URLs du Jour

2019-11-27

  • At City Journal, Howard Husock has a modest proposal: Ban Lottery Advertising Now.

    Lottery advertising goes well beyond such virtue branding. States sell dreams of leisure and luxury. Illinois took out billboard ads in low-income neighborhoods advertising “your ticket out”: a lottery. “The most common form of lottery advertisement encourages ‘magical thinking’ by highlighting potentially life-changing effects of winning the lottery,” writes Andrew Clott, a Chicago attorney who has served as managing editor of the Loyola University Chicago Consumer Law Journal. “Typical advertisements focus on hard-working, blue-collar individuals who took a chance on buying a ticket and won big.” These messages downplay or avoid discussion of the long odds. “Someone’s gotta win,” a Massachusetts ad declares.

    If we can't get governments out of the lottery biz altogether, I'd settle for banning ads.

    And if we can't ban ads, I'd settle for each ad having a detailed description of their lousy odds.

    And if we can't have that, I'd settle for a balancing act: for each ad that shows exuberant winners, N ads (where N depends on the odds) showing the unlucky losers.


  • Another class of ads making bogus claims that would be illegal if they were for a commercial product: political ads. Jonah Goldberg is properly scornful of a current trope: Presidential candidates love saying they can unite us. Hah.

    “The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president,” South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg recently declared, “but the unification of the American people.”

    Treacle like this has been a mainstay of presidential candidates for decades. But is it true? Or even possible? And if so, is it desirable?

    The answer to all three questions is no.

    The Democrats infesting the local news ads are very big on "the people". Fighting for them. Putting them first. Not those corporations, who have (somehow, some way) been put first. Or billionaires, who are not really people like us.


  • At National Review, David Harsanyi wonders Is Impeachment Backfiring on the Democrats?.

    Impeachment is a political process. No sentient being, after all, believes that Adam Schiff or Nancy Pelosi are good-faith guardians of constitutional order. And judging the process strictly on political grounds, it hasn’t been a success for Democrats.

    For one thing, impeachment, if it happens, will effectively end up being a partisan censure of the president. Democrats haven’t gotten any closer to convincing a single Senate Republican to contemplate removing the president. Certainly not Mitch McConnell, who says there will be a quick trial. Not even Mitt Romney, who, at this point, is aptly troubled but uncommitted.

    It’s highly probable, in fact, that a Senate trial run by Republicans, with new witnesses and evidence, would further corrode the Democrats’ case. Liberals, of course, will pretend that Senate Republicans are members of a reactionary Trump cult, putting party above country, but if there had been incontrovertible proof of “bribery,” a number of them would be compelled to act differently. No such evidence was provided. Adding an obstruction article, based on the Mueller Report, would only make the proceedings even more intractably partisan — yet the recent push to force Don McGahn to testify suggests Democrats could be headed in that direction.

    Good points. As this week's Reason podcast (you should subscribe) points out: the only remaining issues are meta, since everyone (sane) seems to agree on what Trump done.


  • Mass. State Police Tested Out Boston Dynamics’ Spot The Robot Dog. Civil Liberties Advocates Want To Know More.

    Specifically:

    via GIPHY

    Cool! But, y'know, it's Massachusetts, and those ACLU killjoys…

    But while Spot and other tactical robots aren’t designed to kill, they still can. In 2016, Dallas Police sent a bomb disposal robot armed with explosives to kill a sniper who had shot at police officers and killed five. Experts said it was the first time a non-military robot had been used to intentionally kill a person.

    That deadly potential, and lack of transparency about the state police’s overall robotics program, worries Kade Crockford, director of the technology for liberty program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. Crockford said they want to see a policy from state police about its use of robotics and a conversation about how and when robots should be used. State police didn’t say whether there’s a current policy about the use of robots, and the ACLU’s records request to the agency didn’t turn one up.

    If I were a bad guy and saw Spot on my trail, I'd just give up.


  • And Wired has a quote from a facule at the University Near Here (in an otherwise tedious article about the right way to talk about people in a woke pigeonhole): What We Get Wrong About ‘People of Color’.

    People of color originates in black discourse, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a professor of feminist theory and theoretical physics at the University of New Hampshire, tells me. It was first used to refer to lighter-skinned people of mixed race, someone who was perhaps “mulatto.” As it’s grown in popularity, its meaning has become more twisted, misshapen. Prescod-Weinstein says that this has resulted in a shift in how we understand it; we are now at a point where much of what is written about the phrase today doesn’t “excavate the historical importance and necessity of multiracial antiracist solidarity ... particularly in the '60s and '70s when the term took on something close to its contemporary definition.”

    Feminist theory and theoretical physics is an (um) interesting combination. Her website is here, make of it what you will.


Last Modified 2019-11-28 5:37 AM EST