URLs du Jour

2020-06-09

Our eye candy du jour from Reason: Citizen vs. Government.

I agree that jet fighter flyovers are pretty cool. But…


  • At the Dispatch, David French offers an article from his personal experience. American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go.

    We each like to think we’re not unduly influenced by our immediate environment and culture. That’s a phenomenon that affects other people, we believe. I’m the kind of person who has carefully considered both sides and has arrived at my positions through the force of reason and logic. Sure, I’ve got biases, but that only matters at the edges. The core of my beliefs are rooted in reason, conviction, and faith.

    Maybe that describes you, but I now realize it didn’t describe me. I freely confess that to some extent where I stood on American racial issues was dictated by where I sat my entire life. I always deplored racism—those values were instilled in me from birth—but I was also someone who recoiled at words like “systemic racism.” I looked at the strides we’d made since slavery and Jim Crow and said, “Look how far we’ve come.” I was less apt to say, “and look how much farther we have to go.” 

    Then, where I sit changed, dramatically. I just didn’t know it at the time. I went from being the father of two white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids to the father of three kids—one of them a beautiful little girl from Ethiopia. When Naomi arrived, our experiences changed. Strange incidents started to happen.

    Strongly recommend that you read the whole thing. (If you can. I'm not sure if it's behind the paywall or not.)

    We've got a long way to go, but which way? We've been trying to deal with this (literally) my entire life. Progress is undeniable, but when you see people saying the same things today that people were saying decades ago, it's pretty easy to despair.


  • Speaking of despair, Beth Scaer, a sharp-eyed Granite Grok contributor noticed: ACLU-NH Trans Justice Organizer: Burn Books, Throw People out of Protests.

    The ACLU-NH Trans Justice Organizer Palana Belken is furious that JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, is standing up for the truth that men can’t be women and women can’t be men. He is so furious that he removed all his Harry Potter books from his bookshelf and threatens to burn them.

    Palana also threatened to have JK Rowling thrown out of a protest, if he encountered her at one. Since the ACLU-NH is big on protecting the right to protest, I find it curious he would take that stance. I would think his co-workers would be the first ones to come to the aid of anyone who was denied the right to protest. However, one of his ACLU-NH co-workers, Emily Kilheeney, liked Palana’s tweet threatening JK Rowling while she also tweeted about the right to protest. My head was spinning after scrolling through both their tweets.

    Beth's a little in-your-face by going out of her way by using the "he" pronoun to refer to Palana. "She" would prefer otherwise. But here's a comment I left there:

    Makes me wish I'd given ACLU-NH money, so that I could demand a refund. I note the national organization still has a book banning page (they're still against it). And they have a leadoff quote from Fahrenheit 451:

    There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.

    Someone should read that to Palana. Slowly, and repeat until she gets it.

    Added: Palana is from my neck of the woods, a councilor in Rochester, NH, and an assistant manager at Teatotaller Cafe in Somersworth, a local ultra-woke joint.


  • "Cockburn" asks at Spectator USA: Why isn’t Andrew Sullivan allowed to write his column?

    What has happened to New York media? Just as the New York Times was experiencing its own Inner Mongolia Moment over the now notorious Sen. Tom Cotton ‘Send in the Troops’ op-ed, the Maoists at New York magazine were going after their best columnist, Andrew Sullivan.

    Sullivan revealed on Twitter yesterday that his column wouldn’t be appearing. The reason? His editors are not allowing him to write about the riots.

    This is, as near as I can tell, both uncontradicted and under-reported. I'm not a big fan of Sullivan, dropped him around the time he was Trig-truthing. But (as numerous folks have observed) this is what happens when media gets populated by college graduates indoctrinated with safe-space ideology that says a vaguely defined area of "hate speech" must be suppressed.


  • At City Journal, John Tierney observes: Political Leaders Use Science to Duck Responsibility For Decisions. With respect to "experts", he makes a point that I've been trying to express myself:

    However scientific they try to be, they’re swayed by some of the same irrational biases and perverse incentives that afflict politicians and journalists. In creating their models and presenting their data, they’re rewarded for skewing negative, because scary predictions will bring them more attention, more funding, and more power. Their worst-case scenario may be utterly implausible, but it’s newsworthy, and it guarantees that no one will blame them for not anticipating every possible death from the virus.

    I'm pretty sure that application of public choice theory to the scientific establishment would reveal some really inconvenient truths. But who would fund such research? Um…


  • And Kevin D. Williamson at National Review (NRPLUS) sees: Democratic Politicians Avoid Accountability

    Who is responsible for the mess in Minneapolis? The answer to that question is not unknowable — but it is, in many political quarters, unspeakable.

