URLs du Jour

2021-11-09

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • I would quibble with "simple". At the WSJ, R. R. Reno suggests A Simple First Step for Youngkin to Stop Leftist Tyranny.

    Glenn Youngkin was elected Virginia’s governor in large part because of the uproar over extremist ideologies that promote racial division under the guise of “antiracism.” But what can he do about the problem? The first step is simple: Prohibit the use of “diversity, equity and inclusion” statements in any state government or government-funded agency.

    The anger about critical race theory in schools reflects a larger frustration. In the past two years, the diversity regime has hardened. Its proponents have adopted more-strident rhetoric. Some speak openly of quotas. The range of permitted opinion has narrowed.

    Anyone who works in a large bureaucracy knows that DEI has become a powerful tool for cultural radicals. In the hiring process, DEI statements serve as ideological litmus tests. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that we should judge others by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Imagine someone applying for the job of Fairfax County Schools Superintendent and featuring King’s exhortation prominently in his DEI statement. It would almost certainly be considered disqualifying. Today’s radicalism regards colorblind justice as a tool of white supremacy.

    That would certainly freak people out. As I type, a search for "diversity equity inclusion" at the University Near Here produces "about" 5,370 results. Prohibiting would be a big job. But worthwhile.

    Fun link: the Official "Anti-Racist Book Share" of UNH's College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. Dean Anthony Davis finds Kendi's How to be an Anti-Racist and DeAngelo's White Fragility quite persuasive! And informs us: "And then with each progressive book that’s read, you take the journey a little bit deeper."

    I think anyone on COLSA faculty up for promotion/tenure would receive the message. But as an amusing thought experiment, I can't help but imagine what would happen to someone asking for John McWhorter's Woke Racism to be put in the "Book Share".


  • In related news… Freddie deBoer is out of patience, and pretty demanding: Please Just […] Tell Me What Term I Am Allowed to Use for the Sweeping Social and Political Changes You Demand. (I've elided his gratuitous f-bomb.) It's in response to (specifically) this bit of disingenuousness:

    You know personally I’ve been achingly specific about my critiques of social justice politics, but fine - no woke, it’s a “dogwhistle” for racism. (The term “dogwhistle” is a way for people to simply impute attitudes you don’t hold onto you, to make it easier to dismiss criticism, for the record.) But the same people say there’s no such thing as political correctness, and they also say identity politics is a bigoted term. So I’m kind of at a loss. Also, they propose sweeping changes to K-12 curricula, but you can’t call it CRT, even though the curricular documents specifically reference CRT, and if you do you’re an idiot and also you’re a racist cryptofascist. Also nobody (nobody!) ever advocated for defunding the police, and if they did it didn’t actually mean defunding the police. Seems to be a real resistance to simple, comprehensible terms around here. Serwer is a guy who constantly demands that he and his allies be allowed to do politics on easy mode, but he’s just part of a broader communal rejection of basic self-definition and comprehensible terms for this political tendency. Also if you say things they don’t like they might try to beat you up. Emphasis on try.

    If you ask these people, are you part of a social revolution?, they’ll loudly tell you yes! Yes they are! They’re going to shake society at its very foundations. Well, OK then -what do I call your movement? You reject every name that organically develops! I’ll use the name you pick, but you have to actually pick one. You can’t just bitch on Twitter every time someone tries to describe your political cohort, which again you yourself say intends to change the world. Name yourself or you will be named.

    Freddie is a self-described Marxist, but he's obviously fed up with the wide-eyed feigned sincerity of folks like Serwer.


  • But of course. Robby Soave looks at a particularly nasty bit of Congressional sausage-making: Amy Klobuchar and Tom Cotton's Big Tech Anti-Monopoly Bill Exempts Their Preferred Firms.

    But there's one odiously crooked provision of the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act that deserves special mention. The law would only apply to companies of a certain size—i.e., firms that have a "net annual sales of $600,000,000,000 in the prior calendar year or with a market capitalization of greater than $600,000,000,000." Facebook and Amazon, for instance, both have market caps well over $600 billion, so the law would apply to them.

    Note, however, the bill stipulates that it only covers firms that are over the $600 billion line "as of the date of enactment." In other words, if a company has a market cap under $600 billion on the day the bill becomes law, then that company is permanently exempt—even if it later crosses the threshold.

    Two companies that are currently under the $600 billion line and thus exempt from the bill are mega-retailers Target and Walmart. These companies are both worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and their e-commerce platforms are growing at a faster rate than Amazon's. But under the Klobuchar/Cotton law, it wouldn't matter if Target and Walmart overtake Amazon—they would be immune from this new antitrust action, as long as they are small enough on the day the bill is signed.

    Readers may be interested to note that Target is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Walmart is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. Isn't that interesting? It's probably just a coincidence that the $600-billion-at-date-of-enactment provision would shield the two most important companies in Klobuchar and Cotton's home states.

    Klobuchar and Cotton: always looking out for the Little Guys, like Walmart and Target.


  • Milk came out of Andy McCarthy's nose when… he read the latest from President Bone Spurs: Trump Blasts Infrastructure Blowout? That’s a Good One . . .

    Trump is singularly responsible for the Democrats’ Senate majority and hence their ability to push legislation through. [The "Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill"], moreover, is the kind of heedless deficit-spending he championed as president.

    Just to recap, the major long-term threat facing the United States is so-called entitlement spending. Trump refused to address it. His insouciance in this regard has shred the credibility of current GOP demands for fiscal restraint, with congressional Republicans having gone mum while Trump ran up the credit card.

    Andy recounts the sad history of Trump's fiscal profligacy, how he dragged the GOP with him, and how he essentially handed the Senate to Democrat control.


  • And finally, the good bad business-as-usual news. Randal O'Toole informs us that Billions and Billions to Be Wasted.

    The infrastructure bill is really two bills in one: first, a reauthorization of existing federal spending on highways and transit; and second, brand‐​new spending on highways, transit, Amtrak, electric vehicles, airports, ports, clean water, clean energy, and broadband. This entirely new spending is almost entirely unnecessary as the infrastructure crisis was mostly fabricated in order to get Congress do what it always does, which is throw money at problems that are perceived to exist, whether they are real or not.

    About half of the transportation dollars in the bill are dedicated to Amtrak and urban transit, modes of transportation that carry less than 1 percent of passenger travel and no freight. While the other half appears to be dedicated to highways, much of that will be spent on projects that will reduce, not maintain or increase, roadway capacities.

    Our local CongressCritters are telling our local media how wonderful it all is, and our local media is uncritically passing along their bilge.

Anathem

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Another book down on my reread-Neal project. My previous take is from 2008 here. (Or, for those of you reading this on Goodreads, above.)

I don't have much to add, except to note that this is probably the least "accessible" of Stephenson's novels so far. There's nothing wrong with that, Stephenson has long earned the right to write whatever and however he wants. I'm pretty sure, even on rereading, that I missed a lot.

And about that: back in 2008, I noted that I "put it back in the pile to be read again someday." I shouldn't have waited 13 years to do that. Probably having something to do with my age, I found that I'd forgotten maybe 85% of the plot, 90% of the characters (there are a lot of characters), and 95% of the supporting detail.

And things would have been much easier with more maps, blueprints, schematics,… I'm sure Stephenson has these in some back closet. Uh, maybe he's posted them on the web. I haven't checked.

Looking forward to his latest novel, Termination Shock, due to arrive in about a week.