Democrats are charging a cool $20 for admittance, and that's about $18 more than I'm willing to pay to hear a crazy old statist, even one who has a splendid mane of gray.

But the Monitor article helpfully lists other incoming Threats to Liberty:

Sanders is far from the only potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to pay a visit to New Hampshire so far this year. That list includes former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander, the founder and president of Let America Vote, a newly-created voting rights organization. Kander has made five trips to New Hampshire. Former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has been to the state three times.

Other possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who have already visited New Hampshire this year are former vice president Joe Biden, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congressman John Delaney of Maryland (who has already announced he’ll run for the 2020 nomination) and Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who will return to the Granite State early next month to headline a Manchester City Democrats event.

That list raises a lot of questions. Well, two questions: for Biden, it's "Can't he just go away?" And for everyone else, it's "Who?"


■ SF writer Sarah Hoyt writes at PJ Media on Slavery and Freedom. She pulls worthwhile lessons from Heinlein:

In both of Heinlein’s novels dealing with slavery [Citizen of the Galaxy and Friday], the characters finally feel themselves to be free when they realize they are the same as other humans: whatever their history or their mode of birth, they’re just humans like everyone else. Their freedom and their achievements, from then on, depend on themselves alone, and they can’t be enslaved again. No matter how many circumstances are against them, or what others think of them, they are free.

This is a dangerous message. It’s the message encapsulated in one of Heinlein’s other quotes as “You can’t enslave a free man. You can only kill him.”

That's a slightly longer version of "Live Free or Die". But we'll take it.


■ Good News from the Great White North: the Toronto District School Board will remove ‘chief’ from job titles out of respect for Indigenous people. Ryan Bird, apparently a board member, is quoted by the Globe and Mail:

"It may not have originated as an Indigenous word, but the fact is that it is used as a slur in some cases, or in a negative way to describe Indigenous people," he said in an interview Wednesday. "With that in mind, as it has become a slur in some cases, that's the decision the administration has made to be proactive on that."

Pun Salad has always been good at pointing out the obvious, so let's do that: the Toronto District School Board has way too much time on its hands. For other commentary let us defer to NRO's Katherine Timpf for commentary:

I’m sorry; I’m all for sensitivity, but this? This is stupid.

If a word is being used offensively, then of course you should be against that usage. No good person wants to hurt anyone else. But honestly, I just have to ask: What in the hell is the point of stopping people from using a word in a way that is not offensive — seeing as it is, you know, not offensive?

But that's not as much fun as being "proactive".

Ms. Timpf also has some fun with the word "princess", which, come to think of it, is far more problematic.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-16

Boston terrier

Proverbs 20:28 muses on royal security:

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
    through love his throne is made secure.

Yet another Proverb with implications for President Trump. Donald, you need to concentrate more on that love and faithfulness stuff!

Or, you could do what most Presidents do, and just get a dog.


■ Dan McLaughlin, the Baseball Crank, writes at NRO with advice, not to kings or presidents, but to Progressives who (a) exaggerate the influence of the alt-right, and (b) slag conservatives who aren't part of the alt-right at all. Here's How Not to Marginalize the Alt-Right:

Efforts to paint such sites as the Federalist and the Daily Wire as alt-right propaganda outlets inevitably devolve into a “marginalize the mainstream” drive, and vividly illustrate why so many conservatives feel that invitations to “national conversations” about race relations are just a plan to sandbag them in bad faith. “They’re going to call you that anyway” is the siren song of the alt-right, and one that seduced all too many on the right into excusing Trump’s sins in the 2016 campaign. It’s why those of us who’d like to seek out common ground and practical solutions on these kinds of issues keep getting drowned out by flag protests and glowing amulets.

Actually, I'd love to see just one Progressive call for a "conversation" that wasn't made in bad faith.


■ Via Instapundit and Granite Grok, here's Derek Hunter at the Daily Caller with a sad but predictable story: Apple VP Of Diversity Apologizes For Suggesting Diversity Of Thought Is Important.

Apple’s Denise Young Smith, the newly minted Vice President of Diversity at the tech giant, has caused outrage in the industry over comments she made in defense of diversity of thought. Silicon Valley has been in an all-out push to bring in more women and minorities, so when Smith said, “I focus on everyone. Diversity is the human experience,” without focusing specifically on race or gender, liberal publications criticized her.

Smith ultimately apologized for the sentiment.

Ms. Smith accidentally tried to speak truth to power. She tried to have a "conversation". It didn't work out, because "diversity" is all about pigeonholing people by DNA. Saying anything outside that narrative framework will get you shot down faster than a drone over the White House. DNA über alles!


■ An interesting article from Shai Shapira at Quillette: Universal Basic Income and the Threat of Tyranny.

There has been criticism of the idea, but so far the debate tends to focus on two issues: the economic reasoning behind a universal basic income, and the ethics of allowing a majority of non-workers to live off the fruits of the labour of a small minority. What is not discussed enough, however, are the political implications–what would a universal basic income do to the relations between citizens and government. Because when we examine historical trends in politics and economics, we can spot a basic pattern: political rights are strongly correlated with economic participation. Societies where the state economy depends on small inputs from many different citizens tend to give their citizens significantly more rights, including the right of participation in the government itself. Societies where the state economy comes from natural resources, or other sources that require only a small, fixed number of people to defend or maintain them, tend to develop autocratic regimes with little concern for the welfare of their citizens.

An intriguing point. Norway is brought up in the comments as a counterexample, but that's arguable.


■ And your tweet du jour from Mark J. Perry:

Unfortunately cut off on the left and right, but you get the gist.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-15

■ Proverbs 20 is kind of an olio, but Proverbs 20:27 is pretty sweet:

27 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

No further comment.


■ My local paper covers the latest at the University Near Here: UNH takes hard look at cultural misdeeds. Sample:

According to Holly Cashman, a professor in the Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLC) Department, she and a team of faculty members organized the teach-in after witnessing students celebrate Cinco De Mayo on campus and because of the deadly event in Charlottesville,West Virginia, in August. Cashman said her department has organized events of multicultural appreciation in the past, but this year, they felt they needed to be more direct in their effort to reach students.

Because students looking for a drinking excuse inevitably leads to deadly clashes between demonstrators, I guess.

[Cashman] said her department is interested in incorporating ideas of diversity and inclusion into the required curriculum of classes. “It’s great to have events like these, but often we are preaching to the choir. So we made a real effort to reach out to Residential Life and Greek Life and make them aware of this event. The hope is that we reached more than our usual crowd of students,” she said.

News flash: faculty member hopes that students will be required to take courses that she teaches.

Halloween is only a few weeks away, with the opportunity to further hector the students about their problematic costumes.


■ Eugene Volokh notes that President Trump is not alone in his ignorance/disdain of the First Amendment: Congress members threaten Twitter with regulation if it doesn’t suppress ‘racially divisive communications’ and ‘anti-American sentiments’. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to the Twitter CEO, containing:

[...] we are concerned that insufficient government oversight over your firm is inadvertently leading to deeper racial divisions and threats to our democracy. If Twitter continues to prove unable or hesitant to grasp the seriousness of this threat and combat the racialized climate that is being stimulated on your platforms, we, as Members of Congress, will be left with little option but to demand for increased regulations and government oversight of this industry to address these problems.

What's the bigger "threat to our democracy": Twitter, or Democrat Congresscritters who invariably want to "regulate" speech, or have others do it for them?


@kevinNR writes on fiscal woes: The Black Budget. [The reference being to chairman of the House Budget Committee, Diane Black.]

Representative Black (R., Tenn.) has been chairman of the House Budget Committee for about a year, and she’s enjoyed the experience so much that she’s . . . trying to get the hell out of Washington, hoping to head to Nashville as Tennessee’s next governor. (She declined to comment on the gubernatorial race.) It is difficult to blame her for not wanting to cling to that gavel: Running the House Budget Committee is kind of a stupid job.

Not that it’s an unimportant job — far from it: In fact, it is a critically important post. A few years ago, I was invited to speak to a group of Republicans on the House Budget Committee, and I told them as plainly as I could that the decisions made by their panel and its Senate counterpart over the next several years would very likely mean the difference between a relatively manageable national fiscal crisis at some point in the future and an uncontrollable national fiscal catastrophe with worldwide consequences. I also told them that I was not entirely confident that they’d make the right choices. I wasn’t invited back.

