The death of Sandra Bland has left me wondering, "Well what SHOULD I do if the police stop me?"
Fortunately, Time has an answer:
I love this statement, quoted in part by Steve Horwitz on Facebook with his introductory sentence:
Hey other traditionalist religious groups, this is how you do it in a pluralist liberal democracy (it's also why I'd never be an Orthodox Jew, but...):
"“In response to the decisions announced today by the United States Supreme Court with reference to the issue of legal recognition of same sex marriage, we reiterate the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages. Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable. At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.
We are grateful that we live in a democratic society, in which all religions are free to express their opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse. That morality, expressed in what has broadly been labeled Judeo-Christian ethics, has long had a place in American law and jurisprudence.
We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect." [EE: emphasis added]
Now let's hope the processes they have given so much respect to give that respect back and allow them to have, in their words "appropriate accommodations and exemptions for institutions and individuals who abide by religious teachings that limit their ability to support same-sex relationships."
I do have some difficulties with the last paragraph, however. If a religious organization had discrimination against blacks or Jews as one of its tenets, on the one hand I would argue the state should dominate; on the other I would favour freedom of association. And that leaves me in a state of limbo. I expect the same might well be true in the case of religions that discriminate against LGBTs, or religious orders that admit only one sex into membership, etc.
This is all a very rough impression, but I have long had the impression that NASCAR is dominated by crackers with southern accents, many of whom would be happy to fly a confederate flag. I may be wrong, and I acknowledge this is just an impression.
How many confederate flags used to be sold at NASCAR events? How many will be sold in the future?
And finally, let me ask: What is the racial makeup of people working in NASCAR? I googled the question, but wasn't happy with or informed by any of the links that emerged.
Update: My friend Chris posted this link on Facebook in response to this post. Some relevant snips:
"As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate Flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.” ...
This is not the first time NASCAR has stood up in protest of the Confederate Flag in recent years. Bubba Watson, a two-time winner of the U.S. Masters, was set to drive the famous 'Dukes of Hazard' General Lee at Phoenix in early 2012.
But because of the large Confederate Flag on the Dodge Charger's roof, the plans were trashed with NASCAR saying then, "The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive."
And see what Josh wrote in the comments:
Among the top 15 drivers in the NASCAR points standings, there are only two southerners (Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (NC) and Denny Hamlin (born in FL, but grew up in VA)). There is one Cuban-American (Aric Almirola). California - 3 Wisconsin - 2 Michigan - 1 Washington - 1 Connecticut - 1 New Jersey - 1 Missouri - 2 Nevada - 1 North Carolina - 1 Virginia - 1 Florida - 1
To all my friends (and others) who worship David Suzuki...
or maybe don't worship him but think he is right on environmental and climate issues...
or maybe think he is sometimes worth listening to:
David Suzuki wants to prosecute those who disagree with him. (see this)
David Suzuki is at it again: Calling for "climate change deniers" and other people who disagree with him -- including Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- to be jailed.
So much for freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression.
So much for intellectual challenges with open discussion.
About 25 years ago, I watched Suzuki (a noted geneticist) debate the infamous Phil Rushton (a schlock psychologist) about the relationship between race and I.Q. Suzuki's only point was, essentially, the morally superior attitude of, "How dare you even think about studying this topic?" He certainly contributed nothing to the debate. And he definitely disagreed with the academic process of scientific inquiry.
This man is no scientist. He is a demagogue.
I have not had any alcohol since Saturday evening, and I won't have any tonight. Likely I will have been able to go 60+ hours without a drink.
I miss the taste of Ledaig (my current scotch of choice), but I don't feel as if I am going through withdrawal from an addiction. That's why I did this: to see if I could do it, and to make sure I am not getting addicted.
Most of my life I drank very little, but I have begun to wonder if I have been drinking more lately; hence this brief dry period.
When I told Jack about this decision, he sent me this link from WebMD.
You might be dependent on alcohol if you have three or more of the following problems in a year:
- You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
- You need to drink more to get the same effect.
- You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These include feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
- You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering from drinking, or you have given up other activities so you can drink.
- You have tried to quit drinking or to cut back the amount you drink but haven't been able to.
- You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.
This brief period of abstinence is to reassure myself that 1, 3, and 5, especially don't apply to me. 2 and 4 certainly do not; and I don't think 6 does. Certainly I am not experiencing any of these symptoms.
