URLs du Jour

2020-06-19

[Amazon Link]

… and then they came for the Cream of Wheat guy. That's an Amazon "art" product over there on the right, and who knows how long they'll continue to sell such items?

The CoW package character dates from 1893, and was originally named (I am not making this up) "Rastus". As the relevant Wikipedia article notes, some of the advertising was wince-inducing.

I'm pretty sure there is no actual cream in Cream of Wheat. You have to add that yourself. While they're getting rid of "Rastus", they might think of fixing that too.

  • At the Public Discourse, Ryan T. Anderson makes some points on The Supreme Court’s Mistaken and Misguided Sex Discrimination Ruling, and describes the potential mischief.

    Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion claims to apply a simple and straightforward test: “An employer violates Title VII when it intentionally fires an individual employee based in part on sex.” But he refuses to consider what applying this simple—in reality, simplistic—test actually requires—and not just under Title VII, but under every nondiscrimination law that includes “sex” as a protected category, notably including Title IX. After all, Gorsuch’s argument is an argument about the logic of sex discrimination. Alas, he got that logic wrong. And had he considered what applying it to other cases would require, he might have been forced to reconsider his misguided theory. This mistaken theory of sex discrimination will have far-reaching negative consequences down the road.

    Anderson's article, I think, shows that we can look forward to more litigation and polarization, thanks to Gorsuchian glibness.


  • Kevin D. Williamson in National Review writes that The Revolution Is Business Class vs. First class.

    The class war in our country is business class vs. first class; in automotive terms, it’s E-Class vs. S-Class. Everybody’s comfortable. And that produces some odd outcomes: Nobody’s going to do one goddamned thing about how they conduct business in Philadelphia or Chicago or any other corrupt, Democrat-dominated city, but there are going to be some “new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility,” and we are going to be treated to — joy of joys! — a deep national discussion on whether some Broadway stars don’t have it quite as good as other Broadway stars. The bloody-snouted hyenas have looked up from the kill just long enough to announce the creation of the Goldman Sachs Fund for Racial Equity.

    It’s always the same thing: Our newspapers are full of intense interest in Harvard’s admissions standards but have very little to say about New York City’s dropout rate. People can’t help being fascinated with themselves and their peers. If you want to know what is on the minds of the leaders of the American ruling class, it’s no secret. They’ll tell you, if you ask — and if you don’t.

    It's not an "NRPLUS" article, so get on over there and RTWT.


  • I was disappointed by an AEI article by Mark J. Perry, which purports to tell The shocking story behind Nixon’s declaration of a ‘War on Drugs’ on this day in 1971 that targeted blacks and anti-war activists. Although this image is pretty sobering:

    [Nixon Drug War]

    … I'm pretty sure you know that Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy, right?

    Anyway, it's not that it's all Nixon's fault, it's his alleged motives:

    But as John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s counsel and Assistant for Domestic Affairs, revealed in 1994, the real public enemy in 1971 wasn’t really drugs or drug abuse. Rather the real enemies of the Nixon administration were the anti-war left and blacks, and the War on Drugs was designed as an evil, deceptive and sinister policy to wage a war on those two groups. In an article in the April 2016 issue of The Atlantic (“Legalize It All: How to win the war on drugs“) author and reporter Dan Baum explains how “John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results?” As Baum discovered, here’s the dirty and disgusting secret to that great mystery of what must be the most expensive, shameful, and reprehensible failed government policy in US history.

    Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman’s boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first “War on Drugs” in 1971 and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues. I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away.

    “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

    Nixon’s invention of the War on Drugs as a political tool was cynical, but every president since — Democrat and Republican alike — has found it equally useful for one reason or another. Meanwhile, the growing cost of the Drug War is now impossible to ignore: billions of dollars wasted, bloodshed in Latin America and on the streets of our own cities, and millions of lives destroyed by draconian punishment that doesn’t end at the prison gate; one of every eight black men has been disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.