    Minneapolis’s municipal government, its institutions, and its police department are what they are not because of the abstract Hegelian forces of capital-H History, but because of decisions that have been made by people. Who these people are is a matter of public record. We know their names: Jacob Frey, Betsy Hodges, R. T. Rybak, Sharon Sayles Belton, Medaria Arradondo, Janeé Harteau, Tim Walz, Mark Dayton . . . the rogues’ gallery is practically inexhaustible.

    But, oh, the transmuting magic of partisanship! Minneapolis is a Democratic city, with a Democratic mayor and a Democratic city council (0.0 Republicans on that body), in a state with a Democratic governor and a Democratic state house; these are the people who hire police chiefs and organize police departments, who specify their procedures and priorities, who write the laws that the police are tasked with enforcing — Democrats and progressives practically to a man. (Not every member of the Minneapolis city council is a Democrat — there’s a Green, too.) That’s a lot of lefty power, hardly anything except lefty power — but, somehow, the bad guy in this story must be Donald Trump.

    This "speaking truth to power" thing only goes so far.

Exit Strategy

[Amazon Link]

This is a sequel to The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton. That previous book described how Nick was coerced into being the "samurai" (aka, hitman) for imprisoned Chicago crime boss Lucius Cole. Nick is a hitman with scruples, however. He only goes after his designated targets, taking pains to use only non-lethal force on others.

Nick really wants out of this situation. (See the book title.) But until he figures out a way to do that, he has to go along with Cole's current scheme to get out of prison. Which involves (corruptly) forcing a retrial, and having Nick murder the witnesses that testified against him in the original trial. Some returning characters from the previous book, a couple new ones, notably a sociopathic Irish killer who was the previous holder of Nick's current position. And he's pissed at just about everyone.

There's an awful amount of ludicrously-staged mayhem (seemingly written for eventual transition to the big screen) and bad language. Despite the glowing blurbs on the dust jacket, I thought it was pretty perfunctory, but a decent page-turner. Does Nick succeed in his quest to get out from under Cole's thumb and resume a semi-normal life? No spoilers here, but if you look at Steve Hamilton's book list, you'll probably figure that out for yourself.

True Believer

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

We saw this movie back when it first came out on VHS, 1990 or so. And for some reason, I got the urge to watch it again, so into the Netflix DVD queue it went. Some movies don't hold up on rewatching, but I enjoyed it again.

James Woods plays Eddie Dodd, New York lawyer operating out of a shabby office near Chinatown. Once a famous left-wing advocate for the poor and downtrodden, champion of trendy social causes, he's become cynical, specializing in defending (uniformly guilty) drug dealers. He suppresses his sadness with copious amounts of marijuana.

But Eddie acquires an idealistic young assistant, played by Robert Downey, Jr. Who browbeats him into taking a case brought in over the transom by a tearful Chinese mom: her son's in Sing Sing, being prosecuted for killing a would-be Nazi assassin in self-defense. That's easy enough to fix, but the son's in the slammer for allegedly killing a gang leader in Chinatown eight years back. Eddie decides to go for a retrial on that charge.

Which involves unravelling what happened back then. Which (as you might expect) troubles the very powerful D. A. who tries to dissuade Eddie from the retrial. Which only makes Eddie more dogged in his pursuit of the truth.

Truth be told, the movie's plot is kind of generic. But I thought (and still think) James Woods was just fantastic in it. He usually plays bad or squirrelly guys. But his performance here is actually heroic.

Brief aside on that "squirrelly": he played "Aldo" in another 80's movie, Eyewitness. And one of the cop characters (Steven Hill) describes him thus: "When he was a kid, Aldo must have wanted to be a suspect when he grew up."

The Invisible Man

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I'm sure that people out there have commented that this movie really should be called "Mrs. Invisible Man". Or "Bride of the Invisible Man". Because, truth be told, the movie's really about her. She's in nearly every scene. In fact, we don't see the Invisible Man much at all!

Hah, see what I did there?

Anyway, Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, wife of the title character. Her husband, Adrian, has become a tad abusive, demanding that she produce offspring, keeping her a virtual prisoner in their palatial San Francisco mansion. Yeah, he's got a pile of money from his career in inventing optical stuff.

Cecilia escapes from his clutches in the opening scenes, starts to make a better life for herself. And Adrian allegedly commits suicide. Only problem is, odd things start happening to Cecilia. She gets the feeling she's being watched. She goes to a job interview with an architectural firm, only to discover that the portfolio she lovingly brought along has gone missing! Wha…?

Well, just like H. G. Wells' original, Adrian (who faked his suicide) finally turns to violence and murder. And Cecilia must rely on her wits to battle him. This part is pretty good, but it takes way too long for the movie to get there.