URLs du Jour

2018-08-05

[Amazon Link]

  • Pun Salad often chastises the Proverbialist for his oral fixation. And so Proverbs 10:18 brings another example of that:

    18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
        and spreads slander is a fool.

    On the other hand, we have to show proper respect; could a millennia-old Proverb be any more relevant to current events?


  • Not to pile onto a point we've made before, but Reason's Jacob Sullum clarifies: What We Talk About When Talk About Russian Meddling. Sullum makes critical distinctions between (1) manipulation of vote counts by breaking into local and state election computer systems; (2) breaking into computer systems used by politicians and parties, revealing confidential (but accurate) information; and (3) …

    The third kind of meddling is the most amorphous, the hardest to stop, and the one that least resembles an act of aggression. As Wray noted yesterday, "There's a clear distinction between, on the one hand, activities that threaten the security and integrity of our election systems, and, on the other hand, the broader threat of influence operations designed to manipulate and influence our voters and their opinions." The FBI director meant that the defenses against these distinct forms of interference are bound to be different, but the two threats are also morally different. While one violates people's rights (by trespassing on and messing with their property), the other may amount to nothing more than political discourse.

    That sort of activity—creating Facebook pages, organizing rallies, running online ads, tweeting commentary—is not ordinarily described as malign or nefarious, and it is indisputably protected by the First Amendment. When Americans do it, we call it participating in democracy. When Russians do it, we call it undermining democracy.

    I repeat myself: The notion that Americans need to be protected from certain pixel-patterns on their screen simply because of who paid to put the pixels up there is basically throwing in the towel on the concept of free people making their own decisions. I.e., democracy.


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week explains: Why Racism Begets More Racism. It's difficult to find a paragraph or two to excerpt, because it's a seamless argument. But I'll do it anyway:

    If all you need to know about Oscar Wilde is that he was a gay dude, just like Richard Simmons or Milo what’s-his-name, you’re a bigot. If Meyer Lansky and Albert Einstein are merely two Jews to you, you’re an anti-Semite. If Margaret Thatcher, Joan of Arc, and Lizzie Borden are just three chicks, you’re a sexist.

    And again, historically, this is mostly a left-wing or liberal (both in the classical and modern senses of the word) insight. But for some bizarre reason, for many people, this idea evaporates like water off a hot skillet when you replace any of these categories with “white” or, very often, “male.”

    Suddenly fancy words and phrases fly like sawdust from a wood chipper: “structures of oppression!” “decontextualized!” “ahistoricized!” etc. It’s all so clever and complicated. The same people who take to the streets at the slightest suggestion that Muslims can be judged by the evil deeds of other Muslims will lecture and harangue you for hours, mob you on Twitter, or condescendingly dismiss you for not understanding that all white people have it coming.

    It's (um…) interesting to see some of my progressive friends make the argument that ("racism"|"sexism") is something only (pale|Y-chromosomed) people can engage in. OK, I get it, you're explicitly tailoring those words so you're able to come out with the results you like.

    You want to deny that (for example) Sarah Jeong's long Twitter history is either "racist" or "sexist". Fine, let's get beyond that; can you deny that they're invidious hate-filled stereotyping based on race and sex?

    I.e., what we used to mean by racism and sexism?


  • A wee bit of good news from Congress, which managed to let a good idea sneak into a lard-filled wasteful defense-spending bill: Trump expected to sign bill blocking money for Chinese Communist propaganda in colleges.

    So-called Confucius Institutes hosted by American colleges and universities have long drawn concern from both lawmakers and academic groups for promoting Chinese Communist propaganda and squelching academic freedom.

    Since few colleges have acted against this source of free and easy money, the U.S. government is playing its own part.

    Under a massive defense authorization bill expected to be signed by President Trump, authorized funding would be blocked from supporting Chinese-language programs at colleges that host the Chinese government-operated institutes. It also blocks funding for programs at Confucius Institutes outside colleges.

    If only they had been Russian, this would have happened a lot sooner. "Tolstoy Institutes"?

    I'll try to keep an eye on what happens to the Confucius Institute at the University Near Here.


  • Bryan Caplan takes issue with a too-common libertarian cliché: he's proudly Pro-Market AND Pro-Business.

    Yes, businesspeople are flawed human beings.  But they are the least-flawed major segment of society.  If any such segment deserves our admiration, gratitude, and sympathy, it is businesspeople.  We should be pro-market and pro-business.

    Why, you ask?  My prima facie case begins with this basic fact: Businesses produce and deliver virtually all of the wonderful, affordable products that we enjoy. Contrary to millennia of economic illiterates, businesses rarely do so by “exploiting” their workers.  Instead, businesses provide gentle but much-needed leadership.  Left to our own economic devices, most of us are virtually useless; we don’t know how to produce much, and we don’t know how to find customers.  Businesspeople solve these problems: They recruit workers, organize them to vastly raise their productivity, then put these products in the hands of customers all over the world.  Yes, they’re largely in it for the money; but – unlike every government on Earth – business rarely puts a gun to your head.  Businesses assemble teams of volunteers to meet the needs of willing consumers – and succeed wildly.

    Um, right. I'm going to have to be more careful about this in the future.


  • And finall, Michael Ramirez on 3-D Gun Hysteria

    3-D Gun Hysteria

    Add-on from the Meme Warfare Center:

    And (heck why not) one more:

    And let me just say it would be so cool if you bought our Amazon Product du Jour via the link above.