URLs du Jour

2018-05-15

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 13:22 has an … um … interesting take on inheritance:

    22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
        but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

    An interesting proposal for people looking to alter estate taxation. The rate should be directly proportional to the sinfulness of the decedent! And the proceeds distributed directly to the demonstrably righteous! Over to you, Senators Shaheen and Hassan!

    Everyone else, proceed to our Amazon Product du Jour.


  • Wow, I'm actually cheered by some good news: The University of New Hampshire earns FIRE’s top rating for free speech.

    New Hampshire’s flagship public research university has become the fortieth institution in the country to earn the highest rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The University of New Hampshire revised five speech codes, including a demonstration policy and a posting policy, to earn a “green light” rating, signifying that the university’s written policies do not imperil free speech.

    Outgoing UNH President Mark Huddleston is quoted.

    I've been griping, directly and indirectly, about UNH's poor FIRE rating since 2006. I don't, however, imagine for a second that my complaints had anything to do with this good news.


  • How many stupid ideas can come out of California? Well, at least one more, as reported by Christian Britschgi at Reason: Sacramento Wants to Boost Rail Ridership By Banning Drive-Throughs and Gas Stations Near Transit.

    Faced with falling ridership, American cities have been experimenting with increasingly desperate measures to get people back onto buses and trains.

    New York, which saw subway ridership plunge by 30 million trips from 2016 to 2017, is cracking down on transit's competition, with politicians pondering a cap on the number of rideshare vehicles allowed in the city and a mandatory floor for Uber and Lyft prices. Los Angeles, where transit use is stubbornly stuck at about 5 percent of all trips, is spending billions to build out its light rail network and cluster more development around transit stops. Washington is investing in flashy marketing campaigns and a new merch shop to reverse its Metro system's near 20 percent decline in ridership since 2012.

    But Sacramento has the most creative approach. Absurd, but creative. City staff there are drafting an ordinance that would ban building new gas stations, drive-throughs, and other auto-related businesses within a quarter mile of any of the city's 23 light rail stations. (Also to be prohibited, for reasons unclear: marijuana cultivation sites.) Other businesses "not considered transit-supportive"—car lots, auto repair businesses, manufacturing sites, wholesale outlets—would still be allowed, but only if the city grants them a special permit.

    I can't pretend to understand the logic involved here, but it's easy to parody: "Citizens, since you underutilize the nice things we've built for you, we'll throw some inconvenience at you as well. Maybe you'll learn to do better."

    Is this the famous libertarian paternalism I've heard so much about?


  • At the NRO Corner, David French muses On the Morality of Waterboarding

    Last week, the Internet briefly lit up with the claim that President Trump’s nominee to run the CIA, Gina Haspel, repeatedly dodged and evaded when asked to opine about the morality of waterboarding and other forms of “enhanced interrogation.” California senator Kamala Harris was particularly tenacious in trying to tie Haspel to a yes or no answer to the question of whether “previous techniques” were immoral.

    It’s not a question susceptible to a yes or no response. The true answer is highly dependent on the technique at issue and the circumstances of its use.

    Morality in war is a complex and shifting thing. Let’s take, for example, two of the most famous and most successful operations in American military history — Sherman’s March to the Sea and Truman’s atomic-bomb strikes on Japan. Both of them involved deliberate, mass-scale targeting of civilian assets. The atomic bombings also included the deliberate mass killing of innocent men, women, and children. In ordinary times and in more “ordinary” wars, the morality of both actions is clear and unequivocal. They’re wrong. Indeed, in ordinary times and in ordinary wars, they’re more than just wrong — they’re unlawful.

    French makes some fine distinctions, which will be lost on lightweights like Senator Harris.


  • Wired, part of the Condé Nast stable of progressivism, can be politically tedious. But (surprise) Sean W. Fleming makes a good point here: Lessons from Montecito: Science's Credibility Is At Stake.

    Background: more than 20 people were killed in Montecito, California by mudslides ("debris flows") after they were warned to evacuate. Because they didn't find the warnings, made by expert scientists, to be credible.

    Worse still, even the most earnest communication efforts often demonstrate, to paraphrase The Big Bang Theory, how dumb smart people can be. At a recent physics conference, I heard an outreach expert tell us how as scientists we need to “teach people how to think” (a classist and anti-democratic notion), that only science allows us to “process complex issues” (evidently, Hemingway, Rachmaninoff, and Picasso brought nothing to the table), and that a society’s degree of spirituality gauges its collective level of ignorance (effectively demanding that traditional peoples from Haida Gwaii to Tibet choose between indigenous culture and Western science).

    Such prejudiced, tone-deaf, and increasingly strident megaphoning is echoed by some of the best-known STEM communicators. Even the recent and well-intentioned March for Science, wasn’t immune, where the sloganeering included t-shirts reading, “We are scientists. Ask us anything!” The organizers presumably thought this would be cute, and it sort of is, but it also reinforces the stereotype of scientists as obnoxious know-it-alls. That’s precisely the kind of image we shouldn’t put on public display—least of all when populism, a worldview that’s inherently skeptical of the integrity of experts, is taking hold across the entire political spectrum.

    I would disagree only in part: the "March for Science" was "well-intentioned" only if you think that imposing progressive "solutions" under the imprimatur of "science" is a good thing.


  • And the Babylon Bee reports, for once, straight news: Man Frequently Compared To Hitler Recognizes Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital.

    A man whose detractors frequently compare him to Nazis and even Adolf Hitler fulfilled a promise Monday by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and officially recognizing the historic city as the capital of Israel.

    Let's combine that with our Tweet du Jour from the estimable Frank J.

    Mazel tov to the Israelis, who have the guts to act in their own self-defense.