URLs du Jour


  • Our Eye Candy du Jour is a video from the good folks at Reason who did the math: U.S. Billionaire Wealth Would Fund Government For Just 6 Months.

    But if you prefer text, here's the key point:

    There are 724 American billionaires worth a total of $4.4 trillion, according to Forbes. It's a list that includes far-out space nuts like Bezos and Musk, entertainment moguls like Steven Speilberg and Tyler Perry, and lawyer-in-training Kim Kardashian. If it were somehow possible to liquidate all of that wealth without causing a market crash that would obliterate much of it in the process, we could cover roughly half a year of combined local, state, and federal spending.

    Not only that, but it's a one-time trick. Once you've erased the net worth of all American billionaires, it's not like you can keep doing that. What then?

  • Good Move, Woke Racial Activists. William A. Jacobson notes the latest polling. Woke Racial Activism Bears Fruit: Gallup Survey Shows Positive Views On Race Relations In Free Fall. Quoting Gallup:

    For the second consecutive year, U.S. adults’ positive ratings of relations between Black and White Americans are at their lowest point in more than two decades of measurement. Currently, 42% of Americans say relations between the two groups are “very” or “somewhat” good, while 57% say they are “somewhat” or “very” bad.

    The most recent rating of Black-White relations in the U.S. is not statistically different from last year’s 44%. However, the reading has eroded nine percentage points over the past two years as the nation has grappled with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide protests and calls for racial justice.

    As recently as 2013, the polling was 70% "very/somewhat good" vs. 30% "very/somewhat bad". And (graph at link) it had been roughly in that range since 2001.

    And now it's 57%-42% the other way.

    Blaming "woke racial activism" might be overly facile. On the other hand, it might be exactly what's going on.

    As a data point, in 2012 Joe Biden told a campaign crowd that Republicans were "going to put y'all back in chains."

    So maybe not just "woke racial activism", but also "stoking racial animosity for political advantage".

    Or maybe there's not a lot of difference between those two things.

  • It Ain't a McGuffey Reader, But Still… Ilana Redstone (Sociology prof at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign) provides A Straightforward Primer On Critical Race Theory (and Why It Matters).

    CRT’s critics are often portrayed as wanting to “whitewash” history and deny the reality of slavery. If the problem were that simple, the criticisms would indeed be worthy of the dismissal they often receive. Yet, there are serious concerns about CRT that are rarely aired and that have nothing to do with these points. As a result, confusion and misinformation abound and tension continues to mount. 

    Before making a few clarifying points, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of teachers and DEI trainers are not sitting down with students or groups announcing a lesson on CRT. More often than not, the name “CRT” never comes up at all. However, a CRT-based perspective is quietly shaping the conversation anyway. Its impact can be seen in conversations about race, power, identity, intent, privilege, and in an insistence on seeing the world through its lens.

    So what is it?

    CRT is a theoretical perspective that asserts that race is always about inequality and domination. CRT has a few main tenets, some of which can be (over)simplified as follows:

    1. Colorblind racism—Deemphasizing the role of race and racism, including to focus on concepts of merit, is itself a manifestation of racism.
    2. Interest convergence—Members of the dominant group will only support equality when it’s in their best interest to do so.
    3. Race and racism are always tied together. Race is a construct meant to preserve white dominance over people of color, while making it seem like life is about meritocracy.
    4. Inattention to systemic racism—An unwillingness to recognize the full force of systemic racism as determining disparities between groups is a denial of the reality of racism today (and evidence of ignorance at best and racism at worst).

    As Professor Douglas notes, once you take those viewpoints as given, the result is a "closed system" immune from criticism.

    For something self-billed as Critical Race Theory, isn't that ironic? I'm pretty sure it's ironic.

  • Conservatives Pounce! As should every American. John Hinderaker publishes "an open letter to big tech" from a group called "Free Speech America": Conservatives Attack Biden’s Assault On Free Speech.

    The Biden administration is ripping the U.S. Constitution to shreds. Its assault on America’s freedom of speech is terrifying. It is the hallmark of dictatorships.

    As a result of the incendiary and dangerous announcements made by the Biden White House last week to censor free speech with the cooperation of social media, we, the undersigned, demand Big Tech firms immediately and publicly announce that they will not comply with calls from the federal government to censor dissenting viewpoints. Not on COVID-19 and not on any other topic. Furthermore we call on those companies to resist further demands for such outrageous censorship of dissenting voices.

    The Biden administration is guilty of violating the most basic fundamental principles of a free and open society. President Joe Biden shockingly claimed Facebook is ‘killing people’ because it doesn’t completely censor its site in ways the administration approves. Though he later backed off this claim a bit, multiple members of the administration are moving to quash free speech on social media following that autocratic rationale.

    There's not a very significant difference between:

    1. government suppression of unapproved speech;
    2. government "encouraging" corporations to suppress unapproved speech under credible threat of regulatory retaliation.

    Some old-style liberals used to know this. They're seemingly a rare breed these days.

  • Astral Codex Ten assembles a hodgepodge of 27 Links For July. I'm sure you'll find something interesting in there, but I especially liked number six:

    6: Congratulations to SSC/ACX reader and commenter Tom Chivers, who recently won a British Science Journalist of the Year award. My own encounter with Tom was that he once wrote a book about the rationalist community, and asked to informally talk to me and my at-the-time girlfriend. My girlfriend was trying to decide whether or not she was ready to have children, so she got one of those robot babies that they use in school health classes to teach you how hard having an infant is. And she didn’t want to leave it alone or it would start crying and grade her as unready to be a mother. So she took it to the interview, and obviously Tom noticed it, and we had the fun task of convincing him that we were normal people who just happened to be carrying a robot baby around, for reasons that were totally unrelated to us being in something that we were trying to make clear to him was NOT a robot cult. He was very understanding and didn’t dwell on it too much in his book, which was very gracious of him. Anyway, you can read his science reporting here.

    Also: WolframAlpha's "48 random digits". No spoiler here!

Last Modified 2021-07-24 7:10 AM EDT