URLs du Jour

2018-06-17

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:28 reassures the folks worried by death:

    28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
        along that path is immortality.

    We are told that the afterlife is rarely discussed in Jewish life, but that seems to be merely a matter of good manners on their part. Why needlessly irk the goyim?

    But speaking of paths…


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week, after extended pop-culture references, discourses about Staying on the Path.

    Staying on the path may be the most conservative concept there is. “What is conservatism?” asked Abraham Lincoln. “Is it not the adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried?” People who think conservatism is opposed to all change miss the point entirely. Paths go places. They might not get us where we want to go as fast as we would like. But the conservative is deeply skeptical of shortcuts and simple plans to save time or effort. The rationalist temptation to “out think” the simple rules — what Oakeshott called “making politics as the crow flies” — may not always lead to tyranny or oppression, but the odds that it will are too great to justify the attempt.

    The whole point of my book is that, for 250,000 years, humans wandered on the wrong paths — or without any paths at all — and then, accidentally, we stumbled through a miraculous portal that has delivered once-unimaginable prosperity and liberty. But rather than have a sense of gratitude for our good fortune, we bathe ourselves in resentment for the path we’re on and where it brought us. The rationalist progressives think they’re better cartographers and can map a better route. The hard or nostalgic nationalists want to double back to a shady bend in the road behind us. The ugly racists want to march even further backward. The sophomoric socialists are convinced that everyone should throw their kits onto the road and divvy up our wares more equitably. Others of a socialist bent are convinced that we can somehow get on a bus to the future, sparing us the effort and providing equal seating for all. The identity-politics obsessives think the path is a private road benefitting only white people or white men. But the path is for anyone willing to stay on it.

    And you know who was unwilling to stay on that path? The freakin' FBI, that's who.


  • Remember those Dos Equis ads featuring the Most Interesting Man in the World? An old acquaintance from my Usenet days, Mike Godwin, reviews the posthumous sorta-memoir from the guy who actually had a claim on that title: The Insanely Eventful Life of Grateful Dead Lyricist John Perry Barlow.

    John Perry Barlow, who died this year at age 70, was a Grateful Dead lyricist, a pioneer in the fight for online civil liberties, and possibly a mutant. As Barlow recounts in his posthumously published memoir, Mother American Night, his mother as a girl was treated for tuberculosis by a quack who administered a prolonged beam of X-rays right into her hip. Forty-five minutes of this treatment gave her radiation sickness. Her hair fell out, she suffered severe burns, and she was informed that, oops, she'd been sterilized.

    The sterilization didn't take. Two decades later, in 1947, she gave birth to John Perry Barlow. One of his X-Men superpowers seems to have been to unerringly locate centers of the American zeitgeist and discover some pivotal role he could play in them.

    I heard him speak once at a USENIX conference. His point of view was (… um …) unique and oblique. For a sample, this Washington Monthly article contains his essay "Sympathy For The Devil", on Dick Cheney:

    As I’ve mentioned, I once knew Cheney pretty well. I helped him get elected to his first public office as Wyoming’s lone congressman. I conspired with him on the right side of environmental issues. Working closely together, we were instrumental in closing down a copper smelter in Douglas, Arizona the grandfathered effluents of which were causing acid rain in Wyoming’s Wind River mountains. We were densely interactive allies in creating the Wyoming Wilderness Act. He used to go fishing on my ranch. We were friends.

    With the possible exception of Bill Gates, Dick Cheney is the smartest man I’ve ever met. If you get into a dispute with him, he will take you on a devastatingly brief tour of all the weak points in your argument. But he is a careful listener and not at all the ideologue he appears at this distance. I believe he is personally indifferent to greed. In the final analysis, this may simply be about oil, but I doubt that Dick sees it that way. I am relatively certain that he is acting in the service of principles to which he has devoted megawatts of a kind of thought that is unimpeded by sentiment or other emotional overhead.

    So I've paced Mother American Night on my TBR pile. Which just seems to be getting longer as the months and years pass, so…


  • At American Consequences, P.J. O'Rourke muses on The Coastals Versus The Heartlanders.

    They infest the metropolises of the Left Coast and the Eastern Seaboard and they swarm the atolls-of-the-trendy in between…

    You find them in Ann Arbor, Michigan… Austin, Texas… Boulder, Colorado… all the other places where the smell of pot is stronger than the smell of factory smoke, crop fertilizer, heavy equipment diesel fumes, or the sweat of hard work…

    They know all about organic, sustainable, non-GMO, pesticide-free, fair-traded, locavore, artisanal, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, and vegan. But they don’t know hay from straw…

    They are the “Coastals” – the enlightened, the progressive, the sensitive, the inclusive, the hip, the aware, the woke.

    They are also the tedious, the predictable, the arrogant…


  • And, finally, for Father's Day, Michael Ramirez draws his thoughts: