Friday, April 9, 2021
Peter Burke, an English cultural historian and author of a new study called The Polymath, defines his subject as “someone who is interested in learning about many subjects.”1 To qualify for the title, one needs to have exhibited a reasonable mastery over several subjects, a mastery generally evidenced by published works upon them or by inventions that issued from them. The goal of the true polymath is encyclopedic in the sense that he desires to get round as large a portion of the circle of knowledge as he can. Other terms for the polymath over the years have included polyhistor, Renaissance man, generalist, man of letters. Pansophia, or universal wisdom, is the often unspoken-of, and even less often achieved, goal of much polymathy. The distinction between learning and wisdom is one of the leitmotifs that plays through The Polymath.
The subtitle of the book is “A Cultural History from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag,” which suggests a long sad slide downhill in the history of polymathy. But, then, knowledge has greatly widened, without, alas, having notably deepened. The goal of universal knowledge itself has long been seen as foolish or exhibitionistic. Even as early as the mid-18th century, Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie defined polymathy as “often nothing more than a confused mass of useless knowledge” offered “to put on a show.”Listen and Subscribe to the Commentary Podcast
Today’s podcast looks at the media coverage of the murder trial of police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis with the clear suggestion that the full story of what is going on in the courtroom is not being made clear enough to the American people. And will moderate Democrats hold Joe Biden accountable for moving farther to the Left than he suggested he would during the campaign? Give a listen.
‘Complete and utter crap.’ That’s how Bill Michael, until recently UK chair of global accountancy firm KPMG, described the concept of unconscious bias to his apparently stunned staff. ‘There is no such thing as unconscious bias’, he elaborated. ‘I don’t buy it. Because after every single unconscious-bias training that has ever been done, nothing’s ever improved.’ As is the custom nowadays, Michael issued a public apology before tendering his resignation. This is a shame because his comments were not that far wide of the mark. As I explore in a new report for Civitas, the anti-racism training industry does little to improve outcomes for BAME people and, worse, breathes new life back into racial thinking.
After months of battles between the Chicago Public Schools district (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), as well as the municipal government, high schools in the Windy City are set to reopen for in-person classes on April 19th. (Most K-8 schools have at least partially reopened at this point.) Or at least they were. With the reopening already announced and emails going out to families explaining the details, the situation looked largely resolved at last. But that’s when CTU President Jesse Sharkey stepped in yet again to try to slam the brakes on the process, in what CBS News described as a “snag” in the negotiations. He’s citing rising numbers of new COVID cases in the city and positive test results in some of the schools that have already reopened as the reason for yet another delay. And, as usual, the CTU has its usual set of demands to be met before the high school teachers will return to do their jobs. (CBS Chicago)
Joe Biden, Who Says He’s ‘Not a Fan of Court Packing,’ Just Created a Presidential Commission to Study Court Packing – Reason.com
The White House announced today that President Joe Biden will sign an executive order creating a new Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. The group will be composed of legal activists and scholars who will "provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform," according to a statement released by the White House. Among the items up for discussion by the commission are "the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court" and "the membership and size of the Court."
The commission fulfills one of Biden's campaign promises. "If elected," Biden told 60 Minutes, "I'll put together a national…bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars. Democrats, Republicans. Liberal, conservative. And I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system, because it's getting out of whack."
Open. The. Schools.
It’s been more than a year since schools closed for the COVID-19 virus. Across the country and across the world, schools have opened up, full-time, for students.
But those of us unlucky enough to live in places with powerful teachers unions and, more importantly, weak leadership, have heard excuse after excuse how it’s just not possible here.
Enough. Open the schools.
Stop lying to parents and dangling promises. Just open.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Oxford professors' excellent thread on viewpoint diversity and the left's sneering dismissal of it – HotAir
Teresa Bejan is an associate professor of political science at Oxford University who I’ve written about before. Last summer she posted an insightful thread about the nature of free speech. Yesterday she posted a related thread on Twitter about viewpoint diversity. You’re probably familiar with the term which, simply put, means the idea of having a variety of ideological views represented at the table in the same way you might seek to have racial diversity. But the idea of viewpoint diversity often gets shrugged off by progressives who are fond of suggesting something along the lines of why represent the views of troglodytes at a university.
Today Bejan addressed those issues in a thread on Twitter, making a case that viewpoint diversity should be welcome and that those who dismiss it would never dismiss any other claims of insufficient diversity.
