Pesky strings on that money

The University of Missouri faces a moral dilemma.
In 2002, the university received a $5 million bequest . . . to fund six professorships at the Trulaske College of Business to be filled by devotees of free market economics.
[The will included] a unique enforcement provision. Mizzou would be required to certify every four years to the satisfaction of Hillsdale College that each professorship had been filled by “a dedicated and articulate disciple of the Ludwig von Mises (Austrian) School of Economics.” The remaining funds would revert to Hillsdale in the event that this requirement was not met.
But the university obviously doesn't approve of Austrian economics. You might suppose, therefore, that its moral dilemma was whether it was justified in taking the money. Just kidding. Of course they took the money. The moral dilemma was their concern that "acceding to [the donor's] request would consign the school to being 'held hostage by a particular ideology.'" Ideology is wrong, at least when it's the wrong ideology. The university stands foursquare against it.

Unfortunately, the university was dumb enough to generate internal memoranda admitting that it was trying to circumvent the donor's intent, explaining that “the Austrian School of Economics is quite controversial ... [w]e didn’t want to wade into that controversy, so we focused on some Austrian tenets that are compatible with what we do in our business school.”  That's pretty close to “a dedicated and articulate disciple of the Ludwig von Mises (Austrian) School of Economics,” right?  Presumably they scrounged up a few guys who at least agreed with the Austrians on one or two basic economic principles on a good day when no pressing social justice issues intervened.

Somehow, this didn't satisfy Hillsdale College, which recently lost patience and filed a lawsuit arguing that no “disciple” of Austrian economics was ever hired, let alone a dedicated or articulate one.  No doubt the university will give up now and hand the donation over to Hillsdale. Again, just kidding.

Racism problem worse than I dreamed

Until today I had no idea front-door cams were racist:
Critics complain that the systems turn neighborhoods into places of constant surveillance and create suspicion that falls heavier on minorities. . . . Critics also say Ring, a subsidiary of Amazon, appears to be marketing its cameras by stirring up fear of crime at a time when it’s decreasing. . . . “Amazon is profiting off of fear,” said Chris Gilliard, an English professor at Michigan’s Macomb Community College and a prominent critic of Ring and other technology that he says can reinforce race barriers. Part of the strategy seems to be selling the cameras “where the fear of crime is more real than the actual existence of crime.”
Thanks, Prof. Gillard, but I think I'll make up my own mind how secure my front door is.  Do front-door lock manufacturers profit off fear?  If so, bully for them.  Ditto vaccine and airbag manufacturers.

I notice the linked AP article didn't even try to explain the race-barrier angle, because frankly that line of reasoning won't bear close scrutiny.

Son of Scalia

Here's some good news:  With Acosta out as Labor Secretary, his second-in-command, a workmanlike conservative with a good reputation, will be acting secretary.  In the meantime, President Trump has nominated Eugene Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to take the helm.

Scalia runs the labor/employment law department at Gibson Dunn, one of the few law firms with a national reputation, and the only top-shelf D.C. law firm I know of, that includes a number of serious and credible conservative partners.  Scalia worked for Attorney General Barr during that gentleman's first stint at the Department of Justice, and must have gotten a thumbs-up from him.

A Heroic Cleric

Another good story from CNN.
The US government is honoring an 83-year-old Muslim cleric who hid 262 Christians in his home and mosque during an attack in central Nigeria.

Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, along with four religious leaders from Sudan, Iraq, Brazil and Cyprus, were awarded the 2019 the International Religious Freedom Award, which is given to advocates of religious freedom.

Abdullahi was recognized for providing shelter for hundreds of Christians fleeing attacks from Muslim herdsmen who had launched coordinated attacks on Christian farmers in 10 villages in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau State on June 23, 2018, the award organizers said in a statement.

"How the Soviets Won the Space Race for Equality"

I swear, these people are beyond parody.

Happy 50th landing anniversary to a real hero of humanity, Buzz Aldrin, whose mission flew in the face of all godless Communists. "In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."

Norse American History News

A new layer for archaeologists to explore has been discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows.
The colony was thought to be short-lived, but a new find may extend the length of its occupancy.

While taking sediment cores from a nearby peat bog to help study the ancient environment, archaeologist Paul Ledger and his colleagues discovered a previously unknown chapter in the story of L’Anse aux Meadows. Buried about 35cm (14 inches) beneath the modern surface, they found signs of an ancient occupancy: a layer of trampled mud littered with woodworking debris, charcoal, and the remains of plants and insects.

Based on its depth and the insect species present, the layer looks like similar surfaces from the edges of Viking Age Norse settlements in Greenland and Iceland. But organic material from the layer radiocarbon dated to the late 1100s or early 1200s, long after the Norse were thought to have left Newfoundland for good.

Artifacts like a bronze cloak pin, a soapstone spindle piece, iron nails, and rivets make it clear who lived in the eight Icelandic-style turf shelters at L’Anse aux Meadows. Stone tools at the site suggest that indigenous North Americans, probably ancestors of the Beothuk and Dorset people, also lived or visited here. L’Anse aux Meadows may be the first place where Europeans and indigenous Americans interacted, and those interactions may have happened off and on for as long as 195 years.
There's more.

The USS Boxer at Sea

For CNN, this is a good piece on the USS Boxer.

A Surprising Senator in Arizona

I had concerns about Senator Sinema, compared with the fighter pilot she was running against. But she's representing the interests of her state fairly well, all things considered.

War of Words

Almost all Democrats, but also a majority of Republicans, think heated rhetoric in our politics may provoke violence. Empirical evidence supports this. There was a terrorist attack last week in Tacoma in which a prominent American politician's heated language was cited verbatim by the attacker. As Instapundit's site points out regularly, that wasn't the first time.

So far the rhetoric hasn't cooled, but perhaps it will.

Greenwashing

Vodkapundit defines "greenwashing" as sweeping your environmental impacts under someone else's rug.
Are you tired of paying too little for clean-burning energy that reduces carbon emissions? Then has Berkeley got a deal for you!
On Tuesday, the City Council approved a new ordinance forbidding any new low-rise residences from using natural gas: It's all-electric or nothin', baby. Councilwoman Kate Harrison, who sponsored the measure, told the Chronicle that "It’s an enormous issue" and "When we think about pollution and climate-change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas."
And more than a few local politicians, too.
Discerning readers already were aware that gas heat is much more efficient than electric heat, but California now imports 33% of its electricity, so there's less need to think about what has to be burned (Nevada coal) or killed (Oregon salmon) to produce it out there in non-Cali-land.

Decades ago during the first PG&E bankruptcy, you may recall some fantastic spikes in California power prices and widespread brownouts.  The spikes were widely attributed to shady Enron behavior but actually resulted, I believe, from California's insistence on squeezing down its paltry collection of interstate transmission corridors, while undermining domestic power production, until it was practically begging for a supply-demand crisis.  The California PUC helped things along by refusing PG&E's increasingly urgent requests to be allowed to buy long-term price-hedging contracts to smooth over the confidently predicted price spikes.  That would be unfair to consumers, if power prices declined, as the PUC apparently expected in the brave new world.

As you might imagine, California has not in the interim been taken over by bureaucrats with a firmer grasp of market principles.  Time to tee the system up for a bigger and better replay!

Is he really that hard to understand?

This Inside Hook article sums up Trump's style as "don't start no *$^%, won't be no *$^%."

Weird numbers

Sometimes I wonder if people who answer polls are rolling dice or making up answers at random. I'm slightly encouraged that more people are discounting the "Trump is a racist" story that blares out of nearly every mainstream media outlet several times a day. It's more dispiriting to find such a stark partisan divide on the issue, but I'm getting used to that.

What's more bizarre is that as many as 16% of self-avowed Republicans could be brought to say that any criticism by a white politician of the political views of a politician "of color" is per se racist. As Glenn Reynolds says, it leads one to assume that 16% of Republican respondents simply didn't understand the question.  For 16% of self-described independents and 32% of Democrats to answer that way could be chalked up to muddle-headedness or partisan mania, but what kind of Republican subscribes to such a theory?  Not just that some criticism of a person of one race by a person of another might turn out, on closer inspection, to be racist, but that "all" of it is?  What part of the Republican platform would appeal to someone with such a mindset?
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 47% of all ‘Likely U.S. Voters’ think Trump is a racist, down slightly from 50% in January 2018. Slightly more (49%) disagree and say his opponents are accusing him of racism only for political gain, up from 43% in the earlier survey,” said a pre-release analysis of the poll posted at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Other features in the analysis:
The partisan division of opinion couldn’t be any clearer. While 80% of Democrats believe the president is a racist, 85% of Republicans think the racism charges by his opponents are politically motivated. Voters not affiliated with either major party are evenly divided on the question. Thirty-two percent (32%) of Democrats, however, say it’s racist for any white politician to criticize the political views of a politician of color. That’s a view shared by just 16% of both GOP and unaffiliated voters.