A few years back, Kevin (I call him Kevin) wrote a book titled The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome; now it sounds as if he may have changed his mind about the awesomeness thing. (I left a comment on the article to that effect.)


■ George F. Will writes on The widening gyre that is Trump.

With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America's premises. The faux nationalists of the “alt-right” and their fellow travelers like Stephen Bannon, although fixated on protecting America from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In “Answering the Alt-Right” in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump's election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence's doctrine of natural rights.

I find it difficult to believe that Trump buys into the alt-right bullshit; for one thing (as Will notes) that would mean that he's thought about it, and there's no sign that he thinks that hard about anything that abstract.

But what Trump almost certainly notices is that alt-right creeps are his most reliable cheerleaders. And he loves that.


[Amazon Link]

■ And our Google LFOD alert buzzed on this article from the Garden City (Kansas) Telegram: Banda sentenced to 12 months probation.

Medical marijuana advocate Shona Banda was sentenced on Friday to 12 months of mail-in probation after being convicted in August of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture, a level-five drug felony, following approval of a plea agreement.

But what's the big LFODing deal with that?

Banda is well-known for her use of cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease. She wrote a book on her healing process using cannabis, titled “Live Free or Die,” where she extensively documented the reasoning behind her lifestyle choices. She also has been featured in numerous YouTube videos and online articles, where she espoused her belief in the medicinal benefits of cannabis oil. The story of her son’s removal from her home in 2015 drew national attention and calls to decriminalize medical marijuana in Kansas.

Ah, I get it. Kansas is one of the few states that hasn't even tried to legalize medical marijuana.


Last Modified 2017-10-15 3:59 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2017-10-14

■ Please, nobody show Proverbs 20:26 to President Trump:

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;
    he drives the threshing wheel over them.

I'm especially looking at you, Senator Rubio.


■ With respect to Trump's decision to stop Cost Sharing Reduction payments to insurance companies, you couldn't ask for a wider disparity in commentary between Obamacare fans and foes. But Megan McArdle has always been a straight shooter on this topic: Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits.

Remember how we ended up with the particular version of Obamacare that became law. Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, and a growing sense that they were on the verge of a second New Deal. They thought they didn’t need Republicans, and they thought they couldn’t get Republicans, so they made little effort to involve Republicans in drafting, beyond offering token concessions to a handful of liberal Republicans who might have made nice bipartisan window-dressing at the signing ceremony. Republicans, predictably, spent a year talking down the bill, and by the time it was nearing passage, a majority of the public opposed it.

The resulting creaky mess required continual extralegal executive patch jobs to sputter along. And now we have an executive not really interested in playing that game any more.


@JonahNRO's G-File this week is headlined Binders Full of Asininity. Recalling Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" from the 2012 campaign, widely mocked on the left.

“Virtue signaling” is an over-used term these days. One problem with the concept is that it often implies a touch of cynicism to the signaler: “I want people to believe that I’m as righteous as this symbolic gesture suggests.”

To be sure, there often is cynicism involved. For instance, people who drive Teslas in states in which electricity is predominately coal-generated signal a lot of virtue — but they do nothing about greenhouse-gas emissions because their cars essentially run on coal and condescension. More relevant, Harvey Weinstein, that bloated carbuncle of hormones and insecurity, virtue signaled with cash quite a lot. In his initial statement after the scandal broke, Weinstein tried it again, offering to atone for his transgressions by going after the NRA. Even for Hollywood liberals, that was too pathetic. It wasn’t virtue signaling so much as an attempt to buy an indulgence from the Church of Liberalism.

Bottom line (which I've said before, and will again): if you want to be a member in good standing of the Virtue Police, you can't blind yourself to the sins committed by members of your political tribe.


■ Which brings us to @kevinNR and his comments on Trump vs. the First Amendment.

President Donald Trump’s recent (most recent) testing of the censorship waters is disturbing in a by-now-familiar way, combining the hallmark elements of the president’s political style: ignorance, stupidity, pettiness, and malice.

