I like Clark Gregg. I liked him in The New Adventures of Old
Christine, I liked him as Phil Coulson in all those Marvel movies
and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. And I saw his smirking face on the
DVD box for this movie, and expected a light-hearted comedy that gently
lampooned Hollywood and its denizens.
(In addition to being the star—he's in every scene, I think—Mr. Gregg
wrote and directed the movie.)
Oops. Maybe I should have read the plot synopses a little more carefully.
Well, it never hurts to be surprised, I guess. The IMDB says "Comedy,
Drama". I say, more like "Film Noir".
Anyway, the plot: Mr. Gregg is Howard Holloway, a "struggling" agent
specializing in child actors, because he once was one. (We hear how his
acting career got derailed late in the movie.) His efforts are often
thwarted by the machinations of the relatively despicable people he has
to deal with: parents, competing agents, conniving producers.
But, by luck, he happens on his Big Chance: an extraordinarily gifted
13-year-old actress, Lydia, whose drunkard father is schlepping her
around to casting calls. Can Howard help start her out on a solid career
and also maintain his soul?
I liked the movie. Mrs. Salad hated the ending, but (once I got the
genre right) I kind of saw it coming.
A bisexual male student at the University of Texas–San Antonio said
during an informal conversation outside class that he was
uncomfortable with Islam because people still receive the death
penalty for being gay in 10 Muslim-majority countries.
For expressing this thought, the student—Alfred MacDonald, who no longer attends the school—was instructed to meet with the chair of the philosophy department, Eve Browning. Prof. Browning told MacDonald in no uncertain terms that he had committed the crime of "offending" someone, and she warned him that his habit of saying what he thinks could bring down the entire program. She threatened to call the Behavior Intervention Team and refer MacDonald to counseling. She did everything but send him to Room 101.
MacDonald (wisely) brought a recorder to the encounter, so
there is a cringe-inducing transcript of the Browning-MacDonald
interrogation at the link. It must be read to be believed.
Kid, you're probably better off learning philosophy on your own.
Otherwise, it's only a matter of time before the faculty
spike your punch with hemlock at the departmental Christmas party.
■ With everyone else concentrating on likely legal repercussions of
the Paul Manafort indictment, @kevinNR has some larger
The usual Trump apologists spent yesterday afternoon eating up a
great deal of AM-radio and cable-news airtime emphasizing that
the crimes with which Manafort is charged do not relate to his
work for the Trump campaign, but preceded it. Tighten in and
focus on that word: preceded. It may be the case that
Manafort did nothing wrong during his time as Trump’s campaign
manager, but that does not mean that the indictment against him
tells us nothing about the president or his campaign. It tells
us a great deal: about his judgment, about his character, about
the sort of people with whom he is comfortable doing
Drain the swamp? Trump & Co. are the Swamp Things.
I know: "better than Hillary". But that's increasingly a deflective
argument, about to become a defective argument.
Now that we’ve had nearly a year of the dingy, vulgar carnival that
is the Trump presidency, conservatives and Republicans (who are not
always the same people)
have settled into various camps. Some, like me, remain committed
Never Trumpers; whether inside or outside of the GOP, we feel
that our worst predictions have been vindicated.
Others have thrown what few principles they once had onto the
Trump bonfire, abandoning
any pretense of conservatism in the name of tribal victory. They
dance around the flames while chanting “But Gorsuch” and whooping
about the anger they have elicited from their hated enemies in the
media, the academy, and the people who shower before going to
But a third group has opted for denial. Having eschewed the dread of the Never Trumpers, but too respectable and thoughtful to join the Steve Bannonite ritual political theater of kilt-lifting and buttock-slapping in the face of the royal archery, they instead have chosen to see Trump as firmly in the tradition of modern conservative heroes like Ronald Reagan. No, really.
I don't like the "Never Trump" label, it lost meaning after the
election. It might be relevant again in a couple years, though.
Understanding it as a shorthand for "Trump continues to be a lying narcissistic
slimeball" might make more sense.
“Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?” Donna Bailey, a Democratic
state representative in Maine and crusader against anachronistic and
dangerous institutions, asked
the Wall Street Journal (paywall). It’s an excellent
Earlier this year, Bailey sponsored a bill that would move Maine to
the Atlantic Time Zone, an hour ahead of its current position in the
Eastern Time Zone, and no longer observe Daylight Saving Time. The
bill passed both chambers of the Maine state legislature. But the Senate
added a provision that Maine voters must approve the change in a
referendum, and the referendum could only be triggered by
neighboring Massachusetts and New Hampshire changing their time,
too. Since neither of those states had immediate plans to change
their time zones, the move seemed doomed.
But now some people in Massachusetts are thinking about it too!
advocated that the US move to just two time zones back in 2013.
At the time, Pun Salad advocated something even more radically
crackpot (but also brilliant):
Right Number of Time Zones is Zero. It continues to make more
sense to me than any of this other twiddling.
The former New Yorker said the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die,”
minted on its license plates convinced him to move here more than
three decades ago. He urged the business people not to disappoint
Otherwise, Kamen said: “I’ll look at more license plates.”
What would (say) Maine need to put on its license plates to entice Kamen
away? Switch from "Vacationland" to "TANSTAAFL", maybe? I don't see
12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
I would have improved the parallelism with "the purring
of a kitten" instead of "dew on the grass". But I guess that's why God didn't hire me to write
■ The campus activists/wannabe Torquemadas at AllEyesOnUNH
posted their Halloween costume no-nos:
Amusingly, they're getting some flak in the comments due to (a) the
political incorrectness of "gypsy" and (b) a discussion about
whether dressing in "drag" has anything to do with being
Me, I'm wondering how someone could come up with a costume that
would violate as many of those rules as possible. Liberace in a
I already linked to
by Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt yesterday, but let me quote
from it again:
At Yale in 2015, after 13 college administrators signed a letter
outlining appropriate vs. inappropriate costume choices for
students, the childhood development expert and campus lecturer Erika
Christakis suggested that it would be better to allow kids to think
for themselves. After all, Halloween is supposed to be about pushing
boundaries. "Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to
be a little obnoxious…or, yes, offensive?" she wrote. "Have we lost
faith in young people's capacity—your capacity—to ignore or reject
things that trouble you?"
Apparently, yes. Angry students mobbed her husband, the professor
Nicholas Christakis, surrounding him in the courtyard of the residential
college where he served as master. They screamed obscenities and
demanded he apologize for believing, along with his wife, that college
students are in fact capable of handling offensive costumes on
Halloween. "Be quiet!" a student shouted at him at one point. "As
master, it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the
students!" She did not take kindly to his response that, to the
contrary, he sees it as his job to create a space where students can
As it turns out, Halloween is the perfect Petri dish for observing what
we have done to childhood. We didn't think anything was safe enough for
young people. And now we are witnessing the results.
Two years later, we'll see if the UNH petri dish works out any
different than Yale's.
This is the week of hearings on Facebook
ads, as well as Twitter and Google promotion of pro-Putin or
sometimes pro-Trump or disruptive ideas. So far we know that
Russia-linked ads on Facebook cost about $100,000, a laughably low
number. Maybe there is much more hidden, but so far I don’t
$100,000 is exactly the amount the Comintern gave in the 1920s to organize a campaign against John L. Lewis leading the mine union. No, I am not adjusting for inflation, so in real terms the sum in the 20s was much higher. The Comintern also gave at least $35,000 to start the Daily Worker, again that is a nominal figure from the 1920s. The American Communist Party received subsidies too. Many other communist subsidies, media and otherwise, remain hidden or at least uncertain.
Since I am (on occasion) a Commie-hater, I welcome any and all new
assistants to the cause of finding Russians under our beds.
■ Andrew Klavan writes on The
Trouble With Maggie Haberman. Given the subject matter—Haberman
is senior White House correspondent for the New York Times—I'm
surprised his article isn't book-length, but:
Maggie Haberman is shocked — shocked — to find
that Hillary Clinton's people are dishonest. Some of you may
remember Hillary Clinton. This is the woman who lied about her husband's infidelity, her trip to
Bosnia, the cause of the Benghazi massacre, her illegal
emails and just about everything else she's ever talked
about. But when the Clinton people told Haberman that they had
nothing to do with the now-infamous Steele dossier filled with
dubious Russian dirt on Donald Trump, Maggie apparently bought it
hook, line and sinker. "Folks involved in funding this lied about
it, and with sanctimony, for a year," she complained on Twitter.
Don't worry, Mr. Klavan. Pretty soon Maggie will snap back to her
usual attitude of Progressive gullibility.
The Virginia church that George Washington attended for two decades
plans to tear out a memorial to the nation’s first president because
the plaque could make some worshipers feel “unsafe or unwelcome.”
I can't help but think they just made a lot more of their
parishioners feel unwelcome by this action, but we'll see.
Another book I bought long ago (circa 2003, I think) for reasons
I have long since forgotten. If it was award-nominated, I can't find any
record of it. There's a glowing blurb on the front cover from Michael
Connelly ("James Swain is the best new writer I have come across."), so
that might have been it. I'm not typically seduced by blurbs, though.
Never mind the reasons, it was an enjoyable read. Not quite enough to dump James Swain's
seventeen other novels onto my to-be-read pile, but a veritable
It is the second book in Swain's "Tony Valentine" series. Tony is an
ex-cop from Atlantic City, a recent widower, and runs a consulting
service out of his Florida digs, specializing in figuring out how
gambling casinos are being ripped off by their patrons and employees.
He has a wayward son who keeps making bad choices.
I cast the movie after only reading a few pages: Gregory Jbara, the guy
who plays Frank Reagan's assistant Garrett on the TV show Blue
Bloods. Don't know why, but he just popped into my head and stayed
there while I was reading.
Anyway, Tony's ex-partner gets killed (no spoiler, that's page 8) while
he's on the phone with Tony. So: this time it's personal. It's
apparently tied in with a casino being taken at blackjack by a gang of
scruffy players of European descent. Along the way, Tony meets a
beautiful lady professional wrestler, a mobster who's threatening Tony's
son, a bunch of Atlantic City cops (clean and dirty), and the Governor
of Florida. And many more.
It's a lot of fun, and there's a nice twisty revelation in the
penultimate chapter that I seriously did not see coming.
Update: A newer version is
I'm leaving this description, and the scripts it describes, in place, though, because it's simpler.]
Another example of the mental aberration that causes me to write Perl
scripts to solve life's little everyday irritants. In this case two
noticed that I had a lot of books on my shelves, acquired long past,
that I never got around to reading. Either because (a) they were
dauntingly long and dense (I'm thinking about Infinite Jest by David Foster
Wallace); or because (b) they just fell through the cracks. Both poor
excuses, but there you are.
I sometimes want to methodically
read a series of books in a particular order.
In other words, I needed a way to
bring diligence and organization to my previous chaotic and sloppy
Here's how I went
about scripting that:
I conceptualized my "to be read" books as a collection of book stacks,
like the picture at (your) right (except more of them).
Each stack is a list of books:
either organized around a specific theme (usually an author) or is a
catchall (e.g. "non-fiction"); and
maintained in the order I want to read them.
(This goes back to the issue mentioned above: sometimes a series really "should"
be read in publishing order, for example C.J. Box's novels featuring
protagonist Joe Pickett.)
The implementation of this concept: each stack is a .list
file in my Linux directory ~/var/reading_lists. As I type,
sixteen of them:
(pas@oakland) ~/var/reading_lists:ls -l *.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 183 Oct 20 17:47 amber.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 41 May 17 18:05 asimov.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 242 Jul 25 06:09 box.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 93 Oct 9 12:27 connelly.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 43 Sep 7 10:28 conservative_lit_101.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 75 Sep 17 13:32 docford.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 46 Jun 30 11:12 elmore.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 83 Mar 29 2016 francis.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 266 Oct 28 06:52 genfic.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 65 Apr 13 2017 monkeewrench.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 144 Oct 16 17:11 moore.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 199 Oct 25 13:47 mystery.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 523 Oct 16 13:12 nonfic.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 56 Jul 18 15:04 reacher.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 333 Aug 30 15:37 sci-fi.list
-rw------- 1 pas pas 45 Jun 11 15:50 winslow.list
… and each line in each file contains a different book title. Example with
elmore.list, a list I created
in lieu of watching the six
seasons of Justified on Amazon Prime for the fourth time.
(pas@oakland) ~/var/reading_lists:cat elmore.list
Riding the Rap
Fire in the Hole
I.e., four books written by the late Elmore Leonard where Raylan Givens
appears as a character.
The picking algorithm is simple and "works for me". When it's time to
choose the next book to be read from this agglomeration, I pick a pile
"at random" and take the book from the "top of the pile" (i.e., the one
named in the first line of the file).
There is one more little tweak: the "random" pick is weighted by the
length of the list. So (for example) since there are 82 books total in
all lists above, and the nonfic.list has 13 lines, a book
that list would be picked with probability
13⁄82. (Note the
probabilities calculated this way add up to 1, the probability
that some book from pile will be picked.)
That's not as hard as it might sound. I'd pseudocode the algorithm like this:
Given: N lists (indexed 0..N-1) with Bi books in the ith list…
Let T be the total number of books in the lists,
B0 + B1 + … + BN-1
Pick a random number r between 0 and T-1.
i = 0
while (r >= Bi)
r -= Bi
… and on loop exit i will index the list picked.
So: the "picking" script, bookpicker, is here. A prettyprinted
HTML version is here.
You just run the script with no arguments or options.
I left "debugging" print statements in.
You're responsible for maintaining the lists; no blank/duplicate
For the "picked" list, the script writes a smaller file with the
picked title missing. The old list is saved with a .old
appended to the name. That's important, because next…
One last little gotcha: the randomization is sometimes a little
too random. Specifically, sometimes after reading a book by a
certain author, the picking script picks… the next book in the list by
the same author. I don't want that. Variety is better.
So there's also a script to "undo" a previous pick,
bookpicker_unpick. If you run it before any other changes
are made to the list files, it will find the most-recently-modified
.list file, and "restore" the corresponding
The script, is here. A prettyprinted
HTML version is here.
■ After yesterday's flirtation with aristocratic cheerleading, we
are back to plain old sensible advice in Proverbs
11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Today's picture: a wise Boston terrier exhibiting extreme
patience in overlooking an offense.
