URLs du Jour


  • Some don't mind if it's Jewish oxen being gored. At yesterday's Morning Jolt, Jim Geraghty observes (among other things):

    Our Dan McLaughlin observes that the same people who object to criticizing the government of China because it could fuel racism against Asian Americans . . . don’t mind criticizing the government of Israel or fear that it could fuel anti-Semitism.

    Dan's tweet:

    In related news, Jerry Coyne notes the statement by the University of Chicago Undergraduate Student Government (USG) containing: "From the river to the sea, USG supports a Palestine that is free.”

    Understandably, that's getting a lot of pushback, not only from Jerry. Who says: "I’ve been at the University of Chicago for 35 years now, but never have I felt so alienated, at least politically, from the student body."

  • UNH physicist accused and cancelled! Lawrence M. Krauss writes In Defense of the Universal Values of Science.

    Until recently, it seemed inconceivable to imagine that any physical or biological scientists could become so misguided as to argue against the empirical basis of their own fields. But we are living in strange times. This week, the Divisional Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Oregon sent an email to faculty “to encourage you all to attend this exciting presentation!”, by a visiting physicist, which was described as follows:

    Title: Scientists vs. Science: Race, Gender, and Anti-Intellectualism in Science

    Abstract: Black thought can help us free science from the white supremacist traditions of scientists. Scientists vs. Science will use Black feminist and anti-colonialist analyses to show that white supremacy is a total epistemic system that affects even our most “objective” areas of knowledge production. The talk hinges on the development of the concept of white empiricism, which I introduced to give a name to the way that anti-intellectual white supremacy plays a role in physicists’ analysis of when empirical data is important and what counts as empirical data. This white empiricism shapes both Black women’s (and other) experiences in physics and the actual knowledge produced about physics. Until this is understood and addressed directly, systems of domination will continue to play a major role in the practice of physics.

    Krauss calls this "racist nonsense", which seems kind. He doesn't name the "visiting physicist", but, gee, that abstract sounded awfully familiar, and a little clicking around revealed, yup, 'twas Chanda Prescod-Weinstein of the University Near Here,

    Chanda's talk was "abruptly cancelled" which is kind of a shame.

  • We need more expensive and pointless stunts. Ben Domenech thinks we should Follow JFK's Lead In Taking Risks For The Nation.

    Federalist Publisher Ben Domenech urged Americans to follow the lead of former President John F. Kennedy and take risks for the sake of their country.

    “In his call for a project of immense national importance, President Kennedy comes across as the leader of a free people committing us to a clear-eyed task of achieving something that seemed utterly impossible,” Domenech explained. “…Instead of patronizing the audience, he walks Americans through a challenge with clear language to explain why it’s important. In the Tocquevillian sense, he speaks to us as citizens, not subjects. Kennedy called us to undertake the moonshot as a free people for the good of all mankind. Such a national mega-project commitment with a nine-year horizon is basically unthinkable today. The politics of the 1960s allowed for it, but those of today do not.”

    I have problems with that. I was a space geek, raptly following NASA, and I will never forget the thrill of seeing Neil Armstrong setting foot on lunar soil.

    But JFK's moonshot was a political gimmick with an arbitrary goal to beat the USSR. It was a dead end, and it turned NASA into yet another federal agency wangling with Congresscritters for its share of tax money to stay alive.

  • Nothing new there. George Will looks askance at the "For The People Act": Democrats’ big voting bill is a proposal to ignore the Constitution.

    During the Nixon administration’s Watergate unraveling, Henry Kissinger’s mordant jest was, “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” But not long, say today’s congressional Democrats. Their “For the People Act” (FTP) is 800-plus pages of provisions convenient for them and their party, some constitutionally dubious, others patently unconstitutional.

    All laws regulating campaigns are enacted by people with conflicts of interest — interests in advantaging themselves and disadvantaging challengers. FTP would dictate sweeping changes to all 50 states’ election laws, contravening the Constitution’s stipulation that the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections are to be determined by state legislatures. Granted, the Constitution says Congress may “alter” such rules, but dictating, for example, how congressional districts are drawn does not pertain to the “manner” of elections. FTP reflects the perennial progressive desire to reduce the states to appendages of the federal government.

    As I never tire of pointing out: Congresscritters take an oath to support the Constitution. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have resigned in embarrassment for voting for the FTP Act.

  • I'm betting on Wittgenstein scoring a KO in the first round. Crispin Sartwell, a philosophy prof at Dickson, writes at Reason about Wittgenstein vs. the Woke.

    Last summer, protesters from Baltimore to Bristol defaced statues and dumped them into rivers in an iconoclastic spasm, providing a momentary diversion from what the new progressives take to be the real agents of oppression: words. Words matter, they say, plausibly enough. Words have power and consequences, and there must be accountability, they add. These generalities are supposed to settle such matters as whether President Donald Trump calling the coronavirus the "kung flu" caused anti-Asian sentiment, which caused the Atlanta spa shootings, with no factual evidence required. That words have power is a commonplace, but then again so are observations that talk is cheap and that you'd better put your money where your mouth is.

    The view that words drive events is the spiritual orientation of youthful leftism. But it's hard to think of a view that would more directly contradict Marxist ideas about history, according to which words are frippery or ideology, concealing the material conditions of production. That sort of realism, which presupposes that we inhabit a physical universe, seems passé. Contemporary social justice movements focus on semiotic injustice, on the alleged violence perpetrated in and by words and images. We appear in this conception to live in a world that we are making with symbols, in a history driven by the production of signs and sentences rather than widgets.

    Sartwell does a fine job of making careful distinctions. And reaches the conclusion that "current arguments against free expression rest on untenable or incomprehensible claims about the power of words."

    Probably a 90-10 advantage for the "incomprehensible" side.