URLs du Jour


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  • We linked yesterday to Arthur C. Brooks' doomsaying about loneliness tearing America apart. It seems only fair, therefore, to draw attention to Adam Thierer's somewhat sunnier take on a related topic at the Technology Liberation Front: On Isolation & Inattention Panics.

    Adam resurrects this old xkcd comic


    And comments:

    The sentiments expressed by the comic […] make it clear how people often tend to romanticize past technologies or fail to remember that many people expressed the same fears about them as critics do today about newer ones. I’ve written dozens of articles about “moral panics” and “techno-panics,” most of which are cataloged here. The common theme of those essays is that, when it comes to fears about innovations, there really is nothing new under the sun. Academics, social critics, religious leaders, politicians and even average parents tend to panic over the same problems time and time again. The only thing that changes is the particular medium or technology that is the object of their collective ire.

    Ah, but is this time different? Maybe, maybe not. Adam's essay is thoughtful and insightful, highly recommended.

  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson examines immigration rhetoric (because someone has to): Welfare Chauvinism, Again. One particularly sad (but accurate) observation:

    Welfare chauvinism is the creed of the Le Pens, Matteo Salvini, and Viktor Orbán — and also of Senator Sanders, Donald Trump, and much of the unfortunately illiberal main stream of American populist politics. (Almost all American politics is populist to some degree.) That it is associated with distasteful figures such as Le Pen and Orbán should not be held as automatically discrediting: It is wider than that.

    The idea that government programs of various kinds can and should be used to take some of the rough edges off of capitalism is widely held, from the classical liberal theorist F. A. Hayek, who argued for extensive social insurance, to our modern nationalists and welfare-statists, who often are arguing for much the same kind of arrangement in ways that are less rigorously thought through or that are expressed less humanely (often because they are less humane). But degree and detail matter. As the libertarian economist Bryan Caplan has wryly observed, in the United States today we really have no classical liberal party but instead have a choice between two national-socialist parties: one a little more nationalist, the other a little more socialist.

    And differ only slightly in their "enemies lists".

  • Another article from Reason's fiftieth anniversary issue has made it out from behind the paywall, and it is a goodie. They had an interview with Thomas Sowell 38 years back, and they decided to re-interview him: Thomas Sowell Returns. Sample:

    It's fair to say you were a sharp critic of President Barack Obama and his expressed view, "You didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

    Therefore what? You're putting a burden of proof on those who own something that you do not put on those who want to seize control of it for their own purposes. Even if you take someone who, for example, never contributed to a business that he simply inherited, the question becomes, "On what grounds are we to assume that better outcomes will result if this property that was bequeathed to him is instead used by politicians, bureaucrats, and judges for what they want to do?" They didn't build it, either, and what is there either in their prospect or in their history that would lead you to expect that it would be better off for anybody other than themselves when it's turned over to them?

    I'm pretty sure I have more Thomas Sowell books on my shelves than any other non-fiction author. Highly recommended.

  • At the Federalist, Jesse Kelly predicts that even though Twitter Banned Me For Literally No Reason, But In The End They’ll Lose.

    I try my best not to complain about the curveballs of life that come my way, but I wish people understood the tremendous burden that comes with being a clairvoyant genius who sees the future. You see, Twitter banned my account yesterday. They did not suspend it. They banned it.

    I had almost 80,000 followers and those poor people are now left aimlessly wandering the social media landscape in search of a greatness they’ll never find again. Now, I don’t really care because I’m just going to start a new account and it will be even better than my last one (if that’s possible). This isn’t about me. This is about what kind of country we have become and what kind of country we want to be.

    Jesse believes that, in the end, "America is better than Twitter." I hope so.

  • Real Clear Politics writer Steve Cortes writes on The Perfidy of Illinois' Public Payrolls. You don't have to be a wild-eyed libertarian anarchist (I hope) to realize that there's a racket here:

    I grew up in Park Forest, Ill., a working-class suburb of Chicago. In my youth, Park Forest was pleasantly middle-class -- a solid community of well-kept lawns, strong churches, and active sports. Unfortunately for my hometown, times have been tough over the years, reflected by a jobless rate about twice the national one and a poverty rate 43 percent higher than the state of Illinois average. As a consequence, Park Forest has lost almost a third of its peak population of 30,000 since the 1970s.

    But like many such struggling communities, one class of people has found a way to prosper: public employees.  Recently, Fox affiliate Channel 32 and Open the Books detailed the exorbitant pay package for part-time interim school Superintendent Joyce Carmine. She retired in 2017 making $398,000 annually, the highest-paid superintendent in Illinois, in a community where the median household income is $44,000. She will receive, courtesy of taxpayers, a pension of just under $300,000 for the rest of her life.  Adding insult to injury, the school district hired this retiree back as a consultant at the rate of $1,200 per day for a total of 100 days, bringing her pay this year to $419,000 total for part-time work.  Given the modest $75,000 median home price in Park Forest, her salary equates to 5.5 home purchases…per year.

    That's… impressive. Legal plunder.

  • The WSJ's "Best of the Web" online column used to have a "lonely lives of scientists" category. In case they still do, I've suggested the following Live Science article to the current proprietor: Scientists Wrote an Equation to Find the Funniest Word in English.

    Don't laugh, but professor Chris Westbury's newest psychology study is about farts.

    It's also about snots, chortles, wienies, heinies and bozos; things that are wriggly, jiggly, flappy and slaphappy; things that waddle, things that slobber; things that puke, cluck, squawk and dingle.

    That's because Westbury studies funny words — and, more specifically, what makes some words funny and others not.

    In case you're outraged about a possible waste of taxpayer money, Westbury is Canadian.