July 6, 2015

IN THE MAIL: From David B. Coe, Spell Blind.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Samsung NX30 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm Lens, $499.99 (50% off).

And, also today only: CyberPower LCD UPS 1500VA, $97.95 (46% off). I have several of these (mine are from APC but are similar). They make a nice source of backup power for computers, phones, wifi, etc.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 788.

THE REDDIT REVOLT as history’s biggest sympathy strike.

Of course, the predictable analysis from Vox’s Max Fisher:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.26.40 AM

Ever notice how every revolt against corrupt authority is now characterized as racist and misogynist . . . by the tools of corrupt authority?

DAN HANNAN ON LESSONS FROM THE TIM HUNT DEFENESTRATION: Speak Up And Stop The Lynch Mob.

One of the women present, a lecturer called Connie St Louis, complained on Twitter about his “sexism”, triggering the usual lynch mob. By the time the professor had returned to London, his career lay about him in broken shards.

The scary thing here is not the Twitter reaction — we are familiar enough with the ugly psychology of mobs. What is truly depressing is the behavior of those directly involved. For it soon emerged that Mrs. St Louis had given only a partial account of events. You would not have gathered from her version that the professor was being ironic, making a little joke before the “now seriously” that led to his main point about female scientists playing an important role in Korea. Plenty of the women present were journalists but, as is the way when a lynch mob forms, they were reluctant to step into its path.

UCL behaved abominably, first ordering the professor to resign quietly to avoid being sacked, and then allowing its ultimatum to become known. It has since emerged that Sir Tim’s accuser had made some seriously false claims about her own qualifications, but no one has suggested that she lose her post. As another Nobel prize-winner, Sir Andre Geim, remarked: “No Vice Chancellor would take on an ethnic-minority militant feminist. Those are not humble Nobel laureates who can be forced to resign quietly.” . . .

It’s always easier to keep your head down. Write about these subjects, as I’m doing now, and you run the risk of being called a sexist or a racist or whatever. But surely we have to take a stand. The next time you see a mob gibbering and shrieking and demanding someone’s dismissal, don’t hunker down. Speak up. Someone has to, for Heaven’s sake.

As President Obama advises, punch back twice as hard. Make this sort of thing as personally unpleasant as possible for the administrators, the false-accusers, and everyone else in the lynch mob and this sort of thing will fade away.

WELL, LET’S HOPE: Americans Keep Getting More Independent.

More Americans will celebrate the Fourth this year with their own sparklers and bottle rockets, thanks to newly relaxed fireworks regulations in red and blue states alike. . . .

At first glance, this development might seem simple: cash-strapped states are looking to balance their budgets in any way they can and lifting firework restrictions will bring in revenue. That’s certainly a factor, but on another level this story is of a piece with a less well-understood trend: the live-and-let-live cultural libertarianism that increasingly defines our age: You want a same-sex marriage? You can have one. You want pot? You can have it. You want guns? Be my guest. You want to play slots? Go ahead. You want fireworks? Here they are.

This libertarian political culture transcends left and right. The left cheers the decline of traditional moral values, but abhors the impact of individualism on economic regulation. The right, for its part, cheers the declining support for ‘group based’ policies like affirmative action and the growing suspicion of government regulation but is horrified by the impact of libertarianism on social issues related to church, sex, and family. Similarly, the liberalization of fireworks laws—in states from Georgia to New York—does not appear to be a traditional left-right issue.

As a longtime member of the leave-me-alone caucus, I certainly hope this is true. I wrote something similar a while back.

A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO “DIGNITY”: Jonathan Turley has an intriguing oped in the Washington Post, discussing why Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, may portend a much broader and more nefarious right to “dignity”:

In reality, he has been building to this moment for years, culminating in what might now be called a right to dignity. In his 1992 Casey decision, he upheldRoe v. Wade on the basis of “personal dignity and autonomy [that] are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Kennedy wove this concept of protected dignity through a series of cases, from gay rights to prison lawsuits, including his historic 2003 Lawrence decision striking down the criminalization of homosexuality. These rulings on liberty peaked withObergefell, which he described as an effort of the petitioners to secure “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” He used the word “dignity” almost a dozen times in his decision and laid down a jurisprudential haymaker: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” . . .

Dignity is a rather elusive and malleable concept compared with more concrete qualities such as race and sex. Which relationships are sufficiently dignified to warrant protection? What about couples who do not wish to marry but cohabitate? What about polyamorous families, who are less accepted by public opinion but are perhaps no less exemplary when it comes to, in Kennedy’s words on marriage, “the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family”? The justice does not specify.

Nor could they specify, even if they wanted to (which they don’t). The progressives have long dreamed of constitutionalizing a right to “dignity,” precisely because it’s so amorphous.  In many ways, Turley’s piece echoes a longer recent piece by Jeffrey Rosen in the Atlantic explaining the vast, subjective possibilities it offers for progressive judges and its dangerous incompatibility with the First Amendment:

I won’t rehearse here the objections to reading the text and history of the Constitution at such a high level of generality; with this approach, the connections to the specific concerns that animated the framers is hard to discern. Suffice it to say that Justice Louis Brandeis, the greatest defender of the right to privacy in U.S. history, originally tried to persuade courts to recognize a new right to dignity, after confessing that American law, unlike Roman and European law, had not, traditionally protected offenses against honor and dignity.

