URLs du Jour

2018-04-11

[Amazon Link]

  • The nicest thing you can say about Proverbs 14:25 is that it's timeless:

    25 A truthful witness saves lives,
        but a false witness is deceitful.

    Yes. That's the definition of "false witness", Proverbialist. As the kids today say: Duh.


  • The good folks at Heterodox Academy have put together a spiffy illustrated "good parts" re-explication of Chapter Two of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. From the intro of All Minus One.

    Mill's main concern was not government censorship. It was the stultifying consequences of social conformity, of a culture where deviation from a prescribed set of opinions is punished through peer pressure and the fear of ostracism. "Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough," he wrote. "There needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling". Mill saw people even as brilliant as Charles Darwin living in fear of the response their views would provoke.

    I would guess it deserves to be read in tandem with every nebulous jeremiad in favor of censoring "hate speech".


  • … or in concert with the current social panic about Facebook. Rich Lowry writes at NR about Mark Zuckerberg’s Insufferable Tripe. (That's the current attention-grabbing headline; the URL indicates the original headline may have been something like "Mark Zuckerberg Runs Facebook as a Business, Not a Nonprofit".)

    It’s not Zuckerberg’s fault that he has suddenly been deemed on the wrong side of history, but the Cambridge Analytica blowup is bringing a useful spotlight on the most sanctimoniously self-regarding large company in America. Facebook can’t bear to admit that it has garnered the largest collection of data known to man to sell ads against and line the pockets of its founder and investors.

    The problem isn’t that Mark Zuckerberg is a businessman, and an exceptionally gifted one, but that he pretends to have stumbled out of the lyrics of John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” To listen to him, Facebook is all about connectivity and openness — he just happens to have made roughly $63 billion as the T-shirt-wearing champion of “the global community,” whatever that means.

    I don't begrudge him his $63 Billion; it's a small price to pay to see what various members of my family, old classmates, and favorite celebrities are up to. I just wish he'd play as nicely with honest conservatives and libertarians as he does with leftists and Progressives.


  • At Techdirt, Mike Masnick wonders: Facebook Derangement Syndrome: The Company Has Problems, But Must We Read The Worst Into Absolutely Everything?

    Since the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica thing broke, we've [apparently this is a "royal" we] been pointing out that there are many, many valid concerns about things Facebook has done, but people seem to be freaking out about things it didn't actually do and that's bad, because freaking out about the wrong things will make things worse, not better. Indeed, that seems to be the direction things are heading in.

    One thing I've noticed in having this discussion a few times now both online and off is that there's appears to be a bit of Facebook derangement syndrome going on. It seems to go something like this: Facebook did some bad things concerning our privacy, and therefore every single possible thing that Facebook does or Mark Zuckerberg says must have some evil intent. This is silly. Not only is it obviously wrong, but (more importantly) it makes it that much more difficult to have a serious discussion on the actual mistakes of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and to find ways to move forward productively.

    Masnick offers his idea of an "independent judicial-type system" that would check-and-balance the company's own interpretation of its usage policies. Assuming it's workable, and voluntary, and transparent, that's not the worst idea in the world. Much better than getting browbeaten/coerced by the Feds.


  • At NR, Ben Shapiro has thoughts on Kevin Williamson and the Twitter Mob.

    Kevin Williamson. Sam Harris. Bret Weinstein. Bari Weiss. Dave Rubin. Jason Riley. Heather Mac Donald. Jordan Peterson. Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    The people above don’t have much in common. They disagree on matters large and small. Ali is a militant atheist; Williamson is a religious Christian. Peterson focuses on the metaphysical import of myths; Harris focuses on verifiable science. Rubin is a gay Jew; Riley is black. Mac Donald is a supporter of stronger policing; Weinstein was a supporter of Occupy Wall Street.

    But there is one thing that everyone on this list has in common: We’ve all been unpersoned by the Left. And that Left is creeping quietly into the mainstream.

    All the more reason to skip back up to today's first item, and download your copy of All Minus One.


  • The headline on Veronique de Rugy's NYT piece could indicate a candidate for "Longest Op-Ed Ever": How Trump Misunderstands Trade.

    President Trump recently tweeted, referring to the United States trade deficit with China, “When you’re already $500 billion down, you can’t lose!”

    In 1776, Adam Smith observed that nothing “can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade.” Sadly, almost 250 years later, the president — along with his economic adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — has elevated this economic fallacy into a pretext for protectionism.

    On this issue, Trump is doing his darndest to make us all poorer. Sad!


  • The issue of the "Confucius Institutes" at various American universities interests Pun Salad, since there's one at the University Near Here. At Forbes, George Leef notes the latest national news: China's 'Confucius Institutes' Are Unseemly And Senator Rubio Has A Good Idea For Dealing With Them.

    The Chinese government wants to polish its terribly tarnished image and one of the tactics it has been using is to influence the education of American college students.

    Since 2004, the Chinese have been sponsoring “Confucius Institutes” at colleges and universities around the world that are willing to host them. A Chinese government agency pays for most if not all of the cost of the programs that cover Chinese language, culture and history. Since many students want to learn about China, that seems like a good deal that saves the school money.

    The catch: this gives the Chinese unacceptable leverage, dictating the scope of allowable discussion about China's government and its totalitarian policies.

    "Little Marco's" idea: "make colleges choose between federal funding and Chinese funding." Not bad.