URLs du Jour

2021-09-18

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I missed celebrating Constitution Day yesterday, but I hope to make up for it a bit today with our Amazon Product du Jour.

But I hasten to point out: don't just read the articles, read the Preamble as well. To find out why, just skip over to AIER and read Robert E. Wright's essay, And Secure the Blessings of Liberty.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

  • Best Headline of the Day Yesterday. That award goes to Neal McCluskey at Cato: The First Lesson of Constitution Day Is There Should Be No Forced Lessons on Constitution Day.

    Today is Constitution Day, marking the anniversary of the drafting of the United States Constitution, a document that has survived – sort of – since 1787. “Sort of,” because that oft‐invoked document has been twisted, ripped, and shunted aside – and not through the totally Constitutional amendment process – so frequently it is hard to say that it is really still in force.

    Education – my area – is a perfect example of this. The Constitution only gives the federal government specific, enumerated powers, and none are about education. Yet Washington annually spends tens‐of‐billions of dollars on K-12 schooling, funding that brought us to the brink of a national curriculum; gives grants and loans to college students that fuels rampant tuition inflation, among other disasters; and reaches into the cribs of the youngest Americans. Indeed, any educational institution that receives unconstitutional federal funding has to teach about the Constitution today because the feds unconstitutionally require it in exchange for the unconstitutional bucks.

    See what I mean about twisting?

    We do indeed, Neal.


  • Kyle Smith is a national treasure. And he proves it once again with his NYPost column: Nicki Minaj exposes how anti-vaxxers aren't always who liberal media says.

    I never thought I’d have occasion to type these words, but: I like the White House’s Nicki Minaj policy.

    Ms. Minaj has 23 million Twitter followers (almost as many as me) and is hence a person of some influence. Her loony rant about her cousin’s friend’s cantaloupe cajones became the biggest story of the week, except for maybe Bolshevik Barbie’s backside broadside against rich people at the Met Costume Gala.

    But if it weren’t for all the loony ranters, we’d be a lesser place. We’d be a more boring place. We’d be Canada. As Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America” (1840), “It is a vast and bounteous land, but also a curious one, its levers and pullies of influence eagerly manipulated by known chancers, scallywags, and crazy-ass rappers.”

    With Nicki Minaj, the White House is all “That’s very unfortunate, perhaps Ms. Minaj should come in for a cup of tea with the President or the Vice President and we could allay her concerns about vaccines in the interests of outreach. Er, even though it was less than a year ago that both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris warned us against trusting any vaccines developed in the administration of Donald Trump.”

    With the red states, though, the White House’s message is: “Our patience is wearing thin.”

    That's a longer than normal excerpt, but it's tough to stop with Kyle.

    There is (by the way) apparently no new news on the Harvard vs. Nicki imbroglio.


  • And 'Woke' everything else, for that matter. NR newcomer Kenin M. Spivak writes on The Folly of ‘Woke’ Math.

    Math proficiency is white supremacy, proclaims Deborah Lowenberg Ball, a mathematics professor and former dean of the University of Michigan School of Education.

    In the latest episode of the EdFix Podcast, Ball complains that math is a “harbor for whiteness” and “the very nature of the knowledge and who’s produced it, and what has counted as mathematics is itself dominated by whiteness and racism.” She groans that considering math proficiency to be a sign of intelligence is “raced.” In response, host, Michel Feuer, dean of the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, gushes, “Listening to you is the greatest positive reinforcement to be in this profession.”

    Unsurprisingly, Ball’s solution included a plug for her consultancy, TeachingWorks, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. TeachingWorks is no doubt ready to profit by assisting school districts to interrupt “patterns of racism.”

    It should be obvious, but you aren't doing Kids of Color any favors by peddling this twaddle instead of … you know … teaching them math to whatever levels of excellence they can achieve.

    But it's easier, more fun—and lucrative, if you're Deborah Lowenberg Ball—to go the twaddle route.


  • And he means that in a good way. P. J. O'Rourke speaks from his editorial perch at American Consequences, with a provocative headline: Democracy Is for Losers.