But, as Neal Richards demonstrates in Intellectual Privacy, Brandeis changed his mind about the wisdom of constitutionalizing a right to dignity—defined as the right to restrain the press from publishing truthful but embarrassing information about celebrities—after concluding that it clashed with the First Amendment guarantees of free press and free expression. Instead, Brandeis came to embrace a more carefully defined notion of intellectual privacy and freedom of thought and belief, more closely rooted in the text of the First Amendment itself.

In the ultimate irony, the progressives so excited by a right to dignity are the ones have intellectually led the charge against recognition of economic liberties, such as the right to contract, exemplified in cases such as Lochner v. New York (1905), on grounds that they are too subjective.  There is far more substance and historical/founding era support for a right to contract than a right to dignity, but of course we all know the progressives don’t care about being consistent or original meaning; it’s only the ends that matter.

DAN MITCHELL: Learning Valuable Lessons from History on How to Reduce Poverty.

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HMM: Mexican government wants to tame disruptive teachers’ union. “They have seized public plazas and filled them with sprawling tent cities. They have burned government buildings and choked off a city’s gasoline supply. They have held marches and torched ballots and closed schools for weeks at a time. Mexico’s rowdy public school teachers’ union — particularly the branch based in the southern state of Oaxaca — has long been a thorn in the government’s side, as it wages its battle against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s restructuring of the education system. But now that last month’s midterm election has passed, and the teachers’ threats of an election boycott largely failed, Peña Nieto’s administration wants to strike harder at the union by sapping its funding and wresting control back into the hands of the state, according to Mexican officials.”

The teachers’ watchword: “We’re here for job security. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

IF YOU LIKED BAGHDAD BOB, YOU’LL LOVE IRAN’S CHIEF NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR, JAVAD ZARIF: “Zarif speaks fluent English — as buttery smooth as Viennese chocolate, but wrapped around an astounding collection of demands and lies,” Claudia Rosett warns.  He and John Kerry should hit it off remarkably well, much to the rest of the world’s chagrin.

ROLL CALL: Six Senators Demand Ex-Im Bank Liquidation Plan. “Ex-Im supporters felt modest comfort Tuesday knowing that a lapse in the charter’s authorization didn’t mean total demise, as it could still service existing accounts until Congress voted for reauthorization — if Congress voted for reauthorization. But the letter points out that one of the few allowable actions the bank can take without reauthorization is to ‘exercise certain functions for purposes of orderly liquidation.’”

JEFF CARTER ON THE GREXIT: “What it feels like to me is a pro draft. Portugal, Italy, and Spain are on the clock. To a certain extent, France is on the clock too but it just doesn’t have a lottery pick.”

Plus: “The EU and the euro don’t allow the full economic effects of their policies to work given the different government policies at work. The invisible hand is handcuffed. It’s not a free market system. It’s a bureaucratic centrally planned system that is doomed to fail. Germany has 6% unemployment. The PIGS all have unemployment that would be considered a Depression anywhere else. Yet they have the same price system and currency. The communists in those countries are watching closely. July 20, the Greeks owe the EU 3.5 billion euros. I don’t think there is a chance that they pay it. If the EU caves, look for the communists in other countries to make a move. The long term political fallout could be even worse than the financial fallout.”

Communism/socialism/fascism is an opportunistic infection of the body politic brought about by the failure of liberal democracy to manage things properly. Expect to see a lot of opportunism.

I THINK THEY’RE HOPING TO REPLENISH THEIR SUPPLY OF OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY: Puerto Rican debt crisis hits Congress.

NOT SO FREAKISH, GIVEN HER EXPERIENCE AND TRACK RECORD: Reminder: Margaret Thatcher Was Freakishly Correct About Why The Euro Would Be Such A Big Disaster.

CAYMAN REPORT: Okay, I’ve been slow to post this because I got home a day late (thanks, Delta!) and had a lot to do. But here goes. First, the diving: As usual, it was great. Interestingly, I wondered if hitting the Rippetoe-style weight training was going to hurt my air consumption, but it didn’t. My fear was that having added a substantial amount of muscle mass, that muscle would require more air. But, in fact, my air consumption was the best it’s ever been: I was finishing hour-long dives at 50-60 feet and still getting on the boat (after a safety stop) with 1200 pounds. (Starting with 3000-3200 pounds of pressure in the tank). Perhaps more muscle made me swim more efficiently, or maybe — and I think this is likely based on my experience doing aerobically demanding stuff — the weight training has boosted my cardiovascular fitness. Whatever, it was a relief.

The weather was terrific, the reefs looked good, and I dove the Kittiwake again, which I thought would bore me but which didn’t. There’s just so much to explore there, and the marine life changes every time. This time it was full of silversides, which made huge clouds that were super-cool to swim through. One caveat: If you tend toward claustrophobia, which I absolutely do not, you probably don’t want to dive the Kittiwake, and you might find being in the middle of a cloud of fish that cuts off your vision upsetting.