Earlier this week, we discussed the news that Washington and Tehran were resuming back-channel negotiations regarding that country’s nuclear program. At that time, I speculated that there were two possible explanations for how this rapprochement came about. One was that the Iranians had finally given up hope of any concessions coming from the new administration and had decided to see what sort of offer might be on the table. The other was that Joe Biden had signaled that he would cave to Iran’s demands that sanctions be lifted prior to any renewed discussions. Well, break out your spelunking gear, because it looks like the big cave is underway. (Free Beacon)
It’s been a while since we heard from former California Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill. As you likely recall, her very brief congressional career was probably best known for her participation in a “throuple” with her now ex-husband and a female campaign staffer, along with other allegations of inappropriate relationships. One controversial part of her story involved the release of nude photographs of Hill by the ex-husband. Hill described that release as “revenge porn” and brought lawsuits against the publishers who ran the pictures, including the Daily Mail. That lawsuit has now been settled, with a judge in Los Angeles tossing the suit, saying that both the story and the photos were protected by the First Amendment and were of compelling interest to the public. (Daily Mail)
Between 1940 and 1944 a clandestine network of Polish diplomats and their Jewish partners in Switzerland created illegal Latin American passports that saved thousands of lives. Half of the documents were forged by one person—Polish Vice Consul in Berne Konstanty Rokicki.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The irresponsible complaint about Professor Tom Smith's blog post criticizing the Chinese government has now been forwarded to the University "for review." This is a disgrace and a direct attack on the academic freedom of every professor at USD, who are now on notice that if students file a frivolous complaint it will lead to an investigation and "review" (and possible sanction?). What a shame that Dean Schapiro should have torpedoed his own Deanship so soon after taking office with this spineless behavior. The faculty should demand his resignation.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Professor Nadine Strossen kindly gave permission me permission to share the letter she sent yesterday to Dean Robert Schapiro regarding the case we noted previously:
April 4, 2021
Dean Robert Schapiro
Warren Hall 200
University of San Diego School of Law
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
Re: Prof. Tom Smith
Dear Dean Schapiro,
I have been following with concern the situation of USD Law School Professor Tom Smith, who has been unjustly accused by some students of racial bias for having expressed criticism of the government of the People’s Republic of China. Law students certainly should appreciate the distinction between criticizing specific government policies and expressing bias against people based on their racial/ethnic identities. However, from all the reports I have read, you did not explain this critical distinction to the students, but rather, endorsed the students’ misunderstanding. Perhaps these reports are inaccurate, and if so, I would be delighted to learn that you have in fact honored the academic freedom and free speech principles to which your fine law school has pledged adherence.
My sources of information include (in addition to multiple press accounts and commentaries that are critical of your actions) the detailed 3/22/21 letter that was sent to you by my colleagues in FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, on whose National Advisory Board I serve) and the 3/22/21 Press Release of the Academic Freedom Alliance (of which I am a Founding Member). For example, AFA’s Press Release stated the following:
The dean of the law school released a letter to the school characterizing [Prof. Smith’s] blog post as a form of “bias” that had “an adverse impact on our community” and noting that “university policies specifically prohibit harassment, including the use of epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs based on race or national origin, among other categories.” The dean promised that “there will be a process to review whether university or law school policies have been violated.” A separate letter was sent to the faculty objecting to the use of “offensive language” and declaring that “there is no place for language that demeans a particular national group.” These letters make clear that the dean has already prejudged the proper outcome for any disciplinary process on charges of alleged harassment.
FIRE’s letter invited you to notify it of any additional or different facts – other than those its letter recited -- and to the best of my knowledge you haven’t done so. Hence, I must for now assume, sadly, that the recitation is correct.
The students who objected to Professor Smith’s blog post themselves acknowledged that Professor Smith wrote critically about the Chinese government, not the Chinese people; their claim is that criticism of the Chinese government might somehow encourage attacks on people of Chinese or Asian origin. This is a formula for forbidding criticism of any government policies, which is a central right – indeed, arguably even a core responsibility -- of all members of an academic community. Moreover, suppressing U.S.-based critics of the Chinese government, such as Prof. Smith, hardly benefits Chi
White House press secretary on Tuesday said that CCP virus “vaccine passports” will not be developed or supported by the Biden administration, coming after several GOP governors issued executive orders barring them.
“The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday at the White House.
Psaki last month responded to reports that the administration was working with private firms to create a passport system, saying the administration would provide guidance.
“Our interest is very simple from the federal government, which is American’s privacy and rights should be protected so that these systems are not used against people unfairly,” Psaki clarified Tuesday. She again said the government would provide guidance on privacy concerns related to vaccines.
I hope so.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Google this week in a major decision that some legal experts are hailing as a victory for programmers and consumers. The Court ruled that Google did not violate copyright law when it included parts of Oracle’s Java programming code in its Android operating system—ending a decade-long multibillion dollar legal battle.
The Court’s ruling in Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc. upheld long standing industry practices that have furthered development of software that’s compatible with other programs, legal experts tell TIME. The ruling means copyright holders for software “can’t maintain a monopoly over critical interface aspects,” argues Jeanne Fromer, a professor of copyright law at New York University School of Law—and those aspects can be used by both users and programmers to more easily switch between products.
“This is huge for a vibrant tech industry to continue innovating,” says Fromer. “In fact, that’s what the tech industry has long been built on… if this [practice] had been forbidden, there’s so many things in fundamental aspects of software that we wouldn’t have today.”
The Court did not rule on the broader issue of whether the code in question could be copyrighted. Rather, Breyer wrote, “The Court assumes for argument’s sake that the copied lines can be copyrighted,” so it could focus on whether Google acted illegally. While a ruling on the copyright status “would have provided a clearer safe harbor for software developers,” writes Peter Menell, a professor of copyright law at University of California at Berkeley School of Law who filed an amicus brief in support of Google, it still “provides some assurance” for people looking to use a similar approach to develop products.
She’s said stuff like this before but today she’s reading from a prepared statement, a sign that they really want this message to penetrate. They’re not supporting passports. There’ll be no federal mandate to carry one and no federal database of vaccinated people for businesses to consult. The White House says N-O to restricting travel based on whether you have antibodies or not.
Of course, if local governments or private entities want to require proof of vaccination, that’s a different story.
That’s what NRO’s Wesley Smith is worried about. Yes, fine, great, says Smith, Fauci and now Psaki have said that the federal government won’t lay down any rules about vaccine passports. So what? Why would they need to issue their own orders and risk legal challenges if they can simply nudge private industry to require passports instead? It’s the Biden/MLB thing all over again. The president didn’t ask baseball to boycott Georgia, Psaki noted yesterday, he merely said that he’d strongly support them if they chose to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Same goes for vaccine passports potentially. He’s not asking, let alone ordering, anyone to require them. He’ll just “strongly support” you if you choose to require them yourself.
Seems like there's a lot of this federal nudging lately of private actors to deploy the policies the feds prefer.
Question for Fauci: Why are Texas's cases still declining weeks after their mask mandate was lifted?
The correct answer is the one he won’t give. Namely, mask mandates may encourage compliance at the margins but they won’t affect what the great majority of residents do. Most people will wear masks voluntarily to protect themselves or others. Hardcore resisters won’t wear them and will dare the cops to penalize them for it. It’s only the third group, the people who dislike masks but aren’t weirdly ideologically committed to not wearing them, who might be convinced to don one by a mandate.
But that’s a small group, I suspect. Small enough that, even if cases are rising within that cohort now that the mandate has lifted, they might be falling statewide overall due to other mitigating factors.
So, to learn more about the putty-nosed monkey’s alarm calls, the researchers had to get creative. Stephan says the team opted for the most naturalistic disguise they could field-design: A team member covered himself in store-bought leopard-print fabric. While others observed, the low-tech leopard surrogate crept through the dense vegetation, inching toward a group of the monkeys. That’s when things got interesting.
Sounds like fun, if very uncomfortable.
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled for Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a multibillion-dollar battle with Oracle Corp. over elements of Google’s Android smartphone-operating system, a decision that could weaken software copyright protections but allow developers more room to build on each other’s products.
The court, in a 6-2 opinion Monday by Justice Stephen Breyer, threw out a lower-court ruling for Oracle that said Android infringed its copyrights on the Java software platform. The high court said Google’s copying of some Java API code was fair use. APIs, or application programming interfaces, are prewritten packages of computer code that allow programs, websites or apps to talk to one another.
“Google’s copying did not violate the copyright law,” Justice Breyer wrote.
Monday, April 5, 2021
The pro-life movement’s multidecade strategy, up to and including its fraught bargain with Donald Trump, appears to have succeeded. Thanks to the Trump White House and Mitch McConnell’s Senate, there is now a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, vetted by conservative legal activists and committed to principles of constitutional interpretation that seem to require sweeping Roe v. Wade away, or at least modifying it into obsolescence.
