URLs du Jour

2019-07-02

[Amazon Link]

  • Katherine Mangu-Ward contributes to the "good news" edition of print Reason. Pieces like this are the reason I subscribe: We Live in a World of Reliable Miracles.

    When I'm having a bad day, I trawl the internet for videos of happy cyborgs. My favorites are clips of hearing-impaired people getting their cochlear implants turned on for the first time. The videos follow a soothingly predictable pattern. Mumbly background chatter and shaky cam—the cinematography is rarely good—then a pregnant pause, wide eyes, and finally that peculiar kind of sobbing that human beings do when we are overwhelmed. The pattern is the same whether it's a babe in arms or a full-grown man.

    If you catch the right algorithmic wave on YouTube or the right hashtag on Instagram, you can surf for hours in this genre: videos of Parkinson's patients as their tremors are calmed by a new therapy, paraplegics walking with the help of adaptive prosthetics, infants getting their first pair of coke-bottle glasses, and more.

    Adorable kittens and soppy love stories do little to warm my cold, dead heart. But show me a part-robot baby flipping out because he heard his mom say "hello" for the first time, and it's onion city.

    A Kindle Reason subscription is our Amazon Product du Jour, but I have every reason to expect that picture's going to change when the next issue comes out.


  • Continuing the broad-brush label debate, weighing in on the side of the good guys, is Stephen Davies at the American Institute for Economic Research: Let’s Revive the Term Individualism. Sure, why not?

    […] Individualism was a word that had undergone the change from being a term of opprobrium to one of positive identity. It had originally had connotations of selfishness and egoism but by the 1870s had been adopted by a number of radical liberals as a label for their views, on both sides of the Atlantic (and, interestingly, particularly in France).

    In the 1880s and 1890s there was a vigorous intellectual debate on both sides of the Atlantic between the self-defined individualists on one side and the self-defined “collectivists” (in the UK, Canada, and Europe) or “progressives” (in the U.S.) on the other. Subsequently the terms “individualist” and “individualism” remained the main labels used by advocates of the radical case for personal, individual liberty. This was true in the 1920s and even as late as the 1940s and early 1950s (Friedrich Hayek used the term for example and spoke of “those of us who adhere to the individualist position”).

    Then quite suddenly, in the middle of the 1950s, all of this changed. People who had described themselves as individualists and identified with that label suddenly stopped using it (with a very few exceptions such as Frank Chodorow). Many adopted the label “conservative,” particularly in the U.S. Most however took to calling themselves classical liberals or libertarians (a word that had previously referred to communist anarchists of the Peter Kropotkin type). The term “individualist,” which had been used until then by both friends and critics, almost vanished.

    Although I'm wary of labels, Stephen gives a good argument for embracing them. Maybe taking "embracing" in the "hugging the old girlfriend you haven't seen in decades, in front of your wife" sense.


  • At National Review, Jay Nordlinger is the go-to guy for stories of citizens standing up to their dictatorial regimes and often getting martyred as a result. His latest piece discusses Dictators and Americans.

    Yesterday, President Trump heaped praise on Mohammed bin Salman, the acting dictator, so to speak, of Saudi Arabia. When his father, King Salman, dies, he will be dictator outright (if all goes according to plan). Trump also shielded Mohammed from blame for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last October. “He’s very angry about it,” Trump said. “He’s very unhappy about it.”

    Is he? Other people, including investigators, think otherwise. I’m reminded of Trump’s reluctance to believe U.S. intelligence on the matter of the Kremlin’s interference in our 2016 election.

    After hearing Trump, Senator Mitt Romney tweeted, “The President’s praise for MBS, the man who US intel says ordered or authorized the heinous murder of a WaPo columnist & Saudi dissident, sends the wrong message to the world. It’s past time for Congress & the administration to impose sanctions for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”

    A bit of advice: Don’t wait up nights.

    Read on for how the Saudi regime is treating Loujain al-Hathloul. If this doesn't make you a little angry at Trump, then … well, I have to ask: what the hell is wrong with you? I mean, seriously, what's your deal?


  • The LFOD News Alert rang for a WSJ LTE from Mark Generales in Fort Myers, FL, who asks: What Principle Limits Our Public Unions?. Mark, specifically, notes the recent unbanning of collective bargaining by public employees in Nevada.

    Nevada follows other states that have seen their existing politics undergo a sea change as a wave of new residents overwhelm native-born residents. Las Vegas, Reno and other Nevada cities have undergone a building and growth boom over the past 10-20 years. The new residents have come mostly from deep-blue Democratic states. Drawn by low housing costs, the lure of no state income tax and proximity to their former home, Democrats from neighboring California have inundated Nevada. As has happened in other states, California Democrats have brought their liberal voting patterns with them.

    We see the same pattern in New Hampshire, where decades of heavily taxed Massachusetts residents continue to seek shelter in the “Live Free or Die” state. Over and over again, liberal advocates have attempted to install a state income tax. While their arguments have fallen flat for 30 years, the contingent from Boston grows each year and the income tax edges ever closer to reality.

    Yes. But I've been hearing that argument (roughly) ever since I first came here, about 46 years ago. Yes, sure, it could be for real this time.


  • And it didn't take too long for someone to make a nanny-state argument off some recent carnage up north. Glynn Cosker, the managing editor of EMD [Emergency & Disaster Management] Digest reports: Helmet Laws Scrutinized Following Motorcyclist Deaths.

    On June 21, a pickup truck towing a trailer struck 10 motorcyclists (head on) on Route 2 in Randolph, N.H. – leaving seven riders dead and three seriously injured. New Hampshire State Police Col. Christopher Wagner called the collision "one of the worst, tragic incidents that we have investigated here in the state."

    New Hampshire Has No Motorcycle Helmet Laws

    New Hampshire is one of only three states with no motorcyclist helmet laws on its books. The other two states are Illinois and Iowa. However, wearing a helmet is a choice that most riders in the Granite State see as their sacred right – and a vast majority of motorcyclists ride without any head protection. The state’s motto, “Live Free or Die” appears on every vehicle’s license plate – including those found on motorcycles. It is not yet clear whether any of the motorcyclists involved in the recent horrific crash were wearing helmets.

    As near as I can tell, there's been no official word on whether the victims were wearing helmets.

    To (tiresomely) make a point I've made before: legislating "acceptable" risk is, at best, an exercise in arbitrary line-drawing.

    In this case: US motorcyclists' risk of a fatal crash is over 25 times greater than occupants of passenger cars. (Rates normalized by vehicle miles traveled.)

    Sure, go ahead and mandate helmet use, but that at best would have a marginal effect on the death rate. Shouldn't nanny-staters go whole-hog (heh) and advocate banning motorcycles?


Last Modified 2019-07-03 3:58 AM EST