The fight between Cayman officials and the Cayman Compass over a corruption editorial was still the talk of the town, with most people I talked to saying that the Governor (a British official with great but seldom-used power) might wind up intervening. (Islands are basically like municipal governments pretending to be a nation, and the possibility of outside supervision is salutary.)

But that’s not the big story or conflict. The big conflict is over a proposed cruise ship dock that would damage a lot of the reef. The folks at Sunset House, a dive resort that I’ve stayed at in the past, write:

The Environmental Impact Assessment indicates that dredging and its silt plume will destroy much of the unique, thousands of years old reefs that we currently earn over $20 million/year from and upon which numerous watersports operations are primarily dependent.

The Wreck of the Balboa will be dredged up, as well as Soto’s South will certainly perish, but the deadly silt plume will likely affect all of the reefs in the harbor to various extents, including Soto’s Central, Soto’s North (Cheese Burger Reef) and Eden Rock.

The massive silt plume will destroy the reefs to the South of Sunset House to as far North as Treasure Island Resort.

Seems like a terrible idea to me. The cruise ships bring in lots of people, but they don’t stay long, they only spend money in the rather tacky cruise-ship area of town, and, frankly, I think they give people a bad impression of the island. As Doug Weinstein and I have noted, when you drive past, you never see the cruise ship people smiling. They generally look tired and disgusted as they trudge around. And when I talk to people who say they’ve “been to Cayman” on a cruise ship, their impressions are usually not favorable. Divers, on the other hand, tend to stay a lot longer — a week, say — and spend a lot more money, as well as coming away with a lot more good things to say about the place. Cruise ships are kind of the “fast food” of tourism.

The dive community has a petition and a Facebook page. I’ve reported here before about how Cayman has done a good job of balancing environmental and financial concerns; this would seem to be a departure from that.

Lionfish, which I’ve written about before, were vastly less plentiful everywhere I dove, and more restaurants were serving lionfish appetizers (the ceviche is excellent) and entrees. Lionfish is quite tasty, and while they still thrive at depths recreational divers can’t reach — there aren’t enough tech divers to make much of a dent in the population at 300 feet down — they have been significantly beaten back. Also, they’re delicious.

I briefly met the fair Fiona, who married a Caymanian and has thus been able to stick around (and have a kid) despite Cayman’s highly restrictive immigration laws.

Here’s a sporadically updated Cayman political/economic blog.

In terms of equipment, not much change in my setup. I’ve used this Cressi Travelight BC for the last couple of years, as my old SeaQuest was getting kind of frayed. I use an Atomic Aquatics M1 regulator which I like a lot, and I still use a Suunto Vyper dive computer, which I’ve had for a decade now. I dive with the Spare Air, too, though I’ve never used it. Best investment? A prescription dive mask that I got at Diver’s Supply on Cayman a while back. They fitted me on the spot and although I can see okay underwater without it, it’s a lot nicer to be able to see clearly. I highly recommend one of these.

When on Cayman I generally dive with Nat Robb’s In Depth Watersports. Great service, great boats, a great experience.

WASHINGTON POST: The OPM Cyberattack Was A Breach Too Far. But do they really expect Obama to stand up to China?

Related: White House sprints to patch security flaws. Horse, meet barn door.

WORTH REMEMBERING, as it shows that even the NYT doesn’t buy a standard lefty trope: The Myth of ‘the Southern Strategy.’

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: TWO PEOPLE Have Filed OVER 1,700 Sex Discrimination Complaints With Dept. Of Education. “Exactly two people are responsible for filing over 1,700 sex discrimination complaints with the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in the last few years. Catherine E. Lhamon, the Education Department’s secretary for civil rights, won’t identify these two highly litigious individuals. . . . Under the Obama administration, the growth in the Department of Education’s sex discrimination complaints has been astounding. In 2010, Lhamon’s office saw just 391 such complaints. In 2014, the number was 2,354.”

Sounds sketchy. This story’s from March, but I just ran across it. I don’t think anything has improved.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: UNC prof. awarded back pay after drug smuggling conviction. “The appellate court determined that the university incorrectly put Frampton on unpaid leave, without first seeking disciplinary action. The court decided that the professor is to be awarded his lost pay from the time his case began up until the date of his firing.”

It’s actually kind of a sad, pathetic story. He’s written a book on his experience, Tricked!: The story of an internet scam.

IS THE WORLD BECOMING FED UP? “A great pushback is awakening here and abroad, but its timing, nature, and future remain mysterious,” Victor Davis Hanson writes, adding that Trump’s polling success is a potential harbinger of things to come:

Presidential candidate Trump is supposedly enjoying a bump in the polls. How could that be, given his plutocratic hubris, his flamboyance and his often sloppy rhetoric? Again the answer is predictable. He is blunt — and uncouth; while the Left is sly and uncouth. The public sometimes prefers their exaggerations as bold and not packaged in nasal whines. We are supposed to shudder at the reaction when writer Ann Coulter, promoting a supposedly nativist book about immigration, is rushed by illegal immigration activists at a book signing. Then she confirms our stereotypes by declaring that Latin Americans typically express criticism in such a riotous fashion. The media forgets that she is matched and trumped by the activists themselves. They disrupted a peaceful book signing; they tore up books that they disagreed with (an act which has a good 20th-century fascist pedigree); some brought out Mexican flags to show solidarity with the country that they most certainly do not wish to return to. And there was a shout or two, in racist fashion, that Coulter should return to Europe — as if a guest here illegally from a foreign country has a greater claim on residence than does a U.S. citizen.

