URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

Welcome to May!

  • The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) notes the high price of ignoring Individual Rights for a nearby public school: The cost of censorship: Plymouth State to pay $350,000 for firing professor over witness testimony.

    Former Plymouth State University adjunct professor Nancy Strapko reached a settlement with the university after she was fired for testifying in a criminal proceeding. Plymouth State agreed to pay Strapko $350,000 to avoid a lawsuit over her firing.

    Earlier this year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education listed Plymouth State as one of its 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech because of Strapko’s firing and the chilling effect it has on faculty exercising their civic responsibilities.

    Ex-prof Strapko isn't the most sympathetic character; her testimony was in support of leniency for Kristie Torbick, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student while she was his high school guidance counselor. Torbick was Strapko's student at PSU.

    Strapko may not have adequately taught Torbick: "don't sexually assault students you are counseling." But also PSU administrators may not have been adequately taught about that whole First Amendment thing. I wonder if they'll be fired for putting PSU (read: NH taxpayers) on the hook for $350K.

  • Dan Klein provides, at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Call Leftists "Liberal". Just ten? Well, let's jump down to Reason #10:

    Although we can do little to change public policy, we can change our own personal semantic practice. Such an improvement enhances wisdom, which pays off in the grand scheme of things. To advance universal benevolence, use words wisely.

    If we are to stand up for liberal civilization, we must first appreciate the great arc of liberalism—that is, the development of liberalism, beginning, say, with the printing press in the fifteenth century and its subsequent ups and downs, and across liberal civilization, not just the American scene. Such higher appreciation is sabotaged by calling leftists “liberal.”

    In The Lion King, the spirit of Mufasa tells Simba: Remember who you are.

    You are not an “anywhere,” but a “somewhere”: a son or daughter of liberal civilization.

    Dan Klein maintains a website, Lost Language, Lost Liberalism, which explores the degraded semantics of the "big words" describing liberal civilization. Pun Salad sez: check it out.

  • But equal time demands that we also plug a slight rebuttal to Dan Klein's list, from Alberto Mingardi at the Library of Economics and Liberty: Is Liberal Civilization a ‘Somewhere’?.

    Dan says that “Liberalism 1.0 is the soul of Western civilization,” and those who want to “conserve” that soul should not acquiesce to the use of the word “liberal” to mean something very different.

    Dan knows well that “Western civilization”, at least in terms of political thinking, has been many things, including the distortion of the word liberal, including Marxism, including the modern state against whose power classical liberalism is in part a reaction, and indeed including the French Revolution (perhaps the political event with more momentous consequences, in the world of ideas too). Yet in the piece (reason #7) he writes that accepting the narrative that underpins the current use of the word “liberal” is tantamount to accepting a narrative by which liberalism has been imported from France into England, while it can be argued that it was especially a product of the Anglo-Saxon world. There are many “Wests” indeed.

    Alberto makes some good points. But I'm still going to avoid calling leftists "liberals". That's a noun they do not deserve.

  • Another language-related item: oft you'll the term "ideology" (or, worse, "ideologue") used pejoratively. Usually by people who fancy themselves as "pragmatists". At the American Institute for Economic Research, Don Boudreaux writes In Praise of an Ideology of Freedom. Specifically, in reply to a "pragmatist's" contentions about the efficacy of government intervention:

    For [the pragmatist's] criticism to begin to make sense at least two conditions must hold. First, government officials must possess enough knowledge to intervene productively into the affairs of individuals acting in markets. Second, these adequately informed government officials also must have incentives to intervene productively into the affairs of individuals acting in markets.

    Alas, in reality, these conditions are met only rarely.

    Nothing is easier than observing the countless ways in which reality comes up short of the ideals that we can conjure in our imaginations. And almost as easy is imagining how god-like creatures could intervene to move reality closer to our imagined ideal outcomes.

    But the presumption that government officials have superior knowlege is a symptom of ideology, all the worse because the holder of that presumption doesn't recognize it as an ideology.