And, as it happens, not overlooking minor offenses is kind of
a theme in what follows today.
■ I'm in the middle of reading
Fragile Generation in dead-trees Reason, a wise article
Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt. But (good news, everyone) you can
read it for free, and you should.
Beginning in the 1980s, American childhood changed. For a variety of
reasons—including shifts in parenting norms, new academic
expectations, increased regulation, technological advances, and
especially a heightened fear of abduction (missing kids on milk
cartons made it feel as if this exceedingly rare crime was
rampant)—children largely lost the experience of having large swaths
of unsupervised time to play, explore, and resolve conflicts on
their own. This has left them more fragile, more easily offended,
and more reliant on others. They have been taught to seek authority
figures to solve their problems and shield them from discomfort, a
condition sociologists call "moral dependency."
This poses a threat to the kind of open-mindedness and flexibility young people need to thrive at college and beyond. If they arrive at school or start careers unaccustomed to frustration and misunderstandings, we can expect them to be hypersensitive. And if they don't develop the resources to work through obstacles, molehills come to look like mountains.
And just by calendarical coincidence…
■ … we read that authority figures at the University Near Here are,
indeed, trying to shield the technically-no-longer-children under
its aegis during upcoming festivities. From the student newspaper:
preps for Halloween.
The Academic Deans of UNH sent out an email Tuesday regarding
Halloween weekend. The email outlined the university’s concerns
about the health and wellness of students and encouraged mutual
respect of all Wildcats.
According to Dean of Students Ted Kirkpatrick, the email is one of
the many preparations that have been in the works since September to
prepare for the festivities.
Student Body President Carley Rotenberg says she hopes that students
will read the email and consider evaluating how they will celebrate
Halloween and what kind of costume they will be celebrating
"Students aren’t forced to do this,” Rotenberg said. "But we
strongly recommend [they] don’t wear anything that will offend
Back when I worked at UNH, during long meetings I would imagine
glowing animated running dollar totals above each attendee's head,
salary earned while sitting there. At the end of the meeting, a
grand total would appear: "This meeting cost the University $X".
I can only guess at the total involved in the "many preparations" that the
Academic Deans worked on.
Perhaps someday people will look back at these times and wonder:
why, of all things, did people decide to get offended by
costumes? Why, it's almost as if they were looking for
things to offend them, and costumes were the most likely
Echoing Skenazy and Haidt: how did these molehills become mountains?
But wait, there's more:
Associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity Jaime
Nolan has also been working with Student Senate and members of the
administration to help students understand the difference between
what is disrespectful to someone’s culture versus celebratory and
"There’s been a lot of opportunities for lessons, including Instagram
postings and so on, and I think there’s been a real genuine effort on a
lot of people’s parts to want to fix that or at least think about it
differently,” Nolan said.
While Nolan says she understands some people might ask what the big deal
is surrounding costumes and cultural appropriation, it’s important that
students are, "willing to step into the shoes of somebody else and just
pause,” she said. "We forget that there’s this accumulation of things,
even with costumes,” Nolan said.
Nolan used an example she had learned previously when trying to explain
the significance of cultural appropriation to others.
"In the morning you stub your toe, then you go about your business. Then someone accidentally stomps on you, and then three or four more things happen and then at the end of the day, someone drops a piece of paper on your foot and you freak because you’ve had so much happen to your foot all day,” Nolan explained. "If I crunch your foot I should apologize for stepping on your toe even if I didn’t mean to.”
I am reminded of a Raylan Givens quote:
Rotenberg echoed Nolan, stating the importance of
"Find something that would offend you and picture someone else dressing up as that, and now you can say, okay, I get it,” Rotenberg said.
OK, Carley, I've found something that offends me: University
administrators with six-figure bullshit jobs, holding vast arbitrary
powers to ruin students' academic careers, pontificating on
those students' acceptable Halloween attire.
And now I'm picturing someone dressing
up that way, perhaps in Puritan garb?
And blue nose. Handing out stickers
for people's costumes that say either "ACCEPTABLE" [with a smiley
face] or "PROBLEMATIC!" [frowny face].
You know what? I'm OK with that. In fact, I wish someone had the wit and courage
to dress up that way.
Though awareness of cultural appropriation has been an aspect of
preparations for Halloween, according to Kirkpatrick, what students
wear and how they act is ultimately up to them.
"I don’t want to abridge and neither does the institution, any free expression,” Kirkpatrick said.
Reader, I dare say you can guess the very next word out of Dean
"But if you and I knew that by doing something it would hurt somebody, why would we want to keep doing it?”
I would ask Dean Kirkpatrick: "Dean, you know that you disgust and
offend me when you treat ostensible adults as children and hector
them on their costume choices. Why do you keep doing that?"
Other preparations for the weekend include diversity training in the residence halls with hall directors and residence assistants, working with law enforcement to prepare for events like Halloween, talking to Greek life, as well as talking to professors about academic expectations, according to Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick and other academic deans will be walking around campus Friday and Saturday night as part of Kirkpatrick’s Red Coats initiative he started a few years ago with the purpose of looking out for students and possible dangerous situations.
He emphasizes that, though they will be looking out for students, they will not be policing students or "taking notes on costumes,” he said. Joining the Red Coats this weekend are the Weekend Walkers, who are a group made up of professional staff and faculty from many areas of campus according to the university’s website, and law enforcement.
"We’re not police. It was just for the students to know that we care about things, to encourage people to be safe and to take care of each other and make good choices, and when you see people that are obviously impaired, to do what you can to help,” Kirkpatrick said.
Oh, they're not "police" and they're not "taking notes". Still, I
think there's an implicit "but" involved. Suggestion:
snappy brown shirts under the red coats.
Despite thorough measures by the administration and Student Senate to make sure Halloween weekend goes smoothly, Rotenberg says she is remaining positive about the outcome of the weekend.
Kirkpatrick echoed Rotenberg, reminding students not to, "miss a moment,” and, "have a great time,” but having fun, "shouldn’t spill into the real reason why you’re here which is to earn a degree and then when you’re out after graduation to do great things.”
Pun Salad's advice to UNH students: unless you can be wickedly
courageous and clever (see my suggestion above), be an adult and dodge the whole
mess by staying in your room and studying. Give Halloween back to
I remember my band instructor’s Halloween costume during my senior year of high school very well. It was the annual Halloween parade in some nearby rural New Hampshire town, and we were all required to wear Halloween costumes. My instructor dressed up as a “Native American chief,” complete with headdress and flute. But the accessories weren’t enough: he felt the need to yell nonsense noises and songs at the crowd; I suppose that was his interpretation of what a Native American sounded like.
Did you ever notice that Social Justice Warriors are able to dig up
detailed anecdotes from their past that, so conveniently, just
happen to exactly illustrate their thesis?
Yeah, me too.
It’s easy enough to understand what’s offensive about putting on a headdress or a sombrero and calling it a costume before going out to party with your friends. Someone else’s culture is not your costume, and you need to be careful about the costumes you buy and what you represent on Halloween.
Apparently Jordyn doesn't understand what's offensive about telling
her fellow students what they "need to be careful" about doing.
Let’s take the “Hombre” costume I saw at Wal-Mart the other day as an example. It came with a colorful poncho, a sombrero, and a stick-on mustache.
For the record, I can only find
Out of stock, and it doesn't include a mustache.
Now, think about why anyone would want to buy that costume. Think about why you would want to dress up as what you think a Mexican looks like. And think about the costume itself: the poncho, the sombrero, the mustache.
Yes. Think. Obviously, Jordyn knows the story. She's already
arrived at the conclusion she wants you to come to. Just like her
band instructor, anyone who "would want to buy that costume" is just
How many Mexicans do you know? Do they wear colorful ponchos and sombreros to school or to work? Do they wear them on Cinco de Mayo? The answer is no. The costume is just that: a costume; a caricature that draws on harmful and racist stereotypes and makes them the punchline to a joke.
On the contrary: the only people who can look at ponchos and
sombreros and see "harmful and racist stereotypes" are those who
want to see them that way.
When you’re planning your costume this Halloween, please, ask yourself first: why am I doing this? What makes this funny? What stereotypes am I provoking with this costume? Who could I be hurting? Consider the history. Consider your own stereotypes perceptions of culture and people of color. Just stop for a second, and ask yourself why.
Here are some questions Jordyn might ask herself: Why am I getting so
upset about other peoples' costumes? What makes this the most
critical thing I can concern myself with? What gives me the right to
assume the worst motives about people from their costume choices?
Have I asked myself if people might enjoy portraying themselves as
members of some other culture, and have perfectly innocent reasons
for doing so?
If you’re planning on being an “hombre” for Halloween, or
Pocahontas, or Moana, or a Geisha, or a Rabbi, just don’t. Freedom
of expression is of the utmost important [sic]to all of us. But freedom
to exist safely and comfortably in a space is also an essential
right. There are plenty of other costumes you can wear and still
have a great time without hurting anyone, provoking racist
stereotypes, or making a mockery of a culture that you don’t
Rabbis are bad. Go figure. How about the Pope? Is the Pope OK? How
about Torquemada, the famous Grand Inquisitor, determined to root
out heresy? Hm. Jordyn, I think that would be a fine costume for you.
All I’m asking is that we be kind and respectful of one another this Halloween, and make UNH a safer and more welcoming place for all of us.
Nobody with an ounce of proportion or sanity is made less safe
by someone else's choice of Halloween costume.
■ We occasionally run up against a Proverb that seems jarring to
modern ears, and Proverbs
19:10 is one of those:
10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—
how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!
Other translations say "servant" instead of slave, so that's a
little better, but I suspect "slave" is the more accurate
translation. The message is pretty clear: Know your place, peon.
The folks at the top are there because they deserve to be.
We take 'em as they come.
■ Protectionism often seems like a fine idea except when it comes time
to buy stuff you need. When you're trying to recover from a disaster, that
makes it somewhat worse. At Reason, Christian Britschgi notes a
Federal Ban on Foreign Sand Rubs Florida the Wrong Way
Thanks to an obscure provision of the 1986 Water Resources Development Act, the federal government and the South Florida communities hit by Hurricane Irma have been prohibited from procuring foreign sand for their beach replenishment projects until all other feasible domestic sources have been tapped.
Note that since Your Federal Government is paying for a lot of this,
it's your tax dollars at issue here.
Pity that all those people complaining about "price gouging" have gone silent.
We tend not to hear too much about New Hampshire, with the U.S.
presidential election cycle’s tabbing of its primary as the first
one in the race for the White House arguably being its chief claim
to fame. Though the Granite State will not grab its next share of
the limelight in that context until January 2020, its residents
nonetheless take pride in their political sway and civic engagement,
the latter deftly exemplified by their “Live Free or Die” motto.
Politics and pride converged Monday when Maura Sullivan, in
announcing her candidacy for the state’s First Congressional
District vacancy, issued a campaign logo that excised a part of her
new state’s southwest corner, drawing rebukes from constituents.
website has the now-fixed logo.
Over it is the quote:
"Just as I fought in the Marines, and fought for Veterans,
servicemembers, and their families in the Obama Administration -- I
am ready to fight tirelessly for Granite State families."
Yes, she was in the Marines. You'll note the theme: fought,
fought, fight. She's a fighter. That focus-groups
well. (The rest of the text on that web page contains three
"fighting"s, 1 "fight", another "fought".
The Globe article notes her deep roots in New Hampshire: she
has lived here since June.
Taking its extreme slogan of 'Live Free or Die' to heart, New
Hampshire's proposal offered no incentives but simply highlighted
the fact that the state has no use tax, sales tax, estate tax,
internet access tax, capital gains tax, broad-based personal income
tax and low business taxes.
"New Hampshire does not rely on complex and contingent special tax deals
because New Hampshire never collects the tax in the first place. So, our
government process does not pick winners and losers. Instead, every
citizen and every business is a winner," the proposal stated.
The state estimated the benefits of its tax policy to Amazon at $600 million a year.
Extreme? Kiss my ass, Mark.
■ Richard Greene, writing in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram,
writes of a visit to our fair state, and his discovery that Texans
and Yankees share common heritage. Original Declaration signers William
Whipple and Josiah Bartlett [signers number 2 and 3, respectively,
just behind J. Hancock], and Matthew Thornton are profiled.
These men were the personification of the state’s famous motto —
“Live Free or Die!” They knew their rebellious behavior was a
hanging offense but declaring their birthright to freedom was well
worth the risk.
Such an aggressive statement of resolve against tyranny would echo
through the little Texas town of Gonzales in 1835 in the first military
engagement of the Texas Revolution.
When Mexican soldiers approached Gonzales with orders to seize the town’s cannon, they were greeted with a flag bearing the famous and proud words, “Come and Take It.”
"Come and Take It" could have been the Texas state motto, but they
kind of wimped out with "Friendship".
"... that’s the lesson behind the box office flop of a series big
budget propaganda films according to observers. When the movie
'Founding Fathers of the Army,' which tells the story of the
founding of the People’s Liberation Army, recently hit cinemas,
officials hoped it would inspire an outpouring of patriotic feeling
— instead it was mocked for trying to use popular film stars to lure
Or so Newsweek tells us. No details of this mockery appear in the linked story. I see that the movie was a "flop" in relation to its "big budget," but there are no numbers, and who knows what constitutes a "flop" or a "big budget" when the proportions are Chinese? Assuming it was a flop, how do we jump to the conclusion that the young people of China long for a Western-style culture? What's the evidence of that? Maybe the movie was boring.
In other words, Newsweek gives us one of those stories that makes you feel dumber for having read
it. (But Ms. Althouse's article led me to today's picture du jour.)
“The NFL Protests Are a Perfect Study of How White Supremacy Works” reads the headline on a recent article at the Root. Which is confusing if you think of “white supremacy” as an apartheid system like Jim Crow, and “white supremacists” as angry people running around in sheets and hoods. The Root's looser use of “white supremacy,” to describe something considerably less explicit than advocating a race war, has become increasingly common.
