URLs du Jour

2020-09-07

  • For those of you with jobs, Happy Labor Day! Here's a timely reminder from the Josiah Bartlett Center: Without innovation, labor can't generate progress.

    The weekend has arrived when Americans play for three days while politicians give speeches and issue press releases recognizing the economic contributions of the American labor movement.

    Labor’s contributions are worth recognition. But have any politicians ever acknowledged that laboring in isolation produces nothing beyond basic subsistence? For labor to generate human progress, it has to be mixed with innovation. Yet we have no holiday for the innovators.

    The author (Drew Cline) has read his McCloskey. I left a comment suggesting further reading.


  • Glenn Greenwald, an honest leftist, notes Journalism’s New Propaganda Tool: Using “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite. He looks at a 2017 story "broken" by CNN: "a smoking gun proving the Trump/Russia conspiracy once and for all"!

    Only problem: the story was bogus.

    Oh wait, a further problem: Multiple mainstream media members rushed to "confirm" CNN's story. How the hell do you "confirm" a story that turns out to be false?

    Well, that shameful episode has been memory-holed by CNN and the other anti-Trump propaganda outlets. But Greenwald notes they're still up to the same tricks:

    It seems the same misleading tactic is now driving the supremely dumb but all-consuming news cycle centered on whether President Trump, as first reported by the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, made disparaging comments about The Troops. Goldberg claims that “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day” — whom the magazine refuses to name because they fear “angry tweets” — told him that Trump made these comments. Trump, as well as former aides who were present that day (including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Bolton), deny that the report is accurate.

    So we have anonymous sources making claims on one side, and Trump and former aides (including Bolton, now a harsh Trump critic) insisting that the story is inaccurate. Beyond deciding whether or not to believe Goldberg’s story based on what best advances one’s political interests, how can one resolve the factual dispute? If other media outlets could confirm the original claims from Goldberg, that would obviously be a significant advancement of the story.

    Other media outlets — including Associated Press and Fox News — now claim that they did exactly that: “confirmed” the Atlantic story. But if one looks at what they actually did, at what this “confirmation” consists of, it is the opposite of what that word would mean, or should mean, in any minimally responsible sense. AP, for instance, merely claims that “a senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press,” while Fox merely said “a former senior Trump administration official who was in France traveling with the president in November 2018 did confirm other details surrounding that trip.”

    I found the Atlantic story to be plausible, because Trump says stupid offensive garbage all the time. But I think it's (nevertheless) shoddy journalism, a hit piece conveniently dumped pre-election.


  • Baylen Linnekin takes on a recent report from Uncle Stupid: Flawed Federal Dietary Report Targets Alcohol. Specifically, the every-five-years report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recommends halving the definition of "moderate alcohol consumption" to one drink per day for adult males.

    But…

    Last month, five Harvard Medical School faculty doctors—including three who served on one or more prior iterations of the DGAC—submitted comments that are highly critical of the 2020 DGAC report. They argue the push to slash the maximum daily alcohol consumption for men is a "limited, arbitrary, and unsystematic treatment of alcohol consumption" that is based on "limited, arbitrary, and unsystematic evidence."

    While rightly noting the dangers of binge drinking and consistent heavy alcohol consumption in their comments, the Harvard doctors note the DGAC appears to have "ignored" three decades of research, drinking patterns, and "relevant recent evidence." They also argue the recommendations demonstrate "scientific inconsistency" and an "arbitrary" and biased selection of research. "These arbitrary selections all appear intended to support claims made by members of the DGAC prior to appointment, rather than as systematic and transparent reviews of existing scientific evidence." In other words, the researchers claim anti-alcohol DGAC members focused only on research that supports arguments those members wanted to make all along.

    In celebration of Baylen's revelations, I may imbibe an immoderate amount of wine tonight.


  • [Amazon Link]
    And we've so far successfully ignored the recent book In Defense of Looting by Vicky (used to be "Willie") Osterwell. I don't plan on reading it. (But if you'd like to, Amazon link at your right!) Jonah Goldberg went at it though: The Inanity of The Defense of Looting.

    She is fluent in all the latest buzzwords and campus jargon. The “so-called” United States of America, she writes in her book, was founded in “cisheteropatriarchal racial capitalist” violence. (I’m getting my quotes from Graeme Wood’s excellent review in The Atlantic, as I have no desire to saddle Osterweil with the guilt of profiting from her work.)

    Destroying businesses is an “experience of pleasure, joy and freedom,” she writes. Osterweil also insists it’s a form of “queer birth,” and that “riots are violent, extreme and femme as f---.” Looting isn’t wrong, she claims, but rather a form of “proletarian shopping.” 

    Jonah points out that you can dress up nice, publish a book, go on NPR,… and still be, at your heart, a barbarian.