Yet instead of preparing to claim victory, in the last two weeks part of the anti-abortion movement has fallen into an acrimonious debate over a radical proposal — from the Australian philosopher and Notre Dame professor John Finnis, in the journal First Things, arguing that unborn human beings deserve protections under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The political implication of Finnis’s argument is that the pro-life movement’s longtime legal goal, overturning Roe and letting states legislate against abortion, is woefully insufficient, and in fact pro-life activists should be demanding that the Supreme Court declare a fetal right to life.
Finnis is not the first person to make that case, but the controversy it’s incited this time has been more intense, and in one sense strangely timed: An apparent hour of victory seems like an odd moment to fall to Twitter wrangling over a constitutional claim that most conservative jurists, from Robert Bork to Antonin Scalia, have consistently rejected.
A Professor Pushed Back Against ‘White Fragility’ Training. The College Investigated Her for 9 Months. – Reason.com
Nonetheless, a June 18 all-college email noted that the school's president, Amy Morrison, had "made clear the expectation that all full-time employees attend Friday's Courageous Conversations" unless they had conflicting teaching responsibilities. Parrett decided to express her qualms about the training during the training itself.
What happened over the next nine months was both bizarre and oppressive. Because of a brief disruption that easily could have been brushed aside or handled with a warning not to do it again, LWTech went to war against a tenured faculty member, launching a cartoonishly over-the-top disciplinary process that included the hiring of a private investigator, dozens of interviews, and claims of widespread trauma.
Parrett is far from a perfect victim. While she was under investigation, she became convinced that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump. She and her husband eventually attended the infamous "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6, 2021. (The two insist that they protested peacefully and did not enter the U.S. Capitol or participate in the riot.) Some people will likely discount her story because of her participation in an understandably reviled political demonstration, but that would be a mistake. What happened to Parrett, while not common, is part of a trend toward an intolerant approach to political differences—one in which disagreement on mainstream political issues is reframed as a form of harm.
WASHINGTON — “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom,” Justice Samuel Alito told the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, in November. “It pains me to say this, but, in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
Those quarters do not include the Supreme Court, which has become far more likely to rule in favor of religious rights in recent years, according to a new study that considered 70 years of data.
The study, to be published in The Supreme Court Review, documented a 35-percentage-point increase in the rate of rulings in favor of religion in orally argued cases, culminating in an 81% success rate in the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Thomas’ opinion amounts to an invitation to Congress to declare Twitter, Facebook and similar companies “common carriers,” essentially requiring them to host all customers regardless of their views. At the moment, the companies have sweeping authority to take down any post and to suspend or terminate any account.
The George H.W. Bush appointee’s complaints dovetail with those of Republican lawmakers and conservative activists who say big social media firms employ double standards that block or obscure more of the content they post when compared to posts by Democrats. The firms say they’re trying to prevent-real world harms caused by people advocating for violence or circulating misinformation on life-or-death topics like the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Technology companies sighed with relief Monday after the Supreme Court sided with Google in a copyright dispute with Oracle. The high court said Google did nothing wrong in copying code to develop the Android operating system now used on most smartphones.
To create Android, which was released in 2007, Google wrote millions of lines of new computer code. It also used about 11,500 lines of code copyrighted as part of Oracle’s Java platform. Oracle had sued seeking billions.
But the Supreme Court sided 6-2 with Google, describing the copying as “fair use.” The outcome is what most tech companies -- both large and small -- had been rooting for. Both Microsoft and IBM were among the industry heavyweights that had filed briefs backing Google in the case. They and others warned that ruling against the Mountain View, California-based company could have profound consequences, stifling innovation and upending software development.
‘Overworked, overwhelmed and burned out’: Why Portland cops say they’re leaving in droves - oregonlive.com
They trashed police management.
They mocked city leaders.
They bemoaned the lack of true community-based policing.
And they were all Portland officers and supervisors who chose to leave the state’s largest police force in the last year.
In 31 exit interview statements, the employees who turned in their badges or retired were brutally frank about their reasons for getting out.
“The community shows zero support. The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid. Additionally, the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchists fantasy. What’s worse is ppb command (lt. and above) is arrogantly incompetent and cowardly,” one retiring detective wrote.