As in the case of Paula Deen, Duck Dynasty, and the addled Donald Sterling, the nation unleashed its thought police to destroy Trump in the fashion that has worked so well with other intemperate or biased speakers (at least those who are not of the liberal bent of politically incorrect gaffers like a Sen. Harry Reid, Vice President Joe Biden, Al Sharpton, David Letterman — or Barack Obama who believes “typical” white people (all 220 million?) stereotype blacks while there are apparently “gangbangers” crossing illegally into the U.S. on his watch).  But so far, the politically-selective yanked sponsorships and corporate ostracism seem to have little effect on the self-promoting and boisterous multibillionaire Trump. Why so?

Read the whole thing.

JOEL KOTKIN: Green Pope Goes Medieval On Planet. “There are of course historical parallels to this kind of game-changing alliance. In the late Roman Empire and then throughout the first Middle Ages, church ideology melded with aristocratic and kingly power to assure the rise of a feudal system.”

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: Randi Harper, Part 2: The Fact and Fiction of the Troll Formerly Known as @freebsdgirl.

Here’s Part One.

WELL, I THINK THAT’S THE GOAL: Will Christian Colleges (And Law Schools) Lose Their Tax Exemption After Obergefell?

RICK PERRY: I Can Help African-Americans More Than Past 3 Dem Presidents.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said the time has come for the Republican Party to “reclaim” its heritage as the only political party in America founded on the “principle of freedom” for African-Americans.

Perry argued that his policies could help African-Americans more than the last three Democratic administrations combined.

The former Texas governor said Republicans have emphasized their message on the 10th Amendment but not on the 14th Amendment, which Perry called “one of the great contributions of the Republican Party to American life, second only to the abolition of slavery.”

“For too long we Republicans have been content to lose the black vote because we found we didn’t need it to win, but when we gave up trying to win the support of African-Americans we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln, as the party of equal opportunity for all,” he said in a speech at the National Press Club.

“It is time for us to once again reclaim our heritage as the only party in our country founded on the principle of freedom for African-Americans. We know what Democrats will propose in 2016 – the same things the Democrats have proposed for decades – more government spending on more government programs,” he added.

Perry said there is a “proper and an important role” for government assistance in keeping people on their feet.

“But few presidents have done more to expand government assistance than President Obama. Today, we spend nearly $1 trillion on means-tested-type poverty programs and yet black poverty remains stagnant,” he said.

Perry told the audience the best welfare program in America is a job.

Related: Kevin Williamson: Rick Perry is running a smart, thoughtful campaign — will anyone notice?

July 5, 2015

WHY PRETTY GIRLS HATE BEING ASKED OUT BY NERDS: “When someone asks you out on a date, they are basically saying that they think your standards are low enough to voluntarily go out with them. If the asker clearly has high dating market value himself, his advances don’t indicate that he thinks you have a low dating market value. But if you get asked out on a date by someone with a low social status, and other people find out, then others might reasonably downgrade their estimate of your dating market value, especially if the person doing the asking is a shy, cautious nerd. . . . What’s a girl to do if asked on a date by a smart, thoughtful, shy, low social status boy? Ideally, she would prevent others from learning about what happened, but if this proves impossible she needs to act as if what the nerd did was utterly unacceptable and so not an indication of her place in the social order. And as human brains excel at truly believing things that serve our self-interest, pretty girls politely asked out by nerds probably genuinely feel sexually harassed.”

I HATE TILAPIA: The Truth About Tilapia.

RUNNING OUT OF OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY: Sugar, flour, rice: panicked Greeks stock up on essentials.

BECAUSE HE TALKS TO THE BASE THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT GOP HATES AND IGNORES: Why Trump Is Resonating. If you don’t address the concerns of a large group, someone else will, and it won’t be someone you choose.

AT AMAZON, Summer Deals in Outdoor Toys & Games.

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WHEN YOU HATE ON SELFIE STICKS, YOU’RE BEING SEXIST: Getting the entire family in the shot. As in, Dad stops being the person consistently missing from the kids’ childhood photos.

WHOLE FOODS FESSES UP: Admits overweighting, promises third party audits.

WELL, IT MAKES SECESSION EASIER: Texas Repatriates Its Gold. “Texas is the only state that owns an actual stockpile of gold, according to public sector and financial industry experts – not just gold futures or investment positions, but approximately 5,600 gold bars worth around $650 million. The holdings, stored at a New York bank, for some harken back to century-old fears about the security of currency not backed by shiny bullion.”

CORRUPT, FECKLESS LEADERSHIP PRODUCES PREDICTABLE RESULTS: Think Greece can’t happen here? You’re wrong.

Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. Debts that can’t be repaid, won’t be. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be. Plan accordingly.

LIBERIA: 200 Reportedly Had Contact With Ebola Victim. “The World Health Organization reported Friday that nearly 200 people had been in contact with a 17-year-old in Liberia who was confirmed to have died of Ebola on June 28, the country’s first Ebola case since May 9, when it had been officially declared free of the highly contagious disease. In an assessment posted on its website, the W.H.O. said that all of the contacts of the teenager were being closely monitored and that two of them had already tested positive for the virus, confirming what the Liberian health authorities had reported this week.”