So far, so good!
I value freedom more than most other things. And while I guess I'd have no problem with polygamous arrangements between freely consenting adults, it is difficult to believe the parties are freely consenting in situations like this one. Forced marriages, accompanied by or following threats of kidnapping or other reprisals should not be acceptable.
The leader of Russia's southern region of Chechnya has urged men to lock up their wives and ban them from using WhatsApp after outrage over the forced marriage of a 17-year-old girl spread on the messaging service.
Married Chechen police chief Nazhud Guchigov, 47, wed Kheda Goylabiyeva last Saturday after threatening to kidnap the teenager and warning her family of reprisals if they did not agree to the marriage, according to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who had earlier backed the marriage in apparent violation of Russian laws against polygamy, used an interview with a local broadcaster to condemn discussion of the wedding on WhatsApp.
"Lock them in, do not let them go out, then they will not post anything," Kadyrov was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"The family honor is the most important thing. Men, do take your women out of WhatsApp."
The Chechen leader said in an Instagram post last week that the girl's parents had agreed to the marriage, and criticized Russian media coverage of "this fuss ordered by some liberals."
Polygamy is illegal in Russia, though it is permitted under Islamic law if both the first wife and any future brides consent, and their husband treats them equally.
Why are there no women in the broadcast booths for Major League Baseball? There are many who could do the job, and do it better than some of the talking heads that are there now. [See this].
Back when I did radio play-by-play for the AA London Tigers, I worked with many different people as co-announcers. Despite my strongly worded suggestions to the station manager that we find women to co-broadcast in the booth, it never happened.
Women doing play-by-play; women doing commentary and analysis. I see no reason why it shouldn't and won't, eventually, happen.
There are two women whose names come to mind immediately for me.
Christina Kahrl. Christina was also a regular on rec.sport.baseball. She and I corresponded a couple of times back then, and we are Facebook friends. I have no doubt she could do the job well. From the website cited above, "Her credentials: Want someone who can tell a good anecdote but also understands sabermetrics? Karhl, a co-founder of the analytical website Baseball Prospectus and an ESPN writer/editor, would be a good catch. She’s also a vocal transgender activist and has spoken about how baseball eased her transition."
Sadly, I'm not sure it will happen anytime soon. For one reason, most viewers/listeners seem disinclined to pay attention to solid numerical analysis. And for another reason, I cannot see most viewers/listeners overcoming the unfortunately deeply ingrained sex biases in sports and sportscasting.
A few weeks ago Margot Wallström, the Swedish foreign minister, denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth. Wallström went on to condemn the Saudi courts for ordering that Raif Badawi receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed secularism and free speech. These were ‘mediaeval methods’, she said, and a ‘cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression’. And once again, who can argue with that?
Ever since I started writing this blog over a decade ago, I have argued that when "freedom of expression" and "freedom of religion" clash, I want us to choose freedom of expression.
I much prefer competition in the marketplace of ideas to stifling the expression of ideas. But, sadly, this competition is being blocked and thwarted by too many people with strong political voices, saying essentially, "If you say that, we will shut you down."
A recent example comes from Trinity University in Dublin [why is it so often universities that try to limit freedom of expression?]:
[T]he cancellation of yesterday's planned lecture on 'Apostasy and the rise of Islamism' by Iranian human rights activist Maryam Namazie is something that should worry us all. ...
There was a telling insight into the mentality of the organisers, the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA) who expressed concerns about their ability to host the event: "In a safe environment where individuals are free to express themselves without fear of being threatened after the discussion."
Just who did they think would cause a disturbance after the event? Namazie's fellow apostates who face an automatic death sentence in 11 countries around the world for seeing sense and leaving their faith?
Or maybe they were worried about how some of Trinity's Muslim students might have reacted? After all, the Trinity Muslim Student Association recently hosted a radical cleric called Sheikh Kamal El Mekki, who was there to explain why apostasy and infidelity are sufficient reason to kill people.
Freedom of expression for me but not for thee? This sounds amazingly unbalanced.
Universities used to be bastions of the defence of freedom of expression. They used to defend mightily their explorations of unpopular ideas. And yet, it appears, many universities nowadays shy away from challenging the extremist Islamists.
It's time for universities to regrow a backbone. It is time for universities to renew their role of encouraging students (and faculty members!) to explore diverse views and to provide a safe, if uncomfortable, environment for these journeys.
Addendum: See this, in which a professor strongly negative views about Hamas and is bullied by students at Connecticut College. It is a lengthy piece, but it looks as if he was targeted not just for that expression but for his other views as well.
Also, see this, which I wrote many years ago about my late friend BenS and his confrontation with the speech police.
I received this information last week. If I were a student, I'd apply for this programme in a flash. The speakers are among the best in the field. Just hearing Munger, Jaworski, and Horwitz [the three with whom I am familiar] will be an experience you won't forget!
What a terrific opportunity!
On August 10-15 the Institute for Liberal Studies will be hosting our second annual Freedom Week seminar in Montreal. This five-day seminar is designed for students who are interested in learning about classical liberal ideas and the foundation of a free society and is open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those who have recently graduated. A faculty of six professors with backgrounds in economics, political science, philosophy, and law will deliver lectures and lead discussion groups designed to give students a chance to talk over important ideas with their peers.
This seminar is totally free, and room and board will be provided. Participants will be selected through a competitive application process and all applications must be submitted by April 15. All students who apply by March 15 will receive a free book.
Faculty for this the seminar:
- Jacob Levy (Political Science, McGill University)
- Michael Munger (Economics and Political Science, Duke University)
- Peter Jaworski (Philosophy, Georgetown University)
- Moin Yahya (Law, University of Alberta)
- Diana Thomas (Economics, Creighton University)
- Steven Horwitz (Economics, St. Lawrence University)
Applications can be submitted online at www.liberalstudies.ca/freedom-week.
Over the past month or so, I've seen some birthdays of contacts and Facebook friends, but people I really don't know all that well, showing up in my Google Calendar. I see no reason for those birthdays to appear there. In fact, I have no idea how they got there, and so I clicked on them to try to remove them.
Nope. Can't do it.
At the time of writing Google’s spokeswoman is “checking” on whether there is any way at all to unsubscribe from Birthdays, and says she’ll get back “as soon as possible”. So if there is a very elusive option to re-unsubscribe I’ll be sure to update this post and add it in....
Whether that option re-materializes or not one thing here is amply clear: Google does not want you to unsubscribe from information it determines should be universally available. That is not part of its mission. It is, in fact, the polar opposite of its mission. Hence making unsubscribing such a wild goose chase. So the theme of reducing user control and increasing algorithmic enforcement is not going to go away anytime soon.
On the contrary, as more and more information piles online — via connected devices and the like — expect more levers of human control to be quietly disappeared or disabled because the algorithmic entities conducting this increasingly pervasive digital symphony really prefer if you just sit there and lap everything up. It makes the big data so much more quantifiable if you do. In short: eyeballs, know thy place!
Numerous cartoonists have reacted to Islamic terrorist murder of the staff at a French publication that wrote satire, criticizing Islamic extremists. Many are summarized in the Washington Post.
My favourite captures the essence of the attacks on "Freedom of Expression".
From this site (ht Rondi)
The assailants are as yet at liberty. I hope they’ll be dead by the time you read this. But if not:. You want me too? Come get me. Because nothing short of killing me — and many more of my kind — will ever shut us up.
And if you don’t believe that now, you’ll believe it very soon. Because there are more of us willing to die for that freedom than those of you eager to take it from us. And soon you will find out that those of us willing to die for that freedom are also much better at killing than you.
So come and get me. Je suis Charlie.
Since I began blogging nearly a decade ago, I have argued that freedom of expression must take precedence when it conflicts with freedom of (or from) religion. Perhaps it is because I'm an academic; perhaps it is because I am mostly non-religious. But whenever I see any religious group try to stifle expression, including satire of their religion or their leader, I am upset and concerned.
The latest incident involves murders of at least 12 people in France because of cartoons like this and the proposed issue making fun of sharia law:
"100 lashes if you don't die of laughter" is what some people say is the proper translation.
Hooded gunmen shot dead at least 12 people at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication firebombed in the past after publishing images lampooning Muslim leaders, in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades.
Another 20 people were injured, including five critically, in the incident. Police union official Rocco Contento described the scene inside the offices as "carnage."
Science is advanced when people are skeptical of received doctrines and "settled science". Advancing both knowledge and our understanding requires an open mind and a willingness to question the mainstream. And yet, throughout the ages, skeptics have been persecuted by religious and political leaders.
