URLs du Jour


■ Ladies and gentlmen, I give you Proverbs 15:7:

7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
    but the hearts of fools are not upright.

Another Proverb fitting the pattern of yesterday's Mad Lib generator. I'm beginning to think I have something here.

And—oy!—again with the lips!

■ Steven Chapman, unlike many pundits, is an adult, speaking to his readers as if they were adults: A Cure for Mass Shootings Doesn't Exist.

Every time there is a mass shooting, a chorus goes up: "We must do something to keep this from happening again. We can't tolerate it any longer."

Revulsion understandably creates a demand for remedies. But every time, we do nothing, to the fury of those who denounce the inaction as shameful.

There is a simple explanation, though, for the inaction. It's not that the National Rifle Association is all-powerful, that too many Americans are blind to reason, or that most are complacent about wanton slaughter. It's that there are no plausible options that offer more than the faintest prospect of preventing a massacre in the next year or the next decade.

Too true, I regret to say. However there's one thing "we" could do…

■ Specifically, as Kevin D. Williamson, suggests, we could Fire the FBI Chief.

Disclaimer: if you are the type of person who gets upset when you fill in the asterisks in 'F***', Mr. Williamson's article may not be for you. Oops, you clicked over already? Too bad.

The guiding principle of American law enforcement is that it is easiest to enforce the law on law-abiding people, while enforcing the law on outlaws is something that looks terrifyingly close to hard work. That’s why gun control so ensorcels the bureaucratic mind. (Which is to say, the progressive mind: The essence of progressivism is replacing organic institutions with permanent bureaucracies.) If you are a federal law-enforcement agent with a comfy desk chair, you probably cannot imagine a more attractive anticrime program than gun control. Gun dealers have federal licenses, and they have to apply for them: You don’t have to go tracking them down — they come to you. They fill out paperwork. They generally operate from fixed addresses with regular business hours. Convenient! What you have is the power of political interposition, which is a mild form of terrorism. Want to operate a sporting-goods store? “F*** you, pay me.” And — mirabile dictu! — they pay. Sometimes, they even evince gratitude that you’ve done them the great favor of taking their money and allowing them, generous fellow that you are, to dispose of their own property as they see fit.

On our 0-to-10 RTWT scale, Mr. Williamson's article is a 9.5. Pissed-off Kevin D. Williamson is the best Kevin D. Williamson.

■ UPenn Lawprof Amy Wax got in PC trouble last August for co-authoring an op-ed that dared to extol the bourgeois virtues. (Previous Pun Salad articles on that imbroglio here, here, here, here.)

Now Professor Wax looks back on What Can’t Be Debated on Campus (behind a possible WSJ paywall).

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with lip service paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.

[If you can't breach the WSJ paywall, there's an earlier version of the article from Hillsdale College's Imprimis magazine here.]

It's a sad episode in the continuing tragedy of American higher education.

■ Mark Lieberman at Language Log has some fun with this factoid:

Google Translate is disposed to recognize text consisting only of vowels and spaces as Hawaiian, and to hallucinate a coherent if sometimes chilling translation into English.

Professor Lieberman offers a simple R program to generate "Hawaiian":

    N = 150
    Letters = c("a","e","i","o","u"," ")

OK, I don't know R, but I can guess well enough what's going on. I wrote an equivalent Perl one liner:

    perl -e "print (map {(split(//,'aeiou ')) [rand(6)] } 1 .. 150);"

On the first run, it gave me:

eouiuioeie uieuuuu auauoioieuu a iuooi u u eoooiiueio aueueuioo aeai iii eeoaieaaauouoa ieieooaoiaeie e eaoaaa aoaia eoueooooouiuuou uoao oaooe a

OK, let's paste that into Google Translate, and in English, that's:

you know how much you know and how much you know about how much you know about how to use your

Whoa, that's almost … profound!