URLs du Jour

2022-06-15

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Our Amazon Product du Jour is to note a milestone of sorts. Back on Christmas Eve, 2016, I made a resolution to blog (at least) daily. (I've been blogging since 2005, but until then it was pretty much as the mood struck.) So: this post marks the 2000th consecutive day I've posted something. (Specifically, posted in the Default view; posts in the Movies/Books/Geekery views are considered extra.)

I'll keep going, until I don't.

  • Getting around that pesky First Amendment. The WSJ editorialists note the latest Climate-Change Censorship: Phase Two.

    Progressives first demanded that social media platforms silence critics of climate alarmism. Now White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy wants them to censor content on the costs of a force-fed green energy transition.

    A few years ago, Facebook enlisted third-party “fact checkers” to review news stories about climate. That didn’t satisfy Democratic Senators who howled about a “loophole” for opinion pieces. Facebook then began appending fact-checks to op-eds, including by our contributors Bjorn Lomborg and Steven Koonin, that criticized apocalyptic climate models and studies. The goal was to restrict readership.

    Now progressives are moving to censorship phase two, which is shutting down debate over climate “solutions.” “Now it’s not so much denying the problem,” Ms. McCarthy said in an Axios interview last Thursday. “What the industry is now doing is seeding doubt about the costs associated with [green energy] and whether they work or not.”

    Note: a government official is trying to browbeat companies into censoring content the government itself can't censor. That's OK with progressives, apparently; I find it disgusting.


  • [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

    On that general topic… It would be nice to think that there would be a general revulsion and outrage over the government-censorship-by-proxy advocated by Gina McCarthy. But respect for free speech is in decline, and that's only one manifestation of the disease. Francis Fukuyama's new book Liberalism and Its Discontents notes that slide, and David D. Corey reviews it here: No Alternatives to Liberalism.

    I share Fukuyama’s hope that liberalism can be maintained. I hold this hope in part because (like Fukuyama) I see no better alternatives to liberalism for the pluralist, freedom-loving West; but I hold it too because I view liberalism not as an essence, but as a human practice that results from prudential choices people make; and I therefore think that liberalism can be made and remade in light of lessons that we learn in the doing. The chief lesson to be borne in mind today is that the alternative to liberalism is violence, whether that takes the form of physical violence or the coercive power of the state. And violence leads to grievous suffering, especially for the weak and powerless. Sober reflection on this fact should lead us to look at the possibilities of liberalism with renewed energy. It is, without doubt, an imperfect way of practicing politics. But Fukuyama is right that it is the best way we have for managing diversity in peace.

    Unfortunately, Fukuyama seems to dislike liberalism as it applies to economics. ("His targets are Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, George Stigler, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, Robert Bork, Douglas North, and Mancur Olson—a formidable lot.") I have the book on my get-at-library list, so we'll see if that glaring exception doesn't wreck it.


  • The funniest Marxist. Freddie deBoer (self-admitted Marxist) provides a service in providing The Good White Man Roster.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that we’re witnessing the end of the era of the white man. Headlines saying such are not hard to come by, after all, and media and academia are captivated by the notion that we white men must soon give way to women and people of color and, like, gray ace demisexuals or some such. So funny, then, and so profoundly American, that some of the most successful self-marketers of the 21st century are white men. They are, in fact, Good White Men.

    These are the guys who have carefully crafted personas as ALLIES, as the good ones, as the right kind of white guy. These are the dudes whose every engagement on social media functions to let you know how very sorry they are, but always seem to come out on top in doing so. These are the guys who always stand behind women, ready to catch them when they fall, which they will inevitably do because of fucking patriarchy, man, and if people would just read their bell hooks maybe we’d be getting somewhere!, please like share and subscribe. These are the guys who think all complaints about identity politics, political correctness, and cancel culture are just the dying gasp of reactionary old men, which is why they lie awake at night praying to god that they never get canceled. These are the guys who put their pronouns in their bios in hopes that doing so might get them a little pussy. These are the guys who will harangue you about how white dudes do this and white dudes do that, speaking to you from their blameless white dude mouths in their righteous white dude faces. These are the guys who look at the discourse about white supremacy and patriarchy and see market opportunity.

    A bunch of people I've never, or just barely, heard of are described. And it's hilarious. And keep going until the end.


  • Bipartisan deals are usually bad. The "bipartisan" gun control legislation being crafted in the Senate doesn't seem to be an exception. Kevin D. Williamson says that McConnell Is Going the Wrong Way on Guns.

    With all due respect to Mitch McConnell, Republicans shouldn’t even be talking about a gun-control deal unless that deal includes doing something about the fundamental problem: The utter refusal of the federal government and most Democrat-run states and counties to prosecute ordinary, common gun crimes.

    Take any example you like: In Philadelphia, the majority of gun cases — 60 percent — are simply dismissed with no prosecution, according to the local district attorney’s office. That’s double the dismissal rate of 2016 — and the district attorney is bragging about how few gun crimes get prosecuted.

    Straw-buyer cases are almost never prosecuted unless they are part of a big organized-crime investigation. “Lie and try” cases — in which prohibited buyers attempt, often successfully, to beat the background-check system — are almost never prosecuted at all, which is why Hunter Biden is not in prison on federal gun charges. Possession cases are routinely dismissed without prosecution. In Illinois, the clearance rate for gun crimes short of murder is a measly 33 percent — meaning that two-thirds of cases go unresolved. A third of the murderers in Baltimore are already on probation or parole for another crime. Etc.

    I really wish Hunter Biden was in prison. Unfortunately not gonna happen.


  • Which pigeonhole are you in? [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

    With people trying to erase the man/woman distinction, it's easy to forget the government eagerly classifies people according to the much hairier criterion of race. David Bernstein has a book coming out next month (Amazon link at right) on the topic, and he's going to do some self-promotion at the Volokh Conspiracy. Here's the first of what I hope will be numerous bits, and it's a quiz, hotshot: How Well Do You Know America's Racial Classification System?.

    As discussed in my forthcoming book Classified, contrary to popular belief, racial and ethnic classification in the US is not solely a matter of personal choice. The federal Office of Management and Budget created a classification scheme in 1978 to be used by all federal agencies, and barely amended since. The classifications you see on employment forms, applications for mortgages, applications for university admission, and so on, are taken from the official federal classifications. Importantly, while these forms rarely include instructions, the OMB classifications have official, legally binding definitions.

    With that background, let's try a series of quizzes to see how well you know how these classifications are defined. Let's start with the Hispanic/Latino category. All quiz answers are based on the official OMB definitions. Note that a few federal agencies use slightly different classifications, and states have their own classification schemes, particularly for affirmative action in government contracting, that can differ, though not dramatically.

    (1) A couple immigrates from Spain. Their son Bram is born in the US. Is he a member of the Hispanic/Latino category?

    (2) Same scenario as the first example except the couple is from Brazil. Is Bram Hispanic/Latino?

    (3) Binyamin Goldberg immigrates to the US from Israel. His father's family came to Israel from Poland, but his mother's Turkish family traces their ancestry to Sephardic Jews who fled from Spain in 1492. They stopped speaking Ladino, the Spanish-based language of Sephardic Jews, several generations ago. Is Binyamin Hispanic/Latino?

    … and there are a couple more scenarios. The answers may surprise you!