URLs du Jour

2019-09-03

[Amazon Link]

  • Will newsrooms be saved by Bernie Sanders' socialist nostrums? Do you remember what "nostrum" means? Find out the answer to both these burning questions at Jeff Jacoby's site: Newsrooms won't be saved by Bernie Sanders' socialist nostrums.

    WHEN YOUR only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail to be pounded. When you're Bernie Sanders and your only tool is socialism, every problem looks like a capitalist to be bashed.

    The septuagenarian senator from Vermont is an unabashed lifelong socialist, whose solutions to most problems involve more government, less freedom, and higher taxes. This week, in a 1,700-word essay published in the Columbia Journalism Review, he proposed a "plan for journalism" involving — can you guess? — more government, less freedom, and higher taxes. The capitalist-bashing begins in the second sentence: "Today's assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley, and Donald Trump presents a crisis — and [is] why we must take concrete action."

    Bernie's op-ed specifically singles out Gannett’s proposed merger with Gatehouse Media (which, not that it matters, owns my local newspaper, Foster's Daily Democrat). Generally, he proposes a whole bunch of government prohibitions, taxes, subsidies, regulations on the press in order to … promote a free press?

    "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." (Yes, I know that's a bogus quote.)

    But that's not all …


  • Nick Gillespie also lacks mixed feelings about Bernie's plan. Because Bernie Sanders’ Plan To Save Newspapers Is Wrong on Every Level. Sample:

    Sanders' distress over media consolidation rings hollow not simply because he merely rehashes old, played-out perennial complaints. Remember back in 2000 when the merger of AOL and Time Warner spelled the absolute doom of an independent press? Better yet, can you even remember AOL or Time magazine, once massive presences in media that are now desiccated ruins of their former selves? At a point when traditional broadcast TV and radio have never had less influence on public discourse, is the solution making sure that the "right" type and number of people—however defined—own the appropriate number of stations? Does anyone in their right mind think, as Sanders does, that a "targeted tax" on online advertising and "tech companies" will actually work to fund "independent public media" that will somehow report earnestly on the very government that ensures their existence?

    This is malarkey and it doesn't help that Sanders wraps it up in the same populist billionaire-baiting rhetoric he covers everything in, ideological maple syrup to sweeten what can only be understood as an unprecedented power grab over freedom of speech and the press.

    And that power grab?

    It's an absolute certainty that a Sanders administration would deploy that grabbed power asymmetrically against the perceived enemies of "progress" and "reform".


  • I'm noticing an upswell of "Hate Has No Home Here" yard signs. Kind of a secular version of what Jesus noticed and discussed in Matthew 6:5.

    So this article in Quillette from Geoffrey Miller is interesting: 'Virtue Signalling' May Annoy Us. But Civilization Would Be Impossible Without It. Skippng to the bottom line:

    What distinguishes good virtue signaling from bad virtue signaling isn’t just the reliability of the signal. It’s the actual real-world effects on sentient beings, societies and civilizations. When the instincts to virtue signal are combined with curiosity about science, open-mindedness about values and viewpoints, rationality about priorities and policies, and strategic savvy about ways and means, then wonderful things can happen. These more enlightened forms of virtue signaling have sparked the Protestant Reformation, American Revolution, abolitionist movement, anti-vivisection movement, women’s suffrage movement, free speech movement, and Effective Altruism movement. But when the instincts to virtue signal are not combined with curiosity, open-mindedness, rationality and strategic savvy—that’s when you get Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, Stalin’s Holodomor, Hitler’s Holocaust, Mao’s Cultural Revolution…and Twitter.

    If that intrigues you, click through for the argument leading up to it.


  • So "virtue signalling" might be OK at times. But how about that lefty bugaboo, "cultural appropriation"? At NR, Alec Dent carves out an exception: Linguistic Evolution Is Not ‘Cultural Appropriation’.

    Late last week, BuzzFeed published an article on the phrase “sksksksksk,” which was . . . about as silly as you’d imagine. The long and short of its argument? Among today’s youths, “sksksksksk” is a popular slang term that originated in the black community, and if you’re white and use it, you are “appropriating language from black communities.”

    The concept of cultural appropriation is hardly new, but the linguistic policing that serves as the basis for the BuzzFeed article takes it to a new level. Accusations of cultural appropriation are usually leveled against white people who adopt elements of another ethnicity’s culture in a way that is perceived as making light of that culture’s history and traditions. (I say “perceived” because, of course, perception does not align with reality in every case.) But sksksksksks is different. It has no rich history; it is a rather young phrase, which, the author admits at the very end of the article, started in Brazil as a variant of “kkkkkkkk,” a standard phrase Brazilians use to express laughter in text. What’s more, English, like any language, is built on adopting new words and phrases into the mainstream. And by necessity, in order to become mainstream, a word must cross racial and cultural divides.

    Comparing this article with Geoffrey Miller's, I'd suggest to Alec: there's good cultural appropriation and bad. Probably civilization would be impossible without it to some degree. Might as well take the big-tent approach to the concept, then focus in on what's really bothering you about a particular case, and whether that can be generalized without [Warning: cliché ahead] tossing the baby out with the bathwater.


  • Seems like only yesterday that two exemplars of ideologies everyone assumed to be mortal enemies managed to cooperate in kicking off one of the great horrors. Bryan Caplan looks at you, Communism and Fascism.

    In September of 1939, almost exactly 80 years ago, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union started World War II  by invading Poland.  Though Hitler double-crossed Stalin two years later, the secret provisions of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact explicitly divided Eastern Europe between them.  How was this alliance possible – and what was it all about?  False modesty aside, I think that my encyclopedia articles on Communism and Fascism are a fine place to start.

    A good thing to remember.