So if Liberia was Ebola-free, where did he get it?

AT AMAZON, it’s the Geek Boutique.

Also, introducing Amazon Echo.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Linking together small DNAs to build more diverse DNA nanostructures.

DANIEL DREZNER: Pixar movies ranked by “feels.”

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HEALTH INSURANCE IS FOR: Unexpected medical catastrophes, especially treatable ones, not routine checkups and fully foreseeable contraception. I faced similar “you’re stealing from the common pot” criticisms when I wrote about my own cancer and the expensive but miraculous drug Herceptin back in 2009. (She’s terribly naive about the British system, however.)

THIS IS WHY I DON’T GENERALLY pair my phone with rental cars.

FREEDOM’S MARCH: As more states legalize fireworks, what’s behind the pyrotechnic boom?

Early protester against nannyism Henry Reed would approve.

GOOD TRY, BUT I’M NOT BUYING IT:  George Will on Chief Justice Roberts’ interpretive methodology: “A Wrinkle in the ACA Decision.

IN THE MAIL: From Tony Daniel & David Drake, The Savior.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Bestway Lay-Z-Spa Palm Springs Inflatable Hot Tub, $337.49 (44% off).

And, also today only: Up to 60% Off Select Pet Treats.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 787.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Teacher Charged For Victimizing Male Teen With Month-Long Sex Fling Has Worked At Dirty Dick’s. You can’t make this stuff up. Plus: “Umphlett’s name has been scrubbed from the Currituck County High website, though the Internet Archive shows she had been listed there previously. On Monday, a grand jury indicted the English teacher on a felonious sex offense charge. On Tuesday, she turned herself in. She was processed and quickly released on $5,000 bail.”

LOUISE MENSCH: The railroading of Tim Hunt.

First, The Sun published a photo of Sir Tim smiling at the time, contradicting the claims he “wasn’t joking” and “everybody in the room was stony-faced”.

Second, it appears that members of the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee, Britain’s leading organisation of scientists, had slammed Sir Tim before he’d even said a word to the media.

Professor David Colquhoun, also of UCL, said: “I collected some stuff about the misogynistic Nobel prize winner on my Facebook page.”

And what did he put in that thread about alleged “sexism”?

“Here you can see Tim Hunt tipping a bucket of ice water over his (very successful) wife.” That’s right, an Ice Bucket Challenge!

Then there’s the BBC, which seems to have put words in Sir Tim’s mouth. The Today show quoted him as referring to “women in the lab” and “the trouble with women”. But those words were not in any audio of him they broadcast.

Did he say that? They wouldn’t answer me.

“We treated Professor Hunt fairly,” a BBC spokesman told me. “His words were not selectively edited to change their meaning.”

Oh yeah? Then why did the show use Tim’s words “I was only being honest” in TWO different places referring to two different things?

Meanwhile, the President of the European Research Council, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, went on the record in an exclusive statement to me on Friday.

He confirmed he had “the testimonies of eyewitnesses” that Tim was being ironic and praising women.

He also said that Sir Tim Hunt “actively supported” and voted for ERC pro-women science initiatives.

Jean-Pierre said Sir Tim was “keen” to talk to “young researchers, male and female” and answer all kinds of questions, which was “precisely why I chose him to accompany two women ERC grantees to attend the very special conference in Seoul.” Oops!

I’ve asked the BBC to release the full audio of what Sir Tim said in his Today interview, and the questions he was asked.

So far they’ve refused to do that. If the Beeb has evidence that can clear him, they have a duty to provide it. Let’s hear that entire tape.

This whole thing stinks.

THE JOY OF just the right amount of sex. “The lesson is not simply to avoid participating in academic sex studies.” I dunno, the illustration and description suggest that maybe it is.

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DANA MILBANK: Clinton And Obama Are On The Wrong Side Of History. Well…

THIS IS COOL: The Hermione Sails Into New York Harbor, Cannons Blazing. “On Wednesday a replica of the Hermione, the three-masted, 32-gun frigate that carried Lafayette to America in 1780 with news of his king’s military support for the Americans, docked at the South Street Seaport. More than two centuries later, the crowds were smaller but the scene was still clangorous. After passing Governors Island, the Hermione sent a round of cannon blasts echoing off the buildings of Lower Manhattan before gliding into port. A band played ‘Down by the Riverside’ as costumed crew members scrambled from the masts for another deafening — and apparently unplanned — salute.”

As a big fan of Napoleonic-era sea stories from Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester, et al., I wish I could take a tour.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Gibson Says Self-Tuning Guitars Are Here To Stay, Even As Purists Fret.

BIG BROTHER IS TAXING YOU: Oregon Launches Program To Tax Drivers By The Mile. “According to a national usage fee alliance, 28 states are in various stages of following down the same road. However, there are also privacy concerns. Two of the three OReGO systems track and store a car’s every move.”

As I wrote on this a while back, Don’t Track Me, Bro.

July 4, 2015

REVIEW: Your Stupid Questions Have No Answers: Martin van Creveld vs. the Chimera of Equality. Political and social equality doesn’t mean you’re actually, you know, the same.

A FREE FOURTH OF JULY SHORT STORY: The Bombs Bursting In Air.

IF IT WERE A PILL, EVERYONE WOULD TAKE IT: Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age. “Older athletes can be much younger, physically, than they are in real life, according to a new study of participants in the coming Senior Olympics. The study found that the athletes’ fitness age is typically 20 years or more younger than their chronological age, providing a clear inspiration to the rest of us to get out and start moving more.”

What’s most striking is that most of them hadn’t exercised vigorously their entire lives, but rather started late in life.

FASTER, PLEASE: Flying on a private jet is getting much cheaper.

PRESS ROPED IN BY AIDES AT HILLARY EVENT: I’m not sure what the usage rights are to the photos in Daniel Halper’s post at the Weekly Standard, which is also currently atop Drudge, so I don’t want to embed any of them here, but if you haven’t seen them yet, by all means click over. I’ll wait.

OK, back? That the press went along with this with such docility tells you everything you need to know about which party they support — they are, as Glenn likes to say, Democratic operatives with bylines. If they were real journalists, or if this technique was employed a GOP presidential campaign, their first thought would be: I’m cutting the rope. Even if I don’t have a knife. I’ll start sawing away with car keys — or simply duck under it, just to see what happens next.

Because what happens next is a headline. One that will quickly become what former AP man Joseph Campbell calls a classic media myth that feeds upon itself: HILLARY’S GOONS HARASS JOURNALIST. JOURNALIST HAULED AWAY BY CLINTON SECURITY.  I BROKE HILLARY’S PRESS BLOCKADE! A real journalist would dine out on the headline for months.

And if this was an opportunity to employ the same headlines but with Bush, Trump, Perry, Cruz or Rubio, the press would be chomping at the bits to write such a story. As Cruz told Glenn Beck on Thursday, “Nothing would make [a journalist] happier than to take your life and filet [a GOP candidate or his operatives] on the front pages.”

But why go out of the way to cause bad press for one of your own?

And for the furious reaction from Twitter users from the photos of the “press lapdogs herded like sheep,” Twitchy has you covered.

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: Iraq Christians train to recapture homes from IS.

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JACK NEELY: Was The South Ever Confederate Anyway?

The Civil War is a big bagful of ironies and paradoxes, and not a recommended study for folks who like to keep things simple. It would be a particular challenge for anyone to survive the 1860s in Knoxville and either idealize one side or demonize the other. It took a later generation, one that didn’t remember the war, to glorify it.

I do want to point out something provable. Whether the Confederate flag is an irredeemably racist and oppressive symbol or not, the Confederacy is not “the South.” It is not “the South now,” certainly. It was not even “the South” in 1861. The conflation of the Confederacy with “the South” began, I suspect, as some tired editor’s attempt to make a headline fit.

People of European and African ancestry have been living in the South for 400 years. The Confederacy lasted for four years, about 1 percent of that time. And even during that 1 percent, a large proportion of the people who lived in the South—perhaps even a majority—were skeptical of the Confederacy. . . .

The Confederacy was not universally popular, even in the South. It would be difficult to prove that as much as half the people who lived in the South in 1861 were fond of the Confederacy. Sam Houston, who grew up in East Tennessee and spent his entire life in the South—except when he was in D.C., representing Southern states in Congress—despised the Confederacy and denounced it publicly. David Glasgow Farragut and Gen. William Sanders—whose last names survive in multiple institutions in Knox County—both grew up in the South and fought against the Confederacy. Sanders, who’d spent most of his life in Kentucky and Mississippi, was killed by Confederate bullets. Several of Knoxville’s fiercest Unionists, Parson W.G. Brownlow, William Rule, and Thomas Humes, were lifelong Southerners.

It might take years to do a thorough study on the subject, but judging by what we know of those who favored secessionism or the Union, here in East Tennessee at least, Confederate sympathies didn’t necessarily suggest Southern roots. Many of Knoxville’s notable Confederates were immigrants from Switzerland, Germany, or Ireland. John Mitchel, probably Knoxville’s most nationally famous secessionist—editor of The Southern Citizen, which advocated slavery—was an Irish revolutionary Unitarian who’d spent several years in prison in Tasmania and never laid eyes on the South until 1853. J.G.M. Ramsey, the secessionist most influential locally, was from a Pennsylvania family. Father Abram Ryan, Knoxville’s “Poet-Priest of the Confederacy,” grew up in Maryland and Missouri, son of Irish immigrants. Thousands of New Yorkers, many of whom had never seen the South, were Confederate sympathizers.

Meanwhile, many of Knoxville’s Unionists grew up in multi-generational Tennessee families. Did Southern heritage even play a role in affiliation with the Confederacy? Here in Knoxville, a demographic study might even prove the opposite. Maybe it was the people with the deepest roots here who were most skeptical of the noisy rebel bandwagon.

In any case, in 1861 more than 30 percent of Tennessee’s Southerners voted against secession, against joining the Confederacy. Well over 30,000 Tennesseans took up arms against the Confederacy.

Yes, but the important point is letting low-information white Democrats feel superior.

UPDATE: Oh, look: Here’s one of those now. Though to be fair, I considered using the “outside agitator” line myself.

JEFF CARTER: A House Divided.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: “It’s a surreal moment when you discover that a) ISIS has a blocklist, and b) you’re on it.”

MARK JUDGE: In retrospect, Woody Allen’s Manhattan looks like a conservative countercultural film. “I’m from Philadelphia, we believe in God.”

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ANGELO CODEVILLA: Standing Up To The Ruling Class.

HENRY MILLER: When Bureaucrats Get Away With Murder.

AUSTIN BAY: Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy: Liberty Demands Responsibility.

SHOCKER: Mass Killings Inspire Copycats, Study Finds.

We’ve known about the copycat effect for a while. But the press blames everyone but itself when these happen.

BERNIE SANDERS IN THE 1960S: “I love the photo. I’m sure I would have had a crush on him back then. It was very typical for younger people of that time to regard ordinary middle-class people going to work as shuffling, horrifying zombies.”

IN THE MAIL: From MF Thomas & Nicholas Thurkettle, Seeing by Moonlight.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 786.

JOHN FUND: Practice Free Speech for July 4th: Fight PC Censors.

While the current topic of debate is the Confederate flag, a much broader battle is being waged against American history itself. Increasingly, courses involving any patriotic content or history are being dumped in favor of leftist “diversity studies” or “environmental studies.” Most American agree that the struggle against racism is vital, but so too is the context that the study of American history provides.

In his farewell address before he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan presciently warned: “We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important — why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. . . . I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.” In the more than quarter century since Reagan issued his warning, the situation in schools has only gotten worse. Luckily, popular books, films, and the Internet offer an alternative way of reaching young people and passing on a fuller appreciation of America. We’re no longer fighting just to get history into classrooms; we’re now fighting for the right to teach history in all its complexity, not merely the PC versions of it that please sanctimonious leftists. Free speech remains a reality only if its practice is allowed, and increasingly, more and more people are letting the censors and bullies have the only say.

Punch back twice as hard.

ANDREW MORRISS LOOKS AT TAXATION through the lens of James Scott’s excellent Seeing Like A State.

Scott offers four big ideas that shape his analytical framework. First, he argues that a fundamental need of a state is to make its population “legible.” In essence, a legible population is one in which the relevant characteristics for state purposes are defined and known. Second, he contends that by doing so, the state changes the nature of the activities the population carries on, the culture, and the society as a whole. In other words, you get more of what you measure. Third, he attributes social engineering projects in part to what he terms “high modernist ideology,” in which scientific and technical models are uncritically applied to societies, encouraging government actors to believe they can significantly change societies through administrative fiat. Fourth, when this ideology is married to a state with significant coercive power and civil society lacks the capacity to resist, the state does considerable harm by forcing an agenda on society without considering all the costs. Let’s consider each.

To the ruling class, the “considerable harm” is offset by even-more-considerable opportunities for graft.

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IT’S INDEPENDENCE DAY.

quincy4

Quincy, Illinois, September 12, 2009. Taken with the Panasonic Lumix LX-3.

TALK TO YOUR FAMILY THIS HOLIDAY: Happy Fourth – ObamaCare Premiums Set To Soar.

IT’S ALWAYS NICE to make Twitchy.

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Fewer ‘extremely proud’ to be American. “The older you are, the more likely you are to be extremely proud to be American, according to the data. People in the South also tend to be the most proud to be American.”

“SHIT ACADEMICS SAY,” A Social-Media Experiment.

I am not an intellectual, leading expert, or public scholar. I am a rank-and-file academic with the job of balancing respectable research with acceptable teaching evaluations and sitting on enough committees to not be asked to sit on more committees. And in my spare time, I run what is arguably one of the most influential academic accounts on social media: Shit Academics Say.

Since starting the account in September of 2013, it has grown to over 122,000 followers, gaining 250 to 300 new followers daily and ranking in the top 0.1 percent across social media influence metrics such as Klout, Kred, and Followerwonk. To unpack this a bit, tweets sent from my phone while recalibrating dopamine levels on the treadmill, or waiting outside my 3-year-old’s ballet class, are showing up in about 10 million Twitter streams and generating 200,000 to 300,000 profile visits a month, effectively making @AcademicsSay a bigger “social authority” on Twitter than nearly all colleges and academic publications. Not weird at all.

Although this might sound impressive, the popularity of the account is perhaps not surprising. First, academics use Twitter mainly for distraction, with tweets providing humorous details of academic content typically gaining the most exposure. Second, it is immediately apparent to new Twitter users that parody accounts like @kimkierkegaardashian, @NoToFeminism, or @SwiftOnSecurity tend to be more popular than traditional outlets — an observation that sparked an idea for how to personally connect with other academics in a not-boring way and on a scale large enough to have my procrastination count as research.

Hey, I’ve been making my procrastination count as research for years!

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Is It Time To Start Shutting Down Law Schools?

This month, the American Bar Association provisionally accredited a new law school at Concordia University. More than 200 law schools are accredited in the U.S. An analysis of data from the ABA itself raises the question whether that list should be getting any longer.

