Illegal medical lab discovered near Fresno

Juanita Adame:

“There was a special room that was built housing about 1000 white lab mice,” Zieba explained.

What they found was absolutely terrifying.

“Through their statements that they were doing some testing on laboratory mice that would help them support, developing the COVID test kits that they had on-site,” Prado said.

Health officials discovered nearly 1,000 lab mice, 200 of which were already dead.

Also found were thousands of vials, many of which contained biohazardous materials including human blood, and other unknown substances.

“A lot of these labels have been removed from bottles so there was only so much testing. We could do those chemicals,” Prado continued.

According to court documents officials with the Centers for Disease Control tested what they could and determined that at least 20 potentially infectious viral, bacterial, and parasitic agents were present including E. Coli, malaria, and even COVID.

“I think because of that swift action that was taken we had been able to maintain public safety this entire time,” Prado explained.

Over the course of several weeks, officials with local, state, and federal agencies worked to remove the materials from the location

US Spies Are Lobbying Congress to Save a Phone Surveillance ‘Loophole’

Dell Cameron:

An effort by United States lawmakers to prevent government agencies from domestically tracking citizens without a search warrant is facing opposition internally from one of its largest intelligence services.

Republican and Democratic aides familiar with ongoing defense-spending negotiations in Congress say officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) have approached lawmakers charged with its oversight about opposing an amendment that would prevent it from paying companies for location data instead of obtaining a warrant in court.

Introduced by US representatives Warren Davidson and Sara Jacobs, the amendment, first reported by WIRED, would prohibit US military agencies from “purchasing data that would otherwise require a warrant, court order, or subpoena” to obtain. The ban would cover more than half of the US intelligence community, including the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the newly formed National Space Intelligence Center, among others.

Allowing more unsupervised free play is among the most powerful and least expensive ways to bring down rates of mental illness

Jon Haidt & Peter Gray:

The central idea of my forthcoming book, The Anxious Generation, is that we have overprotected children in the real world, where they need a lot of free play and autonomy,while underprotecting them online, where they are not developmentally ready for much of what happens to them. Much of my thinking about the importance of free play comes from Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College who is one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of play. See his powerful TED talk, where he lays out the evolutionary origins of play—a necessity for all young mammals. He then shows how we have systematically deprived children of free play since the 1970s and shows that adolescents’ mental health has declined substantially over the same period. He notes that this is a correlation, not proof of causation, although experiments with animals support the claim that play deprivation causes anxiety and poor social development.

Peter gave that talk in 2014. Since then, the mental health of children and adolescents has worsened, and evidence has increased showing that Peter was correct. Peter recently published a major review article in the Journal of Pediatrics titled Decline in Independent Activity as a Cause of Decline in Children’s Mental Well-being: Summary of the Evidence. I think it’s among the most important essays ever written on play. I was planning to write a summary of the article for the After Babel Substack, but a few days ago, I got Peter’s own summary of the article, which he posted on his new Substack, Play Makes Us Human, which you can find and subscribe to here:

“Down with Education!”

John Hinderaker

Well, possibly not all education. But down with colleges and universities, anyway. It seems that their net effect is to make their students dumber. A case in point: American college students think their country is going downhill. Not in the ways it actually is going downhill, but in the ways it isn’t.

This was the question:

Based on what you have learned in college so far, do you think that life in the United States has generally been getting better or worse over the last 50 years (considering issues such as life expectancy, income per person, and level of education)?

How fast should you accelerate your kid in math?

Sebastian Gutierrez:

One of the biggest take-aways we got from a math camp our kids attended was:

“It’s okay to go faster. Realistically, you should be going as fast as your kid wants.”

So we asked our kid if they wanted to do even more math and they said, “yes”.

“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.‘ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

Oh. Okay, then. So we did more math.

How did you initially decide to accelerate?

For a few years we had been doing math outside of school because our kid loved spending time problem solving math problems.

So we supported them by finding material on which we could work through together.

Some types of problems came easily so we steered the material to the types of problems that took longer to figure out.

They enjoyed it and we enjoyed working with them through it.

How critical theory is radicalizing high school debate

Maya Bodnick:

Every year, hundreds of thousands of students around the U.S. participate in competitive debate. Most start competing at a young age (early high school or even middle school), eager to learn about politics. At its best, the activity teaches students how to think critically about the government and the trade-offs that policymakers face. They are assigned to argue for different positions that they may not agree with and engage with their peers’ diverse perspectives. 

I started competing in Parliamentary debate at 12 years old. Growing up in Silicon Valley—a place full of scorn for politics—and attending a STEM-focused high school, debate was how I learned about public policy and economics. Often, the activity broadened and enriched how I thought about politics. But debate has strayed from these goals. Instead of expanding students’ worldviews, debate has increasingly narrowed to become a microcosm of critical theory.

The rise of critical theory in high school debate

In a traditional debate round, students argue over a topic assigned by the tournament — for example, “The U.S. should adopt universal healthcare.” One side is expected to argue in favor of the motion (the affirmation side), and one against (the negation side). However, in recent years, many debaters have decided to flat-out ignore the assigned topic and instead hijack the round by proposing brand new (i.e., wholly unrelated to the original topic), debater-created resolutions that advocate complex social criticisms based on various theories — Marxism, anti-militarism, feminist international relations theory, neocolonialism, securitization, anthropocentrism, orientalism, racial positionality, Afro-Pessimism, disablism, queer ecology, and transfeminism. (To be clear, traditional feminism is out of fashion and seen as too essentialist.)

These critical theory arguments, known as kritiks, are usually wielded by the negation side to criticize the fundamental assumptions of their affirmation side opponents. Kritik advocates argue that the world is so systematically broken that discussing public policy proposals and reforms misses what really matters: the need to fundamentally revolutionize society in some way. For example, if the topic was “The U.S. should increase the federal minimum wage,” the affirmation side might provide some arguments supporting this policy. But then the negation side, instead of arguing that the government shouldn’t raise the minimum wage, might reject spending any time on the original resolution and counter-propose a Marxist kritik. Here’s an example of how the negation might introduce this kritik:

A dark cloud of disrepute hangs over all official institutions in the developed world.

Jeffrey Tucker

The reason traces to the utterly preposterous pretense that by the mass violation of rights and freedoms, governments would somehow contain or control (or something) a common respiratory virus. Not one tactic they tried worked – one might suppose that at least one would show some effectiveness if only by accident, but no – yet the attempt alone imposed costs that we’ve never before experienced on this scale. 

The population of most developed countries – Sweden excluded because they largely ignored the demands of the WHO – is now suffering ill-health, demoralization, educational loss, economic stagnation, population declines, and a mass loss of trust in everything. 

Crime in the US has exploded in ways we never imagined. Whole cities imploding, including the greatest of all such as Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, and New York City. The commercial real estate crisis is around the corner. Whole business districts have been wrecked. Malls are closing up, which would be fine if this were a pure market at work deprecating a once-fashionable thing, but this comes three years following a period when nearly all were forced to become ghost towns by governments around the country. 

Even in the face of all this evidence, there is only denial. There has been no serious coming to terms with what happened, not at any level in any way. Writers describe symptoms but rarely trace to the causation. The lockdown – completely without precedent in Western policy history – is the great unmentioned. The trauma is so deep, and the range of implicated institutions so broad that it has been deliberately vanished. 

The only possible redemption that could follow such a disastrous period in human history would be abject apologies on a mass scale, followed by ironclad promises never to do this again. That should have included dramatic reforms in power, accountability, and personnel. There needed to be a reckoning.

Service academies like West Point have figured out how to diversify admissions without sacrificing high standards—or running afoul of the Supreme Court. Civilian colleges should do the same.

Will Norris

In high school, Brieon Fonoti knew what attending a high-quality four-year college could mean for his life. “School was always the goal,” he says. But growing up in a poor neighborhood in Long Beach, California, where he attended “a lot of inner-city schools,” even the state’s well-funded public colleges felt unattainable. His mother, who raised him and his three siblings by herself, cycled between jobs—call centers, the post office—and struggled to make ends meet. Looking for a better life, Fonoti heard that the military often pays for higher education after a period of service. “I was trying to do something to make it easier on myself financially,” he told me. “And so, I joined the Army.”

After graduating from high school in 2017, Fonoti, whose mother is Black and father is Samoan, left Long Beach for a paralegal position with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or JAG Corps, at Fort Riley in Kansas. “I was looking for a job that would transfer over to the civilian side,” he explained, and paralegal work held such promise. There, a senior officer recognized his talent. “You work hard,” he recalled the officer saying. “You’re really smart. Why don’t you go to school and become an officer?” The way to become an officer was through the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, so he applied.

The Most Embarrassing “Facebook Files” Revelation? The Press, Exposed as Censors

Matt Taibbi:

In one damning email, an unnamed Facebook executive wrote to Mark Zuckerberg and Cheryl Sandberg: 

We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the White House and the press, to remove more Covid-19 vaccine discouraging content.

We see repeatedly in internal communications not only in the email above, but in the Twitter Files, in the exhibits of the Missouri v Biden lawsuit, and even in the Freedom of Information request results beginning to trickle in here at Racket, that the news media has for some time been working in concert with civil society organizations, government, and tech platforms, as part of the censorship apparatus. 

In the summer of 2021, the White House and Joe Biden were in the middle of a major factual faceplant. They were not only telling people the Covid-19 vaccine was a sure bet — “You’re not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations” is how Biden put it — but that those who questioned its efficacy were “killing people.” But the shot didn’t work as advertised. It didn’t prevent contraction or transmission, something Biden himself continued to be wrong about as late as December of that year

If you go back and give a careful read to corporate media content from that time describing the administration’s war against “disinformation,” you’ll see outlets were themselves not confident the vaccine worked. Take the New York Times effort from July 16th, 2021, “They’re Killing People: Biden Denounces Social Media for Virus Disinformation.” You can see the Timestiptoeing around what they meant, when they used the word “disinformation.” In this and other pieces they used phrases like, “the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation,” “how to track misinformation,” “the prevalence of misinformation,” even “Biden’s forceful statement capped weeks of anger in the White House over the dissemination of vaccine disinformation,” but they repeatedly hesitated to say what the misinformation was.

Let Me Repeat Myself: The SAT’s Predictive Power for College Grades is Systematically Underestimated Because of Range Restriction

Freddie DeBoer

Eric Levitz in New York: 

This doesn’t mean that it would be good to base admissions on the SAT alone. The test’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t predict success in college very well. But as an equity matter, the SAT is one of the least-bad metrics we’ve got.

So I think it’s really important that we get this straight, as this sort of thing has somehow gone uncorrected in the media for decades: this is just wrong. It’s an understandable mistake given the dissemination of information on this topic but it’s just wrong. The SAT’s seemingly-low correlations with college GPA are a product of systematic range restriction. When adjusting for that range restriction, we find that the SAT-college GPA correlation is robust. (Same with the ACT.) This is particularly true given the modest correlations found in all kinds of human research, which is inherently noisy. What’s intensely frustrating about this is that we’ve known about this issue for forever and yet nobody updates their understanding of the test. I wrote this piece about this issue in 2017! Range restriction is a problem we know all about, and fixing it is something we do very well. The SAT is a strong predictor of college success, period. Even in grad school, where grades are notoriously inflated, entrance exams are strong predictors of success. I find the willful ignorance about this stuff so frustrating.

The U.K. Government Is Very Close To Eroding Encryption Worldwide

Joe Mullin:

The U.K. Parliament is pushing ahead with a sprawling internet regulation bill that will, among other things, undermine the privacy of people around the world. The Online Safety Bill, now at the final stage before passage in the House of Lords, gives the British government the ability to force backdoors into messaging services, which will destroy end-to-end encryption. No amendments have been accepted that would mitigate the bill’s most dangerous elements. 

If it passes, the Online Safety Bill will be a huge step backwards for global privacy, and democracy itself. Requiring government-approved software in peoples’ messaging services is an awful precedent. If the Online Safety Bill becomes British law, the damage it causes won’t stop at the borders of the U.K. 

The sprawling bill, which originated in a white paper on “online harms” that’s now more than four years old, would be the most wide-ranging internet regulation ever passed. At EFF, we’ve been clearly speaking about its disastrous effects for more than a year now. 

It would require content filtering, as well as age checks to access erotic content. The bill also requires detailed reports about online activity to be sent to the government. Here, we’re discussing just one fatally flawed aspect of OSB—how it will break encryption.

Fabricated data in research about honesty. You can’t make this stuff up. Or, can you?

Nick Fountain, Jeff Guo, Keith Romer and Emma Peaslee

Dan Ariely and Francesca Gino are two of the biggest stars in behavioral science. Both have conducted blockbuster research into how to make people more honest, research we’ve highlighted on Planet Money. The two worked together on a paper about how to “nudge” people to be more honest on things like forms or tax returns. Their trick: move the location where people attest that they have filled in a form honestly from the bottom of the form to the top.

But recently, questions have arisen about whether the data Ariely and Gino relied on in their famous paper about honesty were fabricated — whether their research into honesty was itself built on lies. The blog Data Colada went looking for clues in the cells of the studies’ Excel spreadsheets, the shapes of their data distributions, and even the fonts that were used.

“Trauma informed” math

Joanne Jacobs:

“Trauma informed” means educators take into account the fact that some students have led very difficult lives. But how does that affect teaching math?

The framework cites a study titled “Healing-informed Social Justice Mathematics: Promoting Students’ Sociopolitical Consciousness and Well-being in Math Class” by Kari Kokka, a mathematics education professor at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. In the first study of trauma-informed pedagogy in math class, Kokka observed nine students being taught “Social Justice Mathematics.”

Eden describes a problem that starts with fractions:

“I have US$100. I owe 1/4 of my money to my mom, 2/5 to my grandmother, and 4/10 to my brother. Do I have enough money to pay everyone back? How much money should each person get?”

After students calculate that this woman owes more money than she has, they watch a video of a single mom struggling to make ends meet. They are then asked questions like, “What are some feelings that you are having when watching this video?” and “She works 40 hours a week and still struggles for food. What is your reaction around that?”

Interviewed after the lesson, one student “broke down in tears,” while another “sad” and “mad because the government or someone else of her family should help her.”

White Flight from Asian Immigration: Evidence from California Public Schools

Leah Platt Boustan, Christine Cai & Tammy Tseng

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the US but we know little about how Asian immigration has affected cities, neighborhoods and schools. This paper studies white flight from Asian arrivals in high-socioeconomic-status Californian school districts from 2000-2016 using initial settlement patterns and national immigrant flows to instrument for entry. We find that, as Asian students arrive, white student enrollment declines in higher-income suburbs. These patterns cannot be fully explained by racial animus, housing prices, or correlations with Black/Hispanic arrivals. Parental fears of academic competition may play a role.

Civics: FBI Hands Over Documents Relating to Targeting of Catholics

Eric Lendrum:

On Tuesday, the FBI handed over requested documents on its efforts to target Catholic Americans after another threat from Congress to hold director Christopher Wray in contempt.

As reported by the New York Post, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had subpoenaed the files in question and threatened to hold Wray in contempt of Congress if the documents were not delivered by the deadline of July 25th.

The documents that are now in the possession of the Judiciary Committee also deal with the FBI’s plans to crack down on the grassroots protest movement led by conservative voters and parents to hold public school boards accountable for far-left propaganda being included in their curriculum, among other grievances. The movement started in 2021 and became a nationwide phenomenon that has seen numerous conservative victories, from the flipping of many school boards to a Republican wave in Virginia in 2021.

More recently, the FBI had outlined plans in a since-retracted memo for infiltrating Catholic churches, as the bureau had come to see “radical-traditionalist Catholics” and pro-life Catholics as possible domestic terrorist threats.

Put learners first’: Unesco calls for global ban on smartphones in schools

Patrick Butler & Hibaq Farah:

Smartphones should be banned from schools to tackle classroom disruption, improve learning and help protect children from cyberbullying, a UN report has recommended.

Unesco, the UN’s education, science and culture agency, said there was evidence that excessive mobile phone use was linked to reduced educational performance and that high levels of screen time had a negative effect on children’s emotional stability.

