Archive for the ‘Whys & wherefores’ Category

h1

Consistency

August 30, 2017

Here’s one of Prof. Mark Perry’s internet-famous Venn diagrams.

Source

Advertisements
h1

The rise of victimhood on campus

March 8, 2017

Here’s an interesting excerpt from a presentation given by Jonathon Haidt last October at Duke University.

The full, hour-long presentation was called “Two incompatible sacred values in American universities“, if you care to watch it.

Haidt’s comments reminded me of ones by Thomas Sowell in this clip from an C-SPAN interview in 1990. This clip is a 13-minute excerpt (also by YouTuber Gravitahn).

Here’s the full, hour-long C-SPAN interview.

Update: And here’s a third excerpt; this one’s from Nadine Strossen’s keynote address at a conference held by FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Ms. Strossen was formerly the president of the ACLU.

Strossen’s full presentation (42 minutes).

Since I don’t spend any time on college campuses, nor much time around college students, I can’t say how accurate these assessments and recommendations are from first-hand knowledge.

But I find these interesting because they seem to agree with so much of what I read in the daily news. It’s always possible that the news is full of hyperbole, of course, but there seems to be a lot of reports on this topic and they tend to agree with one another, regardless of their sources.

h1

Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it

February 24, 2017

Recently I came across a clip by Dave Rubin (via Carpe Diem), which led me to watching other videos on his YouTube channel.

Here’s a very recent clip of Dave talking about something I’ve been wondering about myself: how the current political turmoil will resolve itself into something more like normal.

This clip is one of his monologues. He may be better known for his dialogues: one-on-one interviews and there are many of those.

I was thrilled to find somebody making a go at talking up the Classical Liberalism array of thought. I hope he continues doing that.

As for this clip, the call for people to study history and to develop their own ideas for the role of government is one I certainly agree with. The last presidential election left me with a very strong feeling that we may be headed for the days of Bread and Circuses.

But on second thought, I’m encouraged by recalling one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Thatcher:

Europe will never be like America. Europe is a product of history. America is a product of philosophy.

We’ve done it before.

h1

Why speech must be free

February 19, 2017

Here’s Jordan Peterson speaking late last month* about why free speech is a necessity.

I think he made several very good points (a) about how people think by talking, (b) that suppressing that talk is never a good idea, and (c) about the limits of the U.S. Constitution, which is intended to limit bad players in government.


* From the YouTube notes:
On January 23, 2017, the Runnymede Society at Queen’s University law school hosted a mock debate between Jordan Peterson and Bruce Pardy (playing devil’s advocate) on the subject of Bill C-16, specifically on gender pronoun usage, and broadly on speech legislation. This video is an excerpt from the Q&A portion that followed.

The full video is available on both Runnymede Society’s channel and Jordan Peterson’s channel.

On Peterson’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAQlleqDgbI
On Runnymede Society channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzkNHpiJ7AE

h1

Just shut up and president

January 23, 2017

My late mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was a big fan of the British royal family. She even subscribed to magazines about them. ‘Struth. As you might imagine, the Windsor family was a topic we didn’t talk about often. But we got on extremely well otherwise.

Once, while touring Britain with my in-laws, we stopped for the night at a pretty cool old English inn called the Wheatsheaf hotel. I think it was this place in Lincolnshire but I’m not certain. (‘Wheatsheaf’ is the name of several inns and hotels in the UK.)

Since we’d arrived late in the day, we headed for the public room to find a cool glass of and to meet the locals. We succeeded. And before long, I heard MIL telling some of those locals that she thought the U.S. needed a royal family too. Sigh…

So I liked this post by Warren Meyer at Coyoteblog. Plus, it’s a three-fer: Meyer, Boudreaux, and Williamson all make good points on this topic.

A Modest Proposal: Let’s Adopt A Ceremonial Royal Family for the US To Safely Absorb People’s Apparent Need for Powerful, Charismatic Presidents

I have been watching the Crown as well as the new PBS Victoria series, and it got me to thinking. Wow, it sure does seem useful to have a single figurehead into which the public can pour all the sorts of adulation and voyeurism that they seem to crave. That way, the people get folks who can look great at parties and make heart-felt speeches and be charismatic and set fashion trends and sound empathetic and even scold us on minor things. All without giving up an ounce of liberty. The problem in the US is we use the Presidency today to fulfill this societal need, but in the process can’t help but imbue the office with more and more arbitrary power. Let’s split the two roles.