  • At the Atlantic, Johns Hopkins Associate Professor Yascha Mounk cares about what political leaders should care about. Specifically: Political Leaders Should Stop Caring About Twitter.

    Obligation breeds habit and habit addiction. The most active Twitter users I know check the platform as soon as they wake up to see what they missed. Throughout the day, they seize on the little interstices of time they have available to them—on the way to work, or in between meetings—to follow each new development in that day’s controversies. Even in the evening, when they are settling down to dinner, they cheer attacks against their enemies, or quietly fume over the mean tweet some anonymous user sent their way. Minutes before they finally drift off to sleep, they check their notifications one last time.

    It is not the mental health of Twitter addicts that most concerns me, though; it is the well-being of the nation they collectively rule. To decision makers who spend most of their days ensconced in an elite bubble, Twitter can seem like a way out, a clear window into pure public opinion. In reality, it’s an extreme distortion.

    Tweeters aren't representative. On the other hand, they can be funny and perceptive.

  • Good news from the Daily Wire: Bernie Has 'Truly Heroic' Idea About What Disney Should Do With All Those 'Avengers' Profits.

    Democratic socialist and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has a "truly heroic" idea about what Disney can do with the massive profits it's racking up through the record-smashing finale to the Avengers series.

    "What would be truly heroic is if Disney used its profits from Avengers to pay all of its workers a middle class wage, instead of paying its CEO Bob Iger $65.6 million — over 1,400 times as much as the average worker at Disney makes," said Sanders in an income inequality-themed tweet Monday noted by The Hill.

    When I mentioned that Avengers: Endgame made a record-setting $1.2 Billion in its opening weekend, Mrs. Salad (as is her wont) wondered why the US Government didn't make movies.

    Aside from they obvious retort ("those movies would suck"), I did the math: current (FY2019) spending by Uncle Stupid is estimated at $4.53 Trillion. So (if my math is right) Your Federal Government would burn through $1.2 Billion in approximately 2.3 hours. Which is less than the running time of Avengers: Endgame.

  • And I'm just gonna "excerpt" this entire Babylon Bee story: Update: We Now Have Only 12 Seconds Left Until Climate Change Destroys The Planet.

    WORLD—A new update issued by watchdog groups on climate change indicated this afternoon that we only have 12 seconds left until climate change destroys the planet.

     We previously thought we had just 12 years, then 10 years, but the latest update indicates that we have well under a minute.

    "The earth will be totally destroyed in the next, oh, 12 seconds," said Beto O'Rourke at a rally. "If you don't give the government a bunch of money and power, it will happen. Trust me."

    "So hand over the cash, guys," he said. "Like, now. I'm super serious."

    This tragic development means that humanity won't have time to correct climate change, and our writers probably won't even have time to finish thi

  • And finally: LFOD fans must visit If 6 US States Were Films. And one of those is New Hampshire, and it's even more wonderful than you might imagine.

Avengers: Endgame

[5.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

As I type, the IMDB raters have pegged this at #8 on their list of best movies of all time. Well, I don't know about that. But I had a real good time.

It's set after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, which ended on an incredible downer, Thanos gaining all six Infinity Stones, and successfully carrying out his mad mission to liquidate half of living species throughout the universe. And unfortunately, that also got rid of a significant fraction of the Avengers team.

What happens next? Well, the survivors deal with it the best they can. And you won't be surprised, I hope, that they deal with it with bravery and resourcefulness.

Consumer notes:

  • I rewatched Avengers: Infinity War on Netflix just to refresh my memory, and that was a good idea. Generally speaking … and it's difficult to do this without spoilers: the more Marvel movies you've seen, the more you'll pick up watching this movie.

  • It's three hours, really, and that doesn't include previews. So plan according to your own characteristics and abilities, restroom-wise.

  • I don't really consider it to be a spoiler, but don't sit through N minutes of credits simply because you're used to Marvel movies having amusing/revealing mini-scenes in mid-credits or post-credits. Not here.