It looks like Great Britain is going to follow in the path of the United States, Israel and other nations that have begun dividing their societies into two classes of people based on their COVID immunity status. With the soccer championships coming up and plenty of Brits itching to get back out to music concerts or simply hitting the pubs, officials have established a system of digital and hard-copy “coronavirus status certifications” that will be tested at several upcoming events at a variety of indoor and outdoor venues in the coming weeks. The plan hasn’t been finalized yet, but Parliament is working on the details already. They can call their passports whatever they like, but the bottom line works out to the same thing. If you don’t have one, you’ll be staying home. (Associated Press)
If Raphael Warnock has trouble figuring out Easter, police in Alberta, Canada might have trouble figuring out Good Friday — and intrusion of religious worship. This video went viral over the weekend, thanks to pastor Artur Pawlowski’s fiery response to the police entry into his church. Apparently someone called to tip the police to the Good Friday worship service and they sent a half-dozen officers to shut it down.
Biden's words contributed to the atmosphere of hysteria that has grown up over the issue of the Georgia law. Indeed, not long after Biden spoke on ESPN, Major League Baseball announced that it will move the All-Star Game, set for Atlanta in July, out of Georgia because the law does not reflect professional baseball's "values."
It is not necessary to catalog the other crazy, alarmist, or simply exaggerated things that have been said about the law. You have heard many of them yourself. Worse, a number of big corporations, apparently motivated by fear of the woke mob, jumped to take irresponsible political positions. At times, for example, the leadership of Atlanta-based Delta Airlines sounded much like a Democratic Party political action committee.
But now, something appears to be changing. In some corners of the political world, sanity seems to be returning, if just a little bit.
On Sunday, the headline of the Politico Playbook newsletter was "The Dangers of Voting Rights Hyperbole." It pointed to an article by Nate Cohn in the New York Times -- the same newspaper that has done much to stir up the Georgia hysteria -- arguing that "the law's voting provisions are unlikely to significantly affect turnout or Democratic chances. It could plausibly even increase turnout. In the final account, it will probably be hard to say whether it had any effect on turnout at all." The short version of the argument is that laws affecting the convenience of voting don't really change turnout much. Events and candidates change turnout. In the last two elections, Donald Trump changed turnout. In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama changed turnout.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Coronavirus has meant this has been the second year in a row that Easter papal services have been attended by small gatherings at a secondary altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, instead of by crowds in the church or in the square outside.
After saying Mass, Francis read his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, in which he traditionally reviews world problems and appeals for peace.
“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened,” he said.
Francis, who would normally have given the address to up to 100,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, spoke to fewer than 200 in the church while the message was broadcast to tens of millions around the world.
The square was empty except for a few police officers enforcing a strict three-day national lockdown.
In a Massachusetts home, a family gathers around the kitchen table. The parents tune in to the device that sits at the head of the table. Moments later, a cheery voice quiets the chatter as the whole family settles in to listen.
No, this isn’t a scene from the golden era of the wireless. This is the Daniels home during covid-19 lockdown, and the focus of the family’s attention is Yoto, an audio device designed to compete with the apps and videos that modern children usually use. It’s not unlike a cassette player: users can click in a card prerecorded with a story or game. Yoto can also play fresh daily episodes, such as the children’s newscast the Daniels family listens to every morning.
“The lack of the screen was the big thing,” says Brian Daniels, the father. “Promoting creative thinking and play was important for us—something that could keep your attention and be productive.”
Might be an idea.
Physicists sometimes talk about this changeover as the “quantum-classical transition.” But in fact there’s no reason to think that the large and the small have fundamentally different rules, or that there’s a sudden switch between them. Over the past several decades, researchers have achieved a greater understanding of how quantum mechanics inevitably becomes classical mechanics through an interaction between a particle or other microscopic system and its surrounding environment.
One of the most remarkable ideas in this theoretical framework is that the definite properties of objects that we associate with classical physics — position and speed, say — are selected from a menu of quantum possibilities in a process loosely analogous to natural selection in evolution: The properties that survive are in some sense the “fittest.” As in natural selection, the survivors are those that make the most copies of themselves. This means that many independent observers can make measurements of a quantum system and agree on the outcome — a hallmark of classical behavior.
This idea, called quantum Darwinism (QD), explains a lot about why we experience the world the way we do rather than in the peculiar way it manifests at the scale of atoms and fundamental particles. Although aspects of the puzzle remain unresolved, QD helps heal the apparent rift between quantum and classical physics.
Only recently, however, has quantum Darwinism been put to the experimental test. Three research groups, working independently in Italy, China and Germany, have looked for the telltale signature of the natural selection process by which information about a quantum system gets repeatedly imprinted on various controlled environments. These tests are rudimentary, and experts say there’s still much more to be done before we can feel sure that QD provides the right picture of how our concrete reality condenses from the multiple options that quantum mechanics offers. Yet so far, the theory checks out.
If you say so.
Saturday, April 3, 2021
In 2020, my four-year-old son and I watched Soul, the Disney film, which introduces the near-death experience to a new audience, very young people, and examines consciousness, the afterlife, and the imperceptible stuff that makes us us. (My son is convinced now that when we die we ride an ethereal, very cool-looking travelator toward a blinding light in the sky.) Often in these screen-based times, we are encouraged to celebrate narratives that promote living the “right” way, which tends to involve appreciating and accepting every moment for what it is, and mindfully placing experiences and relationships above the pursuit of power or prestige or material goods. (Broadly speaking, this is the plot of Soul.) Most of us do not live like that, not entirely, and yet we feel like we should, lest we waste our precious time on this planet. Which is why near-death narratives fascinate us, and why they persist as events of interest in the culture. They ask: “What would you do with your life, if you had another chance?”
IMHO there are also other reasons NDEs fascinate us, such as, are they evidence of ADE's?
A CNN report recently made this ridiculous anti-scientific and absurd claim: “It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.”
This is a fringe opinion, not hard-news reporting. It has no basis in reality. Yet, the CNN reporter who produced it merely states something that is verifiably false, presents it as fact, and leaves it at that.
Elsewhere, National Public Radio claimed this week, in a since-amended article, the Hunter Biden laptop storyhas been “discredited” by the U.S. intelligence community and independent media investigations.
This also has no basis in reality. The intelligence community never issued a statement to that effect, nor has any newsroom conclusively “discredited” the story. Later, NPR had to issue a correction to that effect.
The New York Times, meanwhile, falsely reported last week that COVID-19's Chinese lab origin story is "debunked" or otherwise untrue.
Sorry, but the theory has not been “debunked,” the Chinese government's dubious assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. There is ample disagreement over the theory, but it certainly has not been “debunked.”
The New York Times’s report is careful to highlight an April 30, 2020, statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence wherein it concurred “with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.”
Conveniently absent from the New York Times article is any mention of the part where the ODNI statement promises the intelligence community “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
Then, there’s the Washington Post, which declared
on March 25 there’s “no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border.” The online version of the story was edited later so that it now concedes there is, in fact, a “surge” but that it is merely part of “a predictable pattern.” Well, that's a bit of a change in the story, isn't it?
Border Patrol has encountered an average of 5,000 illegal immigrants per day over the last 30 days, putting it on track to surpass 150,000 crossings for March, far greater than anything seen during the Trump administration.
Also, for the record, the Border Patrol reported 100,441 encounters with migrants in February (this figure includes
After reviewing the clip, authorities apprehended the Van-dal Goghs at the mall. However, they subsequently turned them loose when the gallery decided not to press charges, as the graffiti job appeared to be an innocent mistake.
“We are currently in discussions with the artist about whether to restore it,” said Kang of the damaged display.
The artist didn’t return a request for comment from The Post.
I'd say they improved the art. Or at least left it looking exactly the same.
On Thursday, Khetag Pliev faced off against Devin Goodale in a Cage Fury Fighting Championships match in Philadelphia, which was broadcast live to UFC Fight Pass viewers. As The Guardian reports, at some point during the match’s first or second round — and the fact that this is not immediately clear is very unsettling in its own way — Pliev lost his finger.
A series of Tweets from MMA reporter Aaron Bronsteter offers a succinct discussion of the gradual realization of all involved in the fight that one of the participants had one fewer digit than he did when the match began.
Friday, April 2, 2021
What did liberalism mean back then? As a young person helping to read off test questions as my single mother prepared for the LSATs, I had a vague idea of it as a school of thought that believed strongly in the law and due process, and was concerned with protecting the rights of people without means or clout. It seemed also to embrace art, music, and the power of free inquiry, opposed war, believed in self-determination and universal human rights, sided with unions over bosses, had copies of Catch-22 and The Autobiography of Malcolm X somewhere in the house, and laughed at both Jerry Falwell and the “This is your brain on drugs” commercial.
As the son of a reporter I also gathered it had something to do with questioning authority, because power corrupts and the people who had it tended to abuse it. As Glasser says in Mighty Ira, “Anyone in power is going to violate civil liberties sooner or later,” which is why “we end up suing everybody, including our members.”
The ACLU was central to what liberalism meant once, and not just because it had a history of pursuing social justice cases like Brown v. Board of Education (taking on school segregation) and Mapp v. Ohio (helping create the exclusionary rule to protect against abusive prosecutions). Skokie seemed to establish the willingness to take an unpopular stand in defense of a principle as another prerequisite for all liberal thinkers of my generation, especially young ones.
