URLs du Jour

2022-01-29

Our Eye Candy du Jour is from 1943, when the University Near Here actually taught some useful skills. The caption at Getty Inages:

Dianas. This year the University of New Hampshire has made archery one of the sports included in the physical education program. The belles and their bows are lined up here on Memorial Field, something like the warriors of old must have lined up at Hastin

Well, that's where it ends. Appears to be a 256-byte limit at Getty Images. How 20th century of them!

But I assume they're talking about the 1066 Battle of Hastings, not previously noted for its gender diversity.

"Belles and their bows." Heh.

  • But UNH is in the news! And (as usual) not in a good way! Steve MacDonald at Granite Grok broke the news, at least this is where I read it first: UNH is Giving Class Credit to Students for Being Assh*le Progressive Activists. (Grawlix in original.) Publicized in a tweet:

    Were I a student in this class, I'd need to ask for clarification: "Prof, are we supposed to 'call in' this behavior or 'call out'? I see both here. Is there a difference?"

    With respect to that orthographically-bleeped word in the GG headline. I read a WSJ article yesterday in preparation for today's weather ("A Jerk-Free Guide to Snowblowing") and the author describes her dad as "a fourth-generation Swamp Yankee Masshole." I think the word is rapidly moving into mainstream acceptability.

    But never mind that, let's return to the story.


  • What could go wrong? At NHJournal, Damien Fisher reports more details: Progressive UNH Prof Gives Course Credit for Accusations of Racism. The instructor is identified as Edward Reynolds (and his position is "Lecturer", which any denizen of higher education will tell you is a distinct species from "professor"). He's in the "Communications" department, which… well, it ain't Physics.

    The potential problems are self-evident: People targeted by Reynolds’ students may object to being called racist or bigots. They might object to being recorded. There’s even the risk of a physical confrontation.

    Reynolds claims in the course description that the recordings and the names of the people “called out/called in” will not be made public. But neither Reynolds nor anyone from UNH answered New Hampshire Journal’s questions about how that anonymity will be guaranteed.

    Reynolds declined to respond to multiple requests for comments, as did the UNH media relations team. Representatives for the University System of New Hampshire declined to answer questions about Reynolds’ coursework as well.

    And who could blame them? Certainly if I were on the "media relations team", I'd be hiding under my desk, ignoring my e-mail Inbox, fervently wishing the phone would stop ringing.


  • Let me just say that you mean well, and are a good person. Except for your ablelism/racism/homophobia which I'm gonna report to my course instructor. Campus Reform has (apparently) a complete three-page assignment from Summer 2021. (The excerpt above is apparently from a different iteration.)

    Students in the "Introduction to Language and Social Interaction" course were told to "Call in someone on their ableist racist or homophobic use of language, for micro aggressions (or an act of racism) towards a person of color, homophobia against LGBTQI+ or ableism against a disabled person."

    The assignment for the course, specifies that students must also record the interaction "in order to get credit," while clarifying to get permission before doing so.

    "Remember to say you know they mean well and are a good person," reads the assignment.

    Students are instructed to give their target "an alternate way of expressing themselves that doesn't marginalise [sic] or oppress," and warned to "Research your proposed alternative to make certain its [sic] not oppressive itself!!" because "You will fail if you tell someone to say something racist or sexist or homophobic."

    From the assignment itself:

    Do not be sexist, racist, or homophobic or any other ism in what you say your example [sic]. If you are you will receive 0 for this assignment and you will not be allowed a reset.

    The call in must be REAL. Recall week 2 on naturalism. Scripted or fake call ins will be treated as intentional plagiarism (because it [sic] is academic dishonesty)

    I have a slight amount of pity for the hapless Communications students wandering around campus looking for someone to be ableist/racist/homophobic for them without goading them into it.


  • I can't help but think there's a more accurate word than 'folly'. But that's the one Matt Taibbi used: The Folly of Pandemic Censorship. He discusses the latest campaign, targeting Substack, but I'd like to excerpt further down:

    To me, the story most illustrative of the problem inherent in policing “Covid misinformation” involves a town hall by Joe Biden from July 21 of last year. In it, the president said bluntly, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,” pretty much the definition of Covid misinformation:

    It was bad enough when, a month later, the CDC released figures showing 25% of a sample of 43,000 Covid cases involved fully vaccinated people. Far worse was a fact-check by PolitiFact, which judged Biden’s clearly wrong statement “half true.”

    “It is rare for people who are fully vaccinated to contract COVID-19, but it does happen,” the site wrote. They then cited CDC data as backup. “The data that the CDC collected before May 1 show that, of 101 million people vaccinated in the U.S., 10,262 (0.01%) experienced breakthrough cases.” PolitiFact’s “bottom line”: Biden “exaggerated,” but “cases are rare.”

    Anyone paying attention to that story will now distrust the president, the CDC, and “reputable” mainstream fact-checkers like the Pew Center’s PolitiFact. These are the exact sort of authorities whose guidance sites like the Center for Countering Digital Hate will rely upon when trying to pressure companies like Substack to remove certain voices.

    I checked the link and PolitiFact (as I type) still rates Biden's statement "Half True".

    About the only good thing about PolitiFact is this: when they call out a Democrat's statement as being Mostly False/False/Pants on Fire, that means it's really egregious bullshit.


  • At least not without first reading Matthew 7:1-5. David Harsanyi puts it too mildly for my taste: It's Not Government's Job to 'Root Out' Misinformation

    After being asked by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski about the alleged misinformation spread by the popular “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast and Facebook users, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy responded with a homily about how “we” must “root out” misleading speech.

    “We” don’t have to do any such thing.

    Government officials have no role in dictating appropriate speech or lecturing us on what we can or can’t say. In fact, they have a duty not to.

    Murthy’s comments wouldn’t be as grating if it weren’t so obvious that the Biden administration has been pressuring Big Tech companies, who oversee huge swaths of our daily digital interactions, to limit speech and set acceptable standards.

    You might remember that last summer, White House press secretary Jen Psaki casually informed the press that the White House was “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Can you imagine the explosive reaction from the establishment media if they had learned that the Trump White House was keeping a list of speech crimes?

    It should be the shame of (for example) the Washington "Democracy Dies in Darkness" Post that they treat with kid gloves some powerful government officials who urge that private companies shut down speech they don't like.


  • I'm pretty old so I chuckled at the City Journal headline. Which is: Heart of Scold. By Zaid Jilani, who takes a look at Neil Young's jihad against Joe Rogan. Assuming you know the details:

    This brings us to perhaps the most surprising detail about this episode: since when did Young become the sort of person to advocate for shutting up his ideological opponents? The rock and folk artist made his name as a countercultural figure in the 1960s, raging against the cultural and political establishment, working with Crosby, Stills, & Nash to release “Ohio,” a powerful protest song released after the killing of student protesters at Kent State University in 1970. The song became an anthem for the anti-Vietnam War movement. Some mainstream AM radio stations, sensitive to lyrics referring to “soldiers gunning us down,” banned it, but underground radio helped make it a hit anyway. Young continued to be a mainstay of the counterculture in the decades to come. In 2006, he reunited with Crosby, Stills, & Nash to barnstorm the country singing anti-Iraq War and anti-George W. Bush songs. They called it the “Freedom of Speech Tour” and kicked it off in Philadelphia, birthplace of the Constitution.

    Young’s transformation from countercultural champion of freedom of speech to corporate censorship advocate and defender of the public-health bureaucracy didn’t occur in a vacuum. Progressives have become increasingly censorious over the past few years. A majority of Democrats now believe that both private tech companies and the U.S. government should “take steps to restrict false info online.”

    Play it again, Neil:

    I'm sorry for
    the things I've done,
    I've shamed myself with lies,
    But soon these things
    are overcome
    And can't be recognized.


Last Modified 2022-05-11 7:10 AM EDT

Five Decembers

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

The cover of this book (like many published by Hard Case Crime) brings back fond memories of haunting the paperback racks as a kid. I was more into science fiction back then, but the mystery section enticed young male eyes … well, Google "lurid paperback covers" to get an idea of the kind of art that was designed to snag the browser. And it wasn't just mysteries; check out this Mental Floss article to see how they sold 1984, Heart of Darkness, and—whoa—Madame Bovary.

So the cover promises some hard-boiled gratuitous sex and violence, while maybe skimping on … well … quality. But this book was mentioned in the New York Times' Best Mystery Novels of 2021, and it's really quite good. Don't judge a book by its cover.

Oh yeah, there's violence, and some sex. But none of it is really gratuitous. And hard-boiled? Well, you would break your teeth trying to eat an egg this hard-boiled.

Our protagonist, Joe McGrady, is a detective on the Honolulu police force. He's called to the scene of a gruesome double murder, involving torture and rape. Soon enough there's some fighting and gunplay, Joe prevails, the bad guy is killed, and … case closed?

No. One of the victims is the nephew of a Navy admiral. Joe makes a convincing case that there's still a shadowy perpetrator on the loose. Backed by Kimmel, Joe stays on the case, and after some impressive detective work he's following the killer's trail to the Far East,

I didn't mention that all this takes place in November and early December 1941. And the admiral is the real-life Admiral Kimmel, commander of the US fleet, based in Pearl Harbor. So history intrudes. Things go bad for Joe's investigation. And then things go very bad for Joe's investigation. The plot develops totally unexpected twists and turns, dovetailing with actual history.

So it's not just a mystery. It's also a love story, war story, kind of epic in scale. The (pseudonymous) author, James Kestrel, obviously did an impressive amount of research, getting the details of history, environment, and culture of the era just right. (Joe takes the legendary Pan Am Clipper out of Honolulu, lovingly described.)

I've seen an interview with the author where his somewhat strident and tedious political opinions are revealed. Fortunately, they're not on display on this book; I hope he doesn't succumb to what I think of as "Don Winslow Disease" in future work.