A Great Phrase

Here is Sam Altman discussing how China has become more open than San Francisco.  He starts out:

Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me.  I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home. [Emphasis added]

Sam has put it nicely.  China isn’t free as the bold phrase makes clear but San Francisco is worse.  It is like picking The Donald over Herself.  Then he comes up with the sentence we all hope to write.  We need to set it up with another:

Political correctness (PC) often comes from a good place—I think we should all be willing to make accommodations to treat others well.  But too often it ends up being used as a club for something orthogonal to protecting actual victims.

We don’t find the often in the first sentence convincing and the second sentence shows how PC can be the opposite of accommodations but the second sentence is sublime.  It makes a great point in a pithy manner.

We have been working on a piece about how leftist nasty has infected conservative writers.  We know there are reasonable leftists out there but that the nasty on both sides can drown the analysis.  It is nice to find one like Sam.

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Appropriate Comments And Not

Some time ago The Donald stirred the pot by commenting on the kneelers in the NFL.  He said:

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, “That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.” And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.

The Donald is right.  People would love it.  We are not big fans of these comments in the manner of The Donald’s immediate predecessor but we recognize the nature of politics.  We would like presidents to be more presidential but the events of the last 25 years have argued against it.

Meanwhile, in India, Vidhi Doshi in the WaPo reports:

The release of a highly anticipated Bollywood blockbuster has been delayed after a politician from India’s governing party offered a bounty of $1.5 million for the heads of the movie’s star and director amid outcry that the film distorted Hindu legend.

Others have threatened to break the legs of the actor who plays the Muslim villain.  Two things:  First, and obviously, the comments of The Donald and the Indian politician are entirely different.  It does’t matter if the latter’s speech constitutes fighting words or not.  This is not a legal issue.  It is an issue of appropriate behavior.  The Donald is OK and the other is not.

The other point is how the WaPo categorized this outbreak of incivility.  Was it intolerance, racism, or something else?  Here is what they said:

The violent reaction to the film’s release further suggests a groundswell of conservatism in Modi’s India.

It appears that conservatism is consistent with calling for cutting off heads and breaking legs.  We are not sure how Vidhi came to that conclusion.  We would be interested to hear Vidhi’s description of conservatism.

Conservative Faculty

At least some students at Georgetown University want more conservative faculty.  Mark Judge at Acculturated (also published on NRO) reports on an editorial in the official student newspaper, the Hoya:

Instead, they make a straightforward case that the dearth of conservative professors at Georgetown is leaving students unprepared for the genuine diversity—that is, the diversity of thought—that is part of the real world. Georgetown’s homogeneity, they argue, is leading to an atrophying of their skills for debate and reasoned argument. In other words, without conservatives, they have no one to test their ideas against.

They also review the evidence that that there are fewer conservative faculty members.  The Hoya, Mark, and NRO are all correct to say this but they miss the big structural problems that make diversifying faculty so hard.  The structural problems might be organized as graduating, teaching, and publishing.

Most faculty positions require a terminal degree, usually a Ph.D., and that is what we mean by graduating.  To get a terminal degree you write a thesis and that is largely controlled by your senior professor.  Graduating provides a bigger challenge if you are a conservative because few of those senior professors are.

Faculty members need to teach.  The problem is that the curriculum is controlled by folks who are not conservatives.  Thus we have Peace Studies

Sidebar: Here is the search for Peace Studies: http://search.privacysearch.net/q=cGVhY2Ugc3R1ZGllcw==&b=PC_80801124&qpt=na
It is one example of how new leftist programs are crowding out traditional, and often, more conservative programs.  End Sidebar.

and many otherprograms that designed by and staffed by the Left.  We talked to a military historian (we don’t know if he was a conservative but we suspect it) who said he had to leave because there was nothing for him to teach.  One data point is limited evidence but all of the programs suggest the problem more strongly.

Publishing is one of the things faculty need to do to get promoted.  Specifically, they need to publish at a level appropriate for their school.  Major programs require “A hits” while comprehensives like our school are less impressed by prestige but require that you be active in reasonable journals.  It is our judgment that leftist oriented journals have flourished to provide more outlets for them.  We were happy to see them (leftists) succeed because it was good for the department and the college.  There have been a couple of instances where folks have got a joke article published in those journals.  So there is concern about the intellectual quality of such journals but more troubling is the report by Andy Ngo in Quillette about an article, The Case For Colonialism, by associate professor Bruce Gilley in Third World Quarterly (TWQ).  It seems to us that the author was pointing out the obvious when:

[Bruce] argues that nations who embraced and built on their Western colonial legacy, for example, Singapore, have fared better than those who followed anti-colonial nationalist ideologies.

Instead, Bruce created a firestorm.  There were 17,000 signatures from two petitions and 15 resignations from the TWQ editorial board.  Seriously! You must read the whole thing.  Andy leads with the most astonishing part:

An academic journal [TWQ]l that published a controversial article making a case for Western colonialism has withdrawn the piece after its editor received “serious and credible threats” of violence.

Bruce is lucky to be an associate professor as associate usually indicates tenure, but he might remain one for a long time as publications will be hard to come by.

Bruce’s situation is exactly why conservatives are not drawn to academia and exactly why it is difficult for them to survive.  The Hoya is right about the need for diversity but it will take more than student editorials to bring more conservatives into the faculty ranks.

 

Facebook Foolishness

We woke up this morning and checked our Facebook feed. The percentage of nasty was especially high out there today.

Being nasty to conservatives:

Bret Stephen is one of the NY Times’s conservative columnists, but he sure gets it.  [Here is a better link to Bret.]