    We have just made a heartless, brutal, cowardly, traitorous, panicky shambles of an escape from Afghanistan – with Joe Biden driving the getaway car. We had the time and the resources to make an orderly fighting retreat that could have protected our Afghan friends and allies. But…

    Joe turned America chicken – turned us into a 50-foot-tall, 100-ton chicken that refused a chance to peck its way out of the barnyard when threatened by pint-sized Taliban weasels.

    Is there a lesson to be learned from this? No.

    Except for the eternal lesson about politicians. Here is a man elected on a platform of mushy love for humanity. And when things get tough, he turns out to have the same compassion for Afghan refugee families stuck in Kabul as his supposedly vicious, uncaring, and inhumane predecessor had for Latin American refugee families stuck on the border with Mexico.

    Politicians care about themselves. Politicians don’t care about other people. And the other people they don’t care about include you, the voters, as well as Afghans and undocumented immigrants.

    OK, so that excerpt didn't support the headline directly. You'll have to click over for that. And you should.


  • The Pun Salad Garbage Headline of the Week award goes to… Slashdot for this gem: United Kingdom To Regress To Imperial Weights and Measures.

    Yes, "regress". A tragic backwards step on the road to our bright, shiny, mandatory metric future!

    Their link goes to an Independent/UK story which is entirely less arrogant: Ministers plan post-Brexit return of imperial pounds and ounces in review of EU laws.

    Shops are to be allowed to sell products in pounds and ounces again after the government pledged to review a ban on marking and selling products in imperial units as part of post-Brexit changes to EU laws.

    Ah, so people are going to be allowed to use traditional units. In Slashdot-ese, that's a regress. For people who like liberty, it's a win. Minor, perhaps, but we'll take what we can get.

    Look, I was a physics major, and I'm familiar with metric. It's fine. Back in the days when we did calculations by hand and slide rule, it had its advantages.

    But in these days of calculators, those advantages mostly vanish. There's a slight advantage in being able to use the same units as your colleagues in East Bananastan. But when you can ask Google or Alexa to do conversion to your preferred system, even that's a very small deal.

    And anyway, the metric enthusiasts aren't doing it right anyway. Speed limits in kilometers per hour? Please. Kilometers are fine, but hours are hopelessly non-metric! Instead of 130 km/h, it really should be (about) 36 meters/second. (Both of which, in real money, are about 80 mph.)

    And the dirty little secret about metric: it's more arbitrary than traditional units. The original definition of "meter" was "one ten-millionth of the distance on the Earth's surface from the north pole to the equator, on a line passing through Paris." Hopelessly geocentric, inaccurate, and (worst) Franco-supremacist!

    For a truly natural speed unit, real science says we must use c, the speed of light, the universal speed limit as far as we know. All speeds should be expressed in fractions of c. For example, the 80mph speed limit? It's about (1.2e-7)c. In real life, we could say 120 nanocees.

    There's one more bit of good news: if your speedometer read in nanocees, it would make doing relativistic calculations in your head much easier. ("Hm, my watch is running 0.000012 percent slower than that guy's on the sidewalk!")

    But back here in the Western Hemisphere, Walter Block reports from the Great White North with encouraging news: Canadians Hate the Metric System.

    A recent flyer from Safeway Canada tells its customers that Sterling Silver Premium Beef, “cut from Canada AAA beef,” is on sale for $9.99 a pound, or $22.02 a kilogram.

    A similar announcement from another large Canadian grocer, Save-On Foods, announces that Western Family chicken breasts—boneless, skinless, frozen—are available in a three-kilogram box for $21.10. Shoppers are notified that this works out to $3.19 a pound, and, in case anyone doesn’t appreciate the splendid opportunity, the flyer explains that this is an “unbelievable price.”

    Nothing untoward, except maybe for the “unbelievable” claim. The interesting part is that the prices by the pound are written in a typeface five to 10 times the size of the prices in metric weights.

    A dual citizen, I worked in Canada for more than a decade. And the great secret all Canadians know is that people still shop and weigh their purchases mainly in imperial measures, despite the compulsory metrification imposed on the nation on April 1, 1975, in a grand attempt, typical at the time, to align Anglophone nations with European practices.

    Face it, metric fans. You lost. Deservedly.