Aristotle's Ethics: What Is a Happy Life?

I had not intended to take this long in posting, but family is visiting and we're catching up and seeing the sights.

Lesson 3 in the series is about happiness, but not the emotional, fleeting sort. Rather, Aristotle discusses what it means to have a happy lifetime, from beginning to end.

I have never given a great deal of thought to what makes a happy lifetime -- not just this moment, day, month, year, decade, but lifetime.

What makes a full, happy life of seven or eight decades? And are there general principles to achieve this that apply to everyone?

Aristotle claims there are. Prof. Arnn claims that it has only been in the last couple of centuries that people have started thinking that there aren't, that a happy life can be a completely individual thing and that the principles that create a happy life for one may create a miserable life for another.

What do you think? Are there general principles for a happy lifetime that apply to everyone? If so, what are they?

"Muscle Dysmorphia"

There are two responses to this, one more humorous than the other.
The idealised male body has become bigger, bulkier and harder to achieve. So what drives a generation of young men to the all-consuming, often dangerous pursuit of perfection?
What do you think?


Of course, all things done by young men are chiefly about attaining the attention of young women, gay men excepted but with a similar substitute motivation. They strive for the ideal because that's how you attain the attentions when you're young, before your blood cools and you learn to really appreciate the other aspects of human love. If this is what you present to them, it's what they'll go for -- provided, that is, that it's a plausible thing that young women really do seem to like. If you try to convince them that the real ideal male body is squishy and flabby and fat, they'll notice quickly enough that you're full of it when the girls don't take notice of their physique.

But ask any young man who has begun lifting for a while if the girls have started to notice him. He'll blush behind his downy mustache, nod, and perhaps say a few shy words to affirm it.

So that's why young men are doing it. But the bigger response is: What's wrong with it?

Ok, illegal supplements, dangerous drugs, damage to the body, granted. Those things work in terms of attaining size and 'cut,' but they make it so easy that you fail at developing the real virtues that come from the hard work to get there. They substitute ease of success for both virtue and health. So don't do those things.

All the same, a man can go a long way on this road -- enough to enter the top 1% of human strength -- without reference to such things. If you get focused on having the perfectly sculpted body, you'll make some basic errors that will lead you away from what it takes to have the strongest body. To whit:


That's accurate. Bodybuilding will make you look (somewhat) like Arnold; but if you want to be strong, you'll want to look more like Halfthor. So, in terms of attaining the maximum virtue of functional human strength, Bodybuilding is less effective than Powerlifting, and Powerlifting is less effective than Strongman. (Which has a thriving women's division, by the way.)

By all means get strong. Why not?

Strong Enough for a Man, But Made for a Woman

This is all very clever, but what's going to stop him from sitting in the woman's seat? Not the block in the middle, if he should merely sit with his legs even further apart over the edges of the stool.

Actually, both stools look entirely uncomfortable -- but making people uncomfortable is, I gather, the telos of high feminist architecture.

You Can't Have the Gadsden Flag, Commies

Nor the Culpeper Flag, nor the Navy Jack, and especially you may not have the Flag of the Veterans Exempt. Nor the Betsy Ross flag.

The Confederate flag, fine. The rest of them you're just going to have to learn to live with.

water rug

A friend hand-loomed this rug made of home-dyed worn-out bed sheets.


A Debacle in the House

So, last week the tension in the Democratic Party was that Nancy Pelosi stood accused of being a kind-of racist because she was always putting down what has come to be called "the Squad," or, as Squad-leader AOC puts it, 'freshmen women of color.' Speaker Pelosi pulled out all the stops in self-defense against this career-destroying claim, up to and including the Congressional Black Caucus and Maureen Dowd in the Sunday New York Times.

As of yesterday, it appeared that President Trump had decided to rescue Speaker Pelosi by giving her an ample chance to turn the charge around against him, and show staunch support for 'the Squad.' Yesterday afternoon, however, 'the Squad' called for the President to be impeached (for an ill-considered exercise of his First Amendment rights, I suppose, which is apparently either a high crime or a misdemeanor these days; although one of them mentioned Russia Collusion, as if that were still a live issue that might lead to impeachment somehow). Speaker Pelosi risked another split with the four by insisting on a toothless resolution instead, arguing that impeachment would fail in the Senate and the President would claim vindication.