Supporting beauty pageants twice:

Miss America 2018 makes history: She says the US withdrawal from the Paris accords was a bad decision.
Miss Texas tears into Trump in a blistering 15-second takedown on live TV.
[We are old enough to remember when the left didn’t like beauty pageants.]

Being nasty to FoxNews:

Weatherman interviews random person, turns out he’s the smartest person to ever be on FoxNews.  [We suppose these folks watch FoxNews so much that they would know.]

And it is the morning of 9/11.  To be fair there was one post on 9/11 expressing love to the survivors and another by a Congressman supporting Kate’s law.  Neither were nasty.  It continues to escape us why many folks think conservatives are mean.

 

 

 

Oh Canada!

Kyle Smith discusses the left’s infatuation with Canada and Justin Trudeau at NRO. As part of the suggestion that these folks take up permanent residence there he says:

It’s not as if there’s no room. Canada is a land of 36 million people spread out over 3.9 million square miles. Among the 100 largest countries on earth, it ranks 99th in population density. Canada is empty.

Unlike Kyle, we are unwilling to start or donate to a Kickstarter campaign to send these folks north.

Sidebar: Well not necessarily north.  One of them lived in Detroit and if you go south from Detroit the first country you enter is?  Yep, Canada.  End Sidebar.

We agree that Canada has lots of room to welcome folks but we wondered about the data.  Our first question is: What country is number 100?  Our second question is: How did Kyle determine the largest 100 countries?

It is hard to answer the first question without answering the second although it seems likely that Kyle has Australia at 100.  It is much like Canada: Big and with a lot of people but very low population density.

It sounds like Kyle means area when he says the 100 largest countries on earth.  If that is correct then he is mistaken and there are some interesting definitional problems.  Canada is number 230 in population density on this list and second in area on this list.   Botswana (231/47), Mauritania (232/29), Nambia (236/34), and Mongolia (239/19) (in addition to Australia (235?/6) are all below Canada and it the top 100 of area.  The Aussies get a question mark because they are listed as 236 but they should be 232 by the data presented.

But the results work for population,  See this list.  It takes a bit of work but Canada is 99 and Australia 100.

The definitional problems are Greenland and Western Sahara.  Greenland is:

Greenland is a Danish-occupied territory of Denmark, but Greenland is not a member of the European Union. It is part of the North American continent, and Greenland is the largest island in the world, excluding Australia and Antarctica, which are continents. The prime minister of Greenland is Kim Kielsen.

It is large and if you think it is a country it is by far the one with the lowest population density and it would be the 12th largest country.

Western Sahara:

has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since the 1960s when it was a Spanish colony.[7] The Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement, with its Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) government, both want control of the territory.

If you think it is a country it is 238/78.  That makes it less dense than Canada and still in the top 100 in area.

Three lessons: First, be careful with wording.  The 100 largest counties will be interpreted as area. Second, cite your source.  Third, it is easy to dispute data and lead to confusion about the point.  Whether Kyle’s data is exactly right or not, his point that Canada has lots of space is right.  Sensitivity is important.

 

Barone’s Assertions

Recently on NRO, Michael Barone was talking about The Donald and his critics and especially the critics of his Warsaw speech.  Michael said:

But Trump’s text included praise of Poland’s and Western civilization’s resistance to Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, empowering women, striving for excellence, valuing the dignity of human life, debating and challenging “everything.” Presumably, Trump’s critics embrace each of these products of Western civilization.

The Donald has lots of critics but we are talking about critics on the left here.  Critics on the right would embrace all seven of these products of Western civilization even if they would not agree with the left on how to challenge.

Sidebar: We could debate that conservatives don’t want to challenge everything.  When someone at a concert, play, or movie says something politically insensitive, conservatives are reluctant to challenge it.  Another difference between the groups is that conservatives like freedom from politics more than liberals.

We recognize that critics on the left vary but here is our take for critics on the left.

Resistance to Nazis: Embrace.
Resistance to Commies: Don’t Embrace.
Empowering women: Mixed – see support of Islam.
Striving for excellence: No – quotas are the solution.
Valuing the dignity of human life: No, abortions and euthanasia.
Debating everything: No- see Evergreen State et al.
Challenging everything: mixed – again see Evergreen State et al.

It is the problem of Red versus Blue and conservatives versus liberals.  The former sees Western civilization as worth embracing and the later sees it as something with lots of warts.

 

It Is Not Our Fault

We were not going to write on the current issues of health insurance and health care but Catherine Rampell forced us into it.  There are real important issues in the debate and decisions about what the federal government should do about health insurance and health care.  Some of them include:

How to stop Medicare/Medicaid from bankrupting the government?  See George Will at NRO.
Treating employer paid health insurance as taxable income. This creates all sorts of perverse incentives but might reduce the next issue.
How to keep the supply of health care sufficient despite price controls?
How to find competition so consumers have choices.  One-third of the counties will have one Obamacare provider in 2017.

When we saw Catherine’s yogurt analogy headline we were hoping she would come out for less varieties of yogurt.  The number of yogurt options at the supermarket is astounding.  And then there is frozen yogurt.  We could use a few less but then we don’t eat it in any case.  Rather she suggests that there will be a plan that covers one kind of cancer but not another.

Sidebar: The University of Wisconsin System has 28 health plans and four different levels to choose from.  That would be 112 choices.  I’m sure Catherine thinks that is far too many for human processing.  Not everybody at every school can enroll in all programs.  End Sidebar.

Healthcare reform is difficult because there are lots of moving parts.  The few choices that the GOP might add is not going to overwhelm consumers.  Neither will the GOP be able to fix all that is wrong in one bill.  We hope they make progress and hope that they recognize that the job won’t be finished.  Let’s tune out Catherine and worry about serious stuff.