But the lies were always a symptom of a deeper pathology. The
Clintons saw themselves as better than the institutions they were
supposed to serve, from the White House and the State Department to
the Democratic party and even the country. The rules are for other
people. That’s why Clinton Inc. collected millions upon millions of
dollars from foreign governments, Wall Street, and Hollywood while
demonizing their opponents as shills for corporations and wealthy
interests. That’s why Hillary flouted the rules for her email
server. That’s why Bill flouted the rules for pretty much
And at every step, they expected others to protect them, lie for them, clean up after them, and, if necessary, go to jail for them.
Not to harp on this, but… OK, I am harping on this:
People are (correctly) cheering Jeff Flake for his honest criticism
of Trumpian coarseness and indecency. When will an equally brave
Democrat start taking on the Clintons?
What would a compromise deal on health care actually look like? Following President Trump's decision to cut off funding for insurers under Obamacare, lawmakers are struggling to work out a legislative response. The best outcome for everyone may turn out to be doing nothing.
Suderman finds the Alexander/Murray bill too lopsided in favor of
ObamaCare supporters. And competing proposals that are less tilted
face the same problem we saw earlier this year: it's hard to get
Republicans to agree on what "repeal and replace" means.
For the first goal of “no poverty,” the report includes a measure of
income distribution rather than poverty. This is same dodgy
approach that’s been used by the Obama
Administration and the
OECD, and because almost everyone is Cuba is equally poor, that
means it scores much higher than the United States, where everyone
is richer, but with varying degrees of wealth. I’m not joking.
Why it's almost as if the UN and Sachs were tilted toward statism.
After Gastañaga was shouted down, she issued a statement on behalf
of the ACLU of Virginia. The statement declared that “disruption
that prevents a speaker from speaking, and audience members from
hearing the speaker, is not constitutionally protected speech even
on a public college campus subject to the First Amendment” but
instead is “a classic example of a heckler’s veto.” It also stated
that actions on campus “that bully, intimidate or disrupt must not
be without consequences. . .” and that “a public college like
William and Mary has an obligation to protect the freedom of the
speaker to speak. . .”
Not long afterwards, however, the ACLU chapter removed this
language. The watered-down version doesn’t even mention the
Constitution or the First Amendment, except in identifying the topic
of Gastañaga’s suppressed talk.
Yes, the Virginia ACLU decided that its original hearty defense of free speech
needed to be toned down a bit.
Maybe they should change their name.
If you don't subscribe to Reason (you should, though),
Deirdre Nansen McCloskey's essay from the November issue is online,
and a lot of fun:
Max Weber Was Wrong
Max Weber, the north German economist, proud reserve officer in the Kaiser's army, literal dueler with academic opponents, and co-founder of modern sociology, sits on every college reading list for his 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. If you didn't read it in college, it's time to turn off the TV, Google it, and do so. It's a stunning performance, one of my top 100 nonfiction books of the 20th century. The book is brilliant, readable, short. (By the way, henceforth you should exhibit your sophistication by pronouncing his name correctly. It's "VAY-ber," not like the "WEB-er" hamburger grill you've just put away for the year. You get extra points for saying "Max" in echt deutsch: "Maahx," not like "Mad Max.")
OK, one more quote:
But that a book is "great" does not mean it is correct, or is to be taken as good history or good economics or good theology. Marx's Das Kapital is indubitably a great book, one of the very greatest of the 19th century, as I say to annoyed friends of libertarian or conservative bent. But then I say to my left-wing friends, annoying them too, that Marx was wrong on almost every point of economics, history, and politics. Which is why I haven't got any friends.
If we found out that Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican
National Committee had paid a firm working for the Russians to
create a file of fabricated attacks on Hillary Clinton during the
election, would the media treat it as an impeachable offense? Would
such efforts be considered an attack on the foundations of our
democracy? Would liberal columnists make sensationalistic
claims that the Russians had “carried out a successful plan to
pick the government of the United States”? Would they argue that the
election had been rigged? Would they demand that Republicans pick
their country over their party?
Of course they would.
While Democrats are falling all over themselves praising the
"courage" of Senator Jeff Flake, have you seen any of them getting
even slightly perturbed about this? Let me know if so, but until
then I'll assume they're all simply cowardly weasels.
[Note: I like Jeff Flake, who was
for ninth on the Club For Growth's 2016 Senate scorecard. His
replacement almost certainly won't score as well. But I despise
the Democrat/MSM phony "strange new respect" for him.]
First ask yourselves, Gentlemen, what an Englishman, a Frenchman,
and a citizen of the United States of America understand today by
the word “liberty.”
For each of them it is the right to be subjected only to the laws, and
to be neither arrested, detained, put to death or maltreated in any way
by the arbitrary will of one or more individuals. It is the right of
everyone to express their opinion, choose a profession and practice it,
to dispose of property, and even to abuse it; to come and go without
permission, and without having to account for their motives or
It is everyone’s right to associate with other individuals, either to
discuss their interests, or to profess the religion which they and their
associates prefer, or even simply to occupy their days or hours in a way
which is most compatible with their inclinations or whims.
Finally it is everyone’s right to exercise some influence on the
administration of the government, either by electing all or particular
officials, or through representations, petitions, demands to which the
authorities are more or less compelled to pay heed.
Monsieur, nous pourrions à nouveau utiliser un homme comme
Benjamin Constant. [At least according to Google Translate.]
■ We dropped the ball on keeping tabs on all the criticisms of Nancy
MacLean's Democracy in Chains. Because, as Hillary said in a
far less honest context: "What difference, at this point, does it
make?" Once you get up to a few dozen lies, mistakes, and
obfuscations, does it matter when people keep finding dozens more?
Wow, just like
Michael A. Bellesiles'
America won the Bancroft Prize. For a while?
Is that honor deserved? It is worth considering, as the award's nominators did not, that nearly every reviewer with actual independent knowledge about her book's topics has pointed out a startling range of errors of citation, interpretation, narrative, and fact. (This includes my own review in the October Reason, in which I demonstrate that a central element of her historical narrative—that in the 1990s Buchanan's ideas became the secret influence behind the political machine run by billionaire Charles Koch—is based on an absurd and unsupportable reading of the only textual evidence she offers.) MacLean still refuses to engage any of her critics on points of substance.
I wonder if the National Book Award awarders will beclown
themselves. I guess we'll find out next month.
James C. Scott, a Yale PoliSci prof, writes here (I take it) a contrarian view of how the
earliest "states" came into being. He brings a (basically) anarchist
perspective to his analysis, which means that he's not buying the
standard narrative that increasing numbers of people living under state
control automatically implies "progress" toward "civilization".
In the following, you have to remember that I'm not even a worthy
dilettante in this field. I may be offbase on a number of issues.
Apparently the mainstream view is that states were automatically brought
about by the advent of sedentary agriculture of grain crops. Scott
argues that such agriculture preceded the earliest states by centuries,
if not millennia. So there must have been some other mechanism in play.
Scott is critical of early states, describing how they were dependent on
coerced labor, taxation, and theft (but I repeat myself). They had a
number of other non-obvious downsides: peoples' diets were less diverse,
probably leading to suboptimal nutrition. Gathering lots of people into
a relatively small area gave rise to all sorts of nasty disease;
obviously, the sanitation systems appropriate for nomadic
hunter/gatherers didn't scale well at higher population densities. And, tyrannies that they were, the
earliest states were "planned" economies, where the planning all
happened in the rulers' heads. Scientific socialism, without very much
science, in other words. Shortages, gluts, thievery, and slacking-off
must have been endemic.
So you would expect the early states to have been extremely fragile, apt
to break down in response to shifts in climate, marauding bands of
nomadic raiders, or simple emigration. Scott points out a couple times
that the walls erected by early states may have been to keep people in,
not just enemies out.
Also interesting: the early states invented writing, for how else
are you going to keep track of taxes, inventories, and the like? OK,
that does sound pretty civilized, even in service to oppression.
One thing that troubles me about Scott's argument: although he's pretty
convincing that early states were founded on (and depended on) coercive violence, he
doesn't seem to compare that to the levels of violence outside
the state. Since I've read Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of our
Nature, I thought such violence was pretty intense too. Scott
doesn't seem to be a believer in the idyllic "noble savage", but it
would have been nice to see an engagement with the view that the state
improved things, violence-wise.
I requested this book from UNH Interlibrary Loan, but before it showed
up, a review was published in the WSJ:
From Pharaoh and Here to Help. The reviewer, Felipe
Fernández-Armesto, has a number of serious criticisms of Scott's work.
So take it with a grain (heh) of salt. [I have Professor
Fernández-Armesto's recent book on order from UNH, we'll see how that
Number four in Roger Zelazny's Amber series. I repeat my usual warning:
Avoid reading further if you haven't read one through three.
Where we left off: Protagonist Corwin, with buddy Ganelon and brother
Random, just made a remarkable
discovery about the nature of Amber. It's not quite what they thought it
was, and that may well make the long term survival of that unhappy world
less likely. Or, now that they know about it, more likely. Who knows?
Yes, it's one of those fantasy series that seems unsatisfied with the
fantasy-rules laid out in the first book, and seeks to alter them.
Why, it's almost as if Zelazny was making this stuff up as he went
Anyway: it's the usual mix of intra-family betrayal and lies, hallucinogenic trips to
alternate universes, a quick visit to "our" earth, violent clashes with
both fantastic beasts and humans. It ends up with a thrilling battle
between good and evil. And, oh yeah, a shocking twist ending. No
spoilers here, although you might see it coming if you look at the
title of the book.
■ Proverbs 19:7
is another verse from Jimmy Cox's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading,
they are nowhere to be found.
Bottom line on the Proverbial advice: don't be poor.
■ Power Line reports: And
Now for Some Real “Fake News”. The perpetrator of "ugly
incidents of vandalism targeting blacks" at Eastern Michigan
University was not an underground chapter of the KKK, but a
black former student. Good advice here:
Here’s an idea: Instead of going to DefCon1 every time someone splashes some racist graffiti on a college campus, how about ignoring it? How about not getting all “shaken” every time someone does something stupid? One reason leftist provocateurs keep doing this is that it gets the desired reaction. Keep in mind that a key demand of race-mongering campus radicals these days is that courses on race, class, and gender be required for all students, and required to be offered in every department—even physics. That the demand their outlook be made compulsory subject matter shows how weak it is. And few things supposedly reinforce the “need” for such instruction that some kind of racist “incident” on campus.
An example of DefCon1 from the University Near Here last spring: the
that UNH was "a college in racial meltdown" due (in part) to
campus scrawlings of swastikas and the n-word.
There is a strange combination of two facts. First, it is the
consensus of the relevant studies and health-policy experts that
about half of all health-care spending in the U.S. is wasted. That
is, if we spent half as much as we spend, we wouldn’t be worse off
at all, so long as we spent the remaining money on what’s truly
needed. In fact, we might be better off, and not just because an
enormous dead weight would be lifted off the economy.
Second, not only has this fact not registered at all on the American public consciousness, but the vast majority of health-policy experts are in denial about it — not in the sense that they straightforwardly reject the non-controversial finding, but in the sense that they seem very reluctant to admit it or talk about it and certainly seem to behave as if it were not the case.
A primary cause: funding that, as much as possible, hides costs
from health care consumers.
And there's a corollary: there are a lot of people making very nice
livings off that waste. Their vested interest is in the status quo.
A proposal to create a single-payer health care system in New
Hampshire drew mixed reactions in the House on Monday, with some
denouncing it as a wayward fantasy and others heralding an
opportunity for a conversation on broader reform.
The legislative service request, sponsored by Rep. Peter Schmidt, D-Dover, is titled “establishing a New Hampshire single payor (sic) health care system.”
To quote Google: "Did you mean: "single payer". When the
Concord Monitor is making fun of your spelling, you're in
But let's get to the LFOD bit:
Committee member William Marsh, R-Wolfeboro [declined to directly
comment on Schmidt’s proposal without seeing the drafted bill
speaking on the idea generally, Marsh argued the idea would never
To start, he said, the volume of health care services the state of
New Hampshire currently outsources to Boston is too vast for the
state to pay for or substitute itself. And while Marsh conceded that
teaming up with other New England states might be more workable
overall, he said the costs would still be prohibitive for the Live
Free or Die State.
Marsh is wrong. "Teaming up" with other states would not be
"more workable": it would invariably result in NH taxpayers
subsidizing consumers in those other states.
But he's also (sort of) wrong in saying "the idea would never work." Because he
probably thinks "the idea" is to improve the health of the
citizenry. How old-fashioned!
Instead, "the idea" is to make the citizenry utterly dependent
on the state for health care. That's what single-payer proponents want.
And, given proper degrees of coercion, that would probably "work"
just fine, by that standard.
So, what does it mean to “Live Free or Die” to me specifically? It
means that the people in my state should be allowed to make choices
for themselves and their families. To have that freedom to decide
where my money goes and who I support (businesses, charities,
political figures, sports teams, celebrities, etc.). It means making
the choices that affect my family without the government telling me
what those choices must be. It means being able to walk down the
street and say hello to random people I’ve never met before and
having them say hello back to me because neither of us fear each
It means driving down the highway with my seatbelt on because I made
the personal choice to do so, not because a government told me I had
to. It means having a government that is run by the people, not by
the upper 1 percent who don’t care what the average person wants. It
means doing whatever I can to make sure that others have these same
freedoms. It’s supporting my neighbors’ right to disagree with me,
their right to shoot off fireworks on a Friday night.
Ms Jarvis is running for governor under the Libertarian Party
banner. I am looking forward to voting for her if she appears on the
■ At a site called Ozy, writer Nick Fouriezos wonders: Can
Made-to-Order Organs Revive This Former Mill Town? The town is
Manchester, NH; one of the people behind the manufacturing of
"regenerative organs and tissues" is Dean Kamen. So, as Glenn
Reynolds likes to say: faster, please.
It would be a surprising turn of events for Manchester and the “Live
Free or Die” state, which was identified as an epicenter for the
opioid epidemic during last year’s presidential election.
“Manchester is an urban city in a sea of rural communities,” says
Mike Skelton, president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and
thus carries some crime-and-drugs stigma, he admits. “It’s not to
say we don’t have those challenges — we do — but we might unfairly
be labeled as a place that’s struggling,” Skelton adds. “We have
some work to do to get that message out and rebrand Manchester.”
That criticism doesn’t just come from outsiders. “Culturally, the
Northeast, we have a healthy amount of skepticism,” Skelton says.