But what we’re witnessing, it seems to me, is not a collapse in the religious impulse as such. The need to transcend, to find meaning, and purpose, is eternal for humans. The soaring popularity of meditation and yoga, and the greater acceptance and use of psychedelic drugs to replicate the effect of practiced spirituality helps reveal the need. And fake religions — like the Prosperity Gospel — spring up where tradition and theology have already surrendered to greed.
But the most dangerous manifestation of the collapse of the old religions, with their millennia of experience and honing, is the conflation of religious impulses and politics. The fusion of evangelical Christianity with the Republican party blasphemously climaxed in the Trump cult. I’ve written before about Christianism, precisely to distinguish it from Christianity. And it was hard not to notice classic wooden crosses raised aloft among the crowd that invaded the Capitol last January 6. They jostled next to Confederate flags and Trump merch. Some, like Eric Metaxas, have completely lost the plot. And if the contemporary GOP is, for many, the most visible symbol of organized Christianity in America, how can you blame them for despising it?
And in wokeness, you see a similar tragedy. The transcendent has been banished in favor of a profoundly atheist view of the world as merely the arrangement of power structures. But the zeal of religious faith propels the ideology. It is Manichean — seeing the world only as good or evil, antiracist or racist, with virtue attached, horrifyingly, to skin color or gender. It can brook no compromise. It denies the individual soul. It seeks to punish and banish sinners as zealously as it insists on a total psychological re-birth for everyone who joins up. It demands confessions of sin; it requires the renunciation of the self in favor of the identity group; it urges, as so many sermons do, that people “do the work” every day to bring about the Kingdom of Anti-Racism.
These pseudo-religions will fail. They are too worldly, too rooted in contemporary culture wars, too baldly tribal, and too shallow in their understanding of the world to have much staying power. But they can do immense damage to souls and our society in the meantime. They lack the one thing that endures in religious practice: something transcendent that makes the failure in our lives redemptive, and sees politics merely as the necessary art of attending to the imperfect.
It took centuries for Christianity to begin to model that kind of humility and conviction, and to reject earthly power as a distraction from what really matters, what really lasts. And it would be a terrible shame if America threw that glorious inheritance away.
Corporations have the right to free speech. They do not have the right to obedience to all of their demands. It is high time that state-level Republicans remembered that.
A variety of factors have led to the capture of America’s major corporations by the social-justice-warrior wing of the Democratic Party. Corporate C-suites and legal and human-resources departments are increasingly staffed by products of woke university educations. The “diversity and inclusion” business sector is now itself an $8 billion a year industry. Corporate managers who are not themselves left-wing culture warriors are easily pushed around by a vocal minority of their employees or customers brandishing boycotts, lawsuits, and Twitter mobs. This is especially prevalent in sports, entertainment, and journalism, where prominent employees wield outsized public platforms.
One result is that sports leagues, Hollywood, and big business have gotten into the habit over the past decade of threatening to pull their business from states whose legislatures pass laws that do not meet the approval of the cultural Left. We have seen this pattern over and over with laws in Indiana, Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota, and other states that addressed hot-button topics ranging from immigration to religious liberty to transgenderism to same-sex marriage. What has followed, in nearly every case, is that state governors have folded like a cheap suitcase rather than stick up for the democratic right of a free people to pass laws through their elected representatives, chosen in free and fair elections.
At this moment, a Vancouver postman named Rob Hoogland is sitting in a jail cell in British Columbia. He will be there until at least April 12, when he’s scheduled for a court date. At that time, he may be ordered to remain behind bars for a period yet to be determined.
Has Hoogland killed or robbed somebody? Is he an arsonist? A rapist? No. What did he do, then? Short answer: he tried to save his emotionally unstable daughter from self-destruction.
This week, The American Mind experienced the new “normal” firsthand. A recent piece of content entitled “The Ruling Class Strikes Back” was removed from YouTube “due to a violation” of what YouTube calls its Community Guidelines, specifically the prohibition regarding “spam, deceptive practices, and scams.” Our colleagues pressed YouTube’s support team on the claims and discovered that the video was flagged for “advancing false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S. 2020 presidential election.”
