URLs du Jour

2018-02-12

■ I believe Proverbs 15:1 is one of the famous ones:

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.

King James putteth it the way thou may remembereth better: "A soft answer turneth away wrath."

Generally, however, I've found that neither gentle answers nor harsh words work well when "discussing" political issues on Facebook.


■ "Read the whole thing" (RTWT) is usually merely implied in our URLs du Jour items. Occasionally, I'll make it explicit. But I'd like to make an even stronger recommendation now: on a 1-to-10 RTWT scale, The Applied Theory of Bossing People Around by Deirdre Nansen McCloskey at Reason is a solid 10. It discusses the Nobel Prize in Economics given to Richard Thaler for his work in "behavioral finance", which highlights various common fallacies and irrationalities common in individuals.

Yet the politics is clear. Once Thaler has established that you are in myriad ways irrational it's much easier to argue, as he has, vigorously—in his academic research, in popular books, and now in a column for The New York Times—that you are too stupid to be treated as a free adult. You need, in the coinage of Thaler's book, co-authored with the law professor and Obama adviser Cass Sunstein, to be "nudged." Thaler and Sunstein call it "paternalistic libertarianism."

Adam Smith spoke of "the man of system" who "seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board." Thaler and his benevolent friends are men, and some few women, of system. They hate the Chicago School, have never heard of the Austrian School, dismiss spontaneous order, and favor bossing people around—for their own good, understand. Employing the third most unbelievable sentence in English (the other two are "The check is in the mail" and "Of course I'll respect you in the morning"), they declare cheerily, "We're from the government and we're here to help."

I'm a fan of Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking Fast and Slow, which trod some of the same ground as Thaler's research. I don't think Kahneman made much effort to draw unwarranted public policy recommendations, though.


Granite Grokster Steve MacDonald read last September's "Interim Report" spurred by last May's freakout over Cinco de Mayo ponchos and sombreros at the University Near Here. And notes: Disturbing UNH Campus Climate Report Never Mentions Free Speech.

This entire document can be summarized as follows. People’s feelings were hurt. At UNH, when people’s feelings are hurt our feelings are hurt, and that’s hurtful. We need to stop being hurtful at all cost.

Steve's right; it's awful. Throw enough word salad at a problem, and you'll make it go away? That's the UNH way!

Here's what I left as a comment at GG:

President Huddleston's press release last year (https://www.unh.edu/main/st...) asked for a "Final Report" on this by January 18, 2018.

(Looking at my watch...) Yeah, it's well past that due date. Wonder what's going on?

My (probably overly cynical) guess: they don't want to release it when students are on campus, because local activists will freak out over the lack of submission to their (unhinged) demands. E.g., this from last May: https://www.facebook.com/8P....

We'll keep our eyes open for further developments. Although it's difficult keeping our eyes open when dealing with UNH's rhetorical stylings.


Power Line's Steven Hayward asks the musical question: Is California Starting to Circle the Drain?

I recently became a crime victim for one of the few times in my life. My car was burgled while I was up in the Bay Area on my weekly sojourn to the Peoples Republic of Berkeley. I say “burgled” rather than “broken into,” because there was no smashed window, or picked lock, nor did I leave the car unlocked. Rather, I was the victim of a clever gang of organized car burglars in the Bay Area who are using sophisticated scanners to copy and boost the key-fob signal for recent model keyless entry and ignition cars. Once you latch on to the signal, the car door unlocks at the touch of your hand, as people with such models know. (I learned about this security flaw subsequently as I looked into how this could have happened.) All of the restaurants and retail establishments in my neighborhood have posted printed signs saying “leave no valuables in your car; frequent car thefts in the area.” I have taken electronic countermeasures against this happening again.

Fine, but you should click over for a truly fascinating Twitter tale of how the owner of a SF van rental company tried to get the SFPD interested in the theft of one of his vans. Kafka couldn't have written it better.


[Amazon Link]@kevinNR writes on what's coming sooner than some of us might like: The Crash.

“The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interrèd with their bones.” So must it be with Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, and the lot of them, all the courtiers and jesters and sycophants. They will pass. But the debt is a memento without mori — it is immortal. Like so much else in Washington, it is speeding out of control with no working brakes and no one apparently at the wheel. As Herb Stein famously put it, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

The crash is coming.

I can't wait, because (see his book) it's going to be awesome.


■ Every week, Dan Piraro posts his Bizarro comic panels, which (with Gary Larson in retirement) are probably the funniest comics out there. (He works with a guy named "Wayno", and I'm not sure who does what.)

In between the comics are paragraphs of text, which tend to be tedious, either explanations of the comics for folks who don't "get it" or political (stridently Progressive). Easy to ignore. But I chuckled at this:

Pro tip for artists: If you ever want to draw a turd, use a #2 pencil. If you want to draw urine, use a six-pack of beer.