It's kind of a whipsaw with Trump, combining the correct refusal to spend money that Congress has not appropriated with… well, this. But:

You’d think that Americans would love the First Amendment, which gives every ordinary yokel on Twitter the right to say the president is a fool and the police chief is incompetent and the chairman of the board might profitably be replaced by a not-especially-gifted chimpanzee. But it isn’t very popular at all: Gutting the First Amendment is one of the top priorities of the Democratic party, which seeks to revoke its protection of political speech — i.e., the thing it’s really there to protect — so that they can put restrictions on political activism, which restrictions they call “campaign-finance reform.” They abominate the Supreme Court’s solid First Amendment decision in Citizens United, a case that involved not “money in politics” but the basic free-speech question of whether political activists should be allowed to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the days before an election. (Making a film and distributing it costs money, you see, hence “money in politics.”) They lost that one, but every Democrat in Harry Reid’s Senate — every one of them — voted to repeal the First Amendment.

And—I'm sorry to harp on this, but it really bugs me—we have at the University Near Here a journalism instructor who thinks the First Amendment doesn't apply when someone considers you "ignorant and hurtful".


■ And the (eminently predictable) reaction to left-wing shoutdowns of campus speakers: Trump Supporters Shout Down Liberal Speakers. It happened at Whittier College ("alma mater of Richard Nixon") and the speakers were California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California State Assembly Leader Ian Calderon.

The disruptors, who apparently were not students, shouted slogans like: “Build that wall,” “lock him up,” “respect our president,” and “American first.” Becerra’s question and answer session with Calderon was severely disturbed and cut short as a result.

I'd say "serves 'em right." Except that it doesn't.

And it would be nice if Trump would condemn things like this. But he won't.


■ Our Google LFOD alert rang for an article in (of all places) the San Francisco Chronicle: Governor's panel on regulatory reform holds first meeting. And it's not Jerry Brown, it's Chris Sununu.

A committee aimed at making New Hampshire more business friendly heard about burdensome regulations affecting ski areas, builders, bagpipe makers and more on Thursday.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who called New Hampshire a "regulatory police state" during his campaign, appointed a regulatory reform steering committee last month to conduct in-depth reviews of state regulations and recommend changes.

Though critics note that the state already has a committee tasked with reviewing regulations and call Sununu's efforts a political stunt, he told the committee Thursday that it's time to "clear out the gunk" and return the state to its "Live Free or Die" foundation.

Well, that's excellent. But… bagpipe makers? Isn't that totally illegal? Shouldn't it be totally illegal? Apparently not. And there's an explanation:

Rich Spaulding, operations manager at Gibson Bagpipes in Nashua, told the group he is struggling not with state regulations but international regulations regarding the wood his company uses to make its products. Even if he obtains the necessary federal permit, he said he'd have to drive to New York to have the products inspected before shipping them out of the country.

The wood in question is African Blackwood, and international treaties require that exports containing it be "inspected". But the only US inspection station is at JFK airport in NYC.


■ And have you been wondering why NH won't land Amazon? Fortunately, we have an answer from NH Business Review: Here’s why NH won’t land Amazon. Unsurprisingly, the answer involves our state's unwillingness to pony up corporate subsidies. For example, Tax increment financing (TIF):

This is not unique to New Hampshire. It is used widely around the country, including Vermont. But that state subsidizes the municipality’s share. In exchange, the state must approve each program. In the Live Free Or Die state no such permission is needed, but the towns shoulder the entire cost.

Apparently being paid by the word, the author writes "the Live Free Or Die state" to avoid writing "New Hampshire" again.


■ And here's your Tweet du Jour, leading to one of the best threads ever seen on Twitter:

An impressive use of infographics, and diligent research by Twitterers.

But nobody found any occurrence, anywhere, of "New Hampshire Fried Chicken". Understandably. Although such a restaurant could have the motto "Live Fried or Die".

Blogkeeping

2017-10-13

housekeeping

I've added a new "view" to Pun Salad over there on the right—no, your right: "Geekery" joins the longstanding views "Books" and "Movies".

I use views to separate out posts that might not be of interest to Pun Salad's normal readers: the Geekery view will be used to describe various adventures in scripting, Linux administration, and whatever else that might vaguely fit. It probably won't be high volume; I went back and reclassified some older posts as Geekery, and there were only 21. Over a twelve year span, that's not very many. But now that I have a place for them, I may do more.