URLs du Jour

2022-03-26

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  • It's (mostly) Language Day here at Pun Salad! Let's lead it off with Caroline Breashears who provides A Reader’s Guide to Newspeak 2022.

    Are you behind on Newspeak? Are you still using Oldspeak terms like “freedom?” If so, it’s time to update your vocabulary, abandoning useless words that clutter your brain. Master Newspeak, and you’ll never have to think again. 

    “But wait,” you say, “I enjoy thinking!”

    Of course you do. And so did Winston Smith in 1984, right up until his holiday in the Ministry of Love. While Orwell depicts the experience as torture, it was really the Igsoc version of retraining, which I am happy to provide here, minus the starvation.

    As Winston’s guide, O’Brien, explains, “The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love and justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement.” To magnify those emotions, Newspeak bypasses reason. Consider these examples from the dictionary’s latest edition:

    Capitalism: This word is the magic eraser of arguments. It wipes away any opposing argument by evoking images of bankers wearing top hats and monocles, all the better to see their filthy lucre. If your teachers’ union wants a raise, just yell, “Our fight is against capitalism.” No one will realize that you’re the one after money.

    More helpful information at the link.


  • But that's not the only guide you'll need. Judson Berger provides additional help to the confused with A Guide to Pronoun Guides. It's a sampling of wisdom, example:

    This comes from the University of Maryland. Using context clues, we can infer that “binary assumptive” means bad. The UMD guide lists several terms that apparently fall under this category and generally should be avoided as a result. They include “ladies and gentlemen” (a thousand MC careers just died) and more:

    • Ladies and gentlemen
    • Boys and girls
    • Men and women of the faculty
    • Brothers and sisters
    • He or she
    • S/he
    • Sir/madam

    "I'm old enough to remember" when "he or she" was considered to be a recommended non-sexist replacement for "he".


  • You say "banning", I say… David Harsanyi explains it in small words: No, School Boards Are Not 'Banning Books'

    Accusations of left-wing free speech authoritarianism—whether through corporate restrictions, the state targeting “misinformation,” the shouting down of dissent in universities, or the canceling of dissenting voices—are well-documented. Attempting to even the ledger, liberals have begun alleging that conservatives are engaging in “book bans” in public school districts.

    The newest outrage on this front comes from a ProPublica investigation in which Superintendent Jeremy Glenn of Granbury Independent School District in North Texas is taped saying chilling things like: “I don’t want a kid picking up a book, whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality, and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries.”

    (“Minutes later,” reports ProPublica, “after someone asked whether titles on racism were acceptable, Glenn said books on different cultures ‘are great.'”)

    ProPublica repeatedly refers to the efforts of a volunteer committee set up to review titles as a “book ban.” This is a category mistake. Public school curriculum and book selection are political questions decided by school boards. Schools have no duty to carry every volume liberals demand.

    I haven't visited a K-12 public library in a long time. But the librarians at the University Near Here are pretty blatant about what they recommend/push. See, for example, their "Library Resources" page for Black History Month. Ibram X. Kendi, Ilhan Omar, Angela Davis, Ta-Nehisi Coates, …

    Good luck finding any equal treatment of libertarian/conservative voices. Is that "censorship"? "Banning"?


  • A job you couldn't pay me to do. Kyle Smith notes the tough task undertaken by our journalists: Media works overtime to clean up Joe Biden's word salads

    For decades, Joe Biden was known as a glib speaker. These days, he’s more like an aggressively weird word chef, tossing unrelated ingredients together into a strange bowl of thoughts. Step right up, Americans, and get yourself a sample of the presidential word salad!

    A German reporter this week asked President Biden a bizarre question about how, assuming he is defeated when he runs for re-election, possibly by Donald Trump, he would stop the next president from undoing things he has done. Biden’s answer should have been, “That’s not how this works. Ex-presidents don’t get to tell their successors what to do, sorry. Re-elect me!” Instead, he wandered around for hundreds of words of barely intelligible stream-of-consciousness remarks:

    “I don’t think you’ll find any European leader who thinks that I am not up to the job. And I mean that sincerely. It’s not like, ‘Whoa …’ It’s that — that — the point is that when — the first G7 meeting I attended, like the one I did today, was in Great Britain. And I sat down, and I said, ‘America is back. And one of the — one of my counterparts, colleagues, a head of state, said, ‘For how long? For how long?’ ”

    Biden wound up concluding, “But the next election, I’d be very fortunate if I had that same man running against me.”

    The media spun this loopy, defensive digression as “Biden torches Trump on world stage, talks trash about 2024,” or “Joe Biden shades Donald Trump’s 2024 hopes without even mentioning his name.” (Back in the real world, the average of the last three polls show Trump beating Biden by an average of three points.)

    If there's a Biden/Trump rematch in 2024… well, that's a reason to despair for our country.


  • Those who can't do… Nicholas Wade wonders about his fellow science writers. Are they Journalists, or PR Agents?

    The worldwide toll of deaths from Covid-19 has just hit 6 million, nearly 1 million of which are in the United States. Few science stories are more important than understanding where the Covid virus came from. Yet the science writers’ section of the press corps has proved strangely incapable of telling the story straight.

    Two hypotheses have long been on the table. One is that the virus jumped naturally from some animal host, as many epidemics have done in the past. The other is that it escaped from a lab in Wuhan, where researchers are known to have been genetically manipulating bat viruses in order to predict future epidemics. Both hypotheses are plausible but, so far, no direct evidence exists for either.

    The rule for covering such a story is obvious: write about both possibilities as evenhandedly as possible until the truth emerges. But science writers have consistently trumpeted any developments favoring natural emergence while downplaying or ignoring those pointing to a lab leak.

    Wade details the recent attempts to push the "wet market" theory, backed by relatively thin evidence.