URLs du Jour

2018-12-04

[Amazon Link]

  • Virginia Postrel writes at the Library of Economics and Liberty: Culture Matters.

    Libertarian intellectuals and activists know that culture matters. If I had a hundred bucks for every time I’d heard someone chalk up poverty to a black box called “culture” or demand that we “change the culture” or complain that Hollywood or the universities or the media or women in general are culturally biased against markets I could buy a vacation home. And not a cheap one, either.

    That culture matters isn’t controversial. The real issue is that most libertarians simply aren’t terribly curious about how culture works. They treat it as an instrument—a tool for promoting or hampering the advancement of their political ideas—rather than a phenomenon worthy of its own careful observation and analysis.

    Ms. Postrel has sharp eyes and insightful observations. I wish she were more prolific, because we could use more of that sort of thing nowadays.


  • At Quillette, Colin Wright has a bone to pick with The New Evolution Deniers.

    Counterintuitively, the social justice stance on human evolution closely resembles that of the Catholic Church. The Catholic view of evolution generally accepts biological evolution for all organisms, yet holds that the human soul (however defined) had been specially created and thus has no evolutionary precursor. Similarly, the social justice view has no problem with evolutionary explanations for shaping the bodies and minds of all organisms both between and within a species regarding sex, yet insists that humans are special in that evolution has played no role in shaping observed sex-linked behavioral differences. Why the biological forces that shape all of life should be uniquely suspended for humans is unclear. What is clear is that both the Catholic Church and well-intentioned social justice activists are guilty of gerrymandering evolutionary biology to make humans special, and keep the universal acid at bay.

    Also counterintuitively, the social justice league wrapped itself around the "I [Bleeping] Love Science" slogan. They should have added an asterisk: "* except where it conflicts with our religion."


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File discussed The Wars to Come.

    Dear Reader: The quickening is upon us. What I mean is that, while few people really have any clue what is going on, many are certain that It’s About to Go Down.

    And so the Great Loin-Girding has begun.

    In Green Rooms, in Editorial Rooms, in Conference Rooms of every hue and shape, and even in bathrooms where stewed bowels are uncorked like a confused drunk opening the emergency exit at 35,000 feet, people are preparing for what can only be described as the Mother of All Shinola Shows, only it won’t be shinola on the main stage. Reporters are rereading ten-year-old New Yorker profiles of bit players just so they can be ready to drop an obscure reference about a Russian oligarch. A striver at Breitbart is researching Robert Mueller’s family tree going back to the Duchy of Pomeria. Behind the scenes at Fox & Friends, things are more somber: There are a lot of prayer circles and quiet moments of solitude, as various hosts and producers stare out the window onto Sixth Avenue and ask themselves if they are ready for what is to come.

    I, for one, desperately want it to be over. In the possibly forlorn hope that Saturday Night Live will Move On to something funnier.

    But, like Jonah, I have no dog in this fight.


  • Hey, did you hear that George H.W. Bush died? Nick Gillespie soberly eulogizes at Reason: George H.W. Bush's Legacy Holds Little, Nothing for Libertarians To Celebrate.

    Former President George H.W. Bush, who served one term in office from 1989 through 1993, is dead at the age of 94. By all accounts, he was an exceptionally kind, decent, and thoughtful individual and his service as a Navy pilot in World War II—he was awarded the Distinguished Navy Cross and shot down over the Pacific—reminds us of a time when seemingly casual, superhuman heroism by young twentysomethings was the order of the day.

    Yet from a specifically libertarian view, there is little to celebrate and much to criticize regarding his presidency. With at least one notable exception, he did nothing to reduce the size, scope, and spending of government or to expand the ability of people to live however they wanted. If he was not as harshly ideological and dogmatic (especially on culture war issues) as contemporary conservatives, neither did he espouse any philosophical commitment to anything approaching "Free Minds and Free Markets." There's a reason he did not elicit strong negative responses or inspire enthusiasm: He lacked what he called "the vision thing." He had no overarching theory of the future, no organizing principle to guide his policymaking. That's not necessarily the worst thing in a president—we don't need a maximum leader, after all—but it also means he squandered an opportunity to set the coordinates for a post-Cold War world in the direction of maximum freedom.

    I don't remember specifically, but I probably voted for Jack Kemp over Bush in the 1988 New Hampshire Primary. And went for Bush in the general election, because even back then I thought Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party nominee, was a flake.

    1992? Probably went for Bush in the NH Primary (against Buchanan), and then Libertarian Andre Marrou in the general. Didn't like Bush breaking his "read my lips" promise.


  • Ex-presidents don't die very often, but I'm always amazed by the hoopla involved, treating a retired government employee as if he were a demigod. But, like Kurt Schlicter at Town Hall, I'm especially amazed at the MSM, who hated GHWB while he was politically active. But, for them, The Only Good Republican Is A Dead Republican.

    The death of President George H. W. Bush provided liberals and their Fredocon houseboys yet another opportunity to lament the fact that all Republicans aren’t dead. Their feigned amnesia about what libs were saying while Bush 41 was still in the arena, and their latest hack attempt to tsk tsk tsk tsk about how the Bad Orange Man isn’t like [Insert Name of Dead Republican Here] serves to justify the prophylactic cynicism that we Normals should strive to cultivate.

    I'm probably what Kurt would consider a "Fredocon", but he's pretty on target.


  • OK, this tweet is really all I need to mourn his passing:

    That's "Sully", GHWB's service dog. Mental Floss has more on Sully.