URLs du Jour

2021-09-07

[Nova Scotia Coat of Arms]

  • Those who we grab by some other pronoun … never mind. A brickbat from Reason wonders What’s in a Name?.

    The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal says Lorne Grabher's last name could be interpreted as a call for violence against women. The court upheld a lower court ruling that Grabher had no free speech right to a license plate with his last name. Grabher had a personalized license plate made with his last name for his father back in 1991. The plate was used by three generations of the family. But the Registrar of Motor Vehicles got a complaint about it in 2016 and told Grabher he could no longer use it.

    Fortunately, the fair maidens of Nova Scotia will hereinafter be safe from men driven mad by the seductive calls to aggression by provocative vanity license plates.

    The province's current plate design carries the slogan "Canada's Ocean Playground."

    I am not sure how much trouble a Nova Scot could get into by taping over this obnoxious wordage. That's a settled issue down here in New Hampshire.

    But unlike New Hampshire, the license plate slogan differs from the official provincial motto, which is (I am not making this up) "Munit haec et altera vincit", translated as "One defends and the other conquers".

    Which only makes sense in the context of the Nova Scotia coat of arms, pictured at your right. (Click to embiggen.) Your eyes do not deceive: a prancing unicorn sporting a crown on one side, an Indigenous Person with a big-ass arrow on the other. A small dragon in between. Above that, an armored hand bearing a thistle clasping a bare hand with an olive branch. Probably referring to the motto inscribed above.

    As far as badassery goes, New Hampshire beats Nova Scotia on its license plate design. But I have to admit, they shellacked us in the "bad acid trip seal design" category.


  • Beware when you get the warm fuzzies from a news story. A cautionary comedy/drama from Astral Codex Ten substack: Too Good To Check: A Play In Three Acts. Let's skip ahead to Act II, opening as the substacker is revelling in that roundly-debunked Rolling Stone Ivermectin story discussed here yesterday.

    Did you believe that?

    I did, briefly. Then I remembered the Law Of Rationalist Irony: the smugger you feel about having caught a bias in someone else, the more likely you are falling victim to that bias right now, in whatever way would be most embarrassing.

    So, quick check: am I doing this? I notice this story is exactly tailored to appeal to me and people like me. It discredits the media establishment, who I don’t like. It’s a great argument for why we need more rationality, something I’ve been trying to push. It lets me feel superior to everyone: I am properly skeptical of ivermectin, but also I haven’t become a contemptible propagandist who joins in mass media smear campaigns.

    And I didn’t even take a second to check if it was true! I’m relying entirely on the word of a Twitter bluecheck I’ve never heard of before, whose profile picture is some kind of dog (an Australian sheepdog? maybe some kind of weird collie?) Forget making a phone call to a hospital, I didn’t even read the original article!

    The story was “too good to check”!

    And on further research, he…

    Well, no spoilers here. It's a three-act play, so my recommendation is to read the whole thing. And also read and take to heart the lessons of The Scout Mindset as the substacker suggests.


  • Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, heretics gotta … Nick Gillespie has a good memory and breaks down the "taxonomy of cancel culture": Self-cancellation, Deplatforming, and Censorship.

    How should defenders of free speech think about "cancel culture," that hotly contested yet vague concept that defines the current moment like flappers and bathtub gin defined the 1920s, communist scares and juvenile delinquency defined the 1950s, and leisure suits and encounter groups defined the 1970s? Author Jonathan Rauch distinguishes canceling from mere criticism in that its practitioners seek "to organize and manipulate the social or media environment in order to isolate, deplatform or intimidate ideological opponents." Cancel culture isn't about seeking truth, he writes; it's "about shaping the information battlefield" in order to "coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority."

    Somebody calling you a jackass on Twitter is criticism. Somebody organizing a mob to get you kicked off of Twitter, fired from your job, and put out on a figurative ice floe is cancel culture. Former President Donald Trump, himself a target of social media cancellation, exemplified cancel culture in 2018 when he called on the NFL to fire players who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem and mused aloud about deporting truculent athletes too. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there," he told Fox & Friends. "Maybe you shouldn't be in the country." At a 2017 rally, he told a crowd that he'd "love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired.'"

    I'm not totally sure where Nova Scotia vanity license plates fit into Nick's classification, but I'd bet on "censorship."


  • Here, you belong, and all are welcome. Oh, except you. The WSJ has the numbers. A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost’.

    Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.

    At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.

    So when the University Near Here boasts about its welcoming, you'd think they'd find this more than a little worrisome. At last report, UNH undergrads numbered 5015 men and 6345 women, roughly a 44%-56% split. For grad students, it's a little more unbalanced: 588 men (39%), 910 women (61%).

    So how "welcoming" is UNH for guys? I wonder if anyone in the administration is asking that question.

Voodoo River

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Consumer note: no actual voodoo content in this book.

Author Robert Crais really hit his stride here, however, in this fifth book in his Elvis Cole series. He's hired by TV star Jodi Taylor to track down the mystery of her birth parents, who gave her up for adoption in Louisiana 36 years back. The records are sealed, so Elvis is off to Louisiana to find another way to figure things out.

He does, of course. Around page 60, that mystery's solved. Shortest Elvis novel ever? No, of course not. His investigation stirs up a hornet's nest, because it threatens to reveal a bunch of criminal behavior and corruption, both long-buried and present-day. It's also revealed that Jodi (and her agent) were less than forthcoming in hiring Elvis. And, as an extra complication, Elvis falls for Lucy Chenier, Jody's Louisiana lawyer. (Spoiler: Lucy shows up in a few more books after this, but eventually disappears.)

As always, Elvis's partner, Joe Pike, shows up to to improve the odds of survival. An elaborate scheme is hatched to take down the bad guys, which goes wrong pretty badly. (Helped out by a cop who might as well have a "Corrupt Sellout" name tag. You can see his role pretty clearly from his very first appearance. Unfortunately Elvis doesn't.)