URLs du Jour

2018-07-04

[Amazon Link]

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Try not to blow yourselves up tonight.

  • It would be a marvelous coincidence if Proverbs 11:17 had a relevant take on America's Independence, and … it does not:

    17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
        but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

    It's selfish to be kind. I think that's what that means.


  • At Reason, Christian Britschgi brings the Fourth-relevant bad news: Facebook Algorithm Flags, Removes Declaration of Independence Text as Hate Speech.

    America's founding document might be too politically incorrect for Facebook, which flagged and removed a post consisting almost entirely of text from the Declaration of Independence. The excerpt, posted by a small community newspaper in Texas, apparently violated the social media site's policies against hate speech.

    It was the bit about "merciless Indian savages", which you're not supposed to say, or even think, any more, I guess.


  • At the (possibly paywalled) WSJ, James Freeman offers Yet Another Reason to Thank the Founding Fathers:

    On July 4th Americans will celebrate 242 years of independence and the enduring success of a bold experiment in personal liberty. On July 5th the United Kingdom will remind Americans of one particular benefit of independence. Thursday will mark 70 years that English patients have tolerated a single-payer health-care system.

    Freeman details some recent "features" of British single-payer: at least 2,400 dead thanks to transfusions with Hep-C and HIV-tainted blood; 650 dead due to drug overdoses; its treatment (or lack thereof) of Alfie Evans.


  • David Harsanyi's latest column at the Federalist has some helpful advice: Hey, Democrats, The System Doesn’t Need To Be ’Fixed’ Every Time You Lose An Election.

    If you’re under the impression that the system exists merely to facilitate your partisan agenda, it’s not surprising that you also believe it’s “broken” every time things don’t go your way. This is why so many Democrats argue that we should “fix” the Electoral College when they lose a presidential election and “fix” the filibuster when they run the Senate and now “fix” the Supreme Court when they don’t run the Senate.

    During the Obama presidency, liberal pundits groused about the supposed crisis posed by a “dysfunctional” Congress. In political media parlance, “dysfunction” can be roughly translated into “Democrats aren’t able to do as they like.” Congress, as you know, was only “broken” when President Obama wasn’t getting his agenda passed, not when his party was imposing a wholly partisan, unprecedented health-care regime on all Americans.

    There's nothing important wrong with "the system". If there's anything that needs to be "fixed" in America, it's the voters.

    I can say that, because I'm not running for anything.


  • Jonah Goldberg at NRO writes perceptively on The Tribal Mind and the Nation State. It's from last month, so this is an "ICYMI" link. Mankind evolved in the context of loyalty to their tribe; can one's "tribe" be expanded without limit to a touchy-feely global solidarity?

    Eh, maybe that's not practical.

    […] one reason I think a global sense of ethical or tribal solidarity is very difficult to achieve is that one of the key ingredients of tribal solidarity is opposition to an “other.” Global religions still define themselves — in practical terms — as opposed to some other religious view or group. Johnson’s point about cosmopolitanism is a good one, but it overlooks the fact that many of the cosmopolitans, or “globalists,” very much act like a tribe pitted against what they consider to be the populist rubes beneath them. As Ross Douthat notes, the cosmopolitans are a tribe, too.

    Ronald Reagan used to talk a lot about how the nations of the world would drop their differences in the face of an extraterrestrial threat. He was often mocked for saying this, but I think he was making a fairly profound point. It’s not obvious that it would have to be little green men knocking on our door. If the Sweet Meteor of Death had fulfilled its campaign promise, one could imagine a similar dynamic of global unity in the face of a global threat. Lord knows this is a major political passion underneath a lot of climate-change activism. Indeed, William James in his “Moral Equivalent of War” address explicitly talked about the need to use the war against “nature” as a substitute for the natural martial tendency to wage war against the (human) other.

    Jonah doesn't explicitly mention social media technology, Lots of tribes, and we have "othering" out the waz.


  • [Amazon Link]

    Philip Greenspun reports on a book Exploring the twisted personality that can result from tenure. It's Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher, designed as a series of letters written by a university professor of creative writing and literature. Phil has a sample, and here's one, an employment recommendation for a would-be adjunct:

    Alex Ruefle has prevailed upon me to support his teaching application to your department, which I gather is hiring adjunct faculty members exclusively, bypassing the tenure track with its attendant health benefits, job security, and salaries on which a human being might reasonably live. Perhaps your institution should cut to the chase and put its entire curriculum online, thereby sparing Ruefle the need to move to Lattimore, wherever that is. You could prop him up in a broom closet in his apartment, poke him with the butt end of a mop when you need him to cough up a lecture on Caribbean fiction or the passive voice, and then charge your students a thousand dollars each to correct the essays their classmates have downloaded from a website. Such is the future of education.

    I assume he listed me as a reference because of the retirement and demise, respectively, of his two thesis advisors: it took Ruefle fourteen years to earn the doctorate. During that time he became a fixture here at Payne, beginning his studies as a vigorous man and, after marrying and acquiring multiple children, staggering across the PhD finish line in late middle age.

    Dear Committee Members is available at the library of the University Near Here, so I might check it out soon.