URLs du Jour

2018-08-14

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 10:27 is another promise/warning to the righteous/wicked:

    27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
        but the years of the wicked are cut short.

    Morality and mortality only differ by a single letter.

    For all the fear and fuss about life expectancy, you would expect there might be some research to either back up or refute this Proverb. In a few minutes of lazy Googling, though, all I can find is this: Religious people live four years longer than atheists, study finds.

    Religious people live on average four years longer than their agnostic and atheist peers, new research has found.

    The difference between practising worshippers and those who were not part of a religious group could be down to a mix of social support, stress-relieving practices and abstaining from unhealthy habits, the authors suggest.

    Or it could be that God just likes them better.


  • Sometimes I read an article without noticing the author first. For example, while perusing Celebrity Activists Do Not Help at NR, I was thinking: "Gee, this guy writes well and makes a lot of subtle and accurate observations… Oh. It's Kevin D. Williamson."

    Anyway, it's a discourse on actress Michelle Williams' new effort (announced in the gilded pages of Vanity Fair) to address issues of pay inequality for women.

    It is fashionable to talk about “empathy,” which is a literary device, not a virtue or a moral heuristic. Bill Clinton’s famous “I feel your pain” was formulated to serve the interests of a very small demographic, one consisting entirely of Bill Clinton. It is not sufficient for celebrity activists to say that they care about x, y, or z — it is not sufficient for them to genuinely care, either. And it probably does not matter much whether they do. Genuine good will is not something to hold in contempt, even when it comes from silly people who are lecturing the great wide world from behind a wall of Gucci advertisements, but that kind of sentiment is not as useful as we imagine it is. The ability it takes to sell Louis Vuitton products is rare and profitable and, in the wider scheme of things outside of the gilded precincts of Vanity Fair’s stylishly documented interests, of very little consequence.

    Ms. Williams was pretty good at playing a decent human being in The Greatest Showman.


  • We blogged a couple days back about Bret Stephens' apparently differing attitudes about racist tweets from Roseanne Barr ("Fire her!") and Sarah Jeong ("Hire her!"). On his Facebook page, Bret responds. In part:

    He makes some good defensive points. As you don't need me to tell you: make up your own mind.


  • Charles Blahous did the math on Bernie Sanders' socialized medicine scheme. Good intro here: The Fiscal Implausibility of Medicare for All. Excerpt:

    Despite the ["Medicare for All"] name, the legislation would bring nearly all Americans into a national single-payer health insurance system that differs from Medicare in key ways.  It would provide first-dollar coverage of a widened range of healthcare services (including, for example, dental, hearing and vision) while stipulating (with a few exceptions) that “no cost-sharing, including deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or similar charges, be imposed on an individual.”  Grossly simplifying, instead of Americans paying for their healthcare through a combination of private insurance, other government insurance programs, and out-of-pocket payments as we do now, we would instead send that money to Washington as tax or premium payments, and the federal government would pay for nearly all the health services we use, right from the very first dollar.

    My state's senior senator, Jeanne Shaheen, is one of the co-sponsors of this profligate idiocy. Embarrassing!


  • At Law & Liberty, William Voegeli asks a question to which I have a guilty answer: Do Americans Want to Be Involved in Local Governance?

    Yes, I want to live in the America described in Joel Kotkin’s Liberty Forum essay. Unlike our present sociopolitical order, it would encourage citizens’ robust, meaningful civic engagement by reinvigorating federalism, which was crucial to the pre-Progressive constitutional architecture. This sense of involvement and stewardship did indeed reflect “habits of the heart,” which Tocqueville also described as “the whole moral and intellectual state of the people.”

    But the Jacksonian democracy Tocqueville analyzed in Democracy in America thrived because of a related but distinct force: “self-interest well understood.” In their belief that virtue is, above all, useful, the “inhabitants of the United States almost always know how to combine their own well-being with that of their fellow citizens.” Civic participation flourished at the local level because that venue offered the best chance to do well by doing good, to advance one’s private interests by promoting the public interest conscientiously.

    I'm guilty because I (frankly) have zero interest in my town's governance. Will Voegeli's chiding get me to participate more? Doubtful!


  • A good discussion of big Internet companies' alleged bias in enforcing their "Community Standards" from John Samples at Cato: Alex Jones and the Bigger Questions of Internet Governance.

    Facebook seems to be trying to establish rational-legal authority. It set out Community Standards that guide governing speech. Why should that “basic law” be accepted by users? One answer would be the logic of exchange. When you use Facebook for free, you give them in return data and consent to their basic law. That looks a lot like the tacit consent theory that has troubled social contract arguments for political authority. In any case, Facebook itself sought comments from various groups and individuals – that is, stakeholders - about the Community Standards. The company itself wanted more than a simple exchange.

    But do the Community Standards respect the culture of free speech? Facebook has banned speech that includes “direct attacks on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” The speech banned here is often, if loosely, called “hate speech.” Their basic law thus contravenes American free speech legal doctrine. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, but not by Facebook.

    I conclude that either Facebook’s standard violates the culture of free speech or it reflects a difference between the culture of free speech (which does not include hate speech) and American First Amendment legal doctrine. If the latter, Facebook’s recognition of the difference will foster a greater gap between culture and law.

    The "hate speech" category (like "racism")—is descriptively simple: who could be in favor of hate? But it's to be implemented as it's been prescriptively defined by Identity Politicians and Social Justice Warriors. I.e., the only hate-speakers are those in opposition to Progressive theology.


  • And something for those of us who remember their Coleridge from high school: Verses Composed Upon Reading A Review From TripAdvisor. Specifically, from a tourist who visited remote Xanadu:

    The Tourist Board of Xanadu
    Did recently impose a fee
    On those who travel far from home
    To visit Kubla’s pleasure dome
    Of $20, 9 – 3

    It's genius.


Last Modified 2018-08-14 11:17 AM EDT