URLs du Jour

2018-08-31

[Amazon Link]

  • Via Virginia Postrel's Facebook feed, I was led to Josh Bernoff's blog, entertainingly titled Without Bullshit. (Darn, I didn't know you could get domain names like that…) Josh has a well-argued post on Google's perceived bias in search results, Truegle: Building a Google clone that lives up to Trump’s ideals.

    Spoiler alert: yes, searching for news items results in overwhelming leans toward mainstream-media (and hence, left-tiliting) results. Hiawatha Bray (no liberal, even though he writes for the Boston Globe) is quoted:

    But take a close look at Attkisson’s chart [on which the study of liberal vs. conservative news sites is based]. On the left side, you’ll find sites such as The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Bloomberg, and USA Today. On the right side, you’ll find The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the New York Post, the Drudge Report, National Review, RedState, Breitbart.

    Notice anything? A handful of her right-of-center choices are major news outlets; the rest are niche publications that don’t attract a broad mainstream audience. Even the best-known of them aren’t the highest-ranked sources for news. On the left side of the line, you find the bulk of American mainstream media, sites that are read by tens of millions of us, regardless of our politics.

    I.e., it's not really Google's fault that its search results gravitate left. The algorithms used to rank search results are sensible. To a first approximation:

    • Highly visited sites are ranked higher in search results.
    • Highly linked-to sites are ranked higher in search results.

    And by these objective standards, nearly by definition, the mainstream sites are going to float to the top. (Which brings a metaphor to mind …)

    Josh goes on to imagine "Truegle", a search engine built to Trump's supposed-desires. You wouldn't trust it.

    Josh's book—why not?—is our Amazon Product du Jour.


  • Let's link to one of those MSM sites ourselves, specifically CBS News, where Michael Graham, after hearing about the Maverickocity of John McCain, asks the musical question: Where are the mavericks in the Democratic Party?

    Who is the John McCain of the Democratic Party? The "maverick" who disagrees with his or her party's orthodoxy and is willing to confront it? Is there such a figure?

    Instead, an analysis of Congress by the Lugar Center found that, of the top 10 most bipartisan U.S. senators, just one—Joe Donnelly of Indiana—is a Democrat. Overwhelmingly, most of the "reaching across the aisle" is reaching from the Right.

    Yes, there are a handful of Democrats in red states who occasionally vote with Republicans— Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota come to mind. But they're not "mavericks" bucking their party's ideology. They're just Democrats in Trump Country trying to figure out how Democratic they can be and still get re-elected.

    It's clear that the GOP has to deal with a lot of "mavericks": not just McCain, but Collins, Murkowski, Portman,… The Democrats, not so much.


  • I am (of course) a Red Sox fan, and now I'm even more a J. D. Martinez fan, since one of his "controversial" anti-gun-control Instagrams came to light. David Harsanyi tells the story: J.D. Martinez’s Second Amendment Stance Isn’t ‘Controversial,’ It’s Patriotic.

    Someone recently dug up an old pro-Second Amendment Instagram post by Boston Red Sox star J.D. Martinez, in which the potential Triple Crown winner posted a picture of Adolf Hitler featuring the quote, “To conquer a nation, first disarm it’s [sic] citizens.” Martinez captioned the post, “This is why I always stay strapped! #thetruth.”

    Needless to say, the discovery triggered a torrent of stories about the “controversial” nature of Martinez’s six-year-old post—because, apparently, disagreeing with a Hitlerian sentiment is now a provocative position. Some writers lazily created the impression that Martinez was quoting Hitler admiringly, while the usual suspects said the usual silly things.

    Yeah, Hitler didn't say that.

    And the actual Nazi record on gun control was more nuanced. They only wanted to prohibit "dangerous weapons in the wrong hands."

    Oh, wait, that wasn't Hitler either. That was my state's junior senator, Maggie Hassan.

    Also our senior senator, Jeanne Shaheen.

    And my own CongressCritter/Toothache, Carol Shea-Porter.


  • Democrats are gradually, um, whitewashing various embarrassing reminders of their party's unsavory past. Most recent example, a move to memory-hole segregationist Richard Russell by scratching his name off a Senate office building and putting John McCain up there instead.

    In an article about that proposal, the NYT deemed Russell a "conservative Democrat". At NR, Kevin D. Williamson asks: Was Senator Russell a ‘Conservative’ Democrat?

    The tendency of the modern, morally and politically illiterate progressive is to insist in essence “Racism = Conservatism” and “Anti-Racism = Progressivism.” But that does not stand up to very much scrutiny, either. The Democrat most strongly associated with advancing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson, was also a longtime opponent of anti-lynching laws and, when it served him, a cynical exploiter of racial hatred. The backbone of American progressivism, and the bulwark of the New Deal, consisted largely of segregationist Democrats. The Republican most closely associated with opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, conservative Senator Barry Goldwater, was a longtime supporter of earlier, Republican-sponsored civil-rights legislation — and an NAACP member who personally helped fund desegregation litigation in Phoenix out of his own pocket. Bill Buckley wrote some ill-considered columns about racial politics in the 1950s; in the 1960s, he was raking George Wallace (who held office as a Democrat) over the coals for his backward and malicious racial politics. Did Buckley cease being conservative sometime between 1957 and 1968? Of course not. No more than Woodrow Wilson ceased being a progressive when he was screening Birth of a Nation at the White House.

    History isn't a simple matter of assigning white hats and black hats.


  • New Hampshire Watchdog reports that a New index seeks to quantify ‘New Hampshire Advantage’ over neighboring states. The index is offered by the Granite Institute, a "501 (c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization based in Concord." The CEO is J. Scott Moody, and he is quoted:

    “The New Hampshire Advantage is a result of the virtues of political gridlock,” he said. “New Hampshire didn’t do anything special except that it did nothing. … This gridlock is partially a result of New Hampshire's unique political institutions – a 400-member House of Representatives (one for every 3,000 people), a surviving Executive Council (essentially regional governors), and two-year terms for everyone (including the governor). As a result, the will of the people is always on the minds of New Hampshire’s politicians.”

    He also cited the state’s “Live Free or Die” ethos, pointing out that Republicans and Democrats in the state often sign pledges vowing not to enact broad-based tax increases.

    You can read the Index report here. Very nice interactivity.


  • ESPN is trying to edge away from tiresome political slants in covering sports. One result is definitely News You Can Use: The 20 rules for creating an MLB nickname (and what yours would be). Gently editing Rules 1-3:

    Rule 1. If your name starts with a "Mc," your teammates will probably call you Mac.

    Rule 2. If your name is Smith, you're Smitty.

    Rule 3. They will work very hard to call you something other than your name. If the Giants' longtime manager were named Bruce Boch, just like that, B-O-C-H, everybody on the team would call him Bochy. As in, "Bochy had a chance to make a move and score some runs and it worked."

    But his name isn't Bruce Boch. It's Bruce Bochy. So everybody calls him, naturally, Boch. B-O-C-H. "Boch had a chance to make a move and score some runs and it worked." What makes a ballplayer name preferable to your regular name is that it's not your regular name.

    Back in the day, Rule 3 applied to me: I was "Sando". (Not "Sandy", thank goodness.)