URLs du Jour


  • Death of Internet predicted. Four years ago. Thomas W. Hazlett reminds us: Net Neutrality Is Far From Necessary.

    Get ready for the next stage in the never-ending tussle over "net neutrality." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is prepping to craft yet another regime for internet service providers (ISPs)—the seventh in 13 years.

    Even by contemporary standards of partisan unpleasantness, the debate about net neutrality is acrimonious. In 2018, a man was convicted of threatening to kill then–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's family because he didn't like Pai's approach to the issue. The hysteria does not reflect reality. The "open internet" that regulatory rules purportedly preserve emerged from a world without net neutrality rules.

    Hazlett does a fine job telling the history and recalling the dire predictions accompanying the shedding of Net-Neut regulations. The New York Times headline in 2017: "The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death."

    We have, of course, moved on since then to different threats…

  • Breaking news from … oh, 1988 or so. Dan McLaughlin notes that Joe Biden is unfit to lead then nation. It's an NRPLUS article, sorry, but it's one of those that demonstrate why NRPLUS is a pretty good deal.

    It was possible, if you did not look too closely, to construct a case on paper over the past year and a half for Joe Biden as an appropriate person to be president of the United States, commander in chief of its armed forces, and leader of the free world. Certainly, Biden did not lack for experience in high, national public office, exposing him to everything a man would need in order to be prepared for the job. He was a senator for 36 years, dating back to the closing days of the Vietnam War. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee twice, including during the post–9/11 era when Congress authorized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He served two terms as vice president. He traveled to war zones and met scores of foreign leaders. Biden was also a man who came up from humble means and was seasoned by personal tragedy. One could characterize his years in office as the record of a public servant who values important institutions, took many mainstream positions, and showed a willingness and ability to work with people across the aisle.

    Yet, longtime Biden-watchers knew better. Two sets of critiques of Biden have followed him over the course of his career, and Republicans and conservatives have hardly been the only ones to level them. First were the things people noticed about Biden before 2019. For all his time-serving in Washington, Biden was widely understood to be a lightweight, a fabulist, a plagiarist, an exaggerating braggart, a walking gaffe machine, a purveyor of malarkey who covered his inch-deep grasp of everything with his Irish charm and his ability to talk fast and at length until the listener had long since lost track of the topic. Biden rarely had ideas of his own, and when he did, they were usually the subject of mockery. His capacity for filling airtime at Senate hearings without actually saying anything was legendary. Yet, as Clarence Thomas and others warned, Biden could also be two-faced, reassuring people with promises in private and breaking them in public.

    Thanks, voters!

  • Shut up, she explained. The good folks at Granite Grok note that a helpful denizen of the University Near Here travelled down to Exeter to … well, here's the headline: "NH Listens" Moderator 'Threatens' Attendees of SAU16 DEI-J Meeting.

    "SAU16" administers the government schools in Exeter and surrounding communities. "DEI-J" is their shorthand for "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice". Michele Holt-Shannon is in charge of "New Hampshire Listens", which is… well, a group that pretends to listen. But all that listening has never, ever, changed their mind about anything. And there's only so much listening one can do. Here's what she said in moderating that apparently contentious meeting:

    “So, what I’m going to ask is…we’re going to give people a couple of chances to please be quiet and be respectful. We really want everyone to be able to stay in the room. We’re not making the decision whether someone leaves, the police are, but we will call them in if we need to. They’re very nearby. But our hope is, our hope and desire, is that everyone is able to stay and be respectful and listen and participate.”

    Translation: "If you object to our presentation in ways we don't like, we'll get the cops to throw you out."

    (There were no cops on hand to guarantee the free speech rights of dissenters. Progressives usually refer to this as a "power differential." Except when the cops are on their side.)

    I was amused by one of the documents available at the SAU 16 DEI-J website, where one Abby Hood answers the softball query "How is the work around DEIJ growing your learning?"

    "Growing your learning." Sheesh. Anyway, her answer begins:

    The work to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression starts with self-work.

    Darn! As I left as a comment on the GG post: when Michele Holt-Shannon threatens to call in the police on you, just say you're working "to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression." How could she possibly object to that?

  • Jacques Ellul. Now there's a name I've not heard in a long, long time. Alan Jacobs has some interesting things to say a new theory of propaganda. Leveraging off of Orwell's concept of the "Two-Minute Hate" in 1984:

    The relevance of the Two Minutes Hate to our social-media world is so obvious that we rarely pause to notice the fundamental difference between what happens in Orwell’s novel and what we do: no one organizes our sessions of loathing.

    In Orwell’s novel, the Two Minutes Hate is a deliberate exercise created, scheduled, and enforced by the government for propagandistic purposes. It is a carefully designed strategy of negative reinforcement (loathing of Goldstein) followed immediately by positive reinforcement (love of Big Brother). But nothing like that happens in our world. We all know that Big Brother does not exist, and yet we feel his presence all around us. No centralized political force pulls our puppet-strings, and yet we feel pulled upon nonetheless. No one organizes a Two Minutes Hate, and yet Two Minutes (or Several Hours) of Hate we have, day after day after day. We affirm one another in key responses and exclude those who fail to exhibit those responses. (Note that what’s happening here is the performance of responses, not beliefs as such.) We monitor, we police the boundaries.

    I'd extend that idea well beyond social media. Certainly (for example) the sketches on Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin as Trump were never that funny; that didn't stop the studio audience from guffawing. And the extent to which "news" channels have become boob-bait for partisans of one stripe or the other is a similar phenomenon.