Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Boneyard

A cool little video on the Davis-Monthan AFB AMARG facility, the aircraft "boneyard." I did not realize that they routinely restore planes to usable condition.

Chicago's Soda Tax Fizzles

B...but...won't someone think of the children?!?!?!

Ilya Somin: "Can We Trust Government To Correct Our Cognitive Biases?"

Heather Heying: "First, They Came For The Biologists..."

"...The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself." They didn't actually come for the biologists first...but they've been coming for them for awhile. They particularly hate the fact that there are real natural kinds, and, in particular, that sexes and races are real kinds. That doesn't fit so well with social constructionist mumbo-jumbo (though it's all so confused that it's probably not outright inconsistent with anything...).
   Anyway, I'm inclined to agree with Heying, of course: the left is currently more anti-science than the right. The right's anti-science tendencies are pretty mundane and common: like everybody else, they tend to reject scientific conclusions that they don't like. The left's anti-science tendencies are deep and theoretical: influential sectors of the left reject the very idea of of truth--and the ideas of objectivity, reason and knowledge. Or, worse, they "relativize" them to e.g. culture. Give me skepticism any day over that sort of nonsense. Maybe even worse is the mumbo-jumbo-ness of it all. The left doesn't state its (erroneous) positions clearly--it spews out a familiar fog of nonsense terms that's utterly baffling to almost everyone. Clearly stating clear errors is one thing; undermining the very possibility of clear, rational discussion is much, much worse.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Joe Kolman: "Class Struggle: How Identity Politics Divided A Campus

Some glimmer of hope for Reed described at the end of this piece.
   Hunter Dillman agreed to meet me on campus before we went to lunch in a barbeque joint a few blocks away. He was 6’2”, drove a beat-up black pickup and had pale blue eyes and blond hair parted in the centre. He was eager to talk to somebody who wanted to hear his story in detail, somebody who didn’t believe he had simply fucked up his freshman year. He told me his father was a construction worker who owned a farm and raised cows and chickens on the side. Hunter had taken four advanced placement (AP) science courses his senior year, getting all fives, and planned to get a degree in chemistry.
   At the beginning of the first semester, as he was going to dinner with a friend, he read a Facebook post from the leader of a Latina group who wrote that her group planned to ‘Stop Trump’ and asked fellow students for support in a school funding survey. He was curious and considered getting involved. After he asked her a couple of times to be more specific about how the group planned to stop Trump, she accused him of being a racist for challenging a Latina student support group. He responded that if her group called people racist just for asking questions, he had no intention of voting to fund it.
   A few minutes later, when the Latina activist happened to meet him waiting in line at the dining hall, she continued her accusations and called him a ‘little white boy’. Shaken, he took his food back to his room and tried to eat as he watched in horror as comment after comment about him appeared on Facebook, denouncing him as a bigot.
   The next day, as he was walking across campus, a student screamed ‘Racist!’ at him. The accusers never came up to talk to him, but the online abuse kept coming. Many of the people he thought were friends dropped him. And although a few said they sympathised, no one was willing to stand up for him. The fact that he was 25 per cent Native American only made things worse. ‘How dare you use your Native American identity to justify your racism?’, his Native American peer counsellor asked him.
   When Bruce Smith, the dean of students, called him into his office to get his side of the story, Dillman assumed the Latina student had filed a formal complaint against him under the school’s Honor Principle. Later, when the head of the peer-mentoring programme suggested he face his accusers in a meeting of fellow minority students, he declined. ‘It would have been me versus everybody else in the same room. Hell no!’
   While Dillman managed to do well the first semester, the second semester, he said, he went into ‘a dark place’. He slept all day. His grades slipped. He wanted students to see him as a human being, a student just like them, but ‘People wouldn’t let me. I knew what happened to me wasn’t justified. I thought, “How shameful”.’ But in the end the shame was too great.
   After he filled out the forms to drop out mid-semester, the dean of students met with him again. At the end of the hour-long meeting, when the dean failed to mention the outcome of the Honor Principle case, Dillman finally inquired about the outcome. Only then did the dean tell him that nothing had come of it. (Reed College officials declined to be interviewed.)
   Hunter went back home to Oregon City and moved into a trailer on the edge of his parents’ farm. Gradually, he got back on his feet. Today he’s making $20 an hour as a carpenter, framing houses. ‘I was the first person in my family to go to college’, he said. ‘My father told me that when I got accepted to Reed, it was the proudest moment in his life. That was my best shot. I could have been someone who got an awesome education. Now I’m a construction worker.’

According to GQ, Is Life In The Handmaid's Tale Better Than Life In Trump's America?"

Spoiler alert: yes
I'm not even making that up.

