URLs du Jour

2021-06-30

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  • Probably Unrelated To Our Amazon Product du Jour. Bari Weiss has some amusing details about Amazon's Woke Smokescreen. Specifically, the "Inclusion Playbook" published by Amazon Studios' division of (what else) "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion". And from there she encountered a Factsheets Glossary published by a group called "Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity". Wherein:

    There I encountered entries on things like: acquired limb difference (otherwise known as “amputation”). There’s an entry on mean girls, which, I learned, was a “stereotype of girls and young women characterizing them as socially aggressive and unkind” —characterizations that, apparently, not only “enforce the bad behavior” but “fail to address the larger social issues girls and women face like insecurity, lack of confidence, and pressure to fit the ‘feminine beauty ideal.’” Someone please relay that to Tina Fey. 

    There were entries on haka (I’ve been a fan for years), unnecessary intersex surgeries (bad), womxn (whatever happened to good old-fashioned womyn?) and the biological clock, which is explained as: “in relation to birthing people, the biological clock refers to the sense of pressure people feel to have children during their ‘peak’ reproductive years.” As a 37-year-old womxn/birthing person, I can assure you that those scare quotes around the word ‘peak,’ as though human reproduction is some kind of social construct, are superfluous.

    Moving right along, the Inclusion Playbook taught me that the Arabic word jihad means to “strive and struggle for God,” and is a term that describes “personal betterment.” Sharia, we are told, literally means “the clear, well-trodden path to water.” 

    And more. I suggest you not drink any liquids while reading.


  • One Less Sane Voice. Don Boudreaux eulogizes Steven Horwitz (1964-2021).

    Yesterday brought the terrible news of Steve Horwitz’s death. Diagnosed a few short years ago with multiple myeloma, he fought this cancer aggressively and with aplomb. Alas, the cancer too quickly stole his life – the life of a splendid member of that most engendered of species, namely, superb and scholarly economists who both wish to, and excel at, communicating clearly with the general public.

    Steve was also a wonderful human being.

    Over the years, Steve made numerous appearances at Pun Salad. I read and reported on his book, Hayek's Modern Family back in 2016. In the summer of 2017 he was gloriously brutal in his takedown of Nancy MacLean's hackwork on James Buchanan: here, here, and here. And he was good on other topics too: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

    He will be missed.


  • Hm. I've Never Seen Them In the Same Room. Kevin D. Williamson's Tuesday column looks at The Devil and Garry Wills.

    One of the great ironies of the abortion debate is that the pro-life camp, purportedly made up of religious fanatics, mostly wants to talk about biology, while the notionally secular pro-abortion faction has embraced a medieval superstition about “ensoulment” and “quickening,” as exemplified most recently by Garry Wills’s latest New York Times essay, flabbergasting in its simplemindedness, on Joe Biden and the Catholic bishops.

    Wills’s column is the sort of Dark Ages hoo-haw that gives Dark Ages hoo-haw a bad name.

    We shouldn’t live by prehistoric superstition when we have better alternatives, but we shouldn’t sneer at our forebears as primitive — they would recognize us, and we should recognize them and recognize ourselves in them. As James George Frazer argued in The Golden Bough, magic is the embarrassing ancestor of science, the fruit of mankind’s earliest efforts to produce a systematic explanation of the physical world and natural phenomena. Is the thunder really the Sky Father  shaking his shield? No, of course not, but put yourself in the place of those early men: Everybody you know believes that the Sky Father causes thunder, everybody you have ever known believes it, the people of the highest standing in your community attest to it, your father and your grandfather believed it and, even if you were to question it — and here’s the most important part — what’s the next-best explanation?

    A lot of interesting stuff about Dante, and you'll want to click through to discover what Wills says that causes KDW to observe: "This is either the dumbest thing published in the New York Times since the last time Paul Krugman wrote or it is willfully misleading, a bad-faith argument."... well, you'll have to click over.


  • Also Debunked, Demolished, Discredited, Lampooned, Spoofed, Eluded,… Robby Soave has good advice: Critical Race Theory Can’t Be Banned. It Can Be Exposed, Mocked, and Avoided..

    So let's just get this out of the way: Critical race theory is the idea that structural racism is embedded in many U.S. institutions. Slavery was the reality when the country was founded, and segregation endured for a century following the Civil War. It would thus be naive to assume that supposedly race-neutral policies are actually race-neutral—there's nothing neutral about America and race. Working from this assumption, adherents of critical race theory tend toward a kind of progressive activism that views post-Enlightenment classical liberalism and its notions of equal opportunity, the prioritization of individual rights over group rights, and colorblindness with hostility.

    Since very few people involved in the CRT debate have had much experience with the above definition, nearly everybody who has waded into this controversy is right about some things and wrong about many other things.

    Savvier liberals are correct, for instance, that CRT, as defined by the people who actually coined the term, mostly exists in academia, not K-12 classrooms. This means that Republican legislative efforts to protect kids from CRT are actually targeting a wide swath of only semi-related progressive concepts. These bills are almost uniformly heavy-handed, and in some cases represent active threats to freedom of expression in the classroom.

    I'm reminded what SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart said about porn: "I know it when I see it."

    I think the porn-CRT analogy holds pretty well:

    • Efforts to "ban" porn have been unsuccessful. (Proof left as an exercise for the reader.)
    • Those efforts also (at least temporarily) banned worthy works of literature and art.
    • On the other hand, we've managed to successfully keep porn out of K-12 and (mostly) universities.

    So…


  • I Suspect Dr. Jill. Kyle Smith wonders: As Biden Bumbles, Who's Really Running the US?.

    Chris Rock famously said, when Barack Obama was president, “The president and the first lady are kind of like the mom and the dad of the country. And when your dad says something, you listen.”

    Joe Biden, though, is the granddad of the country, and when you listen to Granddad, sometimes you wonder whether it’s safe for him to be near a pair of scissors.

    No big deal, though; it’s just that there’s this guy who looks like he’d have trouble using Google Maps and he happens to be in charge of all the nukes. On the rare occasions when Biden’s staff let him out of the dayroom to be seen on camera, pre-selected members of the press ask him the gentlest conceivable questions and then wind up cringing anyway as Biden gives one unnerving display after another.

    Examples at the link. You'll chuckle until you remember this guy is the President. Then you might cringe.


  • Silence is Golden. Meaning, In This Case, Lots of Money is Involved. Andrew Stiles reports at the Washington Free Beacon: NBA, Nike, Apple, Google Silent on China’s Crackdown on Journalists in Hong Kong. Excerpt:

    Apple, Google, Nike, and the NBA have all come under fire for their deep (and exceedingly profitable) ties to China, as well as their willingness to overlook human rights abuses and submit to the Chinese government's demands. In the United States, meanwhile, these corporations are among the most outspoken when it comes to so-called social justice issues.

    In 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted his company's commitment to "sustaining a free press and thriving democracy," but only in Western markets where such rhetoric is welcomed. In China, where supporting democracy and press freedom is a criminal offense, Apple is perfectly willing to disregard its own values.

    Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that Apple's alleged commitment to civil liberties and privacy did not apply to China. The company gave Chinese government employees control over the data centers housing the personal data of Chinese customers. At the request of the government, Apple scrapped the encryption technology it uses in other countries to protect user privacy, and even removed its "Designed by Apple in California" slogan from the backs of iPhones sold in China.

    As Groucho probably didn't say: "These are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others."