URLs du Jour

2018-10-17

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File notes: A Free People Must Be Virtuous. The discussion centers around Patrick Deneen’s book Why Liberalism Failed (which is, why not, our Amazon Product du Jour). Sample:

    Deneen chronicles how individualism was once understood as both the culmination of, and dependent on, virtue. The law was conceived of as a device, a technology, for making the virtuous path easier. But it was always understood that liberty comes with obligations. As the line goes in “America the Beautiful,” Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.

    This idea, which I write about at length in my book, recognized that the great enemy of virtue and individualism rightly understood is human nature itself. Classical liberalism is very different from classical or pagan libertinism. Adam Smith and John Locke never wrote anything like, “If it feels good, do it.” This is why I placed so much importance in my book on the idea of “God-fearing.” A free society, in which people act as if God is always judging them, will look very different from a free society in which the only god you care about is your own gut.

    Deneen's book sounds challenging, let's see if I get to it.


  • At Reason, J.D. Tuccille reports: Facebook Slams Independent Voices With Latest Political Purge.

    If Facebook is concerned about a growing chorus of accusations that the social media giant suppresses some voices and elevates others in accord with the company's prevailing political biases, that's not obvious in the firm's latest purge of political pages and accounts.

    On Thursday, October 11, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy and Oscar Rodriguez, Product Manager, announced the company was shutting down 559 pages and 251 accounts "created to stir up political debate." Allegedly, the targets were guilty of "coordinated inauthentic behavior" intended "to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing." The targeted pages and accounts included many pages, and their administrators, who have gained popularity by voicing ideas outside the mainstream—including skepticism of violent and intrusive police tactics and support for libertarian ideas.

    Facebook/Twitter rules seem to be vague and applied unevenly. That's their business, but it's a bad way to run a business.


  • David Harsanyi notes something remarkable about the candidate for US Senate running against Ted Cruz. But it's only one thing, and it's … The Only Remarkable Thing About Beto O’Rourke Is How Much The Media Loves Him.

    Despite my best efforts, I know exactly what Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s post-punk indie band from the mid-’90s sounds like (not as bad as you’d think!). At the same time, I don’t know much about Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is 38 years old (meaning, around eight years younger than “rising star” Beto), the attorney general of Missouri, and the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.

    In fact, Hawley’s name recognition outside of his state is probably negligible. When his name does come up in national political coverage, it’s mostly as a tack-on in pieces accessing opponent Claire McCaskill’s latest face-saving move or a panicky story about voter registration in Missouri. As with most other Americans, I don’t have any idea if Hawley likes to air drum to The Who when he pretends to win a debate. What I do know is that Hawley is slightly leading McCaskill, a two-time incumbent, in the RealClearPolitics poll average in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

    The classic Instapunditry applies: Just think of the media as Democrat operatives with bylines.


  • Bill Gates tells us What I loved about Paul Allen. This bit hit home for me:

    In fact, Microsoft would never have happened without Paul. In December 1974, he and I were both living in the Boston area—he was working, and I was going to college. One day he came and got me, insisting that I rush over to a nearby newsstand with him. When we arrived, he showed me the cover of the January issue of Popular Electronics. It featured a new computer called the Altair 8800, which ran on a powerful new chip. Paul looked at me and said: “This is happening without us!” That moment marked the end of my college career and the beginning of our new company, Microsoft. It happened because of Paul.

    In December 1974, I was a freezing physics grad student about 70 miles north of Cambridge, also looking longingly at those clunky, cheap microcomputers. You can see the cover and a blurry few pages of the magazine Bill Gates cites here.

    Relatively cheap, that is. The "can be built for under $400" Altair 8800 was slightly north of $2K in 2018 dollars. Not feasible for a UNH grad student. And you'd have to add at least a teletype (1500 1974-dollars) or CRT terminal onto that… and some kind of mass storage… I see from the Wikipedia page that was probably an audio cassette interface (S-100 bus board $128 kit, $174 assembled).

    But mainly I am bummed that Paul Allen was younger than I am.


  • The ACLU has an LFOD notice: On Election Day, the Voters of New Hampshire Can Protect Their Privacy in the Digital Age.

    “Live free or die.”

    As reflected in its official state motto, no state has unequivocally embraced the principles of liberty and privacy more than the state of New Hampshire. These ideals make up the core of the state’s philosophical DNA. It is therefore surprising that New Hampshire is conspicuously missing from the list of the 10 diverse states that have explicitly enshrined the right to privacy in their constitutions. But on Election Day, Granite State voters will have a chance to remedy that oversight.

    Let's pass on the mindset that had the authors, an ACLU writer and Neal Kurk (a NH state rep from Weare) write "10 diverse states" instead of "10 other states". Should a state right to privacy be enshrined in the NH Constitution? My sample ballot reads:

    “Are you in favor of amending the first part of the constitution by inserting after article 2-a a new article to read as follows:
    [Art.] 2-b. [Right to Privacy.] An individual’s right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent.”
    (Passed by the N.H. House 235 Yes 96 No; Passed by State Senate 15 Yes 9 No) CACR 16

    The nine Senate votes against the amendment were all Democrats. (One Dem, Martha Fuller Clark, voted in favor.)

    The House passed the proposed amendment 235-96, but I can't find a party breakdown.

    Seems like a good idea, in other words. But also see Bad ACLU, arguing for Harvard's right to racially discriminate in its admissions: