URLs du Jour

2022-01-18

[Trust the Scientism]

Our Eye Candy du Jour is another poster in the "D. C. Street Art" series. I've seen allegations that it was torn down soon after it was put up. That's OK, many more eyes will see it on the Internet than on the streets.

  • A constant worry that can shrink but never goes away. Bari Weiss writes movingly on Being Jewish in an Unraveling America.

    What I now see is this: In America captured by tribalism and dehumanization, in an America swept up by ideologies that pit us against one another in a zero-sum game, in an America enthralled with the poisonous idea that some groups matter more than others, not all Jews—and not all Jewish victims—are treated equally. What seems to matter most to media pundits and politicians is not the Jews themselves, but the identities of their attackers.

    And it scares me.

    The attack in Texas, the reaction to it, and the widespread willingness in our culture to judge violent acts based on their political utility, augurs a darkening reality for the six million Jews living in what the Founders insisted was a new Jerusalem. And for that new Jerusalem itself.

    I'm not Jewish. Maybe you aren't either. But read Ms. Weiss's article and see if you don't get why she's worried and angry.

    I would only quibble with her characterization of our current ideological conflict as a "zero-sum game". It is, in fact, a negative-sum game. As that computer said in War Games, the only way to win is not to play.


  • For more on that… Eddie Scarry wonders at the Federalist: Why Aren't Corporate Media Concerned About Rising Antisemitism In The Biden Era?

    Is no one in the national media concerned about the very scary brush with antisemitism that occurred on President Biden’s watch this weekend?

    I was watching MSNBC all day on Monday and didn’t see it mentioned once. Come to think of it, almost no one at MSNBC or CNN or in the administration or in the offices of Democrats in Congress seemed to think it was a big deal at all by the start of the week.

    The number of tweets that President Biden’s FBI sent out this weekend related to a Muslim extremist who held up hostages at a Texas synagogue on Saturday: zero.

    The number of tweets that Biden’s FBI sent out this weekend seeking information on random men and women photographed at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, an incident from more than a year ago: five.

    Many people commented on the official reluctance to point to antisemitism as a possible factor in the targeting of a synagogue. Had it happened a couple years ago, there would have been many enthusiastic attempts to find some way to blame it on Trump.


  • I generally find myself on Team Cynic. But I get what Abigail Shrier is saying here: Who Will Win America: The Cynics or The Believers?

    “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uighurs, okay?” cryptobillionaire, NBA team owner, and former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya said this weekend in an interview with The All-In Podcast. “You bring it up because you really care, and I think that’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

    It’s a chilling statement, casually thrown off, by one of America’s richest titans: We just don’t care about the genocide occurring in China. And it represents a newly prominent voice in our political discourse: The American Cynic.

    Last week, Rep. Warren Davidson, Republican Congressman from Ohio’s Eighth District repeatedly likened vaccine passports to efforts by the Nazis to dehumanize and degrade Jews before murdering them. And Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried said to NPR on Friday, “I’m sorry, I’m a student of history too. I saw the rise of Hitler.” “Are you comparing [Governor Ron] DeSantis to Hitler?” her interviewer asked. “In a lot of ways, yes,” she said.

    In full disclosure, I'm in pretty strong agreement with whoever it was who said: "I don't believe in anything you have to believe in."

    When Ms Shrier talks about "believers", she specifically means those who are devoted to "our bedrock constitutional liberties". And I'm all in favor! But I don't believe in them. I cherish them because of their (self-evident) truth, well-grounded in fact and rational argument.

    And I'm not cynical at all about them.

    What I'm cynical about is politicians.


  • And the play was lousy too. Elle Reynolds thinks she has a smoking gun: CDC Finally Admits Cloth Masks Were Always Political Theater.

    When The Federalist ran the headline “Many Studies Find That Cloth Masks Do Not Stop Viruses Like COVID” in November 2020, Lead Stories attempted to “fact-check” the piece, slapping a red “masks work” label over a screenshot of the original article.

    The “fact-check” even cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the effectiveness of masks against COVID-19, where the CDC insisted, “Cloth masks not only effectively block most large droplets (i.e., 20-30 microns and larger), but they can also block the exhalation of fine droplets and particles,” and “cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration.”

    Yet the same CDC quietly admitted on Friday that the thin cloth masks the agency and its corporate media allies spent the last two years cheering actually “provide the least protection” against COVID-19. It was “the first time the C.D.C. has explicitly addressed” the relative ineffectiveness of cloth masks, according to The New York Times.

    To be clear, the CDC didn't say cloth masks were worthless; it's just that they (finally) said:

    While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease.

    So, not theater, probably better than nothing, but if you're really worried about it, you can up your game. Like that guy in the Eliquis commercial.

    The point being: the CDC is only just now saying this publicly. They (of course) knew it all along.


  • I have no 2022 predictions. But James Lileks provides his take in a paywalled National Review article: The Year to Come, in Retrospect

    Well, that was a heck of a year. Yessir, 2022 was one for the books. As we tie a bow around the 52-week-thick slab of events, shove it down the trash compactor, and prepare to welcome in 2023, let’s cast our eyes back to what happened.

    The Russia invaded The Ukraine. When The Russian Federation flag flew over all The Ukrainian government buildings, Rachel Maddow said, “Well, Trump finally got what he wanted.” President Biden responded by shutting down three American pipelines and pressuring allies to announce that the next time the G-8 meets, Putin would sit on a chair that wobbled slightly and get served dessert last.

    A woman was arrested for hate speech in San Francisco when she said, “Let’s go, Brandon!” The phrase had been declared “unprotected speech” in January under the city’s “Hurtful Euphemism Act,” which also prohibited making air quotes when saying “President Biden.” A challenge to the law failed in the Ninth Circuit, where the judges noted that there must be limitations on gestures. “One cannot say ‘Fire’ in sign language in a dark, crowded theater.”

    The woman who was arrested defended her actions, insisting she had actually said, “We must endeavor, Brandon, to perambulate with alacrity in a timely manner,” because a San Francisco resident was advancing on her and her son, Brandon, with a machete. A San Francisco prosecutor, who was later revealed to be one of 147 clones of George Soros grown in an Argentinian facility, noted that the rephrasing of the hate-speech expression was indefensible, as the woman was still engaged in harmful euphemistic utterances, and had a duty to rename her child to avoid such situations. Witnesses testified that the woman sometimes referred to her child as “sweetheart,” indicating that she was aware of additional options when trying to get away from the man with the machete.

    Well, that might not get me nailed for copyright infringement.

Better Off Dead

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Finally got around to reading the latest Reacher novel, Better Off Dead, not to be confused with the old John Cusack movie. Shocked at the beginning: Could this be the end of Reacher?

Small spoiler: no, it wasn't. Probably shouldn't have worried, they ain't going to kill off a predictable layer of golden eggs.

Already have the next one on order at Amazon.

Ahem. Sorry, I found myself writing Child-style there for a bit. It's been awhile since a Reacher book was first-person narrated, but that's the case here for all chapters except the first. And Reacher drops his "I"s a lot.

Most things are the same, though. Reacher continues his uncanny knack of happening on massive criminal conspiracies while simply wandering around on his aimless tour of America. Here he happens on an apparently unconscious woman in an apparently crashed Jeep. He goes to offer assistance, and… she pulls a gun on him. Hate it when that happens.

Pretty soon, we get a better idea of what's going on. The woman, Michaela Fenton, is looking to rescue her twin brother Michael, who's gotten himself involved in that massive criminal conspiracy mentioned above, involving a shadowy sadistic mastermind with the unlikely name of "Dendoncker". Her car crash was staged as part of her plan to find him. It doesn't go as planned. She's despondent, Reacher—of course—offers to assist.

And we're off on that crazy scheme described in Chapter One. That doesn't go as planned either. But it keeps the pages turning.