The idea was this was the safe bet, and she could peel off some Republicans and have a symbolic victory at no cost -- assuming 'the Squad' didn't keep raising a fuss about how she didn't impeach.

Instead, what happened was that she used language that violated rules going back to Thomas Jefferson; the Parliamentarian sided with a challenge to that language from Rep. Doug Collins (my old representative, actually, from Georgia's Mighty 9th Congressional District); Pelosi then left the floor in violation of the rules; the chairman abandoned the chair rather than accept the ruling that she was guilty; the next chairman did accept it, so the House voted to reject applying the rule and keep her remarks on the record; and then the House voted to exempt her from any punishment for breaking the rule, even though the punishment was purely symbolic.

So now, not only did they not get the show of Republicans joining them to shame the President, they damaged the cause of impeachment. Now, if they ever do impeach, the Senate Republicans can simply point to this as a clear precedent for how things are done these days. If they'd made Pelosi accept the token symbol of a punishment, they could have claimed the high ground for applying the rules to their own elected party leader. Now, they've set a clear standard that those with the power to do so shall set the rules aside to protect their party leader (even when there's really nothing at stake in applying the rules). They've deprived themselves of a huge rhetorical advantage, making a successful impeachment and removal of the President far less likely than it already was.

The floor of the House is a smoking ruin this afternoon.

Hate Speech Banned

The banned content:
“Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others.”
The author of this hate-filled content was a little-known writer named Augustine of Hippo.

Where Have I Heard This Before?

Headline: "Joe Biden, Echoing Obama, Pledges to Shore Up the Affordable Care Act."

But don't worry, he says:
“If you like your health care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it,” Mr. Biden told an AARP forum on Monday. “If you like your private insurance, you can keep it.”
Well, gosh, that makes me feel so much better.

Privileged People Are The Ones Who May Not Speak

A follow-on to Tex's post. It's always struck me as ironic that the dialogue works this way: you can spend literal years using the phrases "Traitor!" and "Nazi!" without being charged with being divisive or with questioning someone's loyalty to America if you are on one side. If you are on the other side, raising a question about someone's loyalty to the American project is itself proof of your own racism or xenophobia or whatever -- even if they have themselves said very nasty things that might lead an unbiased observer to think that maybe they weren't very fond or very proud of the United States of America.

If you asked why, the answer would be that the ones being silenced were the privileged who had to be held to a higher standard for the good of us all. It was all very well for oppressed minorities to make reference to racial solidarity as a means of resisting their oppression, for example, but it could never do for the majority; that would lead to further and increased oppression. Because of the fact of privilege, then, the unprivileged deserved extra privileges that counterbalanced the privileges of the majority.

That rhetorical move (rooted in Rawls, I think) was persuasive to the majority for a long time, but it couldn't go on forever. For one thing, since 1965, the demographics have been shifting rapidly. The old assumptions about privilege were eventually going to have to be tested as majorities collapsed, and newcomers proved in many cases to do better than the native-born. Who, then, deserves the countervailing privileges? Perhaps the double-standards are obsolete?

The late Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Lewis Grizzard used to talk occasionally about migrants from the northern United States who moved South to escape oppressive weather, high cost of living, and massive taxation, only to complain about how 'backwards' they found the South. "If you don't like Dixie," he would say, "Delta is ready when you are." I hear similar sentiments from Texans today dealing with "California refugees." I hear similar sentiments from people in Brooklyn or Austin, for that matter, about richer people moving into the poorer neighborhoods and making them unaffordable for those who used to live there. It's no wonder that people get mad about folks moving here from Mexico and then raising the Mexican flag over American facilities. You can be from Mexico or Somalia, or you can be from New York or New Jersey or San Francisco; you can be born of whatever parentage. If you move somewhere and then gripe about how badly it compares to your earlier homeland, or go about trying to change it into your former homeland, someone is eventually going to ask you why you don't just go back if you liked it their way so much more.

The 'gentrification' complaint is allowed, though, with no one thinking it is really about race rather than wealth even when race plays a big factor in the complaints. Other complaints are not as freely permitted; some are painted as outright racist or as hate-speech. But it is the same complaint in all cases: it's about people of different cultures moving into an area and bringing changes the original inhabitants don't like, and may not be able to afford. It's about communities that exist being disrupted or destroyed or driven under by migration. Some of it's internal to the United States; some of it, the races of both migrants and the extant community are the same. Sometimes they're different, and when that happens race seems to be a bigger factor than it really is. The concerns are severable: even where the races and nationalities are the same, people raise the same objections.

