URLs du Jour

2022-01-25

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  • Saying no to Ngo. Andy Ngo writes on the latest defeat for free expression in the NYPost: Antifa win again as Dartmouth cancels my event on far-left violence. Excerpt:

    About a week prior to the scheduled event, the group Northeast Antifa published a disturbing flyer featuring a photograph of my bloodied face from when an Antifa mob beat me in 2019 in Portland, Ore. I was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage from that assault and robbery.

    “Anti-fascists from all over New England will be mobilizing January 20th, 2022 at Dartmouth College to disrupt and prevent fascist propagandists like Andy Ngo from normalizing their reactionary beliefs on college campuses in the Northeast,” tweeted the group. It instructed fellow comrades to “wear black” to hide their identities and avoid future prosecution.

    On Instagram, the group threatened me directly. “This is to Andy Ngo himself: when you f–k with us you are not f–king with college students,” it wrote. “When you enter our home you start playing by our rules, not yours. New England is anti-fascist, and we will hold that line until death.”

    Hiding behind a wall of bureaucratic bafflegab, Dartmouth kowtowed to the "antifa" mob's threats.

    And as near as Google can tell, the Post is the only media outlet outside New Hampshire where this disgraceful incident is mentioned.


  • And for more on that… Chloe Ezzo, Vice President of the Dartmouth College Republicans writes at the College Fix: Dartmouth shut down my campus event featuring Andy Ngo — then blamed me for it.

    Last Thursday, Dartmouth College administrators shut down an event I was co-hosting featuring journalist Andy Ngo, and then turned around and blamed me for it.

    Oddly, nowhere in the administrators’ list of excuses for effectively canceling the “Extremism in America” panel discussion two hours before it was slated to begin is blame for those who threatened violence against our event.

    Instead, campus leaders said that me and my co-organizer had poor communication skills which, coupled with safety concerns, forced them to call it off.

    Dartmouth administrators used bogus criticisms of College Republicans' efforts in trying to bring off the event, but (again, as near as I can tell) had no criticism whatsoever of the thugs threatening violence.


  • A novel legislative concept: fixing something that is broken. Joe Lancaster writes about that at Reason: The Democrats' Voting Bill Is Dead, but Electoral Reform Isn't

    Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are considering modifications to the Electoral Count Act, an 1887 law that details when and how Congress counts and certifies the votes cast by presidential electors. The act dictates that the president of the Senate (the U.S. vice president) reads out the votes from each state, which Congress then counts before certifying the winner. While the vice president's role seems largely ceremonial, with no ability to alter an election's outcome, the act does not say so explicitly. Former President Donald Trump and his acolytes seized upon this vagueness when they tried to pressure then–Vice President Mike Pence to either decline to certify the results, or else simply pick a different slate of electors in enough swing states to tip the election to Trump.

    Now, lawmakers from both parties are considering reforms to the Electoral Count Act in both the Senate and the House. CNN reports that six Republican senators are planning talks on the law "with the aim of clarifying the process for counting electoral votes." Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.), a moderate whose opposition helped sink the filibuster reform, told CNN that reforms to the Electoral Count Act could help reduce the type of confusion that ultimately led, in part, to the false hopes that prompted hundreds of Trump supporters to violently storm the Capitol on the day of the election certification vote.

    My deep cynicism causes me to wonder how badly could Congress screw this up? But, hey, maybe not.


  • Which is why educrats hate it so. Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center explains Why school choice is the most powerful education reform. Starting off with a comparison that should have people rethinking their priors:

    As School Choice Week kicks off, it’s worth considering why there’s no such thing as Grocery Choice Week. Or Clothing Choice Week. Or Home Choice Week.

    When it comes to the basic necessities of life — food, clothing and shelter — Americans have the freedom to choose from among whatever options the market provides. (Government limits housing choices, but not as much as it limits K-12 education choices.)

    Education is a service provided by state and local governments, so of course it’s more limited, one might argue. But why is it provided by government, as opposed to funded by government?

    Government finances or subsidizes some goods and services — food (through food stamps), medical care (through Medicaid and Medicare), higher education (through Pell Grants & other aid) — without providing the service itself. It’s perfectly feasible to do the same with K-12 education. 