Anti-Trump Bias: An Exchange Between Kelly And A Reporter

The media's anti-Trump bias is just awful. Trump himself is awful--but that's a different subject. As I've insisted before: he's bad enough that even those dedicated to making him look terrible shouldn't have to make things up or spin things. But they do...they really, really do.
   Here's just one thing.

"MAGA Hats Are Newest Sign Of Pre-Teen Rebellion"

I've suggested this before: when one side becomes intolerably, intolerantly, dogmatically moralistic, independent thinkers and those inclined to yank the chain of the man are going to be driven to, well, yank their chains. I say that the progressive/PC/SJ left is the Moral Majority of our case anybody remembers the Moral Majority...
   But here's another thought: when everybody and his brother was running around in Obamaesque hopey-changey wear...was that identified as a "sign of pre-teen rebellion"? Or bullying? Is there a double standard in play? Or no?

Is The Administrative State The Major Threat to Civil Liberties Of Our Era?

Centrist Dems And Big Ideas

I think they should avoid this urge and stick with their instincts: smaller, more conservative ideas.

Thomas B. Edsall: "Democrats Are Playing Checkers While Trump Is Playing Chess"

I'm not so sure about that... I'd say it's more like: Dems have let the nutty PC left become influential in their party. So now, rather than the sane party vs. the Trump party, it's crazy party 1 vs. crazy party 2.
   Says one Arthur Lupia:
Many liberal elites, who see right-leaning voters as blindly following the edicts of an unbending dogma on many issues, have little to no awareness of their own blind allegiance to an unbending dogma on many issues. This blind spot, which has only grown in recent years, makes the left exceptionally easy to troll. In other words, the left’s lack of awareness of the excesses of their own evolving dogma makes it increasingly easy for Breitbart, Fox News, and similar-minded others to portray liberals as hypocritical and out of touch with the day-to-day lives of many Americans.
I'd say that this quote shows part of what's wrong with the Dems. It's largely right...but it soft-pedals the problem. The left is easy to troll, but that's merely a consequence of the bigger problem, which is the blind spot. But the bigger problem is the unbending dogma. And the even bigger problem is that the dogma is insane. I mean, by all means, worry about how easy you-all are to troll...but don't pretend that's the real problem. 
  Well...on second thought...the dogmatism is such an integral component of PC crazy...that I'm not so sure it really is less important than the content of the dogma.

Teenagers Allegedly "Tossing A Coin" To Determine Which "Gender" To Put On College Applications

Um, the applications mentioned here ask about the applicant's sex. Nobody gives a rat's ass about your "gender"...well...except insofar as that actually means sex...

Performance And Morale Problems On U.S. Guided Missile Cruisers

Friday, October 13, 2017

No NCAA Sanctions Against Carolina

Thursday, October 12, 2017

DPRK Air Force Is Still Flying MiG-15s

The NKAF's got a few MiG-29s and suchlike...but apparently they're mostly flying Chinese MiG-17 knock-offs, if you can believe that.

NCAA To Release UNC Infractions Report Same Day As 2017 Championship Banner Is Unfurled... Late Night With Roy.
Per Bilas, you just can't make this shit up.
   Well, I guess we'll find out in about 12 hours whether the NCAA is finally going to admit it's wrong...or, instead, is going to get its ass kicked in court.
   Those AFAM classes sucked. The whole thing was appalling. But it was an academic/SACS matter. Carolina was assessed a punishment--probation by SACS--and that was finished years ago. It conducted multiple investigations and paid tens of millions of dollars for an independent investigation. But the NCAA won't take innocent for an answer. It's way, way, way out of line. At this point, Sankey is just making up rules in order to try to drag down hoops. Carolina would probably accept a token punishment just to get this over with...but any attempt to, say, issue a post-season ban will just end up in court--and Carolina will win.

Is Your Plumber A Nazi?

"I Don't Need No Facts!": Kmele Foster Gets Shouted Down By BLM Activists...

Riiight when he's explaining how free speech protections helped MLK.
I find myself reflecting fairly often on how appalled the good reverend would be by all this sort of BS.

