URLs du Jour

2018-08-28

[Amazon Link]

  • David French has an Atlantic article that will make you wonder: What the hell is wrong with these people?: America Soured on My Multiracial Family. David and his wife adopted an Ethiopian orphan in 2010.

    We quickly discovered that if you’re the white parents of an adopted black child, and you’re in the public eye at all, men and women will viciously criticize you for having the audacity to believe that you can raise your kid. At times, the criticism was direct and personal—most of it directed at my wife. It was one thing to face hostile comments on blogs or random tweets. It was another to face angry direct messages and sometimes-tense personal encounters in public. Family and friends were aghast. Look at what the left does and says to loving families, we remarked to one another. Look at what they believe about faithful Christians.

    Then, sometime around the summer of 2015, we began to notice a shift. The attacks on our family came less and less from the left, and increasingly from the so-called alt-right—a vicious movement of Trump-supporting white nationalists who loathe multiracial families. They despise international adoption. They call it “race-cucking your family” or “raising the enemy.” Heaven help you if they find you online, and find us they did. In part because I criticized their movement directly—and in part because I refused to support Donald Trump in 2016—they came after us with a vengeance.

    It's not a pleasant read for those of us who hope for someday getting past America's racial obsessions and dysfunctions.


  • Max McGuire got his book banned at Amazon, and writes at the Federalist about it: If Amazon Can Ban My Best-Selling Gun-Blueprint Book, It Can Ban Anything.

    Today, for a fee, you can purchase some of the most dangerous books known to man on Amazon.com.

    For $3, you can buy Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” a book that indirectly led to the deaths of upwards of 100 million people worldwide. You can also purchase a copy of the “U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook,” which promises “step-by-step instructions on how to assemble weapons and explosives from common and readily available materials.” Amazon sells hundreds of books teaching readers how to build guns (and the website even sells many of the tools necessary to do it). 

    Seeing this precedent, I uploaded a 3D printable gun file to Amazon … as a book.

    You might, or might not, be surprised at what happened next.

    As I type, there's additional news on that front from the LATimes: Federal judge rules against Trump administration on 3-D gun blueprint case.

    A federal judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction continuing a prohibition on the Trump administration proposal to make available blueprints for so-called ghost guns, untraceable weapons that can be manufactured on a 3-D printer, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said.

    This is, of course, a ridiculous ruling that won't survive the first court that takes the First Amendment seriously. (I hope there is such a court…)

    And that paragraph from the LATimes is even more ridiculous: making it sound as if the hated "Trump Administration" was pushing out the "blueprints" on the White House website, out of its sheer evil perversity.

    For a good primer on the history and issues, see the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Internet Publication of 3D Printing Files About Guns: Facts and What’s at Stake.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is a "Code is Free Speech" T-shirt, at least until Amazon bans that.


  • And (yes, another) article from David French, this time in NR, on the more general topic: Tech Titans Made Serious Mistakes, and More Censorship Won’t Right the Ship. David outlines the mistakes: a deep misunderstanding of human nature, coupled with equally deep hubris that believes in technocratic "solutions" via algorithms and biased snap decisions.

    The ultimate result of all these flawed premises and all the flawed solutions is exactly the world you see before you today — a world dominated by progressive corporations that engage in a handful of explicit crackdowns and a host of confused, ad hoc, and seemingly arbitrary “mistakes” or unexplained actions that leave no one satisfied and make too many of their users long for market alternatives.

    They were wrong about human virtue. They were too confident in their ability to manage the user experience of hundreds of millions of people while keeping the platform open enough to create a version of the marketplace of ideas. In short, they thought they could do better than the First Amendment, and they failed. A series of choices loom, between a miserable status quo, an alienating authoritarian future, and a more rational but less progressive regime that strikes the same kinds of balances that have benefited American culture for more than two centuries.

    The fundamental viewpoint neutrality of classic First Amendment doctrine is the right refuge for the titans of social media. But is this a lesson they will ever choose to learn?

    One can only hope.

    A well-known quote from the early days of the Internet by John Gilmore: "The Net treats censorship as a defect and routes around it." That was… optimistic.


  • Baylen Linnekin brings the bad news at Reason: The New Farm Bill Is Going To Suck.

    There was hope, thanks to bipartisan support, that Congress would cap farm subsidies (in the form of taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance) paid to many of America's wealthiest farmers. As I lamented earlier this year, those hopes were already on life support. Now, they're dead.

    "An unusual coalition of libertarians, free-marketers[,] and environmentalists hoped this farm bill cycle would be the one to rein in subsidies for wealthy farmers," Politico reported this week. Despite good efforts, the coalition's efforts were for naught.

    I should point out that while my current CongressCritter, Carol Shea-Porter, is generally a toothache, she did manage to vote the right way on an amendment to "to modernize and reform the sugar program by removing barriers to domestic production and implementing market reforms."

    Unfortunately, her vote was dwarfed by a "bipartisan coalition": 278 votes against the amendment (132 Republicans and 146 Democrats), only 137 votes for (96 Republicans, 41 Democrats).