“If there is one challenge we are battling internally … it’s the
perception of what we are, and what we can be.”
I am pretty sure Manchester can manage to be both a vibrant
technology center and a drug-ridden hellhole. We multitask up
The state of New Hampshire – whose motto is ‘Live free or die’ – has the highest peaks in the north-east of the US. The highest of these is Mount Washington at 1,917m (6,288ft), and experienced walkers can hike through the foliage of the White Mountain National Forest. Although the Mount Washington Auto Road runs all the way to the summit, it closed in mid-October, meaning that adventurous hikers can enjoy the foliage here in near-privacy (www.mountwashington.org)
This has to be one of the more gratuitous uses of LFOD in recent
memory. What was going through the writer's mind? "I need
seven more words to reach my assigned word count for this article.
What to do? Oh, I know!"
And to all our UK readers: as I type, Mount Washington is
considered "past peak" as far as foliage goes. It's still nice to
visit for other reasons.
■ And news you can use from NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day":
Elements Came From. Check it out, and here's their explanation,
The Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice
released a first-of-its
kind study on bias response teams, a relatively new invention in
the ever-expanding world of college free speech management.
Interviews with administrators who police and discipline students
who have used insensitive language or display insensitive attitudes
reveal their frustration with the free speech guarantees that
prevent them from punishing students. The First Amendment, some of
them say, constrains them from creating sensitive, inclusive
Previous Pun Salad article on the report
To quibble with the thrust of the article: (1) "bias response teams" can go after any
member of the campus community, not just students; (2) while the First Amendment can
eventually protect free-speaking individuals, that doesn't
prevent Kafkaesque "investigations" into their heretical
expressions; in such cases, the investigation is the
punishment. For an example of both, see the case of
Almost two years have passed since the Halloween imbroglio at Yale in 2015, which launched the current era of student mobilizations against speech that some students don’t want to hear. Whatever their ideological stance, these protests aim to intimidate controversial speakers and those who would invite them to campus, to prevent others from hearing them, and to banish certain ideas and terms from campus discourse.
Professor Schuck accurately diagnoses the issues, and calls out the
fecklessness of college administrators whose first instinct is to
apppease the intimidating activists. He suggests a number of
possible avenues for moving toward campus sanity. I liked this
Diversity-talk on college today’s campuses is obsessed with gender,
race, sexual orientation, and other constructions of identity. In
excess, these obsessions degrade intellectual discourse,
interpersonal civility, and campus life generally. Colleges now
emphasize and promote these often divisive identities rather than
fostering the civility, candor, and thicker skins necessary to
sustain a robust and competitive diverse society. Colleges’ highest
educational priority should be intellectual, methodological, and
socioeconomic diversity, not a campus peace based on a patronizing
co-optation of sullen groups.
Sensible! Will anyone pay attention at the University Near Here?
■ At Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux has thoughts on
[…] one problem with stereotypes is that they mask significant
differences among the individuals in whatever group is stereotyped.
To stereotype is to treat a group as if it is the relevant unit of
analysis. To stereotype is to judge an individual not according to
his or her own merits and demerits but, instead, according to the
group to which he or she is believed to belong. To stereotype is to
ignore the individual; to stereotype is often to show either a
careless disregard for persons as individuals. And sometimes, let
us be honest, the stereotyping is not innocent: it is sometimes
Yet the same “Progressives” who are on 24/7/365 intrepid patrol
against certain varieties of stereotyping – varieties such as
racial, ethnic, or sexual-preference stereotyping – are themselves
proud practitioners of many other varieties of stereotyping. For
example, “Progressives” are especially prone to think of “workers”
(or, at least, “blue-collar workers”) as a unified group – as one
big blob in which each individual is identical to the rest, in which
each worker’s interest is the same as any other worker’s interest.
Likewise with “big business” or “capitalists” (or “capital”): all
the same in the minds of “Progressives.” What’s good for big
business A is also good for big businesses B through Z. What’s bad
for big business Z is also bad for big business A through Y.
Professor Boudreaux may be stereotyping "Progressives" here. But
■ At Language Log, Mark Liberman examines
quotes. The OED finds an example from 1927:
[1927 Science 8 July 38/2 Some years ago I knew a very
intelligent young woman who used to inform us that her ‘bright
sayings’..were not original, by raising both hands above her head
with the first and second fingers pointing upward. Her fingers were
her ‘quotation marks’ and were very easily understood.]
As near as I can tell, Joey Tribbiani's confusion about the concept
is not referenced:
House Republicans and Senate Republicans were at an impasse on Friday after the Senate produced its budget document. The House, led by Representative Diane Black (R., Tenn.), who chairs the Budget Committee, wanted at least $200 billion in cuts from so-called mandatory spending (mostly meaning entitlements); the Senate wanted to give President Donald Trump his “MASSIVE” (the president is fond of capital letters) tax cut, even if that meant adding $1.5 trillion — note the “t” — to the debt. The impasse lasted about four minutes before the House leadership went down like Galtieri facing British commandos — the “battle” they’d promised over spending cuts turned out to be as lopsided as the Falklands War.
Time to put on that Elvis Costello song. You know, the one with the
lyric "I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused"? It's
getting real hard to be amused.
After the rise of the Tea Party in 2009 as a grassroots expression
of revulsion at government bailouts, spending, and Obamacare; after
a series of insurgent Tea Party primary victories in 2010 over
big-spending incumbents and hand-picked establishmentarians; after
Republicans re-took the House that November thanks in part to that
new jolt of fiscally conservative energy; after the House majority
from 2011-14 successfully used its power of the purse to force
debate and at least some temporary agreements on the debt ceiling,
long-term entitlements, and year-on-year spending, and then after
Republicans re-took the Senate and eventually the White House…after
all this activity, when it finally came time for the GOP to stand up
and demonstrate its values of fiscal stewardship and limited
government, you could count the number of Republicans voting to
restrain government spending on exactly one
And, yes, that finger is Rand Paul. The guy whose campaign didn't even
make it to the New Hampshire Primary last year.
■ And the WSJ notes that it's not just Congressional
Republicans who are mealy-mouthed weasels on an issue they once
assured us was important. Because:
Caves on Ethanol.
The bipartisan pull of corporate welfare—also known as the swamp—is
powerful. Last week it swallowed up no less than Donald Trump and
his fearless Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott
Pruitt. They caved under pressure from the ethanol lobby and
political extortion from Republican Senators Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer
and Chuck Grassley.
Mr. Pruitt announced Thursday that EPA won’t reduce its proposed 19.24 billion gallon biofuels quota for 2018, and may even increase it. The EPA will further consider giving biofuels a pass to pollute that no other industry enjoys, via what’s known as a Reid Vapor Pressure waiver for high-ethanol blends.
There was a lot of pressure applied to the Trump Administration by a "bipartisan" group of
Senators (including NH's own Jeanne Shaheen).
In response to student demands made last spring following the Cinco
de Mayo incidents, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Heidi
Bostic, and the English department co-sponsored an event that
brought Dr. Teresa Redd to campus. Redd, a nationally-renowned and
now-retired composition professor and also former Director of Howard
University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning &
Assessment (CETLA), visited campus on Oct. 5 to discuss the ENGL401
program and how different views of diversity could be included in
The initiative was conceptualized and proposed by Dr. Christina
Ortmeier-Hooper, associate professor of English at UNH and also the
director of composition. In an email exchange with Ortmeier-Hooper, she
stated, "In the past, English 401 instructors have worked on best
practices in the teaching of writing, inclusive pedagogy, responding to
multilingual writers and integrating college and career-readiness
concerns. This year, in addition to these ongoing efforts, English 401
instructors are participating in training on diversity, tolerance and
In other words, the alleged course in "English" was a muddle of
politically-correct indoctrination before, and it's going to get a
But no talk in the article about the headline-promised enforcement. It could be the
headline writer meant to type "reinforced", which would be more
accurate, at least in a Newspeak way.
UNH hosted a panel of experts from the UNH School of Law on Monday for students, faculty, staff and members of the community to discuss the issue of offensive speech and the First Amendment on campus and online.
And—good news here—the headline-promised "limits" do not appear in
the body of the article. And what we do get is pretty good.
For example, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and
Professor of Law John Greabe was tossed a softball on "hate speech"
and he proceded to knock it, if not out of the park, perhaps for a
Quoting the amendment itself in the beginning of the forum, Greabe
began by saying that offensive speech or hate speech does not,
"receive lesser protection under the First Amendment.”
Greabe explained that public universities like UNH act as "arms of the government,” meaning they must stand by the First Amendment. He quoted John Marshall Harlan, who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, when he said, "One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”
"What one person finds hateful, another person finds to be the core of protected speech and a means for trying to urge change,” Greabe said.
Answering Idahosa’s question, Greabe explained that though hate speech and offensive speech are "horrible and distressing,” speech under the law without intent is "just speech. It is not something that in and of itself can be punished.”
All in all, the forum doesn't seem to have provided any aid and
comfort to would-be campus censors.
For Slashdot's 20th anniversary, "What could be geekier than celebrating with the help of an open-source neural network?" Neural network hobbyist Janelle Shane has already used machine learning to generate names for paint colors, guinea pigs, heavy metal bands, and even craft beers, she explains on her blog. "Slashdot sent me a list of all the headlines they've ever run, over 162,000 in all, and asked me to train a neural network to try to generate more." Could she distill 20 years of news -- all of humanity's greatest technological advancements -- down to a few quintessential words?
And "the answer may shock you". For some reason there was a lot of
Steve Jobs Sues Death of the Future
Sun Sues Open Source Project Content
Sun Sues New Star Trek To Stop The Math
Sony Sues Apple Server For Seconds Off From SpaceX Project
Why Open Source Power Man Sues Java
For youngsters: "Sun" was Sun Microsystems, a once-proud computer
company that now belongs to Oracle. Probably because they wanted
Star Trek to
stop the math.
I got a "binary-coded decimal clock" (made by the good folks
at Anelace Inc.) a few
Christmases back. Picture via Amazon link at right, if you're not
seeing it, turn
off your ad blocker. The time shown is 10:48:36.
[And make no mistake, Anelace is a Good Company. I shorted out the power
supply adapter by clumsy accident. I emailed, asked where I could buy a
replacement, they just sent me one, free. Whoa.]
When I worked at UNH, I kept it in my cubicle as a conversation piece. The thing that
sticks in my mind today is how many IT managers needed me to explain
what it was and how to interpret the LEDs. No geeks they.
Shortly afterward, on a lark, I wrote a small Perl script to simulate
clock display in a terminal window. I recently exhumed and
updated the script to more modern standards. It's short and (I think)
Here's a screen snapshot of what it looks like in action. The
red dots inside indicate "on" LEDs.
The LED array is updated every second, as is the time displayed at
Plaintext source is here;
Prettyprinted HTML source here.
The Term::ANSIScreen Perl module available from CPAN
handles text positioning, color, and formatting. I think most
terminal emulation programs do ANSI commands these days.
The LED-on "dot" is a UTF-8 character. If your terminal program
doesn't handle UTF-8, the code has a commented out alternate that
might work: a space with a red background.
The Term::ReadKey module
terminal reads. This was implemented so that pressing the
Q key will quit. [Pressing control-C might leave your
terminal window in a funny "raw input" state. Fixing that left as an exercise
for the reader.]
It could well be that a more judicious selection of fonts,
characters, etc. would make the display more pleasing.
Obviously, it's easy to play with.
There's a "sleep 1" in the script's main loop. Since
the calculations inside the loop also take a finite amount of time, it's
likely that a second will be skipped every so often. I haven't
noticed that happening, though.
This is one of the books I own that I don't remember when, why, or how
it was obtained. It has a copyright of 2003, so after that sometime. And
I put it in my cyber-to-be-read list at some point. And it popped up.
Esquire magazine ran this "What It Feels Like" feature for a
while. (I don't know—or care—if they do any more.) Each was a
first-person account from someone who underwent a situation in which
most of us will never find ourselves. This book collects those, and adds
in a bunch more, a total of somewhere around 60. Each is just a page or
two, which makes the book very short, 143 pages.
People in dire situations tend to drop the f-bomb a lot.
The most famous person: Buzz Aldrin, who contributes "What it Feels Like
to Walk on the Moon". No f-bombs from Buzz.
Also semi-famous: Barry Rosen, Iranian hostage. "What it Feels Like to
be Held Hostage". Almost 40 years later, I still got a little pissed at
Some people are eloquent, like Jenny Lundy: "What it Feels Like to be
105 Years Old".
And some are just interesting. "What it Feels Like to Win the Lottery"
by Washington Iowa's Ed Brown, for example. Unlike the infamous lottery
winners who crash and burn, Ed seems to have been remarkably
level-headed. Bottom line: "I guess I liked who I was before I won the
lottery and I decided not to change."
But it's a hodgepodge, with all that implies. I suggest you look at the
table of contents at Amazon to see if there's anything in here you
really want to know about. You can pick up a used copy for about $5 at
Once I lived the life of a millionaire,
Spent all my money, I just did not care.
Took all my friends out for a good time,
Bought bootleg whiskey, champagne and wine.
Then I began to fall so low,
Lost all my good friends, I did not have nowhere to go.
I get my hands on a dollar again,
I'm gonna hang on to it till that eagle grins.
Today's picture: a poor friendless dog. Awww!
■ @JonahNRO's G-File
this week is low on jocularity, but high on insight. Bush
and Kelly: Truth Tellers. Keying off recent speeches by Dubya
and General John Kelly, which were widely interpreted as attacks
(respectively) on Trump and Democratic congresswoman Frederica
Wilson. And were harshly criticized (respectively) by Trumpites and
I’m disgusted with a great deal of this, but rather than argue
against any of that, I want to ask you to entertain a thought
experiment. Imagine, if just for a moment, that all of you who fall
into one of these camps are entirely wrong.
What if President Bush was aiming his fire at Democrats and liberals?
What if Kelly was actually lecturing his boss?
If you can take off the partisan blinders and restrain your tribal instincts, it’s not all that hard to see it that way.
It's really not.
■ P.J. O'Rourke writes at American Consequences on This
Month’s Two Worst Political Ideas Ever. (Just "this month",
according to P.J., because "worst political idea ever" is a rapidly
moving target. But anyway, the ideas are (1) Universal Basic Income
and (2) Single-Payer Health Care.