Update: Don Boudreaux writes:

A Trump presidency comes along with awful risks for Americans. Yet one very real silver-lining is that Trump’s over-the-top buffoonery and manic barking like a dog at every little thing that goes bump in his sight, along with his chronic inability even to appear to be thoughtful and philosophical and reflective and aware that he is not the center of the universe, might – just might – scrub off some of the ridiculous luster that has built up on on the U.S. Presidency over the course of the past 90 or so years. Let us hope.

He also links a good article from Kevin Williamson on the cult of the Presidency

In this vein, I recommend Gene Healey’s book The Cult of the Presidency. You can read it for free.


Here’s an interesting anecdote that I read recently: many Swiss people can’t tell you who their president is. It turns out that the Swiss president is simply the presiding member of the seven-member Swiss Federal Council.

Wouldn’t that be a nice change? A president who does the job in quiet anonymity? A servant of the people who doesn’t think of the job as director of a reality TV show?

Where’s Calvin Coolidge when you need him?

h1

The cost of political correctness?

November 11, 2016

These are a few interesting items I came across in the last two days about how the current atmosphere of political correctness may have affected Tuesday’s election.

What occasionally strikes me is that many organizations, including our government, are so invested in regulating diversity of race, sex, and gender that they’re doing so at the expense of diversity of opinion. The antidote to free speech you don’t like is more free speech, not less. Let speakers open their mouths and show themselves to be fools*.

Likewise, the antidote to those who break laws to harm people (or to damage property) is to prosecute them for those crimes. Allowing your government to increase penalties for hate crimes is just giving it power that it might someday use it against you — when a later set or governors decides to redefine "hate".

Robby Soave writes at Reason (my emphasis):

Trump Won Because Leftist Political Correctness Inspired a Terrifying Backlash
What every liberal who didn’t see this coming needs to understand

Many will say Trump won because he successfully capitalized on blue collar workers’ anxieties about immigration and globalization. Others will say he won because America rejected a deeply unpopular alternative. Still others will say the country is simply racist to its core.

But there’s another major piece of the puzzle, and it would be a profound mistake to overlook it. Overlooking it was largely the problem, in the first place.

Trump won because of a cultural issue that flies under the radar and remains stubbornly difficult to define, but is nevertheless hugely important to a great number of Americans: political correctness.

More specifically, Trump won because he convinced a great number of Americans that he would destroy political correctness. […]


Katherine Timpf at National Review had this to say:

Classes Being Canceled Because Trump Won Is Why Trump Won

So, Donald Trump won the presidential election, and colleges and universities around the country are predictably canceling classes and exams because students are predictably too devastated to be able to do their schoolwork.

It’s everywhere. […]

Reading all of these stories, I really have to wonder: Do any of these people realize that this kind of behavior is exactly why Donald Trump won? The initial appeal of Donald Trump was that he served as a long-awaited contrast to the infantilization and absurd demands for political correctness and "safe spaces" sweeping our society, and the way these people are responding is only reminding Trump voters why they did what they did. […]

The headline of Ms. Timpf’s article reminds me of the headline of Matt Taibbi’s article in Rolling Stone about Brexit: The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened.


Here’s Jonathon Pie (British comedian Tom Walker) with a hilarious rant about why he thinks Trump got elected – and why Brexit happened and why the Tories rule England. Mind the volume: the language gets a little salty.

The only comment I’ll add to this monologue is that in addition to being shamed by the dominant media stories of their opponents, potential Trump voters may also have been shamed by things Trump himself said or did. I’m guessing it got a little complicated for some of them.


Jonah Goldberg (also at NR) writes about priorities in the Democrat party:

The party of obsession with diversity forgot about bread-and-butter issues

[…] Liberals want to claim that racism explains it all. That’s a hard claim to square with the fact that a great many of the blue-collar counties that favored Barack Obama — the first black president, in case you hadn’t heard — by double digits also favored Trump by double digits.

The fact that so many liberals went straight to this explanation gives you a sense of why the Democrats lost the white working class in the first place. The Democratic party went crazy for issues that appeal to the new Democratic base: campus leftists, affluent cosmopolitan whites, and racial minorities.

One obvious example is diversity. There’s nothing wrong with placing a high value on racial, sexual, and gender inclusion. But Democrats have earned the reputation of being obsessed with it to the exclusion of bread-and-butter issues.

Moreover, by constantly invoking the primacy of identity politics for minorities and immigrants, they encouraged many whites to see themselves as an aggrieved racial or religious constituency. That genie will be hard to get back into the bottle. […]


*IMO, we’re all ‘Children of Eve’ and I don’t care whether you take that to mean the Evolutionary Eve, the Biblical Eve, or a figurative Eve of Enlightened Self-Interest on a global scale. Treat your cousins well.

h1

Word (2)

November 11, 2016

govt-power-someone-unliked

%d bloggers like this: