URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Continuing on a theme we've been hitting a lot in recent days, Kevin D. Williamson wonders if we're on The Road to Waco. Recalling Janet Reno, her railroading of daycare workers accused of Satanic abuse cultism, as well her responsibility for the Branch Davidian standoff with 76 deaths.

    Our public-policy discourse is dominated by members of our elites and hence tends to reflect elite interests and, at times, elite hysterias. A great deal of attention has been paid in recent years to the epidemic of rape on our nation’s college campuses. That epidemic is a fiction — it simply does not exist, and the data suggest that women in college are less likely than women in the general population to be raped. We are not having a national discussion of rape on Indian reservations, in remote communities in Alaska, or in poor urban areas — i.e., in the places where the incidence of rape is in fact elevated. During the Satan-ritual-abuse panic — and at this minute — one of the most likely places for a child to experience sexual abuse is in the home, especially in “blended” families in which minors cohabit with adult men to whom they are not biologically related. Mothers’ live-in boyfriends and stepfathers commit a great deal more sexual abuse than do the nefarious minions of Satan in underground cults.

    But of course the reality — that this world is the mess we make of it — is too painful to accept.

    KDW hopes, as do I, that the current wackiness passes before we get a Waco equivalent.

    Our related Amazon Product du Jour is the album "Abattoir of Slain Deities" by the UK band "Omnipotent Hysteria". Its official genre, which I am not making up, is "Brutal Death Metal". I assume their music would unlistenable to my tender, aging ears, but their song titles are absolutely brilliant. ("Ectopic Contagion Vessels" anyone? How about "Forged in the Embers of Monolithic Devastation"?)

  • Making the local news, fortunately in that crazy state just across the Salmon Falls River: [University of Southern Maine] president says retired professor went ‘rogue’ in offering trip to lobby Collins as college course.

    The University of Southern Maine’s president defended the institution Wednesday night, saying a retired professor acted in a “rogue manner” when she offered students a “pop-up” course and college credit to take a bus to Washington, D.C., with demonstrators planning to urge Sen. Susan Collins to oppose confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

    President Glenn Cummings in a telephone interview denounced the actions of Dr. Susan Feiner, a former professor of economics and women and gender studies, who Cummings said retired from the university on July 1.

    Prof Feiner is quoted: "There is nothing seditious about students taking a bus to Washington, D.C., in a historic moment." Managing to deny a charge that nobody was actually making. Do I see elective office in her future?

  • At EconLog, Bryan Caplan writes on the academic kerfuffle that we've been blogging about the last couple days (here, here), the fake "grievance studies" paper-writing scam, which some call… Sokal 2.0 as Ideological Turing Test. What's that? Bryan explains:

    Mill states it well: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”  If someone can correctly explain a position but continue to disagree with it, that position is less likely to be correct.  And if ability to correctly explain a position leads almost automatically to agreement with it, that position is more likely to be correct.  (See free trade).  It’s not a perfect criterion, of course, especially for highly idiosyncratic views.  But the ability to pass ideological Turing tests – to state opposing views as clearly and persuasively as their proponents – is a genuine symptom of objectivity and wisdom.

    Bryan goes on to observe:

    My idea has inspired multiple actual tests.  But frankly, none of them are in the same league as Sokal 2.0.  Three scholars who held a vast academic genre in low regard nevertheless managed to master the genre’s content and style expertly enough to swiftly publish enough articles [to] earn tenure!   Frankly, if that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what would.

    But what does that show? Bryan explains, evenhandedly, as is his wont. (I have little doubt myself, but I'm not as good as Bryan.)

  • I can't do better than the Babylon Bee in describing a recent anti-Kavanaugh tweet: Senate On Lockdown After Receiving Credible Threat From Known Killers.

    I doubt that Planned Parenthood will actually try to murder people who are able to defend themselves. That's not in their homicidal skill set.

  • Mental Floss asks and answers the important questions: Why Do Stop Signs Have Eight Sides?.

    When the first official stop sign did appear in Detroit, in 1915, it was small, white, and square, nothing like the red octagon we know today. But in 1923, a branch of Mississippi’s highway department suggested a change—what if a sign’s shape could denote the kind of hazard ahead? The logic was simple: The more sides a sign has, the more dangerous the upcoming stretch of road is.

    Circles (which were considered to have infinite sides) designated the riskiest hazards, like railroad crossings. Octagons denoted the second most perilous hazards, like intersections. Diamonds signaled less-tricky stretches, and rectangles were strictly informational. We still use these parameters today, though no one knows why the nonagon drew the short stick.

    I like that circles were "considered to have infinite sides". Somebody was paying attention in calculus class.

  • And finally, our Google LFOD alert rang for another unlikely source, a LTE in the Suburban, "Quebec's Largest English Weekly Newspaper". (Kind of like: "Tallest Building in Wichita", but anyway). It's from Area Man Brian Echenberg, and he says: No to compulsory voting. Enough laws already!.

    I was intrigued by Mario leclerc’s letter about forcing people to vote. Aren’t we saddled with enough laws, good and bad, to warrant the absence of yet another law? Everything from not smoking in public in Hampstead to laws such as motorcycle helmets to not being able to ride a motorcycle or scooter after Dec 15th to even mandatory winter tires in winter. Many of these laws may be somewhat helpful, but we are being told what we can and can’t do more and more. New Hampshire with their “live free or die” shown on their license plates doesn’t have a mandatory moto helmet law . After all it’s my head to protect or not as I see fit. And we pay enough taxes for health card to cover accident costs. We are being legislated into the ground. In Montreal we can’t even drive over the mountain. But compulsory voting is extreme and I wouldn’t appreciate being told I have to vote.

    Good for you, Brian. Should you want to hop over the border, there are license plates available for your vehicle, made by our local prison inmates. Because, in addition to freedom, we love irony.

Last Modified 2018-12-26 7:37 AM EDT