If the Universal Basic Income idea really gets going and smashes
into the single-payer health care idea, the collision will leave
American society a total wreck.
Americans will be turned into beggars and thieves.
We’ll all be panhandlers squatting on the curb of the political avenue, rattling our tin cups at our elected officials to bum more spare change off the government.
P.J. illustrates his contention with a couple stories from his past.
No, this isn't a Clickhole story; if you're a white man in
Stephanie McKellop's history class, you might be called
out, but you probably won't be called on.
McKellop, a graduate instructor at the University of Pennsylvania
herself as a "queer disabled feminist," recently tweeted, "I
will always call on my Black women students first. Other POC get
second tier priority. WW [white women] come next. And, if I have to,
white men." McKellop eventually deleted the tweet, but not before
the internet immortalized
Undergrad yearly tuition at UPenn is $47,416 (as I type). If you're a white
male, do you get a discount if you wind up with Stephanie McKellop
for a teacher?
A white, male student at Chapman University has been maligned on
social media after penning an op-ed for his school newspaper that
argued campus diversity efforts, while seemingly offered with good
intentions, actually breed radicalism and silence dissent.
Sophomore Ryan Marhoefer, a business administration major at the private university in Southern California, received major backlash in comments about the article that included calling him a white supremacist and suggesting he should be expelled or physically assaulted.
by "members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)". Its
students today seem to be experts at persecution of heretics.
■ Mental Floss picks out
Far-Out Facts About Futurama. And here's one I didn't
know: the remarkable similarity of the Futurama theme to a
1967 composition “Psyché Rock" by Pierre Henry. Have a listen:
■ And have you played the Paperclips
game? It's a certain amount of fun, and I dinked around
until I realized … I'd spent about an hour dinking around.
Paperclips, a new game from designer Frank
Lantz, starts simply. The top left of the screen gets a bit of
text, probably in Times New Roman, and a couple of clickable
buttons: Make a paperclip. You click, and a counter turns over.
The game ends—big, significant spoiler here—with the destruction of the universe.
3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the Lord.
I've noticed that my successes are due to my brilliance and
diligence; failures are due entirely to bad luck and the
machinations of others. I should probably post this Proverb
somewhere I can see it daily.
■ American Consequences brings us an excerpt from P.J.
O'Rourke's classic Parliament
of Whores, updated by the man himself.
What is this oozing behemoth, this fibrous tumor, this
monster of power and expense hatched from the simple human desire
for civic order? How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast,
rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice
of the body politic?
The federal government of the United States of America takes away between a fifth and a quarter of all our money every year. That is eight times the Islamic zakat, the almsgiving required of believers by the Quran. It is double the tithe of the medieval church and twice the royal tribute that the prophet Samuel warned the Israelites against when they wanted him to anoint a king.
He will take the tenth of your seed,
and of your vineyards… He will
take the tenth of your sheep… And
ye shall cry out in that day because
of your king.
P.J. helpfully adds: "In 2017, combined federal, state, and local
government spending exceeds 36% of GDP."
Parliament of Whores is also the source of the classic quote:
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car
keys to teenage boys."
Ludwig von Mises was as clear-eyed a social critic as he was an
economist, and he noted something peculiar about the
anti-Semitism of the Nazi era: In the past, minority groups were
despised for their purported vices — white American racists
considered African Americans lazy and mentally deficient, the
English thought the Irish drank too much to be trusted to rule
their own country, everybody thought the Gypsies were put on
this Earth to spread disease and thievery. But the Jews were
hated by the Nazis for their virtues: They were too
intelligent, too clever, too good at business, too cosmopolitan,
too committed to their own distinctness, too rich, too
influential, too thrifty.
Our billionaire-ensorcelled anti-elitists take much the
same tack: Anybody with a prestigious job, a good
income, an education at a selective university, and no
oxy overdoses in the immediate family — and anybody who
prefers hearing the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln
Center to watching football on television — just doesn’t
know what life is like in “the real America” or for the
“real men” who live there. No, the “real America,” in
this telling, is little more than a series of dead
factory towns, dying farms, pill mills — and, above all,
victims. There, too, white people acting white
echo elements of hip-hop culture, which presents
powerful and violent icons of masculinity as hapless
victims of American society.
The “alpha male” posturing, the valorizing of underclass dysfunction, the rejection of “elite” tastes and manners — right-wing populism in the age of Trump is a lot like Bruce Springsteen’s act, once acidly (and perfectly) described as a “white minstrel show.”
Mr. Williamson is tough, but (I think) very accurate.
Yes, I know: the same study also found that water was wet,
the sky blue, and that bears tend to defecate in forested areas.
Tom, to his credit, realizes this:
Bias response teams exist solely for the purpose of infringing on
free speech. Administrators can claim they're true believers in free
speech until they're blue in the face, but the organizations they
support and lead exist to tell some students that they're not
allowed to say certain things. If that's not contrary to the First
Amendment, what is?
Only quibble is that it's not just students. The University
Near Here has an entire website,
reportit.unh.edu, devoted to
alerting the campus authorities to "incidents of bias or hate,
discrimination and/or harassment directed to members of our UNH
community and guests." And they'll accept complaints about anyone,
faculty, staff, or students.
If you look at the
there's no explicit way to report that you are being intimidated,
harassed, or discriminated against for
exercising your First Amendment rights. I guess that would be
The curse of our age is that it elevates the moralistic (holding the
right opinions) over the moral (doing the right thing). Several
Democrats were slow to condemn Weinstein, who had raised a more than
$2.2 million for them. Some Hollywood liberals were guilty of
stunning hypocrisy, fulminating against Donald Trump while attending
Weinstein fundraisers, even while the movie director's behavior was
an open secret. It's reminiscent of Gloria Steinem's defense of Bill
Clinton on grounds that his theoretical feminism canceled out his
But (as Hannan also notes) "our side" is not without its problems:
if you waved away the lechery problems with Trump and Fox News, you're
not in a great position to loudly disclaim about Harvey.
The NYT has been taking some
for some of its
recent hagiography about Communism. But let's be generous. This
review of a recent Lenin biography, Lenin: The Man, the Dictator,
and the Master of Terror by Victor Sebestyen is unsparing:
First Totalitarian. And (bonus) there's a limerick:
There was a great Marxist named Lenin Who did two or three
million men in. That’s a lot to have done in But where he did
one in That grand Marxist Stalin did 10 in.
We'll take the truth when offered, even from the NYT.
Billions of dollars in subsidies, delivered to the office by the
mayor wearing a leprechaun costume and dragging a pot of gold,
smiling for the cameras, flush with humiliation.
The winning town renamed Bezosia, after the company founder.
Alexa installed on every street corner so you can bark out an
order for paper towels while waiting for the light.
… and more, of course. Much more.
■ And (moan) my friends at UNH's Granite
State Poll asked their respondents about the 2020 presidential
race. Too soon? No, never too soon.
While nearly all likely Democratic primary voters are still trying
to make up their minds in the 2020 New Hampshire Presidential
Primary, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren are the
early frontrunners. More than three-quarters of Republicans are
still trying to decide whom to support, and just under half say they
currently plan on voting for Donald Trump, considerably lower than
the proportion of Democrats who planned on voting for Barack Obama
in October 2009. Interest in the 2020 primary is quite high and
greater than at this point in the last two electoral cycles.
In November 2020, Joe will be 78; Bernie will be 79; Liz will be
(however) a sprightly 71. You think the Democrats just might have a
The GSP provided a list of potential candidates to their
respondents, so it's possible every other candidate listed (Cory
Booker, Martin O'Malley, John Hickenlooper, Mark Zuckerberg (!), Kamala
Harris, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Delaney)
suffered from a "who?" problem.
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.
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
confessionre 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.
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.
■ Bryan Caplan diagnoses the ills of our current debate. We (and
when I say "we", I mean "all those other people") are driven by
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.) introduceda 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
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.
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?
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
from Boston about the "trash talk", but Boston's Mayor Walsh
classy in his remarks.
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.
An entertaining left-eats-its-own article at NRO from Kyle
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.
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
It appears to have been passed in 1931, when American pols were much more
enamored with Fascism.
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.
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
As previously noted, Bernie will be
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.
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".
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.
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
Speaking as an Amazon customer since 1995, I hope Mr. Bezos listens to
■ 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
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.)
New Hampshire legislators have dusted off the state’s online
gambling bill after sitting idly in Congress [sic] for months.
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.
I've been using the Fedora Linux distribution since, well, since there
was such a thing as Fedora.
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
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
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.
over the past few releases, I've grown fond of the
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
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
An outline of my upgrade process:
Save my custom configurations and data from Fedora N to a shared
(I have a script to do this, so I don't forget anything.)
Shut down Fedora N.
Install Fedora N+1 in a new virtual guest. (The sainted Fedora developers
make this easy for Cinnamon-preferers:
they provide a
Spin on the same release schedule as default Fedora.)
Install any and all necessary custom packages not included in the default install.
and restore the shared folder configuration.
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?!
Cinnamon (apparently) has a new default terminal emulation application:
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:
xterm. So the script fails. Silently.
So: install xterm and try again…
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
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.
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
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
But the Monitor article helpfully lists other incoming
Threats to Liberty:
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
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
"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.
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
the influence of the alt-right, and (b) slag conservatives who
aren't part of the alt-right at all. Here's
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.
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!
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.
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.
[...] 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
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.)
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
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.
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
tried to legalize medical marijuana.
■ 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.
“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.
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
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:
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
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,
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
I walked past a Tennessee Fried Chicken the other day, and
I wondered how many UK chicken shops are called "[US State]
I've added a new "view" to Pun Salad over there on the right—no,
your right: "Geekery" joins the longstanding views "Books" and
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.
Zach's article is a tour de force, and while "read the whole
thing" is usually an implied suggestion here, I'll make it an
explicit suggestion in this case.
■ For example, even though I'm a generally libertarian sort, I'm
prepared to advocate that all college students be required to
read Zach's article and pass a test on the content. Because I
keep reading about things like this (from Stanley Kurtz at
Chaos: Daily Shout-Downs for a Week. Yes, daily. Just one
Tuesday, October 10: Tuesday night, student protesters at Columbia University shouted down and largely stopped a talk via skype by Tommy Robinson, the controversial former leader of the English Defense League. Invited to the event by the Columbia College Republicans, Robinson is not my idea of an ideal speaker. Given their beleaguered state, I can understand why campus conservatives might turn to provocateurs like Robinson. Even so, I don’t think it was a particularly inspired choice. That said, the Columbia College Republicans made it clear that they weren’t endorsing Robinson. And of course they have a perfect right to invite whomever they want. The leftist shut-down of Robinson’s talk was an outrage. Students blocked entrances to the speech, shouted over Robinson, then stormed the stage and forced him to abandon his talk. After it was over, Columbia College Republican President Ari Boosalis told Campus Reform, “I’m very depressed with how the event went. I realize free speech is dead.”
The entire "fake news" outrage—from Trump's usage of the phrase to the Facebook presidential election scare—is an excuse for someone to limit speech. No, it doesn't matter if most journalists now lecturing you about the First Amendment are a bunch of enormous hypocrites. Nor does it matter that their biased coverage has eroded your trust. There is a bigger marketplace for news now than ever. Don't watch NBC.
But even if you're not idealistic about free expression, it might be worth remembering that any laws or regulations you embrace to inhibit the speech of others, even anchors reporting fake news, could one day be turned on you. This is the lesson big-government Democrats and Republicans never learn.
President Trump today signed an executive order that urges executive-branch agencies to take steps that could free millions of consumers from ObamaCare’s hidden taxes, bring transparency to that law, and give hundreds of millions of workers greater control over their earnings and health care decisions.
Schadenfreude isn't the noblest emotion, but it's pretty
delicious to hear all the whining from the Obamacare cheerleaders.
National Public Radio told the Washington Free Beacon that the Moscow-based software company Kaspersky Lab, which was used by hackers to steal classified documents from the National Security Agency, is no longer one of its corporate underwriters.
Gee, does this mean I can't call NPR "Commie Radio" any more?
To its credit, a simple Google search reveals that NPR's news branch has
been reporting on Kaspersky's shadiness for years, and has been
diligent about mentioning Kaspersky's NPR sponsorship in those
As disappointing as it is to see the U.S., once the model for
free-market capitalism, trailing not just countries such as New
Zealand and Switzerland, which have long embraced free markets, but
also more surprising competitors such as Ireland, the United
Kingdom, and even Mauritius, this actually represents a big
improvement. Last year we were 16th.
The other (possible) good news is also (possible) bad news: the report reflected 2016,
Obama's last year. So Trump has a lot of room to improve things with
deregulation, tax reform, etc. But Trump also has a lot of
room to wreck things via protectionism, corporate welfare, etc. So
Religious concerns aside, the new White House rule leaves the birth-control mandate in place. Trump's "tweak won't affect 99.9 percent of women," observes the Wall Street Journal, "and that number could probably have a few more 9s at the end." Washington will continue to compel virtually every employer and insurer in America to supply birth control to any woman who wants one at no out-of-pocket cost.
Yet there is no legitimate rationale for such a mandate. Americans don't expect to get aspirin, bandages, or cold medicine — or condoms — for free; by what logic should birth control pills or diaphragms be handed over at no cost? It is true that a woman's unwanted pregnancy can lead to serious costs, but the same is also true of a diabetic's hyperglycemia. Should insulin be free?
If you can't push around the
Sisters of the Poor,
people will start wondering why they're being pushed
around. Can't have that.
■ I don't think I've posted on the controversy over Bruce Gilley's
article, "The Case for Colonialism", in (of all places) Third
John Hinderaker at Power Line brings us up to date, with sad
The Sword is Mightier than the Pen
The article has now been memory-holed,
due to "serious and credible threats of personal violence" leveled
at the journal's editor. Bottom line:
Do our liberal friends want to know what fascism looks like? This is what fascism looks like.
■ But it's not only "our liberal friends" who want to keep from
hearing things. President Trump denied an
News story that claimed that he "wanted a tenfold increase" in
the nuclear warhead stockpile. But, going farther than a denial, he
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the
Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their
License? Bad for country!
