URLs du Jour


Proverbs 18:10 looks like advice in times of peril:

10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.

I'm glad that works out for the righteous, but what about the rest of us?

■ Another fine article from dead-trees Reason appears for free, Ronald Bailey on The Noble, Misguided Plan to Turn Coal Miners Into Coders. It begins by describing the previous plan to social-engineer Appalachia out of poverty.

Even in coal's heyday, Appalachia was still relatively poor and backward. At the time, policy makers blamed its lack of economic development on mountainous inaccessibility. Their solution: End the region's isolation with massive infrastructure projects, most notably a network of four-lane highways that would connect the region to the rest of the country.

So in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, creating the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Over the subsequent five decades, ARC has spent $27 billion (in 2015 dollars) to build nearly 3,000 miles of the Appalachian Development Highway System that is threaded throughout the mountains.

The highways, constructed along officially designated "Corridors," are splendidly engineered—and largely empty. They utterly failed to spark an economic renaissance. Despite tens of billions in federal money, the "region's performance relative to the national average is similar to its position in the 1960s," reported economists Carl Kitchens and Taylor Jaworski in a 2016 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. They calculate that the gigantic transportation investment boosted incomes in the region by just $586 per capita.

The new plan is to build "eCorridors", fiber throughout the region, then to train the newly well-connected inhabitants to write code. The favored appellation seems to be "Silicon Holler".

■ Pun Salad fave Jonathan Haidt gave the "2017 Wriston Lecture" to the Manhattan Institute earlier this month, and an excerpt (retrieved from the WSJ paywall) is available: Identity Politics.

Today’s identity politics . . . teaches the exact opposite of what we think a liberal arts education should be. When I was at Yale in the 1980s, I was given so many tools for understanding the world. By the time I graduated, I could think about things as a utilitarian or as a Kantian, as a Freudian or a behaviorist, as a computer scientist or as a humanist. I was given many lenses to apply to any given question or problem.

But what do we do now? Many students are given just one lens—power. Here’s your lens, kid. Look at everything through this lens. Everything is about power. Every situation is analyzed in terms of the bad people acting to preserve their power and privilege over the good people. This is not an education. This is induction into a cult. It’s a fundamentalist religion. It’s a paranoid worldview that separates people from each other and sends them down the road to alienation, anxiety and intellectual impotence. . . .

An hourlong video of the lecture is viewable here.

Oh no:

I suppose it was only a matter of time.

Last Modified 2017-11-27 9:34 AM EST