This action is much more than the online equivalent of a moving violation. It is a permanent warning, which flags not just one’s challenged content but one’s entire account. In this way, any finding of another infraction between now and eternity results in a suspension and, in effect, a blacklisting. Officially, it’s three strikes you’re out. Unofficially, and no doubt deliberately, after just one transgression against the political speech code, the only reasonable reaction is to bend over backwards to silence yourself—not just on the original matter, but on any matter that might cause the Eye of Sauron to swivel your way again.
In our case, we suspect the offending verbiage concerns the election-season wave of court suits and legislation deployed to strengthen the prospects of the Left: “Its lawfare had the effect of making vote fraud on a mass scale far easier, and harder to trace, than ever before. If nothing else, this had the effect of irrevocably undermining American confidence in our elections.” In other words, it is “deceptive practice” to suggest that the 2020 election was anything other than perfectly regular and beyond reproach in every regard. Though the podcast is still accessible on our Apple Podcasts feed, the black mark will remain on our record with YouTube—making us vulnerable to a complete account wipe down the line should we “misstep” again.
Things have changed since I was a young teacher at Columbia in the early 1980s. Then, self-understanding was the whole point of its famous core curriculum. Its centerpiece, the comically misnamed “Contemporary Civilization,” took you on a tour of the great thinkers from Plato to the present day—“Plato to NATO,” as student wits called it. It was assumed that the purpose of the course was to help you form your own ideas and build intellectual muscle. Students in those days were expected to have a “philosophical position” they would refine while arguing with friends in cafés and bars and during late-night bull sessions. By graduation, most Columbia students had some idea of where they stood on the great questions they cared about and were able to defend their positions with facts and arguments. Even if they couldn’t, they had developed the ability to recognize trustworthy facts and valid arguments. They were educated, in the now old-fashioned sense of the word.
That type of education is mostly gone at universities today, and it’s obvious why. Universities have become so politicized that many students dare not speak their minds to their teachers or fellow students for fear of social stigma, punitive grading, or the emotional trauma of a hostile tweet-storm. As the “campus expression surveys” of the Heterodox Academy and many other studies confirm, students across a wide range of political perspectives now engage in self-censorship and hold divisive stereotypes about their fellow students, particularly conservative or religious students. Substantial minorities don’t want to engage socially with students who don’t share their opinions and think it’s okay to silence views they believe are wrong. University administrators show an alarming authoritarianism, a readiness to discipline students who challenge progressive pieties. All this contributes to a propensity among students to keep their mouths, and their minds, firmly shut.
At stake in the so-called Equality Act, currently before the Senate, is neither women’s sports nor bathrooms, at least not ultimately. At stake is the freedom of rational human beings to use a common vocabulary when speaking about what all can see. Also at stake are the countless vulnerable souls falling prey to the tyrannizing “gender identity” ideology and the medical atrocities that go with it. That is why religious freedom is also at stake. Religion is the last bastion of sanity.
Mary Hasson, a legal expert on religious freedom, testified earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She explained how much of the bill’s enshrinement of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories under civil-rights law would curtail the many activities that go on in religious buildings, schools, sports leagues, hospitals, soup kitchens, shelters, adoption agencies and charitable organizations. These arguably fall under the Equality Act’s expanded definition of “public accommodations.” Ms. Hasson also provided the committee a much-needed lesson on the nature of religion: Religion is not something locked up in the heads of believers, but public in character, both in its worship and its works.
WASHINGTON — When it comes to decrying the concept of “vaccine passports,” conservatives have company. The idea’s detractors now include certain business owners, who fear customer backlash and the hassle or danger of enforcing the policy, and even prominent public health advocates, too.
The proof-of-vaccine concept is gaining traction in some circles globally and within the U.S., including among some professional sports teams, a major university, and highly vaccinated countries like Israel. In New York and Hawaii, among other states, governors have pitched the idea as a means of returning to normal life.
But the concept represents a “slippery slope,” said Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association — one that could politicize the vaccine rollout, make health inequities worse, and even lull vaccinated people into a false sense of security.
I suspect the Lizard People are beyond this whole Vaccine Passport thing.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
In 1976, a professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley published an essay outlining the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as humanity’s greatest existential threat: Stupidity.
Stupid people, Carlo M. Cipolla explained, share several identifying traits: they are abundant, they are irrational, and they cause problems for others without apparent benefit to themselves, thereby lowering society’s total well-being. There are no defenses against stupidity, argued the Italian-born professor, who died in 2000. The only way a society can avoid being crushed by the burden of its idiots is if the non-stupid work even harder to offset the losses of their stupid brethren.
Let’s take a look at Cipolla’s five basic laws of human stupidity: