Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, September 29, 2017

Notable Commentary

"There can be interesting bumps and glitches along the way, as illustrated by these three recent stories [of medical technology]." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Pagers, AI, and Google: 3 Tales of Technology and Medicine" at Forbes.

"Either [Jason N.] Blum is not facing up to the reality that even 'worthy' speech is in danger of being shut down on campuses today, or else his failure to differentiate [Charles] Murray and [Heather] MacDonald from Milo Yiannopoulos and the other presumed unworthies mentioned at the outset of his article signals that his conception of 'worthy speech' is a narrow one indeed." -- Darryl Wright (link added), in "Letter: What Speech Is Really 'Worthy'?" at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"[I]f you can learn to see criticism as an expression of the same standard of value that makes admiration possible, you are far more likely to remain objective." -- Ashley Karen Roy, in "Markets vs. Fan Clubs" at Medium (May 19).

"The costs imposed by spam arise from its substantial interference with the commercial operations of ISPs and businesses -- a classic nuisance-type injury." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Spam -- Oy, What a Nuisance!" (2004, PDF, 42 pages) in Berkley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2.

From the Blogs

Dianne Durante, discussing the recent controversy about sculptures of Civil War figures, notes a double standard and a solution within one paragraph:

Image courtesy of Unsplash.
When I drive up Norfolk Street toward East Houston in New York City, a statue of Vladimir Lenin looms over me. During his lifetime, Lenin was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. I detest him as I detest all mass murderers. But he's standing on the rooftop of a privately owned building, and the owner has a right to display anything from Lenin to pink flamingoes on his property. There are days when I can laugh at this sculpture: Lenin looks like he's impotently trying to hail a taxi from a fourth-floor walk-up. On days when I'm thinking more of Lenin the man than of Lenin the sculpture, I reach Houston Street by a different route.
Durante's comments about actual heroes from the past making errors are perhaps even more needed in a cultural sense than the suggestion that the government should divest itself of such property.

-- CAV


Today: Fixed several typos. 


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you transmit, "When I drive up Norfolk Street toward East Houston in New York City, a statue of Vladimir Lenin looms over me." Reminds me of the amusing fact that until recently a big statue of Lenin looked out over Peace Boulevard here in front of the old five-star hotel built by the commies in 1961. They finally took the statue down a year or so ago, and the joke people made was, "But if Lenin's gone, how will the foreign businessmen know where to find prostitutes?" (One of the better newspaper editorial cartoonists had a cartoon back in the late 90s or early 00s in which the statue of Lenin leans over with his thumbs hooked in his jacket button holes and says to two frightened prostitutes something like, "Hey, comrades, how about it?" This might have been a joke about how before 1990 their customers were communist officials visiting from abroad.) I'm pleased to say they put up a statue of a better fellow, Natsagdorj, the father of modern Mongolian literature (and a hero of my wife, a published Mongolian poet). Moreover, the ladies of the evening seem to have moved their haunts a bit to the Turkish-Mongolian Friendship Park.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hah! You remind me of another statue that has found somewhat fitting utility:

"After [segregationist Thodore] Bilbo’s death in 1947 at the age of 69, it is interesting to know that a bronze statue was placed in the rotunda of the Mississippi State Capitol building.

Later the statue was relocated to another room, which is now frequently used by the Legislative Black Caucus. It has been reported that some members of the Black Caucus now use the Statue’s outstretched arm as a coat rack.

Dinwar said...

I've been making a similar argument on Facebook. The problem with these monuments isn't that they're praising vile people (and some, like Robert E. Lee, weren't actually that vile, they just had messed up priorities). The problem is that the monuments are public. If they were private they would be annoying, but irrelevant.

One option for getting rid of the statues would be an auction. It would raise money for the government without taxing people (whether they'll use it properly is a different story...), and it would eliminate any debate about the validity of destroying the monuments. If you buy it, you get to decide what to do with it. If the government was brave enough to present it as "We had no business getting involved, and are getting out" rather than "We are caving to the latest demands of the mob", it could even be a good thing for those of us advocating limited government! It'll never happen, but it's a nice fantasy....

Gus Van Horn said...

Never say never. We once had a Democrat President (Cleveland, I think) refuse to sign a farm aid bill on the grounds that it wasn't a proper function of the government. That such a move is inconceivable today, a few decades later, should be encouraging for similar reasons that it is discouraging. It will be hard, but if enough Americans accept the idea that the government shouldn't own so much property or have its hands in so many things NOT intended to protect individual rights, it will happen. Perhaps not in our lifetimes, but it can.