    If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I have no sympathy for drug prohibition. But I have numerous problems with the above:

    1. A trivial one: Baum's article appeared in Harper's, not the Atlantic.
    2. There's every reason to be skeptical of the thesis offered, as summarized by a section of Wikipedia's page on Ehrlichman:
      1. Baum says he got this from Ehrlichman in 1994, in an interview for his book on the drug war. But the book (published in 1996) doesn't include the quote.
      2. Ehrlichman died in 1999.
      3. Finally, Baum produces the quote for his 2016 Harper's article.
      4. Ehrlichman's family challenged the quote's veracity.
      5. A writer at the young-adult website Vox didn't challenge the veracity of the quote, but thought that, even if Ehrlichman did say that, he was either lying or mistaken. A drug policy historian is quoted: "It's certainly true that Nixon didn't like blacks and didn't like hippies, but to assign his entire drug policy to his dislike of these two groups is just ridiculous."

    I left a short version of this as a comment on the article.


  • Wired looks at The Trouble With Counting Aliens, a response to/analysis of the Astrophysical Journal article that guessed at … um, let's say three dozen intelligent species in our galaxy.

    Skipping to the bit I found interesting:

    That is … not a lot, obviously, and it has some depressing implications.

    Depressing?

    I find that to be a damned odd word to use. Feel free to disagree with an article's argument or methods, fine. But if you admit being depressed about it, you're simply revealing your own wishful thinking. Which is not the way to approach science.

    But it explains a lot about Wired, which tends to use science! as a cudgel to advocate for its policy views.


  • Last week, we looked at an LTE in the Conway Daily Sun, bemoaning some local yahoos with a sign in their rear car window: "If your license plate does not say Live Free or Die, turn around and get the ‘expletive’ back home.” Analysis continued in followup LTE from Nicole Nordlund, asking the musical question: Are the 'Go Home' signs and gestures symbols of fear or hate?

    My neighbor was flipped off on the road because he had Massachusetts license plate. Windows were broken in vehicles bearing out-of-state plates. A sign demanding a property homeowner “Go Home” was displayed on their vehicle with out-of-state plates, while they were out on a stroll. A large sign was erected in my own town [Madison, NH], telling those from away to Go Home.

    At what point do these incidents become examples of hate? One could argue that they are examples of concern; however, those living with fears have the choice to stay inside, stay home themselves. Therefore, I question if they are actually fearful, or simply hateful.

    Fear or hate? That's slicing it pretty fine when you're trying to figure out a jerk's motivation for being a jerk.

    Nicole seems to be saying that "fear" (or "concern") might be an acceptable reason for being a jerk. Certainly we've had lots of recent examples of that, seemingly more every day. But if your motive slides off into "hate": oops, unacceptable.

    Maybe we should just call out jerkiness when we encounter it, without agonizing over whatever deep psychological issues the jerk might be having. That works for me.


  • And the List answers the question you didn't know you had: This is the time the at-home worker starts drinking. It's a state-by-state summary of an alcohol.org survey:

    The state with the earliest start time appears to be West Virginia, where happy hour begins at 3:24 p.m. Next come Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, and Montana, all starting at 3:36 p.m. Oddly enough, Delaware also ranks among the states having the lowest overall number of day drinkers with Alcohol.org reporting that only 15 percent of Delawareans imbibing while working from home. And Arkansas, the state with the lowest number of day drinkers (just 8 percent), also gets an early start with their first drinks of the day at 4 p.m.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Hawaii, where residents start drinking the latest at 7:30 p.m., but come in first place for day (or early evening) drinking with 67 percent joining in the festivities. And the state with the second-latest drinking time of 7:18 p.m. is also the one with the second-highest rate of workers who drink (or drinkers who work). That's you, New Hampshire, where 50 percent of "Live Free or Die" staters exercise their freedom to enjoy adult libations from their home offices.

    So (on average) we start drinking about when Pat Sajak announces "Final Spin" on "Wheel of Fortune". Understandable, right?