    It's been interesting to see the school choice debate over the years. Years back, apologists for government schools were wont to proclaim their devotion to "our children". That's become untenable, due to their manifest overall lousiness in educating "our children", and these days you're much more likely to hear them demand "support" (i.e., tax money) for "our public schools" (i.e., government schools). It's all about propping up the institution, rather than helping (or even pretending to help) the kids.

    I'm all over the spectrum on many issues, but I confess to pure libertarian radicalism on education. Similar to the wall of separation between church and state (and for similar reasons), we should demand the separation of school and state. Yeah, I've pretty much gone full John Taylor Gatto.


  • Just one problem? Matt Lutz at Persuasion writes on The Problem With “Systemic Racism”.

    In “The Imaginary Invalid,” a play written by the French satirist Molière, a doctor is asked why opium makes people fall asleep. The doctor replies that “there is a dormitive virtue in it, whose nature it is to make the senses drowsy.” In other words, opium makes people fall asleep because it has the power to make people fall asleep. That joke has since become a favorite among philosophers and historians of science because it is a wonderful example of an explanation that doesn’t explain. Rather than provide an understanding of why opium causes sleepiness, it’s a tautology dressed up in jargon.

    These days, in discussions of race, the term “systemic racism” is everywhere. In the bad old days, the theory goes, racism was personal, a matter of individual racial animus. Personal racism was easy to identify and, thus, easy to stamp out, or at least to drive underground. Why, then, do racial inequalities persist? Believers in systemic racism would say that disparities today are not primarily caused by the racism of people, but by the racism of systems. We have a society that is racist, even if the people in it are not personally racist.

    But what is systemic racism? NAACP President Derrick Johnson defines it as “systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantages [sic] African Americans.” Other definitions are similar: systemic racism is the collective structural features of society that give rise to racial inequalities. But the claim that racial disparities are caused by systemic racism is another tautology dressed up in jargon. What is it about society that creates racial disadvantages? There’s systemic racism in it, whose nature is to make society racially unequal. It’s an explanation that only Molière’s doctor could love.

    Lutz argues that "systemic racism" as a concept is fundamentally counterproductive to actually revealing the causes of racial disparities. And I buy that.


  • The WSJ goes out of its way to avoid saying "crap" in big type. I know this because the URL of Andy Kessler's op-ed contains those four letters, but the online headline is "90% of Everything Is . . . Take a Guess".

    (The print edition headline is simply "90% of Everything Is . . .")

    But anyway, Andy's column applies Sturgeon's Law to venture capital. Arising in Andy's discussion with Marc Andreessen:

    Mr. Andreessen starts with the replication crisis in scientific studies, especially in psychology—over half of studies can’t be replicated. I suggest “studies show” are the two most dangerous words in the English language. Mr. Andreessen quickly adds, “The corollary is ‘experts say.’ ”

    Mr. Andreessen’s friend in the scientific research world told him about a historical study of heart and lung drugs that were approved but were not effective. Mr. Andreessen learned that “one of the things you do to counter a replication crisis is a ‘preregistration of hypothesis’—instead of pretending after the fact that you have a hypothesis, that you’re cherry-picking data to prove.” The result of this preregistration? There were fewer new drugs approved because researchers could no longer fudge the data. “Of course, what this implies is that most drugs that are already on the market today probably don’t work.” His friend agreed and said forget 50%, it’s 90% of research that is bad to begin with.

    Then Mr. Andreessen says, “I had heard of this, aha, Sturgeon’s law!” Theodore Sturgeon (1918-85) was a science-fiction author annoyed that people were saying all sci-fi was bad and wanted to stand up for the 10% that was good, saying, “90% of everything is crap.” Mr. Andreessen says “90% of music is crap.” The same is true of “paintings, writing, TV shows and movies.” I would add ideas, stocks, opinions, politicians—the list goes on.

    Yes, the WSJ will let you say "crap" in the body of your article, just not the headline.

    Right now, I'm really feeling my brain trying to avoid applying Sturgeon's Law to this blog.