URLs du Jour

2021-07-21

I know: least surprising Amazon Product du Jour ever. Our TV is never on in the morning, but yesterday it was. [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • Don't Listen to the Wokesters. Liz Wolfe argues (correctly): Bezos Launching Into Space Will Probably Make Your Life Better Too.

    Jeff Bezos will launch into space today aboard his Blue Origin rocket, New Shepard. This follows Richard Branson's visit to space last week aboard a Virgin Galactic rocket, a journey that made him the first person to enter space on a vehicle made and funded by his own company. The new space exploration age is here, but most people aren't having it.

    "Leave the Billionaires in Space," suggests Jacobin. "Billionaires In Space Are Costing Lives On Earth," says a headline from Boston's public radio station WBUR. The purportedly pro-tech publication The Verge says the nascent industry is "stuck in its billionaire phase."

    Well, yeah. Just as dental care, car ownership, and airplane travel were once the sole province of the wealthy, so too is space tourism—for now, but probably not forever.

    Probably not forever, but (sigh) probably too late for me.

    And (sorry) my joy at Bezos's achievement is tempered by the realization that New Shepard's suborbital apogee (about 68 miles) was just slightly more than half of that attained by ("Old Shepard") Mercury-Redstone 3, 116.5 miles, slightly over 60 years ago.

    Still, progress.


  • Watch What You Do, Watch What You Say. Jacob Sullum notes the latest STFUism from government officials: Biden Charges Facebook With Homicide, While His Surgeon General Recommends ‘Legal and Regulatory Measures’ To Suppress COVID-19 ‘Misinformation’.

    The day after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory calling for a "whole-of-society" effort to combat the "urgent threat to public health" posed by "health misinformation," President Joe Biden accused Facebook and other social media platforms of "killing people" by allowing the spread of anti-vaccine messages. Bridling at the homicide charge, Facebook noted that "vaccine acceptance" among the platform's users has increased by 10 to 15 percentage points since January.

    "The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19," the company said in a statement on Saturday. "President Biden's goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed."

    Apparently Biden backed off the homicide charge after it was pointed out that it was (a) obvious scapegoating and (b) something a demented person might say.


  • The Joke is in the Headline. Which is from the Babylon Bee: Planned Parenthood Relieved After Learning Biden's 'They're Killing People' Statement Was Just Referring To Facebook.


  • What Would We Do Without 'Em? Scott Shackford peels back what "experts" are actually saying: Experts Warn Accurate News Articles Are Misinformation if They Support Conservative Views.

    Political bias is not new to journalism, either in the United States or anywhere else in the world. But check out how NPR discusses the conservative outlet The Daily Wire and pundit Ben Shapiro. It's a case study in people's eagerness to classify writing they disagree with as "misinformation," whether or not it's factually accurate.

    The hit piece begins by pointing out how well The Daily Wire does in Facebook engagement compared to more mainstream media outlets, such as The New York Times and the Washington Post. This is a useful corrective to those who think left-wing "Big Tech" companies have scrubbed away the conservative presence online. But that's not the point of Miles Parks' analysis. His point is that The Daily Wire's success on in Facebook is a bad thing because the outlet is using "outrage as a business model."


  • Commie Radio Gotta Commie. Even non-libertarian Matt Taibbi was amused/disgusted (it's hard to tell) at NPR's Brilliant Self-Own that Shackford discusses above.

    Is the complaint that Shapiro peddles misinformation? No: “The articles The Daily Wire publishes don't normally include falsehoods.” Are they worried about the stoking of Trumpism, or belief that the 2020 election was stolen? No, because Shapiro “publicly denounced the alt-right and other people in Trump's orbit,” as well as “the conspiracy theory that Trump is the rightful winner of the 2020 election.” Are they mad that the site is opinion disguised as news? No, because, “publicly the site does not purport to be a traditional news source.”

    The main complaint, instead, is that:

    By only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda (such as… polarizing ones about race and sexuality issues)… readers still come away from The Daily Wire's content with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong and cancel culture is among the nation's greatest threats.

    NPR has not run a piece critical of Democrats since Christ was a boy. Moreover, much like the New York Times editorial page (but somehow worse), the public news leader’s monomaniacal focus on “race and sexuality issues” has become an industry in-joke. For at least a year especially, listening to NPR has been like being pinned in wrestling beyond the three-count. Everything is about race or gender, and you can’t make it stop.

    It's not worth listening to NPR on the off chance that you might catch an episode of Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!


  • I Have Fox Aspirations. Lance Morrow cranked the insightfulness up to eleven at the WSJ yesterday: The Hedgehogs of Critical Race Theory.

    The political philosopher Isaiah Berlin turned an obscure fragment by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus (“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”) into an intellectual’s cocktail-party game. In a famous essay, published as a book in 1953, Berlin suggested that the world is divided between hedgehogs and foxes—between those who believe in One Big Thing (one all-sufficient super-explanation), and those who are content with a more modest, irrational and even incoherent idea of history’s unfolding. Karl Marx was a supreme hedgehog: Everything, for him, was about the conflict of economic classes. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a restlessly improvising fox.

    The world’s hedgehog population tends to expand in times of stress and change. Lately it has exploded in the U.S. Hedgehogs are thick on the ground, all of them advancing One Big Thing or another—each peering through the lens of a particular obsession. At the moment, the biggest One Big Thing is race—the key, it seems, to all of America, to the innermost meanings of the country and its history.

    It isn’t really true. Race is one of many big things in America. It is hardly the most important. Americans need to desanctify the subject of race—to mute its claims, which have grown absolutist and, as it were, theological in their thoroughness, their dogmatism.

    Race is an American story. It's not the American story.