URLs du Jour

2019-01-05

  • Via a Week in Pictures post at Power Line. I thought it too good to be true, but I tried it myself, and…

    [Academia is]


  • Dark totalitarian humor from the New York Times: Learning China’s Forbidden History, So They Can Censor It.

    Li Chengzhi had a lot to learn when he first got a job as a professional censor.

    Like many young people in China, the 24-year-old recent college graduate knew little about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. He had never heard of China’s most famous dissident, Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in custody two years ago.

    Now, after training, he knows what to look for — and what to block. He spends his hours scanning online content on behalf of Chinese media companies looking for anything that will provoke the government’s wrath. He knows how to spot code words that obliquely refer to Chinese leaders and scandals, or the memes that touch on subjects the Chinese government doesn’t want people to read about.

    I'm sure Google will be eager to provide helpful tools for poor Li Chengzhi, for the right price.


  • Although his column is aimed at American companies struggling with their stupid users, Tyler Cowen has some advice for China: Why Internet Censorship Doesn’t Work and Never Will.

    One view, which may appear cynical, is that the platforms are worth having, so they should appease us by at least trying to regulate effectively, even though both of us know they won’t really succeed. Circa 2019, I don’t see a better solution. Another view is that we’d be better off with how things were a few years ago, when platform regulation of speech was not such a big issue. After all, we Americans don’t flip out when we learn that Amazon sells copies of “Mein Kampf.”

    The problem is that once you learn about what you can’t have — speech regulation that is scalable, consistent and hostile to bad agents — it is hard to get used to that fact. Going forward, we’re likely to see platform companies trying harder and harder, and their critics getting louder and louder.

    If you want to censor, it helps to be a government.


  • At NR, Jibran Khan says Elizabeth Warren’s Generic-Drug Proposal Is Not Serious. Well, it's serious in the sense that she seriously thinks it will help her be elected president. But…

    Elizabeth Warren is grasping. Having failed in her gambit to establish minority status, the 2020 presidential contender is now following the path of her competition.

    As Kamala Harris did with the housing crisis, Warren has picked a very real issue — the expense of generic drugs — and decided to address it with a bill that is unlikely to achieve much except gain her personal accolades for “doing something.” And should it pass, it could inhibit efforts to actually resolve the problem, because “something has been done.”

    Jibran's article is a good description of the problem, and an excellent analysis of why Warren's proposals are bad.

    Progressives like Warren find it difficult to admit government intrusions and regulations cause the problems they want to "solve". Because that would implicitly argue against their "solutions", which are invariably… more government intrusions and regulations.


  • You might want to know: what's first on Nancy Pelosi's agenda? David Harsanyi knows that… First on Nancy Pelosi's Agenda: Attacking Free Expression.

    I have zero interest in financially supporting any politician, much less ones I find morally unpalatable. Yet Democrats want to force me—and every other American taxpayer—to contribute, as a matter of public policy, to the campaigns of candidates we disagree with. Believe it or not, this might be an even more dangerous assault on free expression than unpleasant tweets directed at CNN anchors.

    One of Nancy Pelosi's first projects as the new speaker of the House will be passing a government overhaul of campaign finance and ethics rules that would, among other things, "expand voting rights." One of the new bills—specifics are still cloudy—reportedly would allocate a pool of taxpayer money to match small-dollar donations 6-to-1, as a way of encouraging "grass-roots campaigning," according to The Wall Street Journal.

    Politicians of all stripes love the idea of getting "free" taxpayer money for their campaigns. Note the euphemisms they use to disguise what they're doing.


  • Don Boudreaux writes at TribLive on something we knew, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded: Progressives are unrealistic.

    Progressives take pride in their reliance on science. They insist that society should be governed according to objectively discovered facts rather than ruled by superstitions, dogmas and baseless fears and fantasies.

    I believe that progressives are correct — which is why I’m no progressive. Progressives’ agenda is inconsistent with their boast of being “reality-based.” Progressives unwittingly promote government according superstition, romantic delusions and a tremendous detachment from facts.

    And also hubris, Don. You forgot hubris.

    [Yes, I'm judging from my Facebook friends, who have endless suggestions about how private companies—Walmart is a favorite Target [heh]—should run their enterprises.]


  • And we've noted the Der Spiegel writer who made up stuff about American communities being hotbeds of ugly bigotry, like Fergus Falls, Minnesota. What we need here in America is someone to go over to Germany and check out the magazine. Someone like James Lileks: Insult Fergus Falls? Take that, German magazine!.

    On behalf of everyone in Fergus Falls who was embarrassed by a fake Der Spiegel magazine story about their beloved town, I thought it would be fair to visit the offices of Der Spiegel, which is German for “The Spiegel,” and see what they were like.

    The offices are located high in the Alps, in a castle. A sign reading “Anyone not wearing lederhosen, turn back now!” was stuck by the side of the road, but my driver, a dimwitted lad named Horst, explained that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.

    “It’s not like we judge people using stereotypes based on their appearance,” he said. Then he offered to sell me his Alpine hat so I’d “fit in.”

    Read on for his encounters with Ilsa Shewolff and Adolph B. Beethoven.


  • And I sent my first tweet to my new Congresscritter.

    I assume he won't respond. Vote breakdown here.


Last Modified 2019-01-06 6:20 AM EST