Ezra Klein: "Ta-Nahisi Coates Is Not Here To Comfort You"

I liked TNC more before he became a progressive hero. I still admire the guy for calling it like he sees it...but I can't overlook the fact that he writes things like this:
   "We have a 20-to-1 wealth gap," Coates replied. "Every nickel of wealth the average black family has, the average white family has a dollar. What is the world in which that wealth gap is closed? What happens? What makes that possible? What does that look like? What is the process?"
   Even imagining that world, Coates makes ample space for tragedy. When he tries to describe the events that would erase America's wealth gap, that would see the end of white supremacy, his thoughts flicker to the French Revolution, to the executions and the terror. "It's very easy for me to see myself being contemporary with processes that might make for an equal world, more equality, and maybe the complete abolition of race as a construct, and being horrified by the process, maybe even attacking the process. I think these things don't tend to happen peacefully."
If a white person said something analogous, he'd be vilified by the left. Rightly so, in fact. It'd be patent racis...whoops...I mean white supremacy! Actually, I'm less annoyed by the pro-racial-violence slant than I am by that BS about race being a "construct"...which is, well, BS... (Also, last I checked, the wealth gap was more like 14:1. Still appalling...but...well...better than 20:1, at least. Not to quibble.)
Read more »

Heather MacDonald: "Are We All Unconscious Racists?"

   "Implicit bias" is BS (or, at least, the IAT is):
The implicit-bias crusade is agenda-driven social science. Banaji seems to see herself on a crusade. In an e-mail to New York’s Jesse Singal, she attacked both the credentials and the motives of the academics who have subjected the IAT narrative to critical scrutiny: “I don’t read commentaries from non-experts,” she wrote (those “non-experts” are overwhelmingly credentialed psychologists, like herself). “It scares people (fortunately, a negligible minority) that learning about our minds may lead people to change their behavior so that their behavior may be more in line with their ideals and aspirations.” The critics should explore with their “psychotherapists or church leaders” their alleged obsession with the race IAT, she suggested. Kang has accused critics of holding a “tournament of merit” vision of society and of having financial reasons for IAT skepticism. (Of course, the fact that Banaji and Kang hire themselves out as IB trainers, for “non-trivial . . . fees,” as Kang puts it about himself, and that Greenwald serves as a paid expert witness in discrimination lawsuits, does not lead Kang to impute financial reasons for such pro-IAT advocacy.)

FIRE: Majority Of College Students Self-Censor, Support Disinvitations, Don't Know Hate Speech Is Protected By First Amendment

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 11, 2017 — A new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education finds a majority of students on college campuses self-censor in class, support disinviting some guest speakers with whom they disagree, and don’t know that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. The study also finds that Republican and Democratic students have different opinions on campus protests, disinvitations, and hate speech protections.
In the most comprehensive survey on students’ attitudes about free speech to date, FIRE measured student responses to questions about self expression, reactions to expression of other students, guest speakers, and hate speech. Some key findings include:
46 percent of students recognize that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, and 48 percent of students think the First Amendment should not protect hate speech.

Most students (56 percent) support disinviting some guest speakers. Democratic students are 19 percentage points more likely than their Republican peers to agree that there are times a speaker should be disinvited.

58 percent of college students think it’s important to be part of a campus community where they are not exposed to intolerant or offensive ideas.

Very few students report that they would participate in actions that would prevent a guest speaker event from taking place (2 percent). Even fewer said they would use violence to disrupt an event (1 percent).

In open-ended questions, almost half of students (45 percent) identify speech with a racist component as hate speech, and 13 percent of students associate hate speech with violence.

In class, 30 percent of students have self-censored because they thought their words would be offensive to others. A majority of students (54 percent) report self-censoring in the classroom at some point since the beginning of college.
FIRE’s survey also found ideological differences in how students feel about free expression, both inside and outside the classroom. Very liberal students are 14 percentage points more likely than their very conservative peers to feel comfortable expressing their opinions in the classroom. Additionally, 60 percent of Republican students think they should not have to walk past a protest on campus, while only 28 percent of Democratic students think the same.

Trump vs. Freedom Of The Press

NYT Hires "Gender Editor"

That's ridiculous enough...but, given the "intersectionality" nonsense, it really means they hired a social "justice" editor:
   "To me, what gender issues means is not simply coverage of feminism or issues related to women's rights. Though of course that is important, and we're committed to approaching those issues and approaching them from an intersectional lens. But I think for a place like the Times, this type of content needs to exist throughout every section of the paper," Bennett writes.
   "So whether that means stories about gender identity, or sexuality, or masculinity, or race and class and how that plays into gender identity, or simply the subjects that the Times already covers — politics, international affairs, science, health. But approaching these subjects through a lens of gender." is this different than the overall orientation the NYT already has?

Is Trump Unraveling?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

California: Harsher Penalties For Refusing To Misuse Pronouns Than For Knowingly Spreading HIV

Progressivism is insane.
   Congratulations, moonbats, for making Trump a plausibly-less-bad alternative. I mean, Trump is an asshat who might kill us all...but he's less flat-out delusional than the progressive left.

Police Keep Antifa Away From Columbus Statues By Taping Job Applications To Them

Now It's Columbus Statues

How Two A-10 Pilots Saved Marines Cornered By The Taliban

Republicans Not Consistent Champions Of Free Speech

Trump's Twitter Tantrums Continue To **** Things Up

I think Twitter's a bad thing for American public discussion even independent of the Trump train wreck. Trump's just the icing on the cake. Twitter ought to shut itself down for the sake of humanity.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Plague Spreads In Madagascar

Republicans Prove They Genuinely Care About The Debt

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions

Because of departmental peculiarities I haven't taught philosophy of science in something like ten years, so it's been basically that long since I thought much about Kuhn or cracked open my copy of SSR... You know, as much as we all punch it around anymore, that really is a damn interesting, impressive, cool, readable, exciting book. I'd really forgotten how much fun it is to read. Though, embarrassingly, I really am pretty ignorant of the secondary literature. I really ought to fix that in my copious spare time.

[Good news! My first duck-rabbit came out almost perfect! I still got it...]

Mary Katherine Ham: Contraception Isn't In The Constitution...

...but religious freedom is.
   Boy, I just don't see how I've ended up disagreeing with the American left so much. But I'm certainly inclined to agree with Ham about this. The state should have more of an interest in protecting freedom of religion than it does in getting all insurance plans to include contraception coverage. I mean...I'd like for more women to have easier access to contraception. Primarily because I think unwanted pregnancies are really bad...not because I think there's some kind of right to have contraception covered by insurance...though...the left now seems to think that we have a right to everything it thinks it would be good for us to have... But women can pay for their own contraceptives, or they can buy supplemental insurance, or they can avoid jobs that don't provide insurance with contraception coverage. However, a person with religious objections to contraception would be semi-excluded from going into business if they have such objections and there was no work-around. You might say that they, too, could do something else...something other than going into business. But that seems more burdensome. And, again: there's no right to contraception in the Constitution...
   What'm I missing here?

Cook Political Report: Dems Have Shifted Sharply Leftward

ISIS Fighters Surrender En Masse

Saletan On The Las Vegas Shooting And Gun Control

Saletan seems to me to typically occupy the reasonable center. Nothing really surprising in there, actually.
I'd just suggest, again, that we do need some positive reason to think that restrictions will help. It's stupid to accept less freedom without reason to believe that something important will be gained.
I think we should guard our rights jealously--especially given the relentless leftwardness of the left. Since they seem to treat every concession as a beachhead from which to push for further concessions, I'd say that arguments in favor of concessions have to meet a fairly high standard of proof. 
  But, of course, I really don't know what to do.

White Supremacists Rally Again In C'ville; Dems Respond With A Bunch Of Anti-First-Amendment-Sounding Stuff

And so the cycle of suck continues...

Americans Are Addicted To Outrage

Tillerson: Trump Is A "Moron"

CA Declares Itself A "Sanctuary" State

On the one hand, I've long been inclined to say: I wish the left would go ahead and admit that it's for open borders.
On the other hand, as Brown notes, this doesn't prevent ICE and DHS from operating in CA and doing their thing.
On the other other hand, it does seem to be the state of California impeding the feds as much as it can get away with.
   I suppose that, to some extent, this sort of disagreement has become symbolic, and actual details about good policy have been kind of shuffled off to the background. I'd think it'd be obvious that we have to discourage people from entering the country illegally and staying here illegally. OTOH we have to do that humanely.
   I just don't have a clear enough fix on the details of what's going on to deserve much of an opinion. Though my guiding though recently has been that the greatest danger is posed by a flood of unassimilated illegal aliens. Without fairly strong reason to believe that this won't cause major problems, I say avoid that.
   As I've said before, though: if the Dems were finding their inner libertarian, I'd be more sympathetic. That is: if they were arguing that we should throttle back on governmental controls generally, it'd be different--if, say, they were arguing that nobody really needs a drivers' license, the government need not keep track of us all so closely, filing tax returns isn't such a big deal, etc. I'm not necessarily for those things--but at least it'd be principled. But they aren't. They're arguing ad hoc...though in predictably ad hoc ways.
   Eh, I don't know.

Behold, Casual Progressivism: Betsy DeVos Is Rich Edition

A challenge: see whether you can find a valid criticism of DeVos anywhere in this.
tl;dr: I don't know anything about policy, but I heard DeVos was rich, and so now I'm an activist I guess.
   Oh, there's another hint at a criticism: DeVos doesn't have a background in education. This is actually a point in her favor, however. Ed schools are catastrophes.
   Seriously. There's dumb on both sides, of course. But this seems to me to be one paradigm of it on the left: I have no idea what's what, but I've got some feelz and suddenly I'm woked or whatever!