You would think humans could learn from this history. But no, assuming these remarks were not taken out of context [via Jack].
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., says he wants a law to punish politicians who dissent from man-made climate change theory - and calls them "contemptible human beings."
Kennedy made the remarks in an interview with Climate Depot at a climate march in New York on Sunday:
Kennedy Jr. accused skeptical politicians of "selling out the public trust." "Those guys are doing the Koch Brothers bidding and are against all the evidence of the rational mind, saying global warming does not exit. They are contemptible human beings. I wish there were a law you could punish them with. I don't think there is a law that you can punish those politicians under."
Kennedy also said he thinks the successful pro-energy Koch brothers should be "in jail...with all the other war criminals":
"I think it's treason. Do I think the Koch Brothers are treasonous, yes I do," Kennedy explained.
"They are enjoying making themselves billionaires by impoverishing the rest of us. Do I think they should be in jail, I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at the Hague with all the other war criminals," Kennedy declared.
And, Kennedy's not the only climate activist who would like to see dissenters jailed.
As the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute (BMI) chronicled in a May 2014 analysis, pro-climate change theory media and scientists have long promoted the idea of throwing anyone who disagrees with them in jail - even to the point of calling for "climate Nuremberg" trials.
So much for constitutional freedoms of speech, press, and expression. So much for competition in the marketplace of ideas.
Even if it turns out that I am incorrect to be skeptical (I'm skeptical with good reason, for now, I think. See this, this, and this.), I hope the fundamental constitutional freedoms will not be abridged in this or any other debates or discussions concerning science and public policy.
Addendum: also see this by Bjorn Lomborg
This article in Time lists five myths of feminism [via Gabriel]. They comprise important misstatements about facts and misuses of statistics concerning what are typically referred to as women's issues.
The article does not pooh-pooh women's issues. Instead, it urges people to examine the facts and to have a better understanding of statistics.
Why do these reckless claims have so much appeal and staying power? For one thing, there is a lot of statistical illiteracy among journalists, feminist academics and political leaders. There is also an admirable human tendency to be protective of women—stories of female exploitation are readily believed, and vocal skeptics risk appearing indifferent to women’s suffering. Finally, armies of advocates depend on “killer stats” to galvanize their cause. But killer stats obliterate distinctions between more and less serious problems and send scarce resources in the wrong directions. They also promote bigotry. The idea that American men are annually enslaving more than 100,000 girls, sending millions of women to emergency rooms, sustaining a rape culture and cheating women out of their rightful salary creates rancor in true believers and disdain in those who would otherwise be sympathetic allies.
To read about the myths and the criticisms of them, read the entire piece.
There are many FB memes talking about how wonderful mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters are. Despite my apparent addiction to FB, I have yet to see any of these things talking about how wonderful dads, grandfathers, uncles, and brothers are. I always want to post comments, correcting or adding to them, but that would become both tiresome and tiring.
Am I missing the ones mentioning males? Or is there some other explanation?
Let me add to this list: now ask the same questions of journalists reporting from Israel about the Israel-Hamas war.
My bet about the results: there is one heck of a lot more freedom of the press and one heck of a lot less intimidation in Israel than there is in Gaza.
And, if that is the case, it should raise questions about the news reports about the war, especially those filed from Gaza.
In the very early 1950s our family was on a trip through the south. At one point, to cool off, we stopped at a municipal swimming pool in Memphis, Tennessee. I was too young to catch on right away since I had been raised in the north and had no idea what segregation was, but my parents immediately saw that the pool was segregated.
The segregation there greatly amused my parents for its silliness: there was a rope down the middle of the pool. Whites swam and played on one side, blacks swam and played on the other. My parents rightly pointed out to my sister and me how silly it was because the water circulated throughout the entire pool and we all ended up swimming in the same water. It was as if the water didn't matter but the potential for contact did.
I was reminded of this incident last weekend when I met Pat Thomas at a community pool where my son lives south of Houston. He was telling us that when he was young, he grew up in Plano, Texas, which also had segregation. Only in Plano the pools were for only white people; his dad had to drive him 18 miles each way into Dallas for him to go to a pool where he could learn to swim. That was in the early 1960s, when civil rights and desegregation were (finally) becoming such important issues in the United States.
The community pool last weekend was a model of integration: whites, asians, blacks, Mexicans, east Indians, and all sorts of combinations of the various colours and races. For all I knew there were some arabs and jews there, too.
We've come a long way in 50 years.
It is by a libertarian woman I have never met and with whom I have never corresponded. It describes the fear she felt in several different relationships. Here is the link: The Post I Don't Want to Make. [via Steve Horowitz].
Don't post comments about how she invited the behaviour or how she should have extricated herself from the relationships sooner. Not even as a joke. I'll delete them here, and I'll pare down my Facebook friend list.
And for more, read this [via Kaitlyn Rietdijk]. These two articles (and others posted recently) may help promote more empathy and understanding. I sure hope so.
Salim Mansur is a long-time friend and colleague who is running for the Ontario Provincial Parliament in the June 12 provincial election. He is running for the Freedom Party. Salim is a pro-west Suni Muslim who has suffered considerable criticism from fellow muslims because of his views on the West, on Israel, and concerning human rights and freedoms. From his campaign website,
Salim is a Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Gatestone Institute in New York, a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Islamic Pluralism based in Washington, D.C., and a founding member of Toronto-based Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow. He has also served as an academic consultant with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). ...
As someone who has experienced the chilling absence of individual rights and freedom in society widely prevalent across many parts of the world, he has devoted much of his writing and public speaking in defence of free speech, individual rights and respect for the dignity of the individual that are the building blocks of liberal democracy.
My friend Salim Mansur is part of a group of friends who are hosting/sponsoring a showing of a documentary, Honor Diaries, on Friday, May 29th at the Wolf Performance Hall, 6:30 - 8:30pm. He has written to me,
The showing of this documentary about the status of women in the Arab-Muslim world -- the misogyny, the persecution and abuse of women -- has brought the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) related Islamist organizations to mount their offensive to stop public showing of this documentary....They succeeded in forcing the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois to withdraw the screening of the documentary. At Brandeis University these organizations forced the university administration to dis-invite Ayaan Hirsi Ali and withdraw the presentation of an honorary degree that had already been publicly announced. ...It will be shown at the Wolf Performance Hall, London Public Library, 251 Dundas Street, London, Ontario.The date and time are: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm.
Please come out and see this documentary, and support the struggle against honour-killings, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and women sold into slavery, as we now witness the horror of kidnapping of young girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram and their being sold into slavery.At least one of the women in the documentary, Raheel Raza, will be among us. ... Raheel has very bravely agreed to engage in a Q & A following the showing of the documentary with the audience members.It cannot be emphasized how important this documentary is in bringing to the North American public the awful reality of gender exclusion and gender oppression in the Arab-Muslim world, and equally important to screen it in public despite the opposition and the equally awful silence of the mainstream media on the subject and the effort mounted to prevent public screening of "Honor Diaries."
Quite frankly, I would love to hear the feedback about this film from all the people in Regina who gave Salim such a hard time while he was there a few years ago.
I just finished reading this piece by Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek. It is a lengthy piece that takes on Piketty, the economist who argues for more gubmnt action to reduce inequality. What struck me most was this very insightful comment:
Piketty has a peculiarly strange “then a miracle occurs” step in his analysis. He argues that one justification for powerful efforts to redistribute incomes and wealth more equally is that the rich are disproportionately likely to abuse power for their own greedy and socially destructive ends. So what to do? Answer: increase government’s power! Qu’est-ce que c’est?! [EE: this is French for WTF?] (Piketty is like too many economists: ignorant of public-choice.)
This attitude that Boudreaux identifies is far too common among the redistributionists. Essentially it says, "The gubmnt has created policies that favour cronies and promote inequality. But I know what to do about it. Put me (and/or my friends) in charge and we'll do it right." And all the while this argument does nothing to include the real world of voter influences and public-choice economics: the sad, simple fact is that the more power gubmnt and politicians have over resources, the greater the incentive for individuals to try to influence gubmnt policy, politicians, and the behaviour of bureaucrats.
This is yet another example of Kip's Law:
“Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”
As most people know by now, Donald Sterling [owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association] has been banned for life by the NBA because of some remarkably racist statements he made to an ex-mistress. The other 29 owners of teams are also expecting to find a way to "induce" him to sell the Clippers.
Yesterday a friend wrote to me, wondering how libertarians would react to the NBA's decisions. Much of my reaction is probable and surmise.