Law schools exist for a lot of reasons, but a pretty important one is to prepare people to be lawyers. By that standard, a large handful of institutions seem to be failing. Last year, 10 law schools were unable to place more than 30 percent of their graduating class in permanent jobs that required passing the bar, according to ABA data. Those job numbers don’t include positions that schools fund for their graduates or people who say they are starting their own practice.

At the University of Massachusetts School of Law, the American school with the worst job outcomes by this measure, just 22 percent of people who graduated in 2014 got those types of law jobs.

Ben Barton has some thoughts on this.

SOME 4th OF JULY READING: Independence Day links.

THIS IS A MUST FOR MY FAMILY AND ME EVERY FOURTH: This Patriotic Film Honors Life, Liberty the Pursuit of Song and Dance.

OH, WHAT TANGLED WEBS THEY WEAVE: Weenies burn flag to protest cops, get attacked by bikers, need cops to save their asses.

ROGER SIMON: The Last Fourth.

FOR GOD’S SAKE, BARACK, SIT DOWN: How To Talk To Your Family About Obamacare On July 4.

July 3, 2015

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Student “Sugar Babies” Increase 1200%.

WELCOME TO Generation Hugbox.

I’D LIKE TO BELIEVE THIS: America Isn’t Getting More Liberal — It’s Getting More Libertarian.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! State of Oregon fines Christian bakers $135,000 over a wedding cake. “Not only did [Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian] levy a $135,000 judgment against the Kleins for ‘emotional damages’ to the couple denied a wedding cake, he slapped a gag order on them that forbids the Kleins from explaining to potential customers of Sweet Cakes why they won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.”

You will be made to care.

HOW TO TALK TO A NON-LEFTIST THE OTHER 364 DAYS A YEAR: Taking Mr. Obama’s advice and planning to pitch your relatives on the many wonderful benefits of Obamacare tomorrow? What happens the other 364 days? Robert Tracinski of the Federalist offers some advice for his friends on the other side of the aisle to try breaking the ice, including — and I know this will be very difficult for many leftists — “Talk to people beneath your station:”

At a university or in an urban hipsterville neighborhood, you may think that everyone around you is on the same page ideologically. But you are almost certainly wrong. Part of the problem is that a lot of the people who differ from you on politics are the people you don’t notice. They’re not the professors or administrators or graduate students, or the performance artists, and baristas, and artisanal vegan sriracha curators. They are receptionists and groundskeepers and especially small business owners who run some of the stores and shops and restaurants you go to.

Some university employees might be on the right, but I’m afraid they probably won’t talk to you about it. Why? Because they are afraid of losing their jobs. They are afraid that if word gets around about their retrograde views, people will show up with mattresses demanding that they be fired. At the very least, their bosses will quietly disapprove and their potential for advancement and new opportunities will shrink. Maybe they would open up if you talked to them nicely, but chances are that they just don’t trust you.

The same goes for people who work at your graphic design firm in Park Slope. People respond to incentives—you’ll discover this is one of the things those of us on the right believe—and your right-leaning coworkers have little incentive to advertise their heresies.

And look at it this way — if they seem a little crazy at first, remember that your side of the aisle made them that way.

LEAKED DETAILS OF OBAMATRADE: Politico has a story, “Leaked: What’s in Obama’s Trade Deal” that suggests it contains goodies for U.S. pharmaceutical companies:

A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law.

POLITICO has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam. While U.S. trade officials would not confirm the authenticity of the document, they downplayed its importance, emphasizing that the terms of the deal are likely to change significantly as the talks enter their final stages. Those terms are still secret, but the public will get to see them once the twelve TPP nations reach a final agreement and President Obama seeks congressional approval. . . .

Some of the most contentious provisions involve “patent linkage,” which would prevent regulators in TPP nations from approving generic drugs whenever there are any unresolved patent issues. The TPP draft would make this linkage mandatory, which could help drug companies fend off generics just by claiming an infringement. . . .

The opponents are also worried about the treaty’s effect on the U.S. market, because its draft language would extend mandatory patent linkage to biologics, the next big thing in the pharmaceutical world. Biologics can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for patients with illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis B and cancer, and the first knockoffs have not yet reached pharmacies. The critics say that extending linkage to biologics—which can have hundreds of patents—would help insulate them from competition forever.

“It would be a dramatic departure from U.S. law, and it would put a real crimp in the ability of less expensive drugs to get to market,” said K.J. Hertz, a lobbyist for AARP. “People are going to look at this very closely in Congress.”

Well, it’s good to know President Obama is making good on his goal of prioritizing the concerns of the middle class. No wonder establishment GOP types supported Obamatrade.

TAMARA KEEL REVIEWS the Walther CCP 9 mm. “The people who griped about the trigger were friends who were at the range shooting their $2,000+ custom 1911s, and they’re not necessarily the target demographic for this gun. Of the regular shooters I handed the CCP to, most handed it back asking how much it cost and when and where could they buy one?”

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STEPHEN CARTER: When Law Students Distrust The Police. “And here a peculiarly ironic dissonance arises. My students, for the most part, are a liberal bunch. That makes them, among other things, enthusiasts of the regulatory state. But if they increasingly mistrust the police, it’s hard to know who’s supposed to enforce all the shiny new laws they hope to enact.”