Not everyone is allowed to do so without being demonized, though. That's a cultural double-standard that probably can't survive any longer than it has. For a long time it made sense to people in a larger, stronger majority as an article of justice. These days, there's not so much patience among the smaller, weaker, vanishing majority for being told they must swallow their concerns. Nor will those who long enjoyed a monopoly on the counterbalancing privilege surrender their own privileges lightly. These ugly fights are likely to be with us for a while.

Shuttuppism

From Instapundit:
A few, a very few, have begun to realize that Podesta and Hillary’s polarization game (“Deplorables!”) has contaminated — and possibly rendered toothless — Democratic politics for years to come. It was only a matter of time until they began to use this tactic on each other.

Once Upon a Time

Sergio Leone, over a storied career, made two movies that began with the words "Once Upon a Time." The one he had actually wanted to make most is the one he made last, a piece about Jewish gangsters during Prohibition starring Robert De Niro. The earlier one, of 1968 vintage, was called "Once Upon a Time in the West." It is one of the great Westerns, with a closing sequence that summarizes the criticism of Modernism perfectly. The whole film celebrates and inverts the symbols of the Western, as Clint Eastwood -- Leone's most famous alumni -- later would do with his own "Unforgiven."

Now Quentin Tarantino is coming out with a movie called "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," the soundtrack of which has been released. It features De Niro, actually, though it does not star him.. It contains tracks from both of the Sergio Leone films, in case the homage was not obvious enough. The film is set in the same era in which the earlier Leone film was made, 1969. It's built around Charles Manson, but I think it will doubtless be interesting if the soundtrack is any clue.





Tarantino is the only director whose films I always watch. The closest to that besides himself is Ridley Scott, but he sometimes turns out a production I'm not interested in seeing. Tarantino regularly produces films I don't think I'll be interested in watching, but find worthy when I get time for them.

Pulp Fiction is of course the greatest of his works, though. It was like "Once Upon a Time in the West" in that it has a closing sequence that is surprising and unexpected even given all the groundwork that was laid for it, and transformative to watch. The Bible verse isn't even real, but the idea of building a better and more virtuous life around scripture is taken so seriously that it is unlike anything else I've ever seen in a contemporary Hollywood film. I can't think how far you would have to go back in Hollywood's history to find so clear and unalloyed and expression of respect for the power of Christian faith to transform a soul in majestic ways.

The centrality of music remains the same in all of these films. The first time I saw Pulp Fiction, I walked out of the theater and went straight to a record store to buy the soundtrack. Tarantino has an ear for music. This time he includes some songs written and performed by Charles Manson himself. One of them was apparently recorded by the Beach Boys, about whom AVI has recently been writing. (They were a big favorite of my father's, as was the Kingston Trio. As a kid I always assumed that was Kingston, TN, since Dad was from Knoxville. So, as it happens, is Tarantino; that's why Knoxville turns up in his work sometimes.)

I'll be interested to see what becomes of this film. If you're interested in movies with strong musical selections set in 1969, by the way, let me re-up my recommendation for Bad Times at the El Royale. I've managed to get a couple of people to watch it with me, and all of them have been extremely impressed with it. If you see a copy, think about picking it up. It's worth your time.

Freedom and prosperity

An amateur tries to sum up history using trends in five metrics for human well-being:
Basically, if I help myself to the common (but certainly debatable) assumption that “the industrial revolution” is the primary cause of the dramatic trajectory change in human welfare around 1800-1870, then my one-sentence summary of recorded human history is this:
Everything was awful for a very long time, and then the industrial revolution happened.

Chapter and Book

One should be careful when challenging a man on the ground where he made his life's work.

RIP H. Ross Perot

Rick Perry tells a story about his good works.

Tunisian Marriage

There's a push to liberalize the Islamic laws on marriage and inheritance in Tunisia.
The announcement has drawn criticism from the region’s religious scholars. In a public statement, Abbas Shuman, deputy of grand imam Ahmad Al-Tayyib of the Egyptian religious authority Al-Azhar, the highest religious authorities in Sunni Islam, wrote that the potential reform to inheritance was, “unjust for women and is not in line with Islamic Sharia”.

In regard to inter-faith unions, he said: “Such a marriage would obstruct the stability of marriage.”
Inter-faith unions are already legal, as long as the man is a Muslim. The new laws would permit Muslim women to marry non-Muslims as well.