URLs du Jour

2020-12-03

[Amazon Link]

  • In our occasional "Of Course They Did" Department, the Free Beacon reports: San Francisco Bans Smoking Tobacco in Apartments—but Allows Weed.

    The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban smoking in apartment buildings—but made an exception for marijuana, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

    Supervisor Norman Yee (D.) brought forward the original measure—which included a ban on smoking weed—last week, with the intent of protecting nonsmokers from inhaling secondhand smoke inside apartment complexes.

    Nothing in the article about vaping. So I guess that's OK, right? Well … from June 2019:

    San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city. The city is the corporate home of Juul Labs, the biggest producer of e-cigarettes in the United States.

    Yeah. Only politically correct addictions are allowed in Frisco.


  • Michael Graham of NH Journal noticed (as we have a number of times over the past year): the 'Confucius Institute' Has Ties to Communist Chinese Regime, Support of UNH Officials.

    With the latest report of China’s attempts to mislead the world about COVID-19 by hiding data that could have helped fight the pandemic, the Communist regime is again reminding the world why it cannot be trusted.

    It’s also a reminder of how problematic it is that the University of New Hampshire is currently hosting an organization funded by the Chinese Community Party, one designed to spread propaganda, and which is under investigation by the FBI. Even more concerning, UNH recently renewed the organization’s contract for on-campus operations, despite knowing these facts.

    It’s called the “Confucius Institute.”

    The University Near Here has been stonewalling Graham's inquiries, but he requotes the "Hey, it's free money" excuse provided to NHPR by Asian Studies Professor Lawrence Reardon.


  • A different professor, Jerry Coyne, wonders: Are we “scientific fascists”?. He's responding to a Medium essay, On Scientific Fascism by still another academic, Associate Professor of Sociology at Old Dominion University Roderick Shawn Graham.

    In response to this bit of Graham:

    The scientific fascist adopts as their tools of choice science and reason. The purpose of using these tools is only ever to mount an attack on the ideas underpinning social justice activities. These ideas include “lived experiences”, “safe spaces”, “white fragility”, “heteronormativity”, “systemic racism”, “toxic masculinity” and “microaggressions”, to name a few. This is one of the qualities that separates scientific fascism from scientism. Scientism is an extreme belief in science. [JAC: no it’s not!] Scientific fascists, on the other hand, are using science and reason for the political goal of pushing back social justice activism.

    Coyne responds well:

    Now of course science and reason can be used to criticize any ideology or idea, be it Critical Studies, other aspects of social justice, liberalism as a whole, the ideology of Republicans, Communism, and so on.  But Graham uses the term “scientific fascist” only for those who use science and reason to attack social justice—and his conception of it—which already shows that the two words of his mantra “scientific fascist” have been construed more narrowly.

    But he’s dead wrong in his second quote, for the purpose of using “science” and “reason” is NOT “only ever” to mount an attack on social justice, or to try to “maintain social inequalities and erase the experiences of minority groups from public discourse.” But you could, of course, use science to see if safe spaces work, or if there is such a a thing as implicit bias, but somehow I don’t think Graham would favor that kind of science. He’d rather use “lived experience”—those people who say that they require safe spaces and have been victims of unconscious bias.

    I'd be proud to be called a "scientific fascist" by the likes of Graham.


  • Bryan Caplan tells us The Sense in Which [he doesn't] Trust the Media. But more specifically, he provides multiple reasons for ignoring the media. Here's number three:

    Importance.  Whenever the media cover a story, there’s a subtext.  And the subtext is: This is important! The also goes when the media ignores a story.  The subtext is: This is not important! Even if I knew nothing about the world, I would wonder, “What qualifies these people to adjudicate events’ importance?”  And since I do know a great deal about the world, I am convinced that the media’s sense of importance is radically defective.  These are the kind of people who would rather cover an insensitive tweet than Uighur concentration camps.  They would rather report a fatality-free nuclear accident than the vastly greater health damage of coal.  They would rather investigate the latest terrorist attack than discuss the global murder rate.  These are not isolated shortcomings.  The media’s main function is to distort viewers’ priorities.

    Ever since I was a young 'un, I was impressed with the bogosity of TV shows who managed to fit the "news" into exactly 30 minutes (less commercials) every evening. No matter what actually had happened that day.

    You'd think some days they'd have to cut it short: "Well, that's about it. Not much else going on. Enjoy this video of Erich Brenn!"

    But other days they'd need to go long in order to mention all the important stuff, right?


  • J.D. Tuccille tells a simple truth at Reason: In a Complex World, Politicians Have a Simple Demand: More Power.

    Fans of a large and intrusive state are fond of arguing that leaving people alone is fine for simple, primitive societies, but that the growing complexity of the modern world requires a strong hand and centralized control. It's a convenient position for authoritarians to take, since it leaves them eternally amassing power unless the rest of us give up on roads and electricity and crawl back into caves to preserve our stone-age liberty. It's also completely backwards. Authoritarianism is actually easier to implement (though no more palatable) in settings where rulers can closely monitor their subjects; larger, complicated societies require decentralized power.

    It's a point to remember in a pandemic year that has handed government officials new excuses to expand their authority.

    It's also important to remember how much of the populace cheered each expansion of state authority and derided people who dissented. How long can liberty last in a society that doesn't value liberty that highly?