URLs du Jour


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  • At the WaPo, Megan McArdle asks a darn good question: How did America end up raising Generation Paranoia?.

    In an 1827 essay titled “On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth,” English author William Hazlitt noted that “no young man believes he shall ever die . . . to be young is to be as one of the immortal gods.” That glorious fearlessness is the natural inheritance of every generation of youth. Except maybe the current one.

    As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt chronicle in their new book, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” today’s young people tend to be obsessed with safety, troubled by a pervasive sense of threat. Consequently, understandably, they’re anxious and depressed.

    Keyboards have been worn to nubs by young writers fretting that they’ll never be able to pay off student loans, buy a house or retire. And those are their minor worries. In an Atlantic article headlined “College Is Different for the School-Shooting Generation,” Ashley Fetters describes a rising generation that constantly scans rooms for exit points and games out active-shooter scenarios.

    Paranoia driven by moral panic isn't a new thing, but I wonder: Is it worse this time around? Maybe. Gotta read that Lukianoff/Haidt book, I think.

  • But, speaking of driving moral panics, David Harsanyi has some advice for your doctor (hey, there's a switch): Yes, Doctors Should ‘Stay In Their Lane’ On Gun Policy.

    What kind of ignorant troglodyte would tell a doctor to mind his own business?

    This was, in essence, the question an incredulous media was asking after the National Rifle Association disparaged the American College of Physicians (ACP) for promoting an array of gun-control regulations last week. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the NRA tweeted. “Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”

    As Mrs. Salad will tell you, many doctors talk out of their hats on nutrition issues. Harsanyi's conclusion:

    Most of the “appropriate” measures ACP floats were already on the books in California when the Thousand Oaks mass shooting occurred. Yet the ACP report is teeming with long-standing, highly debatable contentions about guns that have as much to with the wounds doctors treat as their angry reaction has to do with effective gun laws. That’s fine as a matter of activism, but there’s nothing rational or unique about this kind of positioning. And the NRA has every right to push back against groups that use science to conceal their political arguments.

    Hey, whatever happened to all those people who yelled that they bleeping loved science? I kind of miss them.

  • Although maybe some medical so-called "professionals" should get out of the lane they've claimed for themselves. According to Bruce Bawer at PJMedia: After Thousand Oaks, It's Time to Dethrone the Mental-Health 'Experts'. He takes particular note that the Thousand Oaks killer was examined by those "experts" who judged that he was "of no danger to himself or others."

    The bottom line here is that all of this so-called mental health expertise is, with a very few exceptions, a scam. The ranks of psychiatrists and psychologists are filled with incompetents who have no business deciding whether or not a mentally ill person should be hospitalized – or, once that person is hospitalized, have no business deciding whether to send him home. Topping off their incompetence is, in all too many instances, an overweening arrogance. You might think that if everyone who is closest to a person thinks he needs help, that fact would carry some weight with the psych professionals. On the contrary, one often gets the impression that these practitioners enjoy, and even pride themselves on, dismissing the pleas of a potential patient's loved ones. Perhaps they resent the idea of family members playing doctor or making diagnoses.

    I'm all for getting charlatans out of the decision-making loop. Bawer seems to think this will tilt the scales in favor of "protecting public safety" at the expense of "patient freedom". I'm uncomfortable with that bit.

  • Kevin D. Williamson recounts (in an "NRPlus Member article", don't know what that means) Florida’s Shame, and Ours.

    Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life.

    So are conspiracies.

    I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains — even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat — who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen attempt to reverse the Republican victories in the state’s Senate, gubernatorial, and (not to be overlooked) agriculture commissioner’s races. I cannot imagine that there is, but it is really quite something to see partisan Democrats — the same people who pretend to believe that the 2016 presidential election was invalid because Boris and Natasha posted something on Facebook — watch not only utterly contented but with joy in their hearts as the rolling crime wave that is Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes and her coconspirators try to actually steal an election or three.

    And it gets worse. I haven't been paying enough attention to judge the conspiracy charge; I suspect, however, that a lot of the people demanding ironclad smoking-gun evidence are being intentionally obtuse.

  • Michelle Obama has a book out! Fortunately, some folks are paid to read it, like Joe Setyon of Reason. Here's something he noticed: Michelle Obama Felt 'the Shadow of Affirmative Action' as Princeton Undergrad.

    Michelle Obama felt "the shadow of affirmative action" as an undergraduate student at Princeton University, the former first lady writes in her new book, Becoming.

    Obama, who graduated in 1985, says she sometimes wondered why she had been accepted into Princeton, a majority-white school, in the first place. "It was impossible to be a black kid at a mostly white school and not feel the shadow of affirmative action," Obama writes. "You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, 'I know why you're here.'" This was often "demoralizing," Obama says, while acknowledging she "was just imagining some of it."

    My guess is that Michelle probably would have gotten into Princeton on color-blind criteria.

  • I'm a longtime Jeopardy! fan, so this Mental Floss article was like catnip: Alex Trebek Knows He Sometimes Sounds Like a 'Disappointed Dad' on Jeopardy.

       If longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek seems disappointed any time a contestant misses a seemingly simple clue, it's because he is. Or at the very least, coming off as stern and perhaps a little smug is part of his television persona.

    As The Ringer once put it, "Trebek has two settings: mildly, politely impressed and Disappointed Dad." Now, in a recent interview with Vulture, Trebek has addressed the perception that he not-so-secretly judges contestants with an air of paternal reproach. As it turns out, he knows exactly what he's doing. "I know that 'You've disappointed daddy' is a tone I'm striking," he said. "It's also, "How can you not get this? This is not rocket science."

    Alex is … Alex, sui generis. Criticizing him for the way he acts? You might as well criticize water for being wet.