Pai said that he also sees "worrying signs" at the FCC, pointing to Twitter messages in which "people regularly demand that the FCC yank licenses from cable news channels like Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN because they disagree with the opinions expressed on those networks."
"Setting aside the fact that the FCC doesn't license cable channels, these demands are fundamentally at odds with our legal and cultural traditions," Pai said.
As we pointed out
couple days ago, our college students are being told that
First Amendment rights "come with responsibilities" and that those
don't give journalists "a license to be ignorant and hurtful". So it could
be that Trump has
been paying too much attention to such blitherings.
■ @kevinNR keys off the
recent Trump/Tillerson debate about who's smarter, with Trump
suggesting they "compare IQ tests". Kevin says oh yeah:
Why Not an IQ Test?
Trump, who cannot spell “honored” or “principles” — or “tap,”
“counsel,” “coverage,” “hereby,” “unprecedented,” “ridiculous,”
“waste,” “judgment,” “paid,” and much else — likes to talk about
his IQ. He assures us it is very high. How high? “One of the
highest.” He has challenged Mark Cuban, an actual billionaire, to an
IQ contest. He has blasted Chris Matthews as having a low IQ, and
has claimed, on separate occasions, that his IQ is higher than those
of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Jon Stewart, Jeb Bush, and others.
He suggested that Rick Wilson should be given an IQ test before he
is allowed to appear on television again.
I really would like to see that. As Kevin says: put up or shut up.
A requirement for running [for high elected office] would be to subject yourself to a battery
of tests to measure your intelligence (maybe an IQ test); general
knowledge and academic achievement (something like the SAT); maybe a
quiz on current affairs (where's Aleppo?) or general civic
knowledge; maybe specialized queries on economics or science.
You wouldn't disqualify anyone based on test scores, but you would
publicize everyone's scores. Would voters pay attention? Maybe
enough on the margin to improve results.
Where does our Governor stand in our state of live free or
women and their doctors or with an inept President and a group of
ignorant House Republicans who think they can legislate a way to
punish women? Does our Governor stand with a President who has NO
respect for women?
Interesting factoid (as claimed by President Trump, and discussed in the
the US is one of only a handful of nations that currently allow late elective
abortions. Jonah Goldberg
I was encouraged to read this book (written by Andy Clark, professor of
philosophy and Chair in Logic and Metaphysics at the University of
Edinburgh in Scotland)
on Eric Raymond's blog, which pointed to
review at Slate Star Codex. I regret to say it's one of those
"I looked at every page" books. It's not aimed at the dilettante or
layman; I would expect that you would need a thorough grounding in
neurophysiology and neural networks to fully appreciate it. Lots of
references, endnotes, etc.
Professor Clark is (also) clearly articulating his own views here,
engaging in a debate/discussion with people with other views. I have no
idea whether the thesis he's expounding is actually on target, or if
he's engaging in easily-debunked handwaving bullshit. I expect more the
former, but don't take any bets on my say-so.
His thesis is, broadly, that the mysteries of consciousness, perception,
decision, action, etc. are tied up with the predictive nature of the
nervous system. That is, the whole shebang works its magic by building
internal predictions of what outside stimuli will be incoming from our
senses. This is never a perfect match, but when it happens, it sets off
a bunch of nervous activity "error" events that look to obtain better
information (for example, automatically pointing your eyes at different
locations to figure out what's going on).
This activity involves neurons up and down the chain, and also back and
forth. It's a very holistic view, and one that's been in development for
There are a number of telling observations that I could understand and
appreciate, mostly involving optical illusions. For example, the
here; seeing a cow may be a challenge at first, but once you see it,
you can't go back to not seeing it. Funny how that works.
Bottom line, writing-wise, Andy Clark is no Steven Pinker. But he may be
I believe I put this book by Malcolm Gladwell in my to-be-read list a long, long time ago.
Back during its initial hype-filled publication, circa 2000. After
waiting for it to come off the reserve list at the UNH library (it never
did, I think), I picked up the 2002 paperback. And it sat on my shelves
And it did not age well.
These days, we would say it's a study of how things "go viral". Or, more
soberly, how dramatic cultural changes can happen in a relative
Gladwell's first example is how Hush Puppies shoes made a dramatic
comeback in the mid-90s after dwindling to their near-demise. And then
he moves on to the dramatic decrease in New York City crime, starting in
the 90s. And (along the way) there are other examples, described in an
attention-grabbing way (Gladwell's a good writer): Sesame Street
vs. Blue's Clues; a suicide epidemic in Micronesia; the book
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. And many more.
Gladwell attempts to come up with a theoretical framework that would
explain all these examples of sudden change. He describes three kinds of
people that can set things off, change agents: "Connecters, Mavens, and Salesmen". He
looks at the concept of "stickiness"; once people adopt a change (or
catch a disease), it has to stick around long enough so that other
people can "catch" it. And there's the power of "Context": how receptive
the target population and the surrounding environment to the change.
Gladwell's examples, each interesting, seem at times to be round pegs
that Gladwell tries very hard to pound into the square holes of his big
theory. The predictive value of his insights seems to be
negligible; the thing about "viral" outbreaks is that nobody sees them
coming. True back when Gladwell wrote, true today.
Which brings me to the point mentioned above: Gladwell wrote at the dawn
of the 21st century. And the closest he gets to writing about the
Internet is his 2002 Afterword, when he muses on e-mail, and notes that
he has a website: (gladwell.com,
In other words: before Facebook (est. 2004), Yelp (est. 2004), YouTube (est. 2005), Twitter (est. 2006),
Instagram (est. 2010). I can't help but think that popular social media
sites haven't irrevocably changed the landscape Gladwell discusses.
Then [TSU] President [Austin] Lane, accompanied by Democratic state Sen. Boris Miles, entered the room. Rep. Cain, a Republican, then exited the room and president Lane invited the protesters back into the room.
Mission accomplished, speech censors!
President Lane's quoted remarks invoked "time, place, and manner"
regulation—at least four times—as an excuse for the shutdown.
See if you can fit his reasoning in with
of time/place/matter regulation. And see if you can guess how a
court case might come out.
■ So I haven't gotten too excited about the Harvey Weinstein thing,
because the hypocritical pervyness lurking behind the thin, shiny
veneer of the
entertainment industry is not exactly shocking to anyone paying
attention. But people, like
Roger L. Simon, are making some interesting observations:
Harvey Weinstein Has Destroyed Hollywood -- Now What?
Hollywood’s politics have always been a self-serving charade, a liberal masquerade for a rapacious and lubricious lifestyle. But now, thanks to the Weinstein scandal, we see it more clearly than ever. And it couldn't be more repellent. (I had always thought Bill Clinton would have made the greatest studio executive of all time. Now I'm convinced of it.)
So far, many right-wing readers are probably nodding along to this
column. Well, stop. If you never spoke up about Trump, or if you
responded to those accusations with a dismissive, “What about Bill
Clinton?” you should probably just sit this one out.
Because if you decry piggish behavior only when it helps your side,
or if you think accusers are telling the truth only when they speak
up about people you hate (or don’t need professionally), then you
don’t actually care about sexual harassment.
Jonah's right: a lot of folks have forfeited their membership in the
Morality Police by looking the other way when members of their
political tribe misbehaved.
Last Friday the Trump administration unveiled regulations that let a wider range of employers claim a religious exemption from the Obamacare mandate requiring health plans to cover birth control. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) responded by invoking The Handmaid's Tale, the Margaret Atwood novel, now a Hulu series, set in a patriarchal dystopia where the government controls women's bodies and forbids them to read, write, or work outside the home.
Lowey is not the only critic of the new regulations who conflates freedom from coercion with a right to forcibly extracted subsidies. Such overwrought reactions obscure the real issue raised by religious exceptions to the contraceptive mandate: When does respect for religious freedom require relieving some people of the obligation to obey rules that everyone else has to follow?
Sullum does a fine job delineating the areas of controversy in a
■ And Gregg Easterbrook, the Tuesday Morning Quarterback, didn't
watch the games this week. (He has a good excuse.) But he makes a
decent argument as to why we should Ban
Youth Football. After summarizing recent research:
Such research suggests a bright line. Organized tackle football
before age twelve does engage tremendous neurological risk; but
don’t start football until middle school and the sport’s
neurological hazards are roughly the same as those associated with
soccer, diving, and bicycling. Maybe someday soccer, diving,
bicycling, and football all will be banned as too dangerous. Based
on what’s known today, football is not notably more dangerous—so
long as you don’t start until middle school age.
If youth tackle football were abolished by legislation—or if parents
and guardians refused to allow young children to join full-pads
leagues and endure helmet-to-helmet hits—the societal harm caused by
football would decline dramatically.
I find Easterbrook's argument pretty convincing, but see what you
When thinking of pre-Columbian America, forget what you’ve seen in
the Disney movies. Think “slavery, cannibalism and mass human
sacrifice.” From the Aztecs to the Iroquois, that was life among the
indigenous peoples before Columbus arrived.
For all the talk from the angry and indigenous about European slavery,
it turns out that pre-Columbian America was virtually one huge slave
camp. According to “Slavery and Native Americans in British North
America and the United States: 1600 to 1865,” by Tony Seybert, “Most
Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery
before the European introduction of African slavery into North America.”
Could it possibly be that the anti-Columbus people don't get the
same frisson of self-righteousness in contemplating history
One of the hallmarks of culture wars is that everything must be
reduced to a Manichean struggle of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong,
left vs. right, you name it vs. you dread it. […]
The only way to win at this game is not to play it. Demand a
different and better conversation about politics, culture, and
ideas, one in which simply mocking and shouting down other people
and perspectives isn't the be-all and end-all.
I understand his point here. It's not that Native Americans
weren't bloodthirsty savages (they were). It's not that
Columbus's journeys didn't start a long string of violence and
injustices aimed at Native Americans (they did).
It's that posturing
about that stuff today is childlishly divisive
I'll try to do better, Nick.
■ A short post from Michael Huemer (via Bryan Caplan) on:
What's Killing Us?
He observes (a) the leading causes of death in the US, and (b) the
fact that political activism/discourse is entirely aimed at
things way down on the list.
Hypothesis: We don't much care about the good of society.
Refinement: Love of the social good is not the main motivation for
(i) political action, and (ii) political discourse. We don't talk
about what's good for society because we want to help our fellow
humans. We talk about society because we want to align ourselves
with a chosen group, to signal that alignment to others, and to tell
a story about who we are. There are AIDS activists because there are
people who want to express sympathy for gays, to align themselves
against conservatives, and thereby to express "who they are". There
are no nephritis activists, because there's no salient group you
align yourself with (kidney disease sufferers?) by advocating for
nephritis research, there's no group you thereby align yourself
*against*, and you don't tell any story about what kind of person
I am sorry to hear about tragic shooting incidents like the one in
Las Vegas, but restricting gun rights from the vast majority people
who use them properly is not just and is not the answer. We live in
a country which was founded on the precept that individual liberty
is more important than the collective good – “give me liberty or
give me death”, “live free or die”. While tragic, incidents like Las
Vegas are the price we pay for individual liberty. Proposed gun
restrictions might actually reduce these violent incidents, but at
There are other views as well. Should you need to hear them one more
Guess what was one of their favorite things about the Granite State?
Our motto. One of the fellas on his way to the airport commented
that after interacting with so many New Hampshire residents, he
really appreciated how we epitomized, “Live Free or Die.”
For the record,
Freedom House rates
free"; the Heritage Foundation
ranks it, economic-freedomwise, as
When it comes to suicide, New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die”
attitude may not be helping.
“There’s this mentality that, ‘Hey, I’m not going to ask for help. I can
do this myself. And if I can’t, I’m just not going to get someone else
involved,’ ” Elaine de Mello, Training and Services Manager of the
Connect Suicide Prevention Project, said. “It’s this sense of privacy,
like, ‘I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill.’ A struggling
person doesn’t know what to do, so they don’t do anything.”
It's expected that some legislator will propose changing the license
plate wording from "LIVE FREE OR DIE" to "PLEASE DON'T KILL
puts New Hampshire's (2014) suicide rate at 17.8 per 100K. That puts
us (by my count) behind 14 other states. Vermont edges us out with
an 18.7 rate; what's their excuse?
I am always amused by the number of new laws legislators in the Live
Free or Die state feel are necessary. One colleague from across the
aisle has filed thirty-two, all by himself! So much for smaller
Well, Marjorie, it depends on what the bills do, right?
[And I, for one, am always amused at those people who claim to be
"always amused" when it's pretty clear they aren't even
amused, let alone "always".]
'Live Free or Die' is the motto on every New Hampshire licence plate
- a declaration originally made about the American Revolution by
General John Stark. I was inclined to just 'Live and Drive
Carefully' - but, even so, was pulled over by a state trooper when
just 5mph over the limit. I was sent on my way after a full Homeland
Security check. "You keep warm, ma'am."
Ah, another possible license plate replacement for LFOD: "KEEP WARM".
A video of UNH’s Alpha Phi chapter singing the n-word in Kanye West’s
“Gold Digger” went viral in September, sparking a campus-wide
conversation around First Amendment rights and freedom of
After the video was posted on the “All Eyes on UNH” Facebook page on
Sept. 19, Dean of Students Ted Kirkpatrick sent an email to the student
body condemning the use of the word and stated that the university was
investigating the matter.
We discussed the imbroglio
a few weeks back. The article relates the abrupt about-face regarding
the Dean-promised "investigation":
In a follow-up email on Sept. 21, Kirkpatrick corrected that assertion,
stating that “this is a matter of common decency, not law,” and that the
sorority was not under investigation by the university. The email also
included an apology letter from Alpha Phi chapter president, Megan
“The University of New Hampshire remains fully committed to the First Amendment,” Kirkpatrick wrote.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed, in other words, probably after some
panicked legal advice was offered. But it's still
grimly amusing that Dean Kirkpatrick's first reaction to students singing
Grammy-winning song was to threaten an "investigation".
But that was weeks ago. Let's move on, because it gets worse:
The First Amendment of the Constitution grants citizens the freedom to exercise religion and free speech. However, no right is absolute, and every right comes with responsibilities, says Kathy Kiely, a UNH lecturer in journalism.
"No right is absolute" is a trite truism. But the limits on
Constitution-protected speech are known relatively well. I recommend the
Amendment Library at the website of the Foundation for Individual
Rights in Education (FIRE), or the
Amendment FAQ at the website of the Newseum Institute.
Beyond that, Kiely is clearly out of her Constutional depth.
"Every right comes with responsibilities" is meaningless, vapid
claptrap. It's a bromide tossed out exclusively by people who want the
erode your rights. (I suppose they think the alliteration makes
it seem profound. Like "trite truism".)
But Kiely has more, by which I mean "even worse":
“As a journalist, I’ve never felt I have the right to say whatever I want just because I have First Amendment protections,” Kiely said. “The right to speak truth to power doesn’t give us all a license to be ignorant and hurtful.”
Sorry, Ms. Kiely: the First Amendment
does grant journalists—and everyone else, for that
matter—a legal right to be "ignorant and
hurtful". You can say just about any stupid or insulting thing you want
in a newspaper, a magazine, on a soapbox in the town square—or, ahem, your blog—and you will not get in
legal trouble for it. (Within the well-defined limits mentioned by the
references above: libel, kiddy porn, blackmail, etc.)
[Update: I said "grant" above. That's not right. The FA
recognizes and protects rights; it does not "grant" them. Sorry.]
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: I think being "ignorant
and hurtful" is a bad idea, and you shouldn't do it. But, simply said, you have the
right to be wrong.
As far as "ignorant and hurtful" goes, it seems that Kathy Kiely is (a) pretty ignorant about Constitutional
law, and it is (b) sort of hurtful (at least to my sensibilities) that she's
in a position to spread her ignorance to UNH
students. Her smug reference to "speak[ing] truth to power" is
especially galling when she hasn't even got the "speaking truth" part
down pat yet.
[Smugness is a theme with Ms. Kiely. Her
profile quotes: "My goal as a journalism teacher is very
modest — to save civilization as we know it." Eeesh.]
And she keeps going downhill, because it's a slippery slope:
Our system of government also operates on check and balances, Kiely
points out, and the 14th Amendment grants that citizens may not be
deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process of law.” Hate
speech is speech that might deprive others of that right, she says.
If Kiely had been paying attention back in high school, she might have
remembered that "checks and balances" refers to the delegation of power
among branches of government, not the exercise of rights. And the
relevance of the Fourteenth Amendment is actually that it expands the
First's "Congress shall make no law" language and extends it to
(specifically) public universities. Like UNH.
Kiely either didn't know this, or didn't mention it to the reporter.
Which is worse?
“I would just ask the free-speech-at-all-cost advocates to consider how they might feel if it were their life and their liberty in the balance,” Kiely said.
Well, it's all about how you feel, isn't it?
I would just ask Ms. Kiely: what would she think—not "feel"—would
be the disadvantages of having UNH administrators hold sway over the
academic careers of lowly students who run afoul of the Speech Policers.
For extra credit: identify the "power imbalances". And then "speak truth to power".
A horror movie based on an old Stephen King novel. It's got high
production values and excellent special effects. But…
It's set in the largish Maine town of Derry, sometime in the late 1980s.
As it turns out, the town has been cursed by periodic appearances of the
evil clown Pennywise, who's especially fond of luring young people to
their doom. The townspeople mostly live in fear/denial of this
But this time he's up against a group of young "losers". The leader is a
stammering kid who's lost his kid brother to Pennywise. There's a black kid, a
Jewish kid, a kid who's too smart-alecky for his own good, a fat kid,
and a girl who's been branded a slut.
Gosh, this sounds a lot like Stranger Things, doesn't it? Even
though I know that it was Stranger Thingsripping
off paying homage to Stephen King, my movie-brain kept seeing the
causality go the other way. And I also couldn't help but notice how
manipulative the whole lovable-losers-vs-evil schtick was.
Still, a decent yarn.
Along the way, there's a lot of grossness, scariness, occasional humor.
It's long, and (I assume) they didn't want to make it longer by spelling
where Pennywise came from,
the nature of his relationship with the town [it's pretty
clear that some adults are at least semi-complicit], nor
happened to all those kids at the end, or what the red balloons mean.
Although Mrs. Salad and I have both retired from the University Near
Here, we still get into campus now and then. On a recent trip I picked
up the October 5
issue of the student newspaper, which can sometimes be entertaining, in
an infuriating way. And there was a considerable amount of that in the
The lead article on page 1, "UNH drafts social media standards",
describes an effort to craft additions to the student rulebook relevant
to Facebook, Twitter, et. al. We're informed that a draft policy
exists, it was submitted to the Student Senate", and
a final version "is expected to be available within the next few
But as near as I can tell, the draft isn't available for mere mortals to
view. One of the drafters, Charles Putnam ("Clinical Professor of
Justice Studies and Co-Director of Justiceworks"), provided a needle-threading
The policy articulates guidelines the university encourages students
to follow on social media. Within the document are policies that,
without breaching the First Amendment rights of students, hold students
accountable for what they post on social media. Finally, there is a
procedure that outlines what happens if faculty, staff, or students bring
evidence of violations of the policy to the administration, according
Despite the First Amendment genuflection, I can only read this to mean
that UNH is looking for additional ways to punish students for
"violations" that the local chapter of the Red Guards
fellow members of the UNH community decide to report to the
authorities. And they will be held "accountable", which is a euphemism
But the draft needs work, according to some. For example, student Elena Ryan ("Community
Development Chairperson" for the Student Senate):
At its current state, Ryan believes the draft needs more explicit guidelines and procedures before it can become policy. Specifically, it needs to, “mention racism and other forms of discrimination,” Ryan said. “The policy right now is basically just encouraging students to be respectful and that’s not enough.”
"Not enough." Clearly, Elena wants UNH to have more power to punish students who post
content she deems to be racist (or, vaguely, exhibit "other forms of
Also on the "not enough" side is Jhenneffer [sic] Marcal (chair
of the "Diversity Support Coalition"):
“It needs a lot of work,” Marcal said, due to the general wording of
the clause and the possibility of loopholes. “When you talk about career
development, we always talk about how you present yourself through social
media is very impactful on your future, so why wouldn’t an institution
such as UNH have a policy that would hold students accountable?”
"Loopholes" no doubt refers to those pesky First Amendment issues. But
note the non sequitur at the end. Yes, your future prospective
employers may look at the stupid, drunken,
offensive posts you made to Facebook when you were in college and
decide to file your résumé in the nearest wastebasket.
But what does that imply for UNH? Nothing. UNH has
that don't apply to private employers. Jhenneffer either
doesn't understand this, or she wants to fast-talk her way around this.
Fortunately, there are still some voices of sanity at UNH—even though
I'm retired, heh—and (to its credit) the student newspaper reporter
tracked down one of them, Dan Innis ("Chair of the Faculty Senate and
Professor of Hospitality Management and Marketing"):
“I’m opposed to a social media policy. I’m not opposed to social media suggestions, but I am opposed to a social media policy. It’s overregulation,” Innis said. “It’s not enforceable, and secondly, we have no business in that area. To me, it’s speech, and it’s protected by the First Amendment.”
After reading Putnam, Ryan, and Marcal,
Innis's straightforward, euphemism-free language is refreshing to hear.
The article refers to a Faculty Senate
motion on the subject, passed last month:
a model of mutual respect". I really like this paragraph:
An environment of mutual trust and respect is necessary if an
institution seeks to act with integrity. They are prerequisites for open
communication and honest dialogue about the values, goals and
expectations held by the institution and its members. Trust and respect
require freedom of expression without fear of retribution, institutional
or otherwise. Respect for the diversity of persons, ideas and choices
differing from one's own strengthens and supports the culture of the
university. Establishing and supporting a diverse community encourages
discovery and creativity. Both respect for individuals and respect for
institutional values involves balancing the claims of personal autonomy
with the goals and mission of the institution. All members need to be
alert to prevent the power structure of the classroom and the university
as a whole from suppressing beliefs and practices. If trust should break
down, we need to explore the reasons for the breakdown and identify ways
for the community to rebuild trust among its members.
Corollary: It is not a sign of "respect" to have a student brought up on charges
before an academic Star Chamber because they tweeted something that hurt
There's another article in the newspaper just below this one that I
might rant on as well… Maybe tomorrow, for Columbus DayIndigenous
So many gun control advocates are begging for a conversation on this
issue, and it’s unfortunate they don’t see the Second Amendment
advocates as willing to engage. I find it hard to have an honest and
vulnerable conversation about a deeply held right when the starting
point is often challenging my motives while coming from a place of
ignorance on firearms. If you’re really looking to win over your
gun-loving friend, try reading up on firearms, dumping anti-NRA
talking points, and assume her or she is equally committed to
preventing these evil acts.
As always, when a Progressive demands a "conversation", the
underlying subtext is invariably: "shut up and listen to me hector
The Republican party, in other words, has chosen to deal with the
fiscal consequences of its tax policies by pretending those
consequences do not exist. The GOP's mistaken yet persistent belief
in the overwhelming power of dynamic effects is politically
convenient. But their stubborn fantasy presents a barrier to more
stable fiscal policy, to a more streamlined tax code, and to more
effective limits on government, because it hides the cost from view.
It turns out that what Republicans really want is to cut taxes, but
not the size of government.
The GOP proposal offered some good ideas (eliminate state/local tax
deductions, kill the death tax) but it's those good ideas that seem
most likely to be sacrificed to come up with a deal.
The Times has been running a series on Communism called “The Red Century.” It’s really, really weird. At times, it feels like the greatest high-brow trolling effort in recorded history. Some of the headlines read like they were plucked from the reject pile at The Onion. I particularly enjoyed “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism.” One wonders what all the women who had to service their prison guards for a crust of bread would think about that. With the exception of one essay by Harvey Klehr, the upshot seems to be an effort to rehabilitate Communism for a certain kind of New York Times liberal who desperately needs to cling to the belief that he was on the right side of an argument he lost.
[PR's unfunded pension liabilities] will only grow, because the biggest problem of all is Puerto Rico’s rapid demographic decline. There has long been a steady migration from Puerto Rico to the mainland. By 2008, there were more Puerto Ricans in the rest of the U.S. than there were in Puerto Rico. But the economic crisis has accelerated that flow to staggering levels. Worse still, the flow is selective: young families, professionals and skilled workers migrate in search of better opportunity, while the old and the dependent stay home. In just one year, 2014, almost 3.5 percent of the young adult population migrated.
So I suppose where you stand on this depends on how much you value the health of your
political tribe with the economic well-being of an American
territory. (But, honestly, PR sounds like an economic disaster no
Many participants held signs that said "Labayka ya Hussein" (I'm at
your service, Oh Hussain) and one of the imam's central messages,
"Live free or die with dignity."
"Huss(a|e)in" refers to
(Wikipedia spelling) who lived from 625-680; if he really
did say that as claimed, it would considerably predate our General Stark.
(We won't quibble with the "with dignity" add-on; if you're giving
up your life for your liberty, your dignity is strongly implied.)
Oh, it’s certainly the case that the NRA and related groups have
given a good amount of money to Republican politicians (and quite a
few Democrats) over the years. But in the grubby bazaar of
politician-buying, the NRA is a bit player.
Consider that $3.5 million in donations over nearly 20 years the
Washington Post made such a fuss about. According to
Opensecrets.org, the legal profession contributed $207 million
to politicians in 2016 alone. Fahr LLC, the outfit that oversees
the political and philanthropic efforts of billionaire
anti-global-warming activist Tom Steyer, gave $90 million (all
to Democrats) in 2016.
We talked about this
too; I guess the issue strikes a chord for me. Yesterday, I claimed
"ideological bias" was the cause of the differential treatment of
the NRA vs. "Progressive" organizations doing comparable things.
Jonah is more specific:
Part of the problem, I think, is that people who hate guns and gun rights cannot believe that people disagree with them in good faith. There must be evil motives, chiefly greed, that explain everything.
I think that's on the right track. For all the Progressive disdain
for "moralism" and "hate", they are (a) pretty moralistic
themselves, and (b) their hatred is all the worse for their being
unaware of it.
Last night I was supposed to participate in a panel at my alma
mater, American University, on feminism, free speech, and Title IX.
My co-panelists were to include a former president of the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the current head of a group that
fights for students' rights, and two staffers from the British
website spiked—not what you might think would be a
controversial lineup. But in the days leading up to the event, the
AU chapter of American Association of University Women organized a
campaign to "Keep Our Campus Safe,"
describing the panel as "hate speech" and "violence" designed to
undermine "decades of work... to make campuses safer for victims of
To adapt a Monty Python quote, the AAUW was not only proud of
getting the event killed,
they were smug about it:
We are STOKED to announce that the Unsafe Space Tour has been canceled at AU! In their words, they,“got word of...
For all the analyses of President Donald Trump’s tax plan, one big factor is missing for a final assessment. Once we’ve lost some revenue, which taxes will need to rise in the future? In other words, the plan is really a (less glorious) tax shift rather than a tax cut.
In the absence of spending cuts, government spending has to be paid
for by someone at sometime. Tyler is not optimistic
that the results from travelling down the GOP's proposed road will be rosy.
■ At City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple hits an Orwellian (as
in "Politics and
the English Language") theme:
Devil’s in the Diction.
Some words in the press are used not only for purposes of shorthand
but also as Pavlovian bells to get the ideological saliva running.
They have only to be printed or uttered for thought to cease, and
since thought is often painful and poses the danger of arriving at
unwanted conclusions, such words offer protection against such pain
and discomfort. Among them, for certain people, especially in
Europe, are poverty, liberalism and austerity (the list is far from
"Liberalism" means something different in the Old World than the
New. It would be nice if we could get that word back again.
New Hampshire is the lone state among the original 13 American
colonies in which no Revolutionary War battle was fought, but
militias from the “Live Free or Die” state did play key roles in
several turning points in the struggle for independence, including
helping the Continental Army win the Battle of Saratoga.
To be honest, the LFOD invocation doesn't do much here; the sentence
reads just fine without it.
I guess the
on Fort William and Mary doesn't count as a Revolutionary War
battle, but that's OK.
Oh, and if you want to read about the child safety stuff, click on
Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union's Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.
Coming soon to a university near you, I guess.
