URLs du Jour

2020-08-03

  • <voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone!</voice>. Mark J. Perry has another Animated chart of the day, and it's our Eye Candy du Jour:

    Why, it's almost as if our government schools have been incentivized to work for the benefit of teachers and non-teaching staff instead of students!


  • Writing at the Washington Post, Mark Theissen wonders: are teachers really essential? (Well, actually, he doesn't. But I do.)

    This week, public school teachers in D.C. marched to protest opening schools next month, placing fake body bags outside the school district’s office. They brought signs saying “RIP Favorite Teacher,” “killed in the line of duty” and “how many will you let die?” They are not alone. According to an Education Week poll released last month, 65 percent of public school teachers and administrators want to keep schools closed this fall, while just 35 percent want to reopen.

    Maybe they should have brought signs that read “I’m not essential” — because that is what they are telling us.

    At the height of the pandemic, millions of grocery clerks, factory workers, food processors, truck drivers, railroad workers, mass transit workers, sanitation workers, utility workers, police officers and firefighters continued showing up for work — because it was essential that they do so. Are teachers less essential than these professions? Apparently, they think so.

    Nothing would please me more than a long slow slide of government schools into irrelevancy.


  • Andy Kessler has an amusing op-ed at the WSJ: The Physics of a Political Crack-Up. Probably paywalled, but…

    Are politics swinging out of control? Have we reached the resonant frequency of destruction? Oh, how we’ve swung—from the lefty Third Way of Clinton-Gore, to the righty foreign adventures of Bush-Cheney, to the progressive “Life of Julia” nanny state of Obama-Biden, to today’s confused tariff and border-wall follies of Trump-Pence. No wonder we throw the bums out every four or eight years.

    Physics students learn that everything has a resonant frequency, which can cause an object to vibrate with increased amplitude and eventually out of control. This is how opera singers can shatter glass.

    One real-life example is “Galloping Gertie.” On Nov. 7, 1940, a day with 35-mile-an-hour wind, Washington state’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge, then the world’s third-longest suspension bridge (after the Golden Gate and George Washington) and just four months after completion, started to twist and swing out of control. Movie footage shows what seems like a wave of energy pulsing through the bridge until, after an hour, it collapsed. Apparently, it had hit its resonant frequency.

    In a later paragraph, Andy notes that's not really happened to Gertie: she was just poorly designed and cheaply built. So the resonant-frequency analogy isn't great. Also, the design and construction of our political system was actually pretty good. Our current woes are more due to (trying to set up a different analogy) neglectful maintenance and intentional vandalism.


  • At Inside Sources, guest columnist David Micali says our state might be a little slow to latch onto political fashion, but eventually… The Debate Over Statues Reaches New Hampshire. David discusses Franklin Pierce (revealing some seamy opinions of which I wasn't aware), and the even more obscure…

    Hannah Duston was a Puritan Massachusetts colonist taken captive by the Abenaki people in 1697 as part of King William’s War (1689-1697). She was held in Boscawen, N.H. and she killed and scalped 10 of the Native American family members holding them hostage in her escape.

    Her story became famous 100 years after her death in 1736 and she has become known as the “mother of the American tradition of scalp-hunting.” A statue of her was erected in Boscawen in 1874.

    Some historians have argued that her story was used as a justification for American settlers’ harsh treatment of Native Americans during Manifest Destiny as the country pushed west.

    Egads. The Wikipedia article doesn't mention the scalping bit. The Atlas Obscura entry has more gory detail.


  • A feelgood story from John Fund at National Review: How Olivia de Havilland & Ronald Reagan Beat Hollywood Communists.

    When Olivia de Havilland, the grande dame of the Golden Age of Hollywood, died last week at age 104, the tributes and memories for a life well lived poured in. She was the last surviving cast member of the epic Gone with the Wind. She won two Academy Awards. She was romantically pursued by everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Howard Hughes to a young Jack Kennedy. She challenged and helped change punitive film-industry practices toward performers.

    But one chapter in her life was missing from almost all the tributes. In its 3,000-word obituary the New York Times failed to mention the key role she played in defeating the Communist subversion of Hollywood in the 1940s.

    The Washington Post devoted not one word of its 2,400-word obit to it. Neither did the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood’s local paper, in its 2,200-word sendoff.

    But it's a great story, and an interesting tidbit: in 1946, Miss de Havilland asked Ronald Reagan to pen an anti-Commie declaration for newspaper publication. And she rejected Reagan's initial try: "Ronnie, it’s not strong enough. It’s not strong enough. It has to be stronger than that or I won’t accept it,"

    I hope she was adequately pleased with his future efforts.


  • And here's a pan: the Bulwark The Blind Oracle of Noonan, a trashing of Peggy Noonan's recent WSJ column dissenting from the "burn down the GOP" never-Trumpers.

    Most of it is sneering and name-calling. But here's something substantive:

    She doesn’t want Never Trumpers making noise because their critiques “will be unhelpful for Republicans, and bad for the country, if that’s the background music of the party the next 10 years.”

    That seems to be… incorrect. Here are the last few paragraphs of Noonan's column, where the quote appears:

    Some Never Trumpers helped create the conditions that created President Trump. What would be helpful from them now is not pyromaniac fantasies but constructive modesty, even humility.

    The party’s national leaders and strategists don’t have a lot to be proud of the past few decades. The future of the party will probably bubble up from the states.

    But it matters that the past six months Mr. Trump has been very publicly doing himself in, mismanaging his crises—setting himself on fire. As long as that’s clear, his supporters won’t be able to say, if he loses, that he was a champion of the people who was betrayed by the party elites, the Never Trumpers and the deep state: “He didn’t lose, he was the victim of treachery.”

    Both parties have weaknesses. Liberals enjoy claiming progress that can somehow never quite be quantified. Conservatives like the theme of betrayal.

    It will be unhelpful for Republicans, and bad for the country, if that’s the background music of the party the next 10 years.

    Could anything be clearer? It's not the "Never Trumpers" making that background music. It's the what-if Trump fans blaming the Never Trumpers for their "betrayal" and "treachery"?

    It's been awhile since I've been able to find anything worth blogging at the Bulwark. If this keeps up, I may give up, just as I've given up on Breitbart and Michelle Malkin.

Onward

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Pixar's latest. As you might remember, it was released to the theaters in early March, just as Covid was getting going. So it did poorly for a Pixar flick. Sad! But it's pretty good. Not up there with Up or Toy Story N, but still pretty good.

It's set in a world populated by various mythical creatures: elves, centaurs, manticores (maybe just one manticore), ogres, etc. And while magic still exists, it's been de-emphasized and disrespected since modern technology was developed. Our hero is Ian, whose family (seemingly like most Pixar families) is missing a dad: he died before Ian was born. Again, sad! But there's an out: on Ian's 16th birthday, his mom reveals a long-concealed gift: a magic staff and a spell that will bring dad back for just one day.

Unfortunately for Ian, but fortunately for the movie plot, the spell only half works. Ian and his goofy brother Barley set off on a dangerous—and, yes, perilous—quest to acquire the magical Maguffin to finish the spell, and reunite with dad.

If you watch it, I suggest going to the IMDB trivia page afterward to find out what you missed. In my case, a lot.