URLs du Jour

2018-08-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 10:26 has it all: an oral reference, a sluggard reference, and it's kind of obscure what the Proverbialist is talking about:

    26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
        so are sluggards to those who send them.

    Whence are we sending these sluggards? To whom? For what purpose? I get that it's irritating, but why are we sending sluggards anywhere?

    The I Ching is more straightforward on this issue:

    The great prince issues commands,
    Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
    Inferior people should not be employed.


  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution has written a book, our Amazon Product du Jour. This got me to pre-order: My preface to Stubborn Attachments, and why this book is especially important.

    One theme of Stubborn Attachments is that economic growth in the wealthier countries has positive spillover effects for poorer individuals around the world.  If you think of the publication of this book as a form of economic growth/gdp enhancement, I want to boost its positive global effects.  I also argue in Stubborn Attachments that we should be more charitable and altruistic at the margin.  That includes me!

    So having written Stubborn Attachments, I now wish to live the book, so to speak.  I am donating the royalties from the book to a man I met in Ethiopia on a factfinding trip earlier this year, I shall call him Yonas [not his real name].

    I'm in. The book will be out in a couple of months.


  • Have you been wondering, like I have, whether academia gets to define 'racism' for the rest of us? Fortunately, at NR, Robert VerBruggen has the answer: Academia Doesn’t Get to Define ‘Racism’ for the Rest of Us.

    A “descriptivist” is someone who studies how language is used. A “prescriptivist” is someone who tells other people how to use language correctly. And while these are often framed as opposing camps, they need not be: A thoughtful descriptivist realizes that strongly established usage patterns should generally be treated as rules by someone who wants to communicate effectively; a thoughtful prescriptivist realizes that the rules emerge from constantly evolving usage patterns.

    There’s a certain strain of prescriptivism, though, that merely seeks to impose rules on other people’s language, often on nothing more than one’s own say-so. Overwhelmingly, these folks are harmless-if-annoying self-appointed “sticklers” who insist, for example, that you must not split infinitives or start sentences with conjunctions. But ill-founded prescriptivism also rears its head with political terms, and we’ve been seeing a bit of that lately from the woke left.

    Some academics who study racial matters use the word “racism” to mean not “dislike of people on the basis of race,” which is how most people use it, but rather something like “prejudice plus power” or what is more clearly called “institutional” or “systemic” racism — meaning, conveniently, that members of minority groups by definition cannot be racist. And as Scott Alexander noted at Slate Star Codex back in 2014, parts of the Left are no longer willing to admit that this is a departure from standard usage by saying something along the lines of, “I suppose a group of black people chasing a white kid down the street waving knives and yelling ‘KILL WHITEY’ qualifies by most people’s definition, but I prefer to idiosyncratically define it my own way, so just remember that when you’re reading stuff I write.”

    For more academic prescriptivism, see University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's classic preferred pronouns page.

    Having just reread 1984, I'm kind of sensitive to efforts to dink the language for political ends.


  • Grace Gottschling reports at Campus Reform: Trump to sign Confucius Institute funding ban. Note: that's the headline, but it is not actually accurate.

    President Trump is about to sign the new National Defense Authorization Act, which will prohibit funding to Chinese-run Confucius Institutes on American campuses.

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz added the key amendment to “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” which also restricts funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program, which has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

    Confucius Institutes are a blight on academia, including the University Near Here. The National Association of Scholars (which supports Cruz's efforts) has a clearer explanation:

    The federal government currently funds Chinese language programs at American colleges and universities, in part through the National Defense Authorization Act. The 2019 authorization bill would require that in order for colleges and universities to access that funding, they must not have a Confucius Institute or must demonstrate that the Confucius Institute and its staff play no role in the federally funded Chinese language program. Colleges receiving those funds would also be required to make publicly available all agreements and contracts related to the Confucius Institute.

    I have no idea whether this impacts UNH or not. We'll see, I guess.


  • Another victim of Friendly Fire in Trump's Trade War, as reported by Slashdot: PC Case Maker CaseLabs Closes Permanently.

    U.S.-based PC case manufacturer, CaseLabs, announced on social media that it is "closing permanently" and will not be able to fill all current orders. "We have been forced into bankruptcy and liquidation," CaseLabs said in a statement. "The tariffs have played a major role raising prices by almost 80 percent (partly due to associated shortages), which cut deeply into our margins. The default of a large account added greatly to the problem... We reached out for a possible deal that would allow us to continue on and persevere through these difficult times, but in the end, it didn't happen."

    Caselabs was not ranked highly among case manufacturers, but still… I wonder how many of the higher-ranked companies do US-based manufacturing?


  • NH Labor News bills itself as a site "Where Labor and Progressive Politics Intersect", so caveat lector; they rang the Google LFOD Alert for this article: Community Activists Deliver Petitions To Governor Sununu To Stop Border Patrol Checkpoints.

    On Thursday, August 9, NextGen New Hampshire joined partner organizations to deliver over 3,600 petition signatures to Governor Sununu, demanding that he call for an end to the arbitrary and intrusive [Customs & Border Protection] checkpoints being held in New Hampshire. NextGen teamed up with the Granite State Organizing Project and the Upper Valley Interfaith Project to deliver the petitions.

    "NextGen New Hampshire" is California billionaire Tom Steyer's group, dedicated to left-wing activism. Familiar to NH TV viewers from his ubiquitous TV ads advocating Trump-impeachment. (More on Steyer's NH efforts here.)

    But LFOD? Ah, there it is:

    Sarah Jane Knoy, Executive Director of the Granite State Organizing Project said, “These unnecessary and ineffective checkpoints violate the spirit of our New Hampshire Motto ‘Live Free or Die’ They serve to terrorize our immigrant neighbors and black and brown people. The checkpoints are a deterrent to anyone who might think about heading up to the Whites for a hike. I know I won’t be going there unless Governor Sununu demands an end to this intrusive abuse of police power.”

    I'm no fan of "your papers please" roadblocks, but I'm somehow tempted to go up to the mountains just to be assured that I won't run into Sarah Jane Knoy.

    Just a data point: the roadblocks turn up a surprising amount of illegality. Are the lefties really opposed to the roadblocks on civil libertarian principles, or is it because they work?