Another William & Mary alum was Jerry Robinson. Which led to one
of the funniest sitcom episodes… Oh, heck, I'll just embed; skip
ahead to about 11:45 if you'd like to get to the W & M content
■ One of the longest books ever written, in theory: What the Left
Misunderstands. And at NRO, David French has written a
short chapter therein: The
Left Misunderstands the Power of the NRA. He notes the reflexive
blaming of the NRA whenever "gun control" fails to win sufficient
support to pass.
Journalists often treat the NRA differently from every other
consequential activist group in the United States. Yes, they
recognize that liberal groups like the National Education
Association and Planned Parenthood are important, but they do not
treat progressive politicians as those organizations’ puppets.
Instead, they do the accurate thing: They cast progressive
politicians and progressive organizations as part and parcel of a
larger progressive community that shares certain ideas and values
and speaks for tens of millions of American citizens.
Why not treat the NRA in the same way?
To ask the question is almost to answer it: the ideological bias of
Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to
frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop
blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault
weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the
other measures that could make guns less deadly.
Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months
analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year
in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way.
We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and
the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined
the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored
interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad
attempts to limit the lethality of guns.
A good debunking of progressive shibboleths on gun control.
Ms. Libresco is identified as the author of the book
Arriving at Amen, which
chronicles her journey from Atheism to Catholicism. Which also
A recent Politico Magazineop-ed arguing that the Koch brothers were responsible for the condition of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria was corrected after publication to admit there was no evidence that was the case.
The correction is pretty awesome:
Corrections: An earlier version of this article stated that associates of the Koch brothers proposed and lobbied Congress to pass the law establishing Puerto Rico's fiscal control board. There is no evidence of any Koch involvement in the passage of the law. An earlier version of this article also stated that the fiscal control board had reduced the minimum wage in Puerto Rico to 4 dollars an hour. The board did not lower the minimum wage, the governor did. And the governor raised it this year. An earlier version of this article stated that the U.S. Congress imposed austerity measures on Puerto Rico. The fiscal control board established by Congress instructed the commonwealth to work towards balancing its budget. The governor decided what cuts to make.
The op-ed's author does (however) make at least one good point: the 1920 Jones
Act has been strangling the Puerto Rican economy for decades.
That being so, here’s the million-dollar question: What the
hell are they waiting for? Go on, chaps. Bloody well do
Seriously, try it. Start the process. Stop whining about it on
Twitter, and on HBO, and at the Daily Kos. Stop playing
with some Thomas Jefferson quote you found on Google. Stop jumping
on the news cycle and watching the retweets and viral shares rack
up. Go out there and begin the movement in earnest. Don’t fall back
on excuses. Don’t play cheap motte-and-bailey games. And don’t pretend that
you’re okay with the Second Amendment in theory, but you’re just
appalled by the Heller decision. You’re not.
Heller recognized what was obvious to the amendment’s
drafters, to the people who debated it, and to the jurists of their
era and beyond: That “right of the people” means “right of the
people,” as it does everywhere else in both the Bill of Rights and
in the common law that preceded it. A Second Amendment without the
supposedly pernicious Heller “interpretation” wouldn’t be
any impediment to regulation at all. It would be a dead letter. It
would be an effective repeal. It would be the end of the right
itself. In other words, it would be exactly what you want!
Man up. Put together a plan, and take those words out of the
As the White Rabbit said: “Don’t just do something — stand
In a podcast the day after the massacre in Las Vegas, Michael Graham asked me what supporters of
the Second Amendment ought to do in reaction to such horrifying
events. My answer at the time was: nothing. And nothing that has
transpired since then has shown me cause to modify that
position. It is in the nature of reactionaries to react, but
very often the right course of action is inaction.
To my friend Michael, that’s cold-fish stuff. What’s needed, he
argued, is passion: an emotional discharge in the service of a
proactive agenda. While bookish types such as myself are
mustering evidence and reason behind a dispassionate analysis of
the facts, he argued, the gun-grabbers and other demagogues are
getting the rubes all riled up (I am rephrasing) to
do . . . something. “We have to do
something!” he insisted.
The morning after a gunman murdered
nearly 60 people in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton tweeted
that "we can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and
work together to try to stop this from happening again." The former
Democratic presidential nominee's commitment to putting politics
aside was gone in an instant, and her implicit claim that she knows
how to "stop this from happening again" was equally empty.
There's a grim amusement in noting that the Woman Who Came Too Close
to the Presidency can't even keep from contradicting herself within
the space of a
■ As usual, Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ
column this week has interesting non-football content, but I liked
That the Star Spangled Banner Concerns War Between the United States and England Never Comes Up When the Song Is Sung at London NFL Games. Before the London game, three Miami players knelt during the National Anthem but stood for God Save the Queen. Britain was highly active in the slave trade in North America and the Caribbean, yet somehow now is due respect that African-American players deny to the United States. At least this stanza of God Save the Queen was not performed: “Scatter [the Queen’s] enemies and make them fall / Confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks.”
Good luck making sense out of NFL players' pre-kickoff acrobatics.
A customer purchased a “Live Free or Die” wood plaque and a
“Legalize Gay Marijuana” bumper sticker at the Free State Bitcoin
Shoppe in Portsmouth, New Hampshire using an encrypted digital
currency called ZCash.
Spurred by a
J. Miller article at National Review,
I picked up a Kindle version of Daniel Silva's first novel
for the unlikely price of $1.99! (Nowadays it goes for $4.99, which is
still a pretty good deal.)
It's a World War 2 spy thriller, centered around one of the war's big
secrets: where the Allies planned to invade France in 1944. The Germans
are deeply (and correctly) suspicious of the quality of information
they're getting from their existing spy network, so they activate one of
their sleeper agents, "Catherine", a deadly and beautiful woman working as a nurse. She targets a young
widower American engineer; he's been recruited to work on
massive concrete structures, the
artificial harbors. The Nazis don't know what they're for, but if
they figure it out, it could be an important clue, leading to the defeat
of the invasion.
The "Unlikely Spy" is history professor Alfred Vicary, personally
recruited by Churchill to ferret out agents like Catherine. What ensues
is a cat-vs-rat thriller, eventually resulting in a high-seas shootout.
Lots of violence, some sex, and a twisty ending you might not see
coming. (I detected that there would be a twist, but didn't know
what it was.)
There's an interesting mix of real characters (Churchill, Hitler,
Himmler, Canaris) underlying the fiction. Much of the subtrefuge
related in the book actually happened, too. (For example,
United States Army Group and MI5's
System.) The fictional characters are well-crafted, even the Nazis
are recognizably human. Well, except for Hitler and Himmler.
Yes, we know how it comes out. Allies win. This doesn't detract from the
book, it's still a fine page-turner (or screen-swiper).
To resist an instant call to more or tougher gun laws or enforcement in the wake of terrors like Vegas, you need to understand it is not only that existing laws and regulations will not reliably prevent such crimes as long as guns exist. All the new or expanded national gun control laws advocated as sensible and necessary would have had no effect on horrible crimes such as occurred in Las Vegas last night, even if perfectly enforced, as Jacob Sullum explained at Reason earlier today. (Nor, it seems to me, would wider skilled civilian possession of guns likely done much good in this particular scenario. Hard as it is to admit, some tragedies are not meaningfully preventable.)
This is grown-up thinking. Here's the opposite, from my own
CongressCritter, Carol Shea-Porter:
Not now, they say. What they mean is not ever. I still cry
over the little ones and wait for Ryan to propose something to stop
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments tempting it to
plunge into an impenetrable political thicket. It will consider a
lower court’s ruling that, if allowed to stand, will require the
judiciary to determine whether and when partisanship in drawing
electoral districts — something as old as the Constitution — is
unconstitutional. And courts will wrestle repeatedly with cases
requiring them to decide how to decide how much partisanship is too
Gee, that sounds like a swell idea. Once again, I recommend my
to obviate gerrymandering.
■ Tom Petty died, and that's sad, especially since he was only a
few months older than I am. But Monty Hall also passed away, and
that got me thinking about the Monty Hall problem, Marilyn vos
Savant, and how many
smart people made fools of themselves:
Time Everyone “Corrected” the World’s Smartest Woman.
Despite its deceptive simplicity, some of the world’s brightest
minds -- MIT professors, renowned mathematicians, and MacArthur
“Genius” Fellows -- have had trouble grasping [the Monty Hall
problem's] answer. For decades, it has sparked intense debates in classrooms and lecture halls.
As one of the experts quoted says: "Our brains are just not wired to
do probability problems very well."
Sacralization of the flag and uniform—and the anger directed at even
mild dissent—are further demonstrations that, contrary to popular
myth, church and state in this country have not been separated. They
have been fused. The church is the state, and the state is the
church. That's where nationalism takes you.
If you look at it without preconceptions, it's pretty odd that we do
the National Anthem thing before sports events, but mostly not in other
entertainment venues: movies, plays, concerts. (Although I do
remember that back when TV stations went dark at night, they usually
did something patriotic.)
■ Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison relate, at NRO: Betsy
DeVos vs. the Mindless Mob at Harvard. She gave a pretty good
speech, and a fraction of the crowd did their distracting best to try
to get people not to listen.
Little of what DeVos said, however, seemed to matter to her
“academic” audience, a large swath of which seemed more
concerned with its
antics than with listening — much less with engaging in any
semblance of scholarly give and take. Students stood, raising
fists and holding banners reading “White Supremacist” and “Our
Students Are Not 4 Sale!” Perhaps fearing that their ratty
signage had proven insufficient, as DeVos exited the stage,
students chanted, “What does white supremacy look like? That’s
what white supremacy looks like!”
Well, at least she wasn't drowned out, and nobody got hurt.
■ Power Line's Steven Hayward wonders: A
Reckoning for Silicon Valley Coming? He keys off of Google's
meek acceptance of a Spanish court demanding that they delete an
application that Catalan independence supporters were using to
spread information about an independence referendum.
Beyond this instance, we know that Google, Apple, and other Silicon
Valley tech giants are utterly supine in the face of demands for
their cooperation with heavy government censorship especially in
China. It is curious that Google and Apple, so confident in their
pronouncements about How Things Should Be in America (example: Apple
CEO Tim Cook saying he can’t understand why there is any debate at
all about DACA—I guess the rule of law only counts when it’s being
used to protect Apple’s intellectual property rights), are so timid
when it comes to Chinese demands. Does China really want to eschew
what Google has to offer? I can recall when American companies told
South Africa that they would not cooperate with Apartheid laws
there, and the South African government capitulated rather quickly.
Wouldn't it be nice if some tech giant actually did something to
promote liberty, here or abroad, by saying "no" to some government demands?
Hugh Hefner, gone to his reward at the age of 91, was a pornographer
and chauvinist who got rich on masturbation, consumerism and the
exploitation of women, aged into a leering grotesque in a captain’s
hat, and died a pack rat in a decaying manse where porn blared
during his pathetic orgies.
Brutal. Probably true.
I started watching an episode of Playboy After Dark once,
many years back, and
Hef's struggling efforts to appear hip and "with it" were
pathetically funny for a few minutes, then just got painful.
Did I have a Playboy collection? Why yes I did. Not proud of
This movie came out in 1982; I remember saying to myself "Francis Ford
Coppola, Teri Garr, how bad could it be?" But I never got around to finding out. It
was a box office disaster, gone from theaters in an eyeblink. It was still a few years before VCRs were
common, so it slipped through the cracks.
But I noticed that it was streamable via Amazon Prime. And so I decided
to give it a try. And I can see why some people hated it back then. It
wasn't like anything else: a simple story buried in quirkiness and
garishness. (Since then, Baz Luhrmann has taken over this creative
space, I think.)
More to the point, it wasn't like the four previous movies
Coppola directed, which were: (1) The Godfather; (2) The
Conversation; (3) The Godfather: Part II; and (4) Apocalypse
Anyway, it's about Hank (Frederic Forrest) and Frannie (Teri Garr), who
have been living together in Las Vegas for years, but can't seem to reconcile their
differences: she's looking to be carried off on romantic getaways, while
he's looking to put down domestic roots. On their Fourth of July
anniversary, an argument escalates into Frannie walking out on Hank.
("You stupid bastard, Hank. She looks just like Teri Garr!")
Frannie and Hank find consolation and advice from close friends (Lainie
Kazan and Harry Dean Stanton, respectively). And they wind up canoodling
with interesting new people (Raul Julia and Nastassja Kinski,
respectively). Will they return to each other, or will one or both wind
up with another?
President Donald Trump’s tax-reform plan is in total a very expansive steaming pile of irresponsibility — and the president’s argument that it will lead to sustained 6 percent economic growth is pure fantasy — but it does have one attractive provision: raising taxes on blue-state progressives.
Check it out, but Representative Thomas Massie
an executive summary:
Current federal theft code
encourages local theft by allowing you to deduct local theft from
federal theft. #sassywithmassie
There’s a lot of truth in this, but the reality here is that
expertise wouldn’t have mattered. GOP legislators know that their
base isn’t interested in the mumbo-jumbo of actual health care
experts. These voters are not interested in analysis, or extended
debate. They don’t care who’s in favor of it or who’s against it, or
for what reason. They’ve been told that Obamacare — which they
hate — would be repealed, and the Affordable Care Act
— which they like — would be improved.
If that sounds strange, remember that a third of all voters and
about a quarter of GOP voters don’t realize these
are the same things, and that’s the rub. No amount of expert
testimony is going to change anyone’s mind about Obamacare. What the
most vocal and angry part of the Republican base wants is a repeal
of this thing called “Obamacare” because it is a political symbol
and because President Trump promised them it would be repealed,
totally and completely, on day
one of his administration. What that would mean is as much a
mystery to those angry voters as it is to many of the senators who
supported that repeal.
Tom may be hammering the Obamacare square peg into his "death of
expertise" round hole, but that's OK.
Earlier this year a group of mayors clung together in the name of the Paris Climate Accord. They insisted, wrongly, that the “treaty” was necessary and they intended to take action locally to support its goals. Some 379 municipal leaders signed on to Climate Mayors.org, which was all most of them ever intended.
As a group, they have done nothing meaningful since.
Left as a GG comment: How much politics is driven by politicians' need to feel good about themselves, and bask in the warm approval of other members of their tribe?
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