URLs du Jour

2019-06-11

[Amazon Link]

  • At NR Sam Sweeney has advice for those concerned about Social Media and Censorship: Close Your Accounts (NRPLUS article).

    My advice: Delete your Facebook, yesterday. Don’t get your news from Twitter. The issues of free speech on social media will no longer matter to you. They don’t matter to me. I’ve made a decision not to subjugate myself to the whims of our new overlords. They can open their platform to everyone from neo-Nazis to Kim Jong-un, or they can have a litmus test that includes denouncing Donald Trump or the pope at regular intervals — a sort of school-bathroom pass fitting for our generation’s extended adolescence in which Mark Zuckerberg plays the schoolmarm. It won’t affect my life either way. In my own mind at least, I am free because these things no longer define my life. I am happier as a result. I can still read a book of some length, an ability I see dropping off sharply among my peers.

    Not having Facebook is the 21st-century equivalent of becoming a cloistered monk. If I can just stop opening Twitter, I will feel like I’ve replaced Saint Simeon on his pillar. Monastic jokes aside, let me tell you: Life doesn’t end when you close your social-media accounts. In fact, the day you close them is the day your life truly begins again.

    Might be good advice. I'm not ready to take it yet, but…


  • Nick Gillespie discusses a related topic at Reason: Are Google and YouTube Evil? No, But Don’t Let That Get in the Way of Your Feelings.. (Note that Nick proactively and efficiently confirms the validity of Betteridge's Law of Headlines in the headline itself.)

    By now, you probably know that YouTube is pure evil. Or maybe just dumber than a box of rocks. Either way, get ready for major political and regulatory action against Google, which has owned the video platform since 2006, and is now the target of a Department of Justice antitrust investigation and a congressional investigation along the same lines. Earlier today in an interview with CNBC, President Donald Trump praised the more-than-$9-billion in fines levied against the internet giant by the European Union since 2017 and declared, "Obviously, there's something going on in terms of monopoly."

    These days, whether you're a right-wing free-marketer or a left-wing democratic socialist, whether you're Tucker Carlson or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), you probably worry more about Big Tech than Islamic terrorism and agree that all or most of the so-called FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) need to be broken up, hemmed in, or regulated as public utilities. Hell, even the leaders of those companies are calling for regulation. A month ago, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai took to the op-ed pages of The New York Times to plead with Congress to pass "comprehensive privacy legislation" similar to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that would cover all online businesses. Ironically—or maybe strategically—Pichai didn't mention that a year after the GDPR's implementation, Google's marketshare had grown.

    My own feelings: they ain't evil, but they are neither trustworthy nor particularly admirable. And I kind of miss the days when Microsoft was the Great Satan.


  • If you've been wondering how much of the New York Times' 'Making Of A YouTube Radical' piece is dishonest, Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire will let you know: Everything About The NYT 'Making Of A YouTube Radical' Piece Is Dishonest.

    On Saturday, The New York Times published a nearly 5,000-word article featured at the top of its website on “the making of a YouTube radical.” The fact-free and defamatory rant smeared some of the most mainstream voices in political commentary and in many cases proved precisely the opposite of the points it purported to make.

    “Caleb Cain was a college dropout looking for direction,” writes Times columnist Kevin Roose. “He turned to YouTube. Soon, he was pulled into a far-right universe, watching thousands of videos filled with conspiracy theories, misogyny and racism.” Which YouTubers does the article identify as “far-right,” conspiratorial, misogynist, and racist? One photo featured the Daily Wire’s own Ben Shapiro, a nationally syndicated radio host and one of the most popular podcasters in the country. Another photo depicted Dave Rubin, a gay, self-described liberal whose centrist interview show offers a platform for voices on the Right and Left of the political aisle. Bewilderingly, the editors placed in the center of the cover photo montage an image of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who spent much of the 1970s and ‘80s explaining basic economic concepts to live audiences on camera.

    Milton Friedman! Still perverting young minds!

    As is well known, reading Friedman is a gateway to even stronger stuff: Hayek, Mises, Sowell, McCloskey, Bastiat,…

    At least that's how it worked for me.


  • I've occasionally referred here to the late Richard Mitchell, the self-described "Assistant Circulation Manager" of the typeset-by-hand newsletter The Underground Grammarian. I was a dedicated subscriber from 1983 until the last issue in 1991. I also own Mr. Mitchell's books.

    At some point, an even more dedicated fan, Mark Andre Alexander, took advantage of Mr. Mitchell's laissez-faire attitude toward copyright, and put nearly the entire oeuvre on the web here.

    Mark tells his story at Quillette: How the 'Underground Grammarian' Taught Me to Tell Reason from Rubbish. He provides a number of pungent UG quotes, for example:

    Words never fail. We hear them, we read them; they enter into the mind and become part of us for as long as we shall live. Who speaks reason to his fellow men bestows it upon them. Who mouths inanity disorders thought for all who listen. There must be some minimum allowable dose of inanity beyond which the mind cannot remain reasonable. Irrationality, like buried chemical waste, sooner or later must seep into all the tissues of thought.

    Mr. Mitchell is sorely missed.


  • The Concord Monitor's "Granite Geek" is rightfully proud of… Finally, a historical marker that talks about something important.

    It took 10 months to get it done, but the Granite State is now officially a Geeky State: The latest New Hampshire Historical Highway Marker, celebrating the creation of the BASIC computer language at Dartmouth in 1964, has officially been installed.

    Everybody who has ever typed a GOTO command can feel proud.

    Indeed. BASIC wasn't my first computer language (that honor goes to a very obscure language called ALPS, developed at the University of Oklahoma for the refrigerator-sized Bendix G-15). But, yeah, I did a lot of stuff in the 1970s and early 1980s in various BASIC dialects.

    Tried to avoid GOTOs though.