URLs du Jour

2018-04-19

[Amazon Link]

  • I really like Proverbs 14:33:

    33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
        and even among fools she lets herself be known.

    A little bit of optimism there for the foolish; even in their sorry state, they catch a glimpse of something different and better. There's still a chance.

    Note that "The Message" "translation" seems to botch this:

    33 Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
        fools never even get to say hello.

    I.e., fools helplessly lost in their foolishness. Sad!


  • At Quillette, Adam Perkins writes on The Scientific Importance of Free Speech.

    When one side of a scientific debate is allowed to silence the other side, this is an impediment to scientific progress because it prevents bad theories being replaced by better theories. Or, even worse, it causes civilization to go backward, such as when a good theory is replaced by a bad theory that it previously displaced. The latter situation is what happened in the most famous illustration of the dire consequences that can occur when one side of a scientific debate is silenced. This occurred in connection with the theory that acquired characteristics are inherited. This idea had been out of fashion for decades, in part due to research in the 1880s by August Weismann. He conducted an experiment that entailed amputating the tails of 68 white mice, over 5 generations. He found that no mice were born without a tail or even with a shorter tail. He stated: “901 young were produced by five generations of artificially mutilated parents, and yet there was not a single example of a rudimentary tail or of any other abnormality in this organ.”

    People acquainted with the term "Lysenkoism" know what's coming next.

    But the real punchline in Perkins' article is right at the top:

    Editor’s note: this is a shortened version of a speech that the author was due to give last month at King’s College London which was canceled because the university deemed the event to be too ‘high risk’.

    Perkins has argued for a genetic basis for a number of socially dysfunctional traits. That is blasphemy. It must not be allowed.


  • Timothy Sandefur recently wrote a biography of Frederick Douglass in which he emphasized Douglass's antipathy toward socialism. In today's mail bag he replies to a reader who attempts to claim socialism as the true "anti-slavery" movement. The reader's bottom line:

    It could be said that libertarians are, on the whole far, more opposed to individual liberty than any true socialist.

    Sandefur's response (in full, because it's brilliant):

    Well, I suppose all sorts of stupid and false things "could be said," but they remain stupid and false.

    Douglass was right to see that socialism posed a risk of enslaving all of mankind instead of just one race, and Frederic Holland's warning about what would happen if it were attempted on a national scale proved correct. "True socialism" is, of course, a fantasy concocted by enemies of liberty to excuse the inevitable results that have flowed from their doctrine ever since their advent--and, no doubt, every time a socialist country degenerates into the typical symptoms of chaos and tyranny, they will continue to deploy that worn, pathetic excuse, "That's not true socialism"--like some hallucinating patient in his death throes insisting "This isn't true syphillis."

    But the reality of the matter is that slavery is, as its great advocate George Fitzhugh called it, the truest form of socialism, because it subordinates the individual to the interests of others, and compels him to work for others' benefit. Socialists may indeed, for pragmatic and tactical reasons, take stands against particular incidents of slavery, just as one religious sect boldly opposes the cruel religious establishment that oppresses the natives of some foreign land--not, indeed, because they believe in liberty, but because they desire the opportunity to oppress those people themselves, without competition from their rivals. The true doctrine of liberty, as Douglass rightly saw, is that each person be free from compulsion, to live his own life for his own sake on his own terms, without being subordinated to the interests of anyone else, and free to enjoy the fruits of his labors in freedom.

    Now, please, don't go telling me that that's what "True Socialism" is about. I've heard it all before.

    I have placed Sandefur's book on the things-to-read list.


  • At the NYT Christopher Buckley remembers Barbara Bush as Mrs. No-Nonsense. He was a speechwriter for GHWB, and occasionally observed… well, I liked this story:

    If she was Mrs. No-Nonsense, she also had a playful, even girlish, side to her. On one occasion, I was alone in a freight elevator with Mr. and Mrs. Bush and their Secret Service detail when it got stuck between floors. Stuck elevators are viewed grimly by the Secret Service. The atmosphere inside quickly elevated (as it were) to Condition Red, with hands reaching for the holstered Glock 9’s, orders barked into wrist-mics and all the rest.

    The Bushes were blithe. I was standing behind them. Mr. Bush’s fingers reached for Mrs. Bush’s derrière and gave it a pinch. She turned to him and grinned like an 18-year-old. “Hi ya, fellah,” she said. So I can claim to have witnessed a primal scene between Mom and Dad Bush.

    I am somewhat surprised by the amount of media coverage devoted to Mrs. Bush's passing. But it allows us to remember a decent lady.


  • And there's even an LFOD connection (revealed via our Google News Alert): at WMUR, Gov. Sununu recalls ‘honorary Granite Stater’ Barbara Bush as ‘impassioned,’ yet ‘down-to-earth’. Our current governor, Chris Sununu, met the Bushes when his dad (John) worked in the White House.

    The governor called the Bushes “honorary Granite Staters.”

    “They spent a lot of time here,” he said. “They really understood what New Hampshire was all about. I think they shared a lot of the values that folks in New Hampshire really believe in – that ‘Live Free or Die’ spirit. It was something they really grew fond of and appreciated.”

    If only that "LFOD spirit" had held him to his "Read my lips, no new taxes pledge…


  • The Heartland Institute interviews NH State Rep Bill Ohm, who is angling toward Giving the Slip to Government Permission Slips.

    New Hampshire State Rep. Bill Ohm (R- Nashua) joins the Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about lawmakers’ work to reform occupational licensing and get people back to work in the Live Free or Die State.

    Ohm, the sponsor of House Bill 1685, says the bill will create a state commission to review and overhaul the state’s many burdensome and arbitrary regulations requiring individuals to obtain occupational licenses before entering a job.

    Unfortunately, the bill was killed earlier this month, thanks to six Republican state senators (Birdsell, Carson, Gannon, Gray, Innis, Reagan). Joining nine Democrats voting "inexpedient to legislate". Innis is especially painful, I liked him.