URLs du Jour


  • Not a problem for me, but… it's such a great story about "Imposter Syndrome". I originally saw it on GeekPress, snipped from Neil Gaiman's blog: The Neil story.

    Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

    On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name*. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

    And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

    If that doesn't instantly cure you of Imposter Syndrome, nothing else will.

  • Dobbs. I should say something about it. My own view was shaped, probably irrevocably, by Kevin D. Williamson last December.

    In its most basic version, the pro-life position is easy to understand, requiring no special intellectual training, no religious commitment, no mysticism, and nothing you’d really even call a philosophy. What we believe is that you don’t kill children who haven’t been born for the same reason you don’t kill children who have been born. That’s it. There isn’t some magical event that happens at some point during the pregnancy that transforms the unborn child from a meaningless lump of cells to a meaningful lump of cells. Modern, literate people don’t need the medieval doctrines of “quickening” or “ensoulment” (or some half-assed, modern, secular repackaging of those ancient superstitions) to know that the unborn child is an unborn child — we have biology, genetics, and, for those who need to see with their own eyes, imaging technology for that. The human organism that you hold in your arms six months after birth is the same organism it was six months before birth. It isn’t a different organism — it is only a little older. It is true that the child six months after conception isn’t fully developed — and neither is a 19-year-old. We have a natural, predictable, reasonably well-understood process of individual development. There is no magic moment, no mystical transformation, and the people who tell you that there is are peddling superstition and pseudoscience.

    I've bolded the key sentence. Unfortunately a little too long to fit on a bumper sticker or even a placard to wave over my head at a rally. If I was the sort of person to festoon my car with bumper stickers, or wave placards, which I'm not.

    However, I don't see how anyone can read that sentence and hold fast to their magical "pro-choice" opinions.

  • Still, if you want to complicate things… there's a pretty good essay from Clark Neily and Jay Schweikert at Cato: The Hard Problem of Abortion Rights. It takes both sides (or, more accurately, all sides) seriously.

    […] a clear majority of self‐​professed libertarians describe themselves as “pro‐​choice.” But of course, abortion access is, at least debatably, not solely a question of personal bodily autonomy. The heart of the “pro‐​life” position is that unborn children—at some point during pregnancy, and perhaps as early as conception—become distinct rights‐​bearing entities entitled to moral consideration for their own sake. To those who start with such premises, “my body, my choice” is no more persuasive an argument than “my property, my choice” would have been to an abolitionist. Both slogans beg the relevant question, because whether it is just the pregnant woman’s body (or just the slaveowner’s property) is the precise issue under debate.

    To be sure, there are many sensible arguments for holding that fetuses are not entitled to the same quasi‐deontological moral consideration that other members of a polity are entitled to—for example, that they lack the sort of reflective self‐awareness that gives someone an independent sense of their own self and their future. Or that, at early stages of pregnancy, they lack the capacity to feel pain. Or that even granting that a fetus has a right to life, that doesn’t give it a right over the woman’s body.

    But does "it" have a right not to be killed? Ah well.

  • Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be college students. The (recently renamed) Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) has a problem with the Biden Administration: Proposed Title IX regulations would roll back essential free speech, due process protections for college students.

    WASHINGTON, June 23, 2022 — Today, the Department of Education proposed new Title IX regulations that, if implemented, would gut essential free speech and due process rights for college students facing sexual misconduct allegations on campus. As required by federal law, the department must now solicit public feedback before the pending rules are finalized.

    The draft regulations are a significant departure from current Title IX regulations. Unlike the current regulations, adopted in 2020 after 18 months of review, the new regulations would roll back student rights by:

    • eliminating students’ right to a live hearing;
    • eliminating the right to cross-examination;
    • weakening students’ right to active legal representation;
    • allowing a single campus bureaucrat to serve as judge and jury;
    • rejecting the Supreme Court’s definition of sexual harassment in favor of a definition that threatens free speech rights;
    • requiring colleges and universities to use the weak “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine guilt, unless they use a higher standard for other alleged misconduct.

    This is a throwback to the bad old days of the "Dear Colleague" letter. As I tediously remind blog readers every chance I get, I was there at Joe Biden's official unveiling of that policy. I was insufficiently alarmed, and too easy on Biden at the time.

  • You can count them on the fingers of one hand. Robby Soave has further commentary on the policy pendulum swing: 5 Ways Biden's New Title IX Rules Will Eviscerate Due Process on Campus. Here's number one:

    1. The definition of sexual harassment is substantially broadened. The [previous Secretary of Education Betsy] DeVos rules had established two types of sexual harassment: "quid pro quo" harassment, in which an individual was asked to perform sexual favors in exchange for employment or some other favor; and "unwelcome conduct." Quid pro quo harassment only had to occur once to count as harassment, but unwelcome conduct harassment had to be "so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access" to their education—a definition that came straight out of case law (Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education in particular).

    Under the new rules, the bar is much lower: [current Secretary of Education Miguel] Cardona would define unwelcome conduct harassment as "conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive, that, based on the totality of the circumstances and evaluated subjectively and objectively, denies or limits a person's ability to participate" in their education. This would open the door to Title IX investigations of speech that is sexual in nature and subjectively offensive to another person, without it needing to be severe and pervasive. The free speech implications are significant; legitimate classroom speech that was subjectively offensive and occurred repeatedly could now become a matter for the campus Title IX cop.

    Also see Robby's other commentary on the proposed rules here.

  • In our defense, the SAT was way hard. Our Google LFOD News Alert rang for this story emitted by "Live 95.9" a Berkshires radio station: Think You're Smart? If You Live In Mass., Study Says You Might Be. It reports on a study by "PennStakes" that purports to rank states by the intelligence of their inhabitants.

    It turns out that high intelligence involves much more than just being well-read. It also involves things like where you live, where you spent your formative years growing up, where you went to school, and what type of schooling you had.

    PennStakes reports that after looking at and analyzing all the data, Massachusetts is the #1 Most Intelligent State in the country. Top Dog. Head of the Class, so to speak. The Bay State ranked #1 in several categories and ranked pretty high in others, to put it at the top.

    Out of a possible 100 for overall score, Massachusetts had an index score of 93.9. Massachusetts also ranked #1 in ACT scores, #1 in population percentage that have an advanced degree, and #2 in IQ rankings just behind the "Live Free or Die" state of New Hampshire.

    Yes, another "news" site that gratuitously invokes our state motto, even though it has nothing to do with the story.

    If you click through to the PennStakes study (why is a gambling site doing this?) you can the methodology. It's one of those made-up rankings where a number of statistics get weighted and combined to come up with an overall score. New Hampshire got downranked, despite our highest IQ, due to (for exaple) coming in at #30 on our stupid kids' SAT scores! Obviously unfair.

Last Modified 2022-06-25 10:21 AM EDT