Great Words Mark Great Moments


“Speeches don’t save lives.” This was the exact, cynical response to my ever-understanding husband recently. He was watching a certain four-lettered cable sports channel, currently running its “Jimmy V Week.” For those unfamiliar, Jimmy Valvano, nicknamed Jimmy V, was the head basketball coach at North Carolina State University who won the 1983 national title against a top-seeded University of Houston team led by future NBA Hall of Fame players. His famously passionate coaching was only overshadowed by his speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards while receiving the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. He announced the creation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He died of cancer less than two months later. Since then, his foundation has raised millions of dollars for cancer research which has probably saved countless lives.

Usually my cynical mood just leads to a spell of malaise, then my dogs do something silly and I snap out of it. But this was different. I began thinking of how exactly speeches can inspire, enlighten, propel movements, spark hope, and even save lives.

Our culture is beholden to soundbites and salacious headlines. Overproduced television and films are the rule, not the exception. Even news shows rely on flashy graphics and eye-popping video. So it takes some mental straining to remember that the simplicity of one man in front of a microphone, with nothing but his words and determination can so captivate a country and live on in the heart of American history.

America Needs More Robots. But Are We ready for Them?


If Americans want their living standards to rise, then the US economy and its workers must become more productive. And technology is obviously a big part of that. So it’s a bit worrisome that a new analysis from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation finds that the US “lags significantly behind” many other economies when it comes to robot adoption — that, particularly when you consider the US is a high-wage nation and thus one would expect it to employ lots of robots. The research finds that out of 27 nations, the US ranks 16th with adoption rates, 49 percent below expected.

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‘There is nothing sweeter than the sound of totalitarian ideology presented in the lingua franca of social justice.’ Is there a more beautiful way to sum up the tyranny of our times? Douglas Murray is fast becoming one of Britain’s best writers. His latest piece is behind a paywall at The Spectator’s blog site but you […]

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CNN Fake News About World Chess Championship


Magnus Carlsen retained his championship today. CNN reported:

For most of November there was deadlock. Twelve games, 12 draws, a too-close-to-call psychological battle conducted before a devoted global audience locked at 6-6. And so, in a soundproof studio in a grand Victorian building in central London, the world title was decided by a series of quickfire tie-breakers for the first time in the competition’s official 132-year history.

Who Eliminated Mr. Whipple?


Advertising for products dealing with our bodily functions predates radio and television, as Kellogg’s built an eventual corporate empire on “healthy” food centered on bowel regularity. Indeed, Kellogg’s followed the success of Cascaret’s sweet-flavored lozenge, advertised as a palatable alternative to castor oil.

But around 1900, Americans didn’t just associate constipation with abdominal discomfort or gas or indigestion. Constipation for our great-grandparents was the root evil of just about every ailment and malaise you could think of. And for whatever was wrong with you, a laxative (or purgative or cathartic–the terms were used pretty interchangeably) would do the trick.

Civil Forfeiture Is Going Down!


I am over the moon with the Supreme Court and the new alliance between Gorsuch and Sotomayor. From Slate:

In Philadelphia, prosecutors seized one couple’s house because their son was arrested with $40 worth of drugs. Officials there seized 1,000 other houses and 3,300 vehicles before a 2018 settlement that led to reparations for victims. In 2014, federal prosecutors used asset forfeiture to take more stuff than burglars. One Texas police department seized property from out-of-town drivers, then colluded with the district attorney to coerce these drivers into waiving their rights. Law enforcement frequently targets poor people and racial minorities, figuring they are unable to fight back.

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The recent actions of the lame duck Flake [see Nauseating Flake] renew questions about the voters in this state who continue the trend of sending truly irrational (and full of themselves) politicians to Washington that cause us national harm. That makes it a problem for all of us and not just Arizonians. We have a […]

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I’ve just been listening to GLoP podcast, where the topic of the 1980’s cartoon heroine She-Ra comes up for a brief discussion, with John Podhoretz mentioning he read on Vox (I think that’s what he said) that the newly released She-Ra cartoon on Netflix (produced by Dreamworks) has now re-imagined all the characters as gay. […]

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School Choice and Civics: A Brief Note Inspired by Jonah Goldberg


I had the opportunity to watch a live stream of an event hosted by the Fordham Institute, Education 20/20. Jonah Goldberg was one of the two featured speakers. It was great, and I appreciated that Michael Petrelli, who was the moderator, highlighted that the best approach to addressing the issue was persuasion.

Mr. Goldberg mentioned that the private schools in his area (the DMV) are highly progressive in their approach, relying on the Howard Zinn narrative of American history. He noted that “school choice” may not solve the issue of kids not learning civics, tying this issue to the larger Schumpeterian phenomenon of the elites failing to pass along the values that made their position and wealth (capitalism itself) possible.

What Does the ‘Monopolization of America’ Really Mean?


New York Times columnist David Leonhardt highlights new research finding “the combined market share of the two largest companies in many industries has grown in recent years, often because of mergers.” (See above chart.) Something must be done, Leonhardt concludes.

But does it really? In the 2017 paper “Antitrust in a Time of Populism,” UC Berkeley’s Carl Shapiro writes that “the bulk of what has been written in the popular press simply assumes that an increase in concentration indicates a decline in competition.” And that a decline is bad for innovation, for productivity, for wages. Well, maybe yes, maybe no. For one thing, those industry sectors may be too broad to really assess market power in the way antitrust economists and regulators find relevant. Here is a similar chart from a 2016 CEA report that found a “majority of industries have seen increases in the revenue share enjoyed by the 50 largest firms between 1997 and 2012.”

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My nephew got married a couple of years ago, and since then his wife — despite being new to the family — has done more to research our family history than any of the rest of us ever did. At Thanksgiving she shared some of what she had learned, and consequently I became aware of […]

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Two (More Like 1 1/2, Really) Cheers for Ocasio-Cortez


America has found her new favorite socialist, and as a consequence, American conservatives have found their new most-relished bête noire. I refer of course to Miss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the incoming New York congresswoman and self-professed “Democratic Socialist.”

Now on paper, conservatives’ disdain for AOC is perfectly unobjectionable. Not only are the freshman representative’s ideas, if taken seriously, a daunting threat to American liberty but she seems to have shunned the Acela train in favor of hopping all the way to DC from Brooklyn on one foot, the other embedded fixedly in her mouth as her public comments have suggested an ignorance of everything from basic economics to high-school civics and the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Welcoming Nikita for Thanksgiving — and Other Beautiful Babies


MOSCOW, RUSSIA – APRIL: A portrait of Nikita Khrushchev, then the Prime Secretary of the CPUS (the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) in April, 1964 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Sometimes you look at a newborn’s face and just know — ours is a Nikita. As in Khrushchev. Born just in time for Thanksgiving, she’s no picture-perfect Butterball, like her older brother Zeke was, but blotchy, wrinkled and shrunken, with chapped, old-man skin, sharp-heeled simian feet, and a flaming red, bony baboon butt. Her face, at least, is baby-pudgy, but still wizened-looking. Bald-headed, broad-nosed, with that pudgy-yet-wizened face, the resemblance between her and Khrushchev is a little less than fanciful. She is also, of course, very beautiful.