URLs du Jour


Proverbs 18:23 returns to the class-warfare rhetoric previously seen in Chapter 18:

23 The poor plead for mercy,
    but the rich answer harshly.

To see what Science says on this topic, a 2009 article from Scientific American: "Rudeness is for the Rich: Wealthy People Make Poor Conversational Partners". Which is probably also ideologically-biased nonsense ("…recent study conducted by University of California, Berkeley psychologists…"). But we link, you decide.

■ I liked this article from Shikha Dalmia at Reason: U.S.A, U.S.A., U.S.A.

Ever since President Trump sauntered into the White House, America's image—or "brand," in marketing parlance—has taken a beating. This month, a Nation Brand Index poll of public opinion in 50 countries found that the "Trump effect" had caused America's reputation to drop from first to sixth place in world rankings on a whole host of metrics, such as its attractiveness as a tourist, business, and work destination. This is in keeping with the March U.S. News & World Report "best country" rankings, based on a poll of business leaders and other "informed elites" around the world, in which the U.S. fell several notches.

But fear not. America will overcome this loss of respect. American greatness doesn't stem from its politics or its political leaders so they can't tarnish it much either, not even Trump. What has made America great is that it has set the standards of excellence in literally every human endeavor for the last 150 years.

Hm. Maybe, maybe not. I'm getting increasingly curmudgeonly as I get on in years—and I started out curmudgeonly, compared to my age cohort—but if you need some optimism about the future, check out Shikha.

■ Will we be returning to sexual sanity any time soon? Probably not, because one of the questions we'll have to answer on the way there is David French's [NRO]: Can We Be Honest About Men?

Here’s a simple reality — large numbers of men enter high-status professions (such as entertainment and politics) in part or even primarily to gain access to beautiful women. Large numbers of men achieve wealth in part or even primarily to gain access to beautiful women. Large numbers of men who enter high-status professions or gain wealth for good and virtuous reasons soon become corrupted by access to beautiful women. As we’ve learned, some men even become so-called “male feminists” primarily to gain the trust of beautiful women.

Not true of everyone, of course. But, statistically speaking, not something you would want to bet against.

■ Also noting the ongoing moral panic is Claire Berlinski at the American Interest: The Warlock Hunt

The things men and women naturally do—flirt, play, lewdly joke, desire, seduce, tease—now become harassment only by virtue of the words that follow the description of the act, one of the generic form: “I froze. I was terrified.” It doesn’t matter how the man felt about it. The onus to understand the interaction and its emotional subtleties falls entirely on him. But why? Perhaps she should have understood his behavior to be harmless—clumsy, sweet but misdirected, maladroit, or tacky—but lacking in malice sufficient to cost him such arduous punishment?

In recent weeks, I’ve acquired new powers. I have cast my mind over the ways I could use them. I could now, on a whim, destroy the career of an Oxford don who at a drunken Christmas party danced with me, grabbed a handful of my bum, and slurred, “I’ve been dying to do this to Berlinski all term!” That is precisely what happened. I am telling the truth. I will be believed—as I should be.

But here is the thing. I did not freeze, nor was I terrified. I was amused and flattered and thought little of it. I knew full well he’d been dying to do that. Our tutorials—which took place one-on-one, with no chaperones—were livelier intellectually for that sublimated undercurrent. He was an Oxford don and so had power over me, sensu strictu. I was a 20-year-old undergraduate. But I also had power over him—power sufficient to cause a venerable don to make a perfect fool of himself at a Christmas party. Unsurprisingly, I loved having that power. But now I have too much power. I have the power to destroy someone whose tutorials were invaluable to me and shaped my entire intellectual life much for the better. This is a power I do not want and should not have.

Another lonely voice. We're featuring them today, because…

PJMedia's Andrew Klavan lets us know: I'm Done With the Sex Scandals. (Specifically: "I" here is "Andrew Klavan". Not Pun Salad. Pun Salad does not make promises that Pun Salad is not certain Pun Salad will keep.)

I'm pretty much done with the sex scandals. They were fun, but they're just going to have to carry on without me. If someone broke the law and you can prove it, prosecute him. If someone violated the rules of his organization, eject him. Other than that, if women have forgotten the fine art of slapping a man in the face, there's not a whole hell of a lot society can do for them. You keep silent for forty years and then ruin a man's career with an unprovable allegation — and that makes you a hero? Not to me.

Also a fine, but apparently lost, art: kneeing a guy in the nards.

■ Bad news, everyone. Hot Air quotes Science: Humans Have Reached The Peak Of Our Lifespan, Height, And Physical Fitness. Well, crap.

“These traits no longer increase, despite further continuous nutritional, medical, and scientific progress,” said Jean-François Toussaint, a physiologist at Paris Descartes University, France, in a press release. “This suggests that modern societies have allowed our species to reach its limits.”

But at least we're getting smarter, right? Right?

■ Well, maybe not. Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolution notes current research on that: The Flynn effect in reverse does the rot start at the top?

The IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered. Losses in Nordic nations after 1995 average at 6.85 IQ points when projected over thirty years. On Piagetian tests, Britain shows decimation among high scorers on three tests and overall losses on one. The US sustained its historic gain (0.3 points per year) through 2014. The Netherlands shows no change in preschoolers, mild losses at high school, and possible gains by adults. Australia and France offer weak evidence of losses at school and by adults respectively. German speakers show verbal gains and spatial losses among adults. South Korea, a latecomer to industrialization, is gaining at twice the historic US rate.

Maybe smart people are getting the heck out of the Nordic nations. I know I would.

■ Mr. Lileks takes A look at failed Minnesota utopias – and one that worked.

If you had to come up with a name for a new city that enticed people to pack up their lives and head off to Utopia, what would you choose?

Perhaps MXC wouldn’t top your list.

But that’s what they called it. The MXC (Minnesota Experimental City) was supposed to be the shining city of the future, a model for humanity, a masterpiece of technological ingenuity — and only half an hour north of Aitkin, Minn. The price: a cool $10 billion, in 1967 dollars. Population: a quarter-million. Completion date: 1984.

And it happened... not. MXC was the "brainchild of Athelstan Spilhaus". When I read that, I went all Obi-Wan and mused: "Athelstan Spilhaus. Now, that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time."

But what's the one that worked? The answer may surprise you! Or not, if you're a Minneapolitan.

@JonahNRO's G-File this week is Against One-Thingism. But what I want to quote is this, about the next Senator from the great State of Alabama:

You can forget the sexual allegations against Moore — though you can be sure no one else will, because the Democrats and the media will be reminding voters about it constantly. Forget the fact that Moore is a grifter and huckster who claims America is evil and had 9/11 coming but that we were great when slavery was legal. Put aside all the arguments about how “we” need his vote or that Republicans shouldn’t unilaterally disarm.

The simple fact is this guy, if elected, will be a disaster for Trump, conservatives, and the GOP alike — even if he votes in partisan lockstep with the Trump agenda. The mere act of him voting for good legislation will make it harder for some senators to vote for it. Moore will say stupid, offensive, and bigoted things — and every Republican, starting with Trump himself, will be asked to respond.

And the only defense will be "whataboutism."