URLs du Jour


  • We Were Amused: What Should Have Happened at the Amy Coney Barrett Hearings.

    If only real life were like that…

  • Just a random gripe that I probably make every October in even-numbered years: I'm pretty sick of all the nags, online and broadcast, demanding that I vote. Stop it.

    I guess they're going after people on the margin. People who won't vote unless they're nagged. But…

    I think someone should do a reverse nag: citizen, if you need to be hectored into voting, maybe you shouldn't vote. It's not as if you would be making informed decisions in the booth. That's not the way I'd bet, anyway.

    Don't worry, though. All evidence suggests that "informed" voters don't vote that intelligently either.

  • Kevin D. Williamson's "Tuesday" column muses on Priest-King Reigns.

    In the matter of monarchy, Thailand has made one critical improvement over the United Kingdom: Whereas the British imported their ridiculous royal family from Germany, the clever Thais have taken the much more sensible step of exporting their ghastly monarchy to the same country, with the king, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, a.k.a. Rama X, having abandoned his homeland, famous for its beautiful beaches and gorgeous police state, and set up housekeeping with his extensive harem at the Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl in the ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, near the Austrian border. It’s a famous spot: The funny little fellow with the funny little mustache presided over the winter Olympics there in 1936.

    (One might be tempted to think of Garmisch-Partenkirchen as the Eurotrash Aspen, except that the Eurotrash Aspen is Aspen.)

    The absentee monarch is an avid cyclist, and avid for . . . other pursuits: The Economist quotes a source close to the king describing his daily schedule: “Bike, f***, eat. He does only those three things.” No doubt the Bavarian alps provide interesting and rewarding opportunities for all three. Try the Alpen Käsefondue.

    Eventually, KDW makes the American connection. The trip is fun reading.

  • Issues & Insights notes that when/if Biden ever announces his position on court-packing, it will come after millions of voters have cast their ballots. But that's not all: 5 Other Things We’ll Learn About Biden After The Election. And here's one I've been expecting myself:

    4. There are some “concerns” about Biden’s mental abilities. It’s not hard to find evidence of Biden’s cognitive decline. All you have to do is watch him. He managed to keep it together during his debate with Trump and in the oh-so-friendly town hall meeting. But at almost every other event, Biden’s struggles with memory are abundantly clear.

    The topic, however, has been ignored by the press because, well you know why. If Biden wins, this will suddenly become an acceptable topic of conversation, especially when there’s a far more reliably leftist vice president waiting in the wings.

    Does Kamala have the 25th Amendment memorized yet?

  • At Reason, Jesse Walker writes: You Can’t Always Trust What You Hear Online, and Congress Has Some Ideas About Fixing That.

    The hearings had been underway for about an hour and 15 minutes when Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi piped up with an idea. "Are there ways," the Illinois Democrat asked, "that we might be able to infect…the QAnon conspiracy web with other ideas or stories that could sow confusion and discord and cause it collapse in on itself? In other words, kind of embed other crazy things that might pit groups against each other?"

    There was a brief pause. Then Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard's Shorenstein Center, offered an objection. Algorithmic recommendation systems "respond to that sort of excitement," she noted, and Krishnamoorthi's operation might just keep the QAnon conversation alive.

    It was October 15, and Donovan was one of four witnesses testifying via video call to the House Intelligence Committee. She was joined by Cindy Otis, a former CIA officer now based at the Alethea Group; by Melanie Smith, who works at the social media analytics firm Graphika; and by Nina Jankowicz, a Wilson Center analyst with the wonderful job title "disinformation fellow." The hearing was titled "Misinformation, Conspiracy Theories, and 'Infodemics': Stopping the Spread Online," and much of it was given over to discussing what public regulators and private platforms should do about the dubious claims that circulate on social media.

    It was a Democrat-only meeting, with all sorts of ideas flying around about having the government develop tools to make sure only its version of "truth" makes it into the public square. What could go wrong?

  • I recently subscribed to Why Evolution is True, the blog of Jerry Coyne, a bio prof at the University of Chicago. Jerry's an atheist Democrat, and very outspoken about it. But he's also an old-fashioned non-woke liberal which makes him worth reading. Check out: The pushback against free speech begins.

    He looks at recent articles in "respectable" publications (the New York Times and the New Yorker) that openly wonder how we can get those objectionable views censored. Jerry notes that for all the bloviating about "hate speech", nobody's defined it very well.

    The term “hate speech,” too is slippery. If Holocaust Denial is hate speech, well, I don’t favor criminalizing or censoring it. People need to hear the arguments against the Holocaust, for how can you counter them (many sound quite convincing!) until you know what they are? Further, allowing “hate speech”, including stuff like praising Hitler, simply outs people who are bigots, letting you know where people stand. To ban such things implicitly assumes that Americans are stupid, and will be easily swayed by arguments that are false but sound good. And it drives the “hate” underground, but doesn’t do a thing to eliminate it. Free speech is what’s needed to get rid of bigotry, and was largely responsible for the decline of racism in America in the last 70 years.

    And if you think that people can’t be trusted to suss out the truth, or consider all ideas, then somebody has to appoint A DECIDER to work out what speech people can read and what speech they are too credulous to be exposed to. Do you want Mark Zuckerberg to do that? Indeed, Facebook’s standards for taking down posts, as the New Yorker shows, are so confused and contradictory that the company won’t even make them public.

    I'm open to the "Americans are stupid" argument. But you don't make them smarter by suppressing speech.