In other words, the banning of Donald Sterling by the NBA is fully consistent with the views held by most libertarians. He joined an organization and did something likely contrary to the by-laws of the organization, so they expelled him. So long as their own by-laws are legally acceptable, no problem.
In case you missed it elsewhere, here is the link to the collection that is being put together. The early Newsweek editorials, Capitalism and Freedom, and Free to Choose all played a role in my growth as an economist. A partial list of the collection, with links:
Mark Steyn pulls no punches in a piece, "The Wretched Jelly-Spined Nothing Eunuchs of Brandeis". An excerpt from a conversation with Jamie Weinstein:
JAMIE WEINSTEIN: And people when they get honorary degrees, it's not like they only go to non-political people. Universities have awarded them in the recent past to people that want Israel to be wiped off the map and destroyed. Is that not right?
MS: Yeah, that's true. And that was Brandeis, a guy called Tony Kushner... I stand back and occasionally roll my eyes at the dreary left-wing hacks invited to give commencement speeches, garlanded with state honors, things that if you trend to the right side of the spectrum, you know you're going to be labeled 'controversial conservative', and you'll never get anywhere near. But this woman is a black, feminist atheist from Somalia. And so what we're learning here, which is fascinating, in the hierarchy of progressive-politics identity-group victimhood, Islam trumps everything. Islam trumps gender. The fact that she's a woman doesn't matter. It trumps race. The fact that she's black doesn't matter. It trumps secularism. The fact that she's an atheist doesn't matter. They wouldn't do this if it was a Christian group complaining about her, if it was a Jewish group complaining about her. But when the Islamic lobby group says oh, no, we're not putting up with this, as I said, these jelly-spined nothings at Brandeis just roll over for them.
I have sat through many, many convocation/graduation ceremonies. Steyn is right. Pronouncements from left wing, caring, elitist interventionists proclaiming moral superiority are common; among the most egregious at UWO was Maude Barlow. Only rarely are outspoken pundits from the right (e.g. Mark Steyn? or EclectEcon?) invited to such events.
It was a classic example of the failure of central planning.
There was an abundance of hubris by the planners, who believed they could do better than markets (sound familiar?).
There was an abundance of predictable bureaucratic behaviour in response to incentives as subordinates padded the numbers to satisfy their superiors (and out of fear for their lives if they didn't meet optimistic production quotas).
There was an abundance of force used to make peasants go along with the massive centralization that occurred (sound familiar?)
There was an abundance of stupidity (sound familiar?) as, for example, bureaucrats confiscated peasants' cooking implements to melt them down to make steel.
And there was an abundance of death: executions, murders, starvation, and cannibalism. Somewhere between 20 million and 36 million people died because of Mao's "Great Leap Forward".
I have been saving this piece from the NYTimes for over a year. It is a painful summary of the death and devastation that occurred from 1958 - 62. Some of the Amazon reviewers claim the author of Tombstone, which is summarize in the NYTimes piece, is lying, but for the most part it seems well-regarded and factual.
THIRTY-SIX million people in China, including my uncle, who raised me like a father, starved to death between 1958 and 1962, during the man-made calamity known as the Great Famine. In thousands of cases, desperately hungry people resorted to cannibalism.
The toll was more than twice the number of fallen in World War I, and about six times the number of Ukrainians starved by Stalin in 1932-33 or the number of Jews murdered by Hitler during World War II.
The horrors of life after central planners' decisions went awry are well-documented in many countries. Bureaucrats falsify numbers, higher-ups believe someone is hiding something, and those at the top set impossible goals, wanting to believe the padded numbers and biased information provided to them and dismissing anything contrary (sound familiar?).
At the same time, the higher-ups suffer little. The granaries are well-guarded, and the centralized crop is used to generate foreign exchange to fund larger projects.
How can people write about the evils of capitalism when there are so many horror stories about the evils of centralization in the 20th century? How can people write about the evils of capitalism when we see the failures of central planning in Venezuela, North Korea, or even in otherwise well-functioning markets?
Here's how: As one of my friends says, “Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.” This statement, known as Kip's Law, was first enunciated by Kip Esquire. Too bad he stopped blogging.
Sure, markets are not perfect. But we can look around and see how much better they are than centralization.
To read more about the tragedy in China, begin with the Wikipaedia entry "Great Leap Forward". It sets the death toll at between 18.5 and 42 million.
I am a journalist. I am a semi-retired economist. I am a sometime actor/musician. But I am a journalist. That means I have protections guaranteed to journalists by the US Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights.
I am prompted to remind you of this position because of this report. Apparently a US Senate committee is struggling to define what a journalist is, and I do not like their definition(s):
The protections would apply to "covered journalist," defined as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information. The individual would have to have been employed for one year within the last 20 or three months within the last five years.
It would apply to student journalists or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years. A federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a "covered journalist," who would be granted the privileges of the law.
The compromise also says that information is only privileged if it is disseminated by a news medium, described as "newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, news agency, news website, mobile application or other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise); news program, magazine or other periodical, whether in print, electronic or other format; or thorough television or radio broadcast . or motion picture for public showing."
While the definition covers traditional and online media, it draws the line at posts on Twitter, blogs or social media from non-journalists.
This definition more than cheeses me off. In other people's eyes, I am a journalist. Despite the fact that EclectEcon is a small-ish blog, it has more readers than some small weekly newspapers. And that doesn't include anything else I do as a journalist. I deserve protection, and I assert that I am entitled to it. Just try to get me to reveal my sources! As I wrote last June,
Here are my media credentials:
- Blogging since November 4, 2004, probably averaging more than a post a day, including live-blogging several conferences and events.
- Teaching economics for journalists between 1979 and 1994.
- Writing numerous columns for various newspapers. (here are just a few)
- Appearances on CBC, CBC-TV, TVO, and CTV discussing economics issues.
- Play-by-play baseball announcer for the London Tigers (radio) and the London Werewolves (radio and television).
- Member of the Canadian Curling Reporters association, reporting from national and international championships.
I really resent the tone of this article about genetically modified organisms [GMOs]. It says, in essence,
I'm inclined to agree that GMOs are most likely safe. I have no problem with consuming them myself or letting, even encouraging, my family use them.
But someone who says they should be allowed to hide the contents of their products because consumers are too ignorant to know the truth is just an elitist interventionist. If indeed, foods using GMOs are cheaper and safe, let consumers who are savvy buy them and save money while the ignorant consumers suffer from paying too much.
I resent all attempts by politicians and anyone else from all political persuasions who try to tell us they know what is best for us.
Elitist snobs. And potentially dangerous demagogues.
Last Friday (two days ago) when I returned to my apartment in student residence, I found this note attached to my door:
What??? A "contracted company" will come through my apartment with a DOG to look for health and safety issues??? Since when do they need dogs for this? Colour me deeply suspicious.
And when did "preventative" supplant "preventive" as a word?
I have given fair warning. I scribbled the following on the notice:
Update: several friends have suggested these dogs might be brought in to search for bedbugs in the beds, furniture, carpets, etc. From Wikipaedia,
Bed bug detection dogs are specially trained by handlers to identify the scent of bed bugs.
With the increased focus on green pest management and integrated pest management, bed bug detection dogs are gaining popularity in North America. Dogs are a safer alternative to pesticide use as a management strategy. If operators can find out exactly where bed bugs are located, they can minimize the area that needs to be sprayed. Dogs smell in parts per trillion, something a human cannot do, and detect bed bugs through all life cycle phases from eggs to nymphs to adults.
Bed bug detection dogs are quickly becoming mainstream. In 2011 The National Pest Management Association released their Bed Bug Best Management Practices  which outline the minimum recommendations regarding not only treatment, but the certification and use of bed bug detection canines. The NPMA Best Management Practices emphasize the importance of having a bed bug detection dog team certified by a third party organization with no affiliation to the trainer or company that sold the canine.
Bed bug detection dogs are a viable and scientifically-proven alternative to traditional methods of pest detection. A 2008 report by the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology endorsed bed bug detection dogs by stating that the “reliability of the dogs has been impressive provided they are properly trained.” Scientists at the university reviewed studies on the dogs and concluded that although expensive for operators, canine detection dogs were promising.
Bed bug detection is complicated by the fact that the insects can hide almost anywhere. Bed bug detection dogs solve this problem because they are small and agile, finding bugs in places humans cannot such as wall voids, crevices and furniture gaps.
With the increase in global travel and shared living accommodations, bed bugs have become more prevalent. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a bed bug summit in April 2009 to address the ongoing problem of bed bugs and how to eradicate them.