It said its call for a smartphone ban sent a clear message that digital technology as a whole, including artificial intelligence, should always be subservient to a “human-centred vision” of education, and never supplant face-to-face interaction with teachers.

Dual enrollment far exceeds the popularity of Advanced Placement courses

Jill Barshay

When you think of a college student, you might imagine a young adult leaving home, moving into a dorm, navigating a campus and maybe attending a fraternity party. That’s an outdated image. We’ve written a lot about how older adults with jobs and children are a giant group on campus. But a more surprising species is spreading through the college registrar’s rolls: teenagers living at home, taking yellow buses to high school and maybe scrambling home before curfew.

The number of high schoolers taking college classes has been surging for more than two decades. In what is called dual enrollment, students simultaneously earn high school and college credits from a single class. These advanced college-level courses are no longer just for gifted students who have exhausted the high school course catalog. Now they’re a tool to encourage more Americans to enroll in college by giving them an early taste of post-secondary education and a head start with a few credits. 

Dual enrollment students were estimated to number more than 1.4 million in the fall of 2022, and account for almost one out of five community college students. That’s according to estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Some scholars believe the total number could be much higher, perhaps 2 million students, when spring 2023 course taking is included. Dual enrollees appear to far outnumber the 1.1 million high school graduates in the class of 2022 who took at least one Advanced Placement exam.

Civics: Auditors for US Citizens, but not Billions for Ukraine

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin voted against auditing Ukraine funds, while Ron Johnson voted in support.

Senator Baldwin supported adding IRS auditors as part of an “infrastructure” tax and spending bill.

California moves to silence Stanford researchers who got state data to study education issues

John Festerwald

The California Department of Education has threatened to sue two prominent Stanford University education professors to prevent them from testifying in a lawsuit against the department — actions the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California calls an attempt to muzzle them. 

The ACLU, in turn, is threatening a lawsuit of its own — against CDE for infringing their and other researchers’ First Amendment rights. 

Observers say the dispute has the potential to limit who conducts education research in California and what they are able to study because CDE controls the sharing of data that is not available to the public.

At issue is a restriction that CDE requires researchers to sign as a condition for their gaining access to nonpublic K-12 data. The clause, which CDE is interpreting broadly, prohibits the researcher from participating in any litigation against the department, even in cases unrelated to the research they were doing through CDE.  

“It keeps education researchers from weighing in on the side of parties who are adverse to the California Department of Education. So it’s really skewing the information and expertise that can come into courts,” said Alyssa Morones, an ACLU attorney involved with the case. “Individuals and students seeking to vindicate their rights no longer will have access to these education experts, and the court can no longer hear what they have to say.”

“while UW-Madison has few dually enrolled students”

Kayla Huynh:

But Cramer warned not all students attend schools that promote such courses. 

“The distribution of who’s participating isn’t really equal across the state,” he said, adding that those who live near colleges that promote dual enrollment are more likely to have access to it. UW Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay, for example, have the highest number of students taking advantage of their dual enrollment programs among UW System schools, he said, while UW-Madison has few dually enrolled students. 

Gateway Technical College also has a large proportion of students in dual enrollment. While the college made up just 6.5% of the technical college system’s student population in 2022, it accounted for around 11% of WTCS’ dually enrolled students.  

Given the large growth in dual enrollment, Cramer said it’s an opportune time for schools to ensure the rigor, consistency and quality of their courses. 

“As dual credit participation increases, it becomes all the more important to make sure these programs are effectively serving students across the state and doing so equitably,” the report concludes. “In addition, saving time and money may benefit students in the short run, but it is also important to make sure that quality and outcomes are being maintained.”

Curiously, credit for non taxpayer supported Madison School District courses has been an issue for years…..


pedagogy of the oppressed”

The Economist:

The research is meticulous, and the details are forensic. Many previous intellectual biographies of thinkers like Bell, a Harvard law professor who fathered the discipline of crt, and Freire, a Brazilian education scholar who developed his influential “pedagogy of the oppressed”, are written by smitten disciples and seemed more like religious apologia than rigorous history. Mr Rufo’s methodical recounting of their radical ideas—pushing to deconstruct the concept of merit, abolish prisons, dismantle capitalism and develop “revolutionary consciousness” in schoolchildren—is refreshingly sceptical. It is also difficult to dispute, given that the most incendiary points are usually delivered by quoting the thinkers directly.

The mostly restrained accounting, given Mr Rufo’s reputation for stoking controversy, gives the entire work a cerebral feel. “The elements of critical race theory are, in fact, a near-perfect transposition of race onto the basic structures of Marxist theory,” he writes. Through the recounted history, some worrying trends in American life make more sense. Universities are hiring based on applicants proffering the right answers to “diversity statements”, and Californian pupils will be required from 2025 to take ethnic-studies courses that will help, in the state’s words, “challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, and imperialist/colonial beliefs” and “connect ourselves to past and contemporary movements that struggle for social justice”.

Notes on the “Great Awokening”

Musa al-Gharbi:

According to some accounts, there is a growing appetite among Generation Z for humor and subversion, for a slackening of constraints and an expansion of horizons. The heavy moralizing around identity issues, the constant and intense surveillance and management of self and others, the incessant calls for revolution and reform—these elements of woke culture are running up against a growing sense of nihilism and ironic detachment among young adults.

There is growing discussion of a ‘vibe shift’ among Millennials as well. Many are coming to find the culture wars both unsatisfying and rote. They are exhausted by the relentless cynicism, fear, doomsaying, and impression management that have governed much of their lives—and for what? They recognize the revolution isn’t coming anytime soon. So they are looking instead to have fun, relax, and cut loose a bit. Or, at the very least, stop having to be so neurotic, guarded, and paranoid.

A former education reporter reflects on how and why she didn’t connect low literacy scores to inadequate literacy instruction

Patti Ghezi:

The children sat on the carpet, eyes on their teacher, who looked down at them from a rocking chair like a wise, loving grandma.

They were first graders, the age when school is new and fun.

What would their teacher say next?

What she said was, “Let’s talk about diphthongs!”

A diphthong is a sound made by combining two vowels, with the sound starting as one sound and moving into another. For example, coin and round.

It was 2004, and I was an education reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I was writing about the state’s new literacy standards, which did not include much phonics instruction. At the time, I agreed with this limited-phonics approach. As the teacher carried on about diphthongs, I pitied the children being tortured with a misguided lesson.

But as it turns out, I was wrong about dipthongs and phonics. And it wasn’t until long after I had left the beat that I realized my error.

Why the National Reading Panel report didn’t fix reading instruction 20 years ago

Will Callan:

More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels.

Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and education policy. It found that instruction in five related areas — phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension — benefits early readers.

And, in the minds of many, including its authors, it should have ended the debate about whole-language and basic-skills reading instruction.

Instead, the opposite happened: The fighting over reading instruction intensified, and methods that were failing kids became entrenched.

For that result, there are many contributing factors, some of which have been featured in APM Reports’ new podcast series, Sold a Story, which I helped research.

An inadequate media response may well be one of the reasons the NRP report didn’t have the influence it should have.

Taxpayer funded Censorship at Facebook & instagram

Civics: Starbucks Hired Eric Holder To Conduct a ‘Civil Rights Audit.’ The Policies He Blessed Got the Coffee Maker Sued.

Aaron Sibarium:

It was 2018, two years before the tidal wave of diversity initiatives unleashed by George Floyd’s death, and Starbucks needed a public relations win. The coffee giant was under fire after an employee at one of its stores mistakenly called the police on two black men, prompting the company to announce a “multiphase effort” to become “more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”

Part of that effort was a series of “civil rights assessments” conducted by Covington & Burling, one of the top white shoe law firms in Washington, D.C., under the leadership of former attorney general Eric Holder, a senior counsel at the firm.

Holder—who has charged as much as $2,295 an hour for such work—issued a final report in 2021 that outlined the steps Starbucks had taken to promote “equity.” They included tying executive pay to diversity targets, setting spending goals for “diverse suppliers,” and launching a mentorship program for “BIPOC” employees, which Holder pressed the company to expand. Each initiative, he wrote, demonstrated the coffee maker’s “commitment to civil rights and equal treatment.”

But one year later, Starbucks was fending off a civil rights lawsuit over precisely the programs Holder had blessed. The lawsuit, which is still ongoing and was filed last August by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative nonprofit that is also a Starbucks shareholder, argued that the programs violate non-discrimination laws as well as the company’s fiduciary duties. Such claims may have come as a surprise to Starbucks executives: At no point did Holder’s report address the legality of the policies at issue.

When a law firm’s “civil rights” advice gets its client sued for race discrimination, one might expect the firm to dispense less of that advice, or at least to warn other clients about the risk of taking it. But Covington, which represents some of the largest companies in the world, did neither.

Grant making industrial complex

IRG’s Center for Investigative Oversight

What It Is: A new report by IRG has discovered that the United Nations Foundation, the multi-billion dollar UN partner chaired by media tycoon Ty Turner, is funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Evers Administration to fund jobs created by executive order aimed at combating climate change.

Why Does It Matter: These documents, obtained by IRG’s CIO, show that Governor Evers is using approximately $300,000 of UNF funds to staff the Office of Sustainability & Clean Energy (OSCE), a governmental entity he created solely by executive order, which in turn has worked to implement far-left climate priorities such as a “carbon-free” Wisconsin by 2050. DOA staff failed to disclose the relationship with the UNF when directly questioned by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance in March about how the OSCE positions were funded.

The Legislature has repeatedly denied Governor Evers’ requests for money to fund his climate change and “environmental justice” initiatives. Governor Evers’ decision to sidestep the legislative process and instead rely on the UNF raises fundamental questions about the legality and propriety of his administration’s activities, including whether DOA misled the Joint Committee on Finance and how much control the UNF has over DOA’s work.

Related: Small Learning Communities funded by the Gates Foundation.

Social media and humanity

William Stroock

It was such an odd thing. We pissed off a PhD on Twitter yesterday basically for being insufficiently anti-Russian. ‘Why do they always have Uke flags in their bio?’ we asked. Let’s call this PhD Frank. Frank really let us have it, being a PhD and all. Failing to be impressed with Frank’s academic credentials, we remarked that we too could throw some letters after our last name, and aren’t you impressed with yourself? Then a fellow PhD came to Frank’s defense, and then another. 

We could turn this into a 2003 and Me Post because 20 years ago we’d finished our MA (AMU, online for those of you who like to whip out your degree and slap it on the server tray)*. A few people urged us to continue studying. We mulled it over and realized during the 3-5 years it’d take to get a doctorate we could write several novels and dozens of magazine articles. No thanks. Our life in the late 90s turned on a few bad decisions. Saying no to a PhD was our first great decision of the 21st century. We’ve published more in a decade than these fucking people will their entire lives.

Anyway. we learned during our professorial days, eight years ended now, that there’s a certain type in the profession that must needs sign their emails: PhD, tenure track. Frank is that type.

We checked, and Frank has written a single book with 18 ratings. One of his white knight defenders, let’s call her Francine, has written two books with 36 and 17 ratings. You have to put in the work, Francine told us. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you were a split second away from punching someone in the mouth? Oh….how we thought about doing so, metaphorically, on Twitter, by dropping our Amazon page in Frank and Francine’s mentions.

More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels.


Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and education policy. It found that instruction in five related areas — phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension — benefits early readers.

And, in the minds of many, including its authors, it should have ended the debate about whole-language and basic-skills reading instruction.

Instead, the opposite happened: The fighting over reading instruction intensified, and methods that were failing kids became entrenched.

For that result, there are many contributing factors, some of which have been featured in APM Reports’ new podcast series, Sold a Story, which I helped research.

An inadequate media response may well be one of the reasons the NRP report didn’t have the influence it should have.


Politics and the taxpayer funded DPI.

Wisconsin DPI Reading Curriculum Evaluation list


Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Scientists who signed a paper claiming a natural origin turn out not to have believed it themselves.

Matt Ridley and Alina Chin:

The controversy over the origins of Covid-19 refuses to die, despite efforts early in the pandemic to kill it. It was natural to doubt it was a coincidence that an outbreak caused by a SARS-like coronavirus from bats began in Wuhan, China, the only city where risky experiments were being done on diverse and novel SARS-like coronaviruses from bats. The Chinese Communist Party did its utmost to dismiss such suspicions, but so did a group of influential Western scientists.

Ramirez family plans to spend $10 million to convert Cardinal Stritch into K-12 school

Arthur Thomas:

Gus Ramirez was at Cardinal Stritch University for a ceremony for All-In Milwaukee students when he had an idea.

“When I was on campus, I realized it was just a beautiful campus and could be an opportunity for us,” said Ramirez, co-chair of the Ramirez Family Foundation that bought the campus for $24 million.

The opportunity is to create a second school to serve children in Milwaukee. Ramirez founded St. Augustine Preparatory Academy on the city’s South Side, which opened in fall 2017. He’s talked in the past about opening a second school on the north side of the city.

The 43.5-acre Cardinal Stritch campus isn’t actually on Milwaukee’s north side – it sits on the border of Glendale and Fox Point – but it does come with already built assets. Ramirez estimated the existing assets he plans to use for a school would cost $150 million to $200 million if it were to be similar in size to Aug Prep.

Civics: The end of the Bezos Washington Post

Mark Judge:

Earlier this year, veteran Post reporter Bob Woodward, who of course became famous for his Watergate coverage, blasted the media and the young reporters at his own paper for their falling for “Russiagate,” the hoax that President Donald Trump was working with the Russians. Woodward called the Steele dossier, the basis for that story, garbage, and told the Columbia Journalism Review that the media had to “walk down the painful road of introspection.” Woodward then said this: “To be honest, there was a lack of curiosity on the part of the people at the Post about what I had said, why I said this, and I accepted that and I didn’t force it on anyone.”

At the Post the problem is not as much a lack of curiosity as much as the desire to push a certain narrative. This is where my personal experience with the paper comes in.

On September 16, 2018, Washington Post writer Emma Brown reported that Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist in California, accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Kavanaugh had been nominated for the Supreme Court and was about to be voted out of committee. Ford claimed that he had sexually assaulted her in high school in 1982.

Ford also claimed that I was in the room where the assault allegedly took place and that I witnessed everything before jumping in and breaking it up. As I wrote in my book, The Devil’s Triangle, the entire thing was a set-up. The Devil’s Triangle is written by me, someone whose family has been Washingtonians for more than 100 years, whose grandfather played for the Washington Nationals, whose father worked at National Geographic, a DC institution. I was at the center of one of the most amazing political battles in the last half-century. The Washington Post never reviewed my book or ever mentioned it.

That’s not a lack of curiosity. That’s the kind of willful ignorance that loses a paper $500 million. Ask yourself this: in identical circumstances say, thirty years ago, with Bob Woodward more actively involved, would the Post have reviewed The Devil’s Triangle?

Related: Obama staffer Ben Rhodes on reporters: “they literally know nothing”.


K-12 Governance: School Books

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

The new California Mathematics Framework promises to minimize racial inequity at the expense of mathematical excellence—and the promise of the Golden State.

Julia Steinberg:

“California is America, only sooner” was an optimistic phrase once used to describe my home state. The Golden State promised a spirit of freedom, innovation, and experimentation that would spread across the nation. And at the heart of the state’s flourishing was a four-letter word: math.

Math made California prosper.

It’s most obvious in top universities like Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, and UCLA. Those schools funneled great minds into California STEM enterprises like Silicon Valley, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and aeronautical engineering. Both the Central Valley and Hollywood—America’s main providers of food and fodder, respectively—rely upon engineering to mechanize production and optimize output. 

All of this has made California’s GDP $3.6 trillion—making it the fifth largest economy in the world as of last year.

But now “California is America, only sooner” is a warning, and not just because of the exodus of people and jobs and the decay of our major cities, but because of the state’s abandonment of math—which is to say its abandonment of excellence and, in a way, reality itself. 

Perhaps you’ve read the headlines about kooky San Francisco discarding algebra in the name of anti-racism. Now imagine that worldview adopted by the entire state.

A look back at closing Chicago Schools

Becky Vevea:

That day would mark the largest mass closure of public schools in the nation’s history, as Henson and 49 other Chicago schools shut their doors for good. Some 17,000 students and 1,500 staff would scatter to schools across the city. Many others would leave the district altogether. 

The promise made at the time by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel was that the students would go to better schools, and the district would save money by offloading expensive-to-maintain aging buildings.  

“I know this is incredibly difficult, but I firmly believe the most important thing we can do as a city is provide the next generation with a brighter future,” he said in a statement after the school board voted on the closures. “I am confident that … our children will succeed.”

“I observe also that Obamacare passed, and American life expectancy fell”

Tyler Cowen:

One of the Democratic Party frustrations with conservatives during the ACA debates was witnessing them tolerate or even support Romney’s Massachusetts plan, but oppose Obamacare.  That I can understand.  One of the conservative frustrations with ACA was the fear that it would just be the first step in a never-ending, upward-ratcheting series of efforts to spend ever more on health insurance coverage, which has positive but only marginal implications for health itself.  After all, where exactly do the moral arguments for spending more on health insurance coverage stop?

Is there a politically feasible version of the Finkelstein and Einav plan that can spend less or the same?  Is there a politically feasible version of the plan period?  How much trust will there be in the promise that if I give up my private health insurance coverage, it will be replaced by something better?  How much trust should there be?

But again, the authors here have a very different perspective on the sector and how to do health care policy.

8 facts about Americans with disabilities

Rebecca Leppert and Katherine Schaefer:

Here are eight facts about Americans with disabilities, based on government data and recent Pew Research Center surveys.

Older Americans are significantly more likely than younger adults to have a disability.Some 46% of Americans ages 75 and older and 24% of those ages 65 to 74 report having a disability, according to estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey (ACS). This compares with 12% of adults ages 35 to 64 and 8% of adults under 35.

Stanford’s president is not the only researcher pushing unfounded and incorrect conclusions

Vinay Prasad:

“Yes! we found an example of fraud”

“OMG, the culture in his laboratory was so horrible.”

“Yay, science is self-correcting!”

Some of these things were said recently, when the Stanford University president resigned to spend more time doing research (which, ironically, was the problem).

Yet, these same people routinely use false studies to push for conclusions they like. In fact, the majority of scientists conduct research that is false, not useful or not helpful. Only a tiny fraction of scientists stick to true and useful. 

While fraud is the worst conduct— using false studies to support your views is hardly better. The Figure illustrates the spectrum of bad science from Fraud to Truth. Let me give some examples of people using bad science to further their agenda, and argue for strategies to solve the problem.

Oppenheimer Lecture

The Reith

In his sixth and final lecture entitled ‘The Sciences and Man’s Community’, Professor Oppenheimer explains how the “House of Science” helps us to understand the underlying profundities of the earth and our lives. He draws parallels between the construction of human society and the atom: each man is dependent on the next, and through the power of the collective, Man’s power grows with the shared knowledge of individuals

“whereas SAT/ACT scores and academic credentials are highly predictive of post-college success”

Raj Chetty, David J. Deming, and John N. Friedman:

Leadership positions in the U.S. are disproportionately held by graduates of a few highly selective private colleges. Could such colleges — which currently have many more students from high-income families than low-income families — increase the socioeconomic diversity of America’s leaders by changing their admissions policies? We use anonymized admissions data from several private and public colleges linked to income tax records and SAT and ACT test scores to study this question. Children from families in the top 1% are more than twice as likely to attend an Ivy-Plus college (Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, Duke, and Chicago) as those from middle-class families with comparable SAT/ACT scores. Two-thirds of this gap is due to higher admissions rates for students with comparable test scores from high-income families; the remaining third is due to differences in rates of application and matriculation. In contrast, children from high-income families have no admissions advantage at flagship public colleges. The high-income admissions advantage at private colleges is driven by three factors: (1) preferences for children of alumni, (2) weight placed on non-academic credentials, which tend to be stronger for students applying from private high schools that have affluent student bodies, and (3) recruitment of athletes, who tend to come from higher-income families. Using a new research design that isolates idiosyncratic variation in admissions decisions for waitlisted applicants, we show that attending an Ivy-Plus college instead of the average highly selective public flagship institution increases students’ chances of reaching the top 1% of the earnings distribution by 60%, nearly doubles their chances of attending an elite graduate school, and triples their chances of working at a prestigious firm. Ivy-Plus colleges have much smaller causal effects on average earnings, reconciling our findings with prior work that found smaller causal effects using variation in matriculation decisions conditional on admission. Adjusting for the value-added of the colleges that students attend, the three key factors that give children from high-income families an admissions advantage are uncorrelated or negatively correlated with post-college outcomes, whereas SAT/ACT scores and academic credentials are highly predictive of post-college success. We conclude that highly selective private colleges currently amplify the persistence of privilege across generations, but could diversify the socioeconomic backgrounds of America’s leaders by changing their admissions practices.


Ratings of Congress

Paul Bedard:

The just-published 52nd Ratings of Congress from CPAC’s Center for Legislative Accountability found 14 House members and just three senators — Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Mike Braun (R-IN) — with 100% ratings on the issues the group cares about. In 1971, there were 61 perfect House Republicans and 11 100% senators, including conservative giants Barry Goldwater of Arizona, New York’s James L. Buckley, and South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond.

The CPAC report found Democrats much more moderate decades ago. In 1971, there were 23 senators with zero ratings on the CPAC report card of conservative issues. Today there are 38, more than half the Democratic Caucus. In the House, there were 39 perfect liberal voters in 1971 compared to 76 today. Plus, there are dozens of House liberals with a 3% rating.

CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp said the analytics show that many Republicans come to Washington and face-plant into the swamp’s deep end over time.

Notes on the EJM doxxing

Tyler Cowen:

The only summary I have seen is from Karlstack, noting that he is siding against the doxxers and has defended EJMR in the past.  Most of the people who care already know the details, so I won’t repeat them.  I will however add a few observations:

1. I don’t read EJMR, so however bad it is, or however useful it sometimes may be, is a closed book to me.  It is not the next marginal thing I might read if I had more time.  And I have never posted there.  So my comments should not be taken as reflecting any deep knowledge of the site itself.  I would rather listen to Wings songs, if that is what it came down to.

2. The soon to be published paper supposedly reveals IP addresses of many EJMR posters.  This seems wrong to me, noting that many posters (presumably) are making entirely innocent observations, or if not innocent remarks nonetheless remarks that should not be doxxed.  They may wish to criticize a colleague or superior, or express a repugnant political opinion.  Or whatever.

2b. What about posters from Turkey, China, Russia and elsewhere, who have expressed political opinions? Isn’t this point enough on its own to settle the matter?

Who is Dr. William B. Allen? He’s taking on Kamala Harris over Florida Black history curriculum

Samantha Neely and C. A. Bridges

Political advisor William B. Allen, who helped approve Florida’s African American history curriculum, called out Vice President Kamala Harris for her comments on the new course material during a brief interview with ABC News.

The Florida Board of Education signed off on a new K-12 curriculum for social studies in the state last week, sending a storm of controversy in its wake. Opponents of the new coursework, including Harris, have spoken out against several items in the new African American History section.

Supporters, like Allen, have maintained that the outcries are meritless and many have not read the actual changes. Here’s what Allen had to say about the discussion:

Peer raises prospect House of Lords could be replaced by bots ‘with deeper knowledge and lower running costs’

Faye Brown:

The House of Lords could be replaced by bots with “higher productivity, deeper knowledge and lower running costs”, a peer warned as the debate continues over the risks of artificial intelligence (AI).

Lord Londesborough said AI will soon be advanced enough to deliver his speeches in his voice by analysing and processing the comments he has made on parliament’s live TV feed.

He asked the upper chamber if the prospect of being replaced by “peer bots” is either an “exciting” or an “alarming” one, before raising concerns about the impact AI could have on millions of workers in the UK.

Ah, but who decides what data drives the bots? Tammy Baldwin, Mark Warner and a few other taxpayer supported Senators recently introduced the “Restrict Act”, implementing further censorship.

Censorship Accountability Act was introduced by Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dan Bishop

The First Room-Temperature Ambient-Pressure Superconductor

Sukbae Lee, Ji-Hoon Kim, Young-Wan Kwon

For the first time in the world, we succeeded in synthesizing the room-temperature superconductor (Tc≥400 K, 127∘C) working at ambient pressure with a modified lead-apatite (LK-99) structure. The superconductivity of LK-99 is proved with the Critical temperature (Tc), Zero-resistivity, Critical current (Ic), Critical magnetic field (Hc), and the Meissner effect. The superconductivity of LK-99 originates from minute structural distortion by a slight volume shrinkage (0.48 %), not by external factors such as temperature and pressure. The shrinkage is caused by Cu2+ substitution of Pb2+(2) ions in the insulating network of Pb(2)-phosphate and it generates the stress. It concurrently transfers to Pb(1) of the cylindrical column resulting in distortion of the cylindrical column interface, which creates superconducting quantum wells (SQWs) in the interface. The heat capacity results indicated that the new model is suitable for explaining the superconductivity of LK-99. The unique structure of LK-99 that allows the minute distorted structure to be maintained in the interfaces is the most important factor that LK-99 maintains and exhibits superconductivity at room temperatures and ambient pressure.

Daily Mail prepares for legal battle with Google over AI copyright

James Warrington:

The owner of the Daily Mail is gearing up for a legal battle with Google over claims the tech giant used hundreds of thousands of online news stories to train its ChatGPT rival without permission.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), the publishing group controlled by Lord Rothermere, is understood to have sought legal advice as it considers potential action.

DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) division, allegedly harvested a vast cache of around 1 million news articles from the Daily Mail and CNN websites to help develop its chatbot, Bard.

It is claimed that the tech giant targeted them because both use bullet points to summarise key points before the main text of a story. Google allegedly used the articles to test Bard’s capabilities by removing words from the bullet points and asking the AI to fill in the gaps based on the rest of the story.

However, it allegedly used the articles from the Daily Mail and CNN websites without either copyright holder’s knowledge or permission. Around three-quarters of the articles used in the dataset are believed to have come from the Mail, while the remainder were taken from CNN’s website.

Wisconsin school district sued after teacher revealed gender transition without parental consent

Joshua Nelson:

Wisconsin school district is being sued after a teacher allegedly announced change of pronouns and gender transition without parental consent.

In June, Eau Claire Area School District [ECASD] students were allegedly “required” to report to a classroom where they found their orchestra teacher Jacob Puccio, a school counselor, and the ECASD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director Dang Yang.

Students were allegedly told that Puccio would be undergoing a gender transition from male to female from a “scripted statement” that was read to several classrooms of elementary and high school music students throughout ECASD.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) alleges that the statement was crafted by ECASD to “ensure that students received information in a particular way.” Furthermore, WILL claims that parents are still not aware of what was read to students and want to know the details.


“It’s ridiculous for a school district to refuse to produce a statement that was read out loud to dozens of minor students in several district classrooms. What was told to these kids should be readily accessible to parents.”

Civics: AOC Is Just a Regular Old Democrat Now

Freddie deBoer

There are two indelible images of Ocasio-Cortez, neither of them flattering, that bookend her evolution. The first is the photo of her weeping outside of an immigration camp in Texas in 2018, before she had won election to Congress. Dressed all in white, she wails in protest of “kids in cages,” the phrase employed by activists to denounce Trump-era immigration policy. The protest itself wasn’t offensive; our treatment of migrants at the border is indeed indefensible. The trouble lies in what didn’t happen next. When Biden took office in 2020, American immigration policy did not meaningfully change. This is often chalked up to Covid-era restrictions, but those restrictions are long gone and Democrats have not made significant changes to Trump’s border policy. There are, literally, still kids in cages — so why isn’t Ocasio-Cortez at the border again, protesting her country’s president?

The second image of AOC is at the 2021 Met Gala — a who’s who of celebrity and wealth, a celebration of precisely the elitism that the left is meant to oppose. So it was a bit depressing, but not at all surprising, to see this champion of the working class at an event in which celebrities wandered around unmasked while their many servants dutifully wore masks to prevent the spread of Covid. Politicians, even lefty politicians, go to fancy events and hobnob with the ruling class; it’s a fact of life. But Ocasio-Cortez tried to have it both ways: she wore white again, this time a dress emblazoned with the words “Tax the Rich” in bright red. And this made her opportunity to rub shoulders with the 1% a matter of direct hypocrisy. It’s one thing to go to the party; it’s another to blare out a message that you disapprove of the party while you’re there.

If there is a key to AOC’s political persona, it lies between these two poles. The former betrays the fundamental moral corruption of partisanship: it compels people to care about political issues precisely to the degree that those issues are convenient for the party. Losing interest in our immoral immigration system after Biden’s election is exactly the sort of thing that AOC’s rabid fans once said she would never do. The latter not only sees AOC transported from outside the gates to inside the most elite of venues, it also showcases AOC’s increasingly half-hearted attempts to cover up her genuine predilections with the most superficial of symbolic acts.

Take, for example, the chronic mistreatment of workers in our railway system that contributed to the derailment and subsequent air crisis in East Palestine, Ohio. Ocasio-Cortez publicly castigated the railway companies and demanded better conditions for workers — then voted to forbid them from striking. It’s hard to imagine a clearer example of her overall political orientation, speaking up like a militant supporter of workers in the press then immediately betraying them with her vote. She would go on to claim that this was really a matter of supporting what the workers wanted, but Railroad Workers United quickly clarified that this defense was an act of remarkable dishonesty. Labor is the heart of the left and strikes are the sword of labor; to vote to forbid workers from striking, for a supposed socialist, amounts to an unforgivable betrayal of basic values.

“If you don’t make predictions, you’ll never know what to be surprised by”

Dave Karpf:

He also provides a corollary: “if you don’t make recommendations, you won’t know what to be disappointed by.” 

Let me offer a second corollary: “if you retrofit your predictions to insist they were right after all, you’ll never learn a single damn thing.” 

I mention this because, as you might imagine, I run into a lot of incorrect predictions as I read through the WIRED archive. 90s WIRED was chock full of a very particular style of futurism — one that has, uh, not aged especially well. 

In keeping with Davies’ Law, this presents a lovely opportunity. I’m rereading the entire magazine back catalog to understand how emerging technologies looked back then, take stock of where people thought the world was headed, and then draw some lessons from the resulting surprises.

The thing that sets me back on my heels, though, is that a lot of those old WIRED techno-optimists are still out there making predictions today. And, to hear them tell it, they were right all along.

Survey quantifies the extra time that researchers whose first language isn’t English need to read, write and present data.

Mariana Lenharo

Researchers whose first language is not English can spend around twice as long reading an English-language scientific journal article as native speakers. For a PhD student working on their thesis, that can mean spending up to 19 additional working days per year just reading papers.

These statistics, published today in PLoS Biology1, might not be shocking, researchers say, but it’s important to measure the effects of language barriers on the careers of academics who are not fluent in English. It “is the first step for the scientific community to make more effort to tackle this problem”, says Tatsuya Amano, a biodiversity researcher at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and a co-author of the study.

Amano and his colleagues polled 908 environmental scientists from 8 countries, each of whom had authored at least one peer-reviewed paper in English. Some of the participants were from countries where a moderate proportion of people are proficient in English (Bolivia, Spain and Ukraine), whereas others were from countries where proficiency in English is uncommon (Bangladesh, Japan and Nepal). Their answers were compared with those from people in countries where English is the official language (Nigeria and the United Kingdom).

Moms of dyslexic children helped push passage of new reading reform law in Wisconsin

Emily Files:

Parents of children with dyslexia have been ringing an alarm bell in Wisconsin.

They say school districts often fail to teach children to read. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only one in three Wisconsin fourth graders is a proficient reader.

After years of debate in the Capitol, Gov. Evers and Republican lawmakers agreed on a bill that makes sweeping literacy reforms. Evers signedthe so-called “Right to Read Act” last week.

Biden lawyer who defended affirmative action grapples with diversity in her own office

Tobi Raji and Theodoric Meyer

Prelogar cited only the dearth of women and not of Black and Hispanic lawyers arguing before the court, but her message in a case dealing with race-conscious admissions programs was clear.

“When there is that kind of gross disparity in representation, it can matter and it’s common sense,” she told the justices.

Her argument didn’t sway the court’s conservative majority, which ruled last month that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s affirmative action programs were unconstitutional.

It did garner the attention of the court’s three liberal justices, who cited Prelogar’s remarks in a dissent, warning that “inequality in the pipeline to this institution, too, will deepen.”

But a similar lack of diversity to the one Prelogar pointed out in her argument has persisted for years in the solicitor general’s office, which is part of the Justice Department and represents the federal government before the Supreme Court.

Over the past dozen terms, nearly three-quarters of Supreme Court arguments made by lawyers in the office have been delivered by men, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

BBC Censorship

Dual enrollment far exceeds the popularity of Advanced Placement courses

Jill Barshay:

When you think of a college student, you might imagine a young adult leaving home, moving into a dorm, navigating a campus and maybe attending a fraternity party. That’s an outdated image. We’ve written a lot about how older adults with jobs and children are a giant group on campus. But a more surprising species is spreading through the college registrar’s rolls: teenagers living at home, taking yellow buses to high school and maybe scrambling home before curfew.

The number of high schoolers taking college classes has been surging for more than two decades. In what is called dual enrollment, students simultaneously earn high school and college credits from a single class. These advanced college-level courses are no longer just for gifted students who have exhausted the high school course catalog. Now they’re a tool to encourage more Americans to enroll in college by giving them an early taste of post-secondary education and a head start with a few credits. 

Dual enrollment students were estimated to number more than 1.4 million in the fall of 2022, and account for almost one out of five community college students. That’s according to estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Some scholars believe the total number could be much higher, perhaps 2 million students, when spring 2023 course taking is included. Dual enrollees appear to far outnumber the 1.1 million high school graduates in the class of 2022 who took at least one Advanced Placement exam.

“It’s meteoric,” said Brian An, a sociologist at the University of Iowa. “When I first started working in dual enrollment research in the mid 2000s, it was nowhere near these numbers. If you had told me 10 years ago that 20 percent of all community college students would be dual enrollment, I would have said that’s crazy talk.”

Covid Scientific Truthiness Comments

The gene-editing tool is being tested in people, and the first treatment could be approved this year.

Antonio Regaldo:

Forget about He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created gene-edited babies. Instead, when you think about gene editing you should think of Victoria Gray, the African-American woman who says she’s been cured of her sickle-cell disease symptoms. 

This week in London, scientists are gathering for the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing. It’s gene editing’s big event, where researchers get to awe the audience with their new ability to modify DNA—and ethicists get to worry about what it all means.

“NextGen Bar Exam Is Complete Abandonment Of Competence As Standard’ For New Lawyers”

Paul Caron summarizes:

I received an email from a person who worked as a state board of law examiners. With permission, I reproduce the email, stripping any reference to the person’s state. …

In my view, the UBE, and the *** Supreme Court through its adoption, dropped the standard of “minimal competence” to an alarming level.  I could not, in good conscience, continue to serve and resigned.  The NextGen Bar Exam represents the complete abandonment of competence as a standard.  I sincerely hope that the *** Supreme Court does not adopt it.  Unfortunately, they will probably blindly defer to the “experts” at the NCBE.

Even since *** adopted the UBE, I have been hoping that it would not prove to be the disaster for professional competence that I feared it would. And while the jury is still out on that point, the NCBE now wants to do away with any testing of the applicants’ abilities to apply the facts to the law. Any state that adopts the NextGen bar exam will have abandoned its professional obligation to ensure that new lawyers are minimally competent.

American universities have an incentive to seem extortionate

The Economist:

The cost of many private colleges in America has reached $80,000 a year. The median household income in America in 2021 was $71,000 a year. This shows that college is unaffordable. Or does it?

The consensus view is that America has a college-affordability crisis and things are getting worse. According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, “college costs are out of control”. Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, and other progressives have pushed for free college and loan-forgiveness for years. The White House attempted a costly bail-out of student borrowers which the Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional. Both sides are telling a similar, but mostly inaccurate, tale. Most undergraduate degrees in America are actually affordable, and in many cases going to college is getting cheaper.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Chicago taxes, pension debt & spending

Erin Geary:

If only the mayor listened to Bhatti and Betancourt and created the City Bank of Chicago, Ross could get a loan to pay her taxes perhaps with no interest because that would be the moral thing to do. Otherwise, the County Assessor will place a lien on her home and eventually force her to sell.

Forgive the cynicism, but there is something deeply immoral at play in Chicago. For all the Obama-esque savior-in-chief qualities Johnson is projecting, everything the mayor does is calculated. For example: Slipping into an apron to demonstrate support for labor’s push for a fair minimum wage is a great photo op, but who stands to gain if tipped workers earn the same hourly wage as untipped workers? The city via taxes. Then there is the Pontius Pilate move of inviting Chicagoans to roundtable discussions where they can give their two cents on what they feel is most vital to the city’s budget.

“Gen Z college students are clueless about the workforce”

Joanne Jacobs:

“Students’ expectations are even more off-base when it comes to mid-career earnings,” she writes. “The average mid-career salary is $98,647, but zoomers anticipate making $204,560 a decade after graduation.”

Young people don’t lack self-esteem: 70 percent say they’re harder working than classmates, and 64 percent think they’re smarter. 

They also see a degree — but not experience — as critical to getting a good job, writes Dunaway-Seale. 

Seventy-two percent think majoring in a high-demand field will guarantee them a job immediately after graduation; 61 percent think the degree alone will impress employers, so there’s no need to build a resume.

What Humanities Scholars Want Students To Know About the Internet: Alternative Paths for Alternative Endpoints


After we got the go-ahead to start developing PCAS (see an update on PCAS here), I had meetings with a wide range of liberal arts and sciences faculty. I’d ask faculty how they used computing in their work and what they wanted their students to know about computing. Some faculty had suggested that I talk to history professor, LaKisha Michelle Simmons. I met with her in January 2023, and she changed how I thought about what we were doing in PCAS.

I told her that I’d heard that she built websites to explain history research to the general public, and she stopped me. “No, no —- my students build websites. I don’t built websites.” I asked her what she would like her students to know about the Internet. “I could teach them about how the Internet works with packets and IP addresses. I could explain about servers and domain names.”

She said no. She was less interested in how the Internet worked. She had three specific things she wanted me to teach students

“The result is the incompetocracy”

John Carter:

At some point over the last generation, the ruling class shifted its emphasis from competence to ideological loyalty. Some degree of indoctrination was always a factor, of course, but until recently the idea was to take the smartest recruits you could find, and then make them loyal. That was the purpose of the Rhodes scholarships, for instance. It was widely understood that while you needed your leadership cadre to be team players, it was absolutely crucial that they also be good at what they do. In practice, that meant sacrificing a certain degree of unity of purpose, because smart, ruthless people also tend to be independent-minded and outspoken. Still, whatever amount of friction that was caused by the ruling class sometimes operating at cross-purposes with itself was more than compensated for by the competitive advantages of a truly meritorious elite.

It doesn’t work that way anymore. Now, entrance into the top schools depends far less on grades, which is to say far less on ability, and more far on ideological purity. The ruling class has prioritized loyalty above all else.

a ruling class exhibiting near perfect unity of rigidly disciplined ideological purpose, able to move in synch with one another like a school of hungry piranhas, but composed of unimpressive cretins who are individually incapable of doing whatever task is assigned to them.

“In effect, the study shows, these policies amounted to affirmative action for the children of the 1 percent, whose parents earn more than $611,000 a year.”

Aatish Bhatia, Claire Cain Miller and Josh Katz:

Elite colleges have long been filled with the children of the richest families: At Ivy League schools, one in six students has parents in the top 1 percent.

A large new study, released Monday, shows that it has not been because these children had more impressive grades on average or took harder classes. They tended to have higher SAT scores and finely honed résumés, and applied at a higher rate — but they were overrepresented even after accounting for those things. For applicants with the same SAT or ACT score, children from families in the top 1 percent were 34 percent more likely to be admitted than the average applicant, and those from the top 0.1 percent were more than twice as likely to get in.

The study — by Opportunity Insights, a group of economists based at Harvard who study inequality — quantifies for the first time the extent to which being very rich is its own qualification in selective college admissions.

The analysis is based on federal records of college attendance and parental income taxes for nearly all college students from 1999 to 2015, and standardized test scores from 2001 to 2015. It focuses on the eight Ivy League universities, as well as Stanford, Duke, M.I.T. and the University of Chicago. It adds an extraordinary new data set: the detailed, anonymized internal admissions assessments of at least three of the 12 colleges, covering half a million applicants. (The researchers did not name the colleges that shared data or specify how many did because they promised them anonymity.)

The new data shows that among students with the same test scores, the colleges gave preference to the children of alumni and to recruited athletes, and gave children from private schools higher nonacademic ratings. The result is the clearest picture yet of how America’s elite colleges perpetuate the intergenerational transfer of wealth and opportunity.

“Unfortunately, federal agencies have not had access to the necessary data to intervene’

Suzanne Smalley:

A bill requiring social media companies, encrypted communications providers and other online services to report drug activity on their platforms to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) advanced to the Senate floor Thursday, alarming privacy advocates who say the legislation turns the companies into de facto drug enforcement agents and exposes many of them to liability for providing end-to-end encryption.

The bipartisan Cooper Davis Act — named for a Kansas teenager who died after unknowingly taking a fentanyl-laced pill he bought on Snapchat — requires social media companies and other web communication providers to give the DEA users’ names and other information when the companies have “actual knowledge” that illicit drugs are being distributed on their platforms.

Many privacy advocates caution that, if passed in its current form, the bill could be a death blow to end-to-end encryption services because it includes particularly controversial language holding companies accountable for conduct they don’t report if they “deliberately blind” themselves to the violations.

Officials from the DEA have spent several months honing the bill with key senators, Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Thursday.

Providers of encrypted services would face a difficult choice should the bill pass, said Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel & Director of Security and Surveillance Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Privacy advocates counter that determining what constitutes child sexual abuse imagery on platforms is much easier than patrolling speech, particularly in various languages and with street slang, to sniff out drug sales.

I thought I wanted to be a professor. Then, I served on a hiring committee

Paul Abel

I was busy conducting experiments, writing papers, and trying to finish my dissertation. But when I was asked to serve on a faculty job search committee, I felt I couldn’t say no. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn how I might eventually secure a faculty position of my own. However, as I read through reams of impressive applications, reality struck: It would take a lot of time and many sacrifices to build a CV that would be competitive in a faculty job search—and I could still end up empty-handed. For the first time, I began to question the academic career path I was on.

Until then, I hadn’t had any reason to doubt it. I was passionate about science, research, and teaching. I already had a respectable handful of publications, awards, and grants. I certainly knew I couldn’t immediately jump to a faculty position—I’d need to do a postdoc or two first—but I was confident I was on the right path to securing one.

Non-native English speaking scientists work much harder just to keep up, global research reveals

Tatsuya Amano:

These days it’s necessary to have at least a basic level of English proficiency in most research contexts. But at the same time, our collective emphasis on English places a significant burden on scientists who speak a different first language.

In research published today in PLOS Biology, my colleagues and I reveal the enormity of the language barrier faced by scientists who are non-native English speakers.

English has become essential in academic life

Scientists need to know English to extract knowledge from others’ work, publish their findings, attend international conferences, and collaborate with their peers from around the world. 

There’s no doubt this poses a significant challenge for non-native English speakers, who make up more than 90% of the global population

Yet there is a shocking lack of insight into how much extra effort non-native English speakers must invest in order to survive and thrive in their fields. 

Making these hurdles visible is the first step towards achieving fair participation for scientists whose first language isn’t English.

‘Trans-inclusive’ language is dehumanising women.

Julie Burchill

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust was set up by James Maxwell to commemorate his wife, who died from cervical cancer at the age of 40 in 1999. It is the only UK charity that deals solely with this killer disease. How sad that such a bequest has been polluted by the politics of gender woo-woo. The word ‘bonus hole’ sounds more like something out of a gonzo-porn flick than the kind of thing you’d hear from an organisation offering succour to scared women. Lord forbid that the majority of women living in the real world should ever be given more respect than the tiny minority of body dysmorphics who might be ‘hurt or distressed’ by that nasty v-word.

‘How are we doing with teacher rustiness and rigor? Not good.’

Wall Street Journal:

Schools were given $190 billion in federal money for Covid safety measures and to help students catch up, and many have poured funds into tutoring or other programs. Then why are test scores still lagging? A new report suggests that pandemic learning loss is being exacerbated by teaching loss.

A California professor sues over new DEIA performance reviews.

Wall Street Journal

Crit­ics of Flor­ida Gov. Ron De­San­tis ar­gue he has gone too far in try­ing to root out “wok­e­ness” from pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties, but look to Cal­i­for­nia to see where aca­d­e­mic group­think is go­ing if left unchecked. A le­gal com­plaint filed this month by a his­tory pro­fes­sor in Ba­kersfield says that his com­mu­nity col­lege’s per­for­mance and ten­ure re­views are be­ing used to force fac­ulty to adopt woke pro­gres­sive val­ues in their class­rooms.

Day­mon John­son has been at Ba­kersfield Col­lege since 1993. As he tells it, three months ago Cal­i­for­nia Com­mu­nity Col­leges, which serves 1.8 mil­lion stu­dents at 116 cam­puses, amended its reg­u­la­tions so em­ploy­ees must es­pouse its tenets of di­ver­sity, eq­uity, in­clu­sion and ac­ces­si­bil­ity (DEIA). “Fac­ulty mem­bers shall em­ploy teach­ing, learn­ing, and pro­fes­sional prac­tices that re­flect DEIA and anti-racist prin­ci­ples,” the reg­u­la­tions say. Schools must “place sig­nif­i­cant em­pha­sis on DEIA com­pe­ten­cies in em­ployee eval­u­a­tion and ten­ure re­view.”

Notes on taxpayer funded censorship and free speech

Jeffrey Tucker:

It became so awful that RFK was compelled to give a short tutorial on the importance of free speech as an essential right, without which all other rights and freedoms are in jeopardy. Even those words he could barely speak given the rancor in the room.

It’s fair to say that free speech, even as a core principle, is in grave trouble. We cannot even get a consensus on the basics.

It seemed to viewers that RFK was the adult in the room. Put other ways, he was the preacher of fidelity in the brothel, the keeper of memory in a room full of amnesiacs, the practitioner of sanity in the sanatorium, or, as H.L. Mencken might have said, the hurler of a dead cat into the temple.

It was oddly strange to hear the voice of wise statesmen in that hothouse culture of infantile corruption: It reminded the public just how far things have fallen. Notably, it was he and not the people who wanted him gagged who was citing scientific papers.

The protests against his statements were shrill and shocking. They moved quickly from “Censorship didn’t happen” to “It was necessary and wonderful” to “We need more of it.”

Reporting on the spectacle, The New York Timessaid these are “thorny questions”: “Is misinformation protected by the First Amendment? When is it appropriate for the federal government to seek to tamp down the spread of falsehoods?”

These are not thorny questions. The real issue concerns who is to be the arbiter of truth?

Attacks on Free Speech Aren’t New

Such attacks on free speech do have precedent in American history. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 led to a complete political upheaval that swept Thomas Jefferson into the White House. There were two additional bouts of censorship folly in the 20th century. Both followed great wars and an explosion in government size and reach.

The first came with the Red Scare (1917-1920) following the Great War (WWI). The Bolshevik Revolution and political instability in Europe led to a wild bout of political paranoia in the U.S. that the communists, anarchists and labor movement were plotting a takeover of the U.S. government. The result was an imposition of censorship along with strict laws concerning political loyalty.

“AI” vs human Tutoring

Frederick Hess:

In education policy circles, there’s a lot of enthusiasmregarding the promise of AI-enabled tutoring. After all, a huge stumbling block for tutoring has been the limited number of affordable, reliable, and skilled tutors. That’s why ubiquitous AI could be such a game-changer.

But there’s reason to fear that the excitement of AI-enabled tutoring will distract us from some of the other, less fantastical possibilities offered by web-enabled mentoring. Look, I want to be clear. I am, and have long been, a believer in the promise of computer-assisted tutoring—especially when an AI tutor knows a student’s vocabulary or can inhabit fictional characters.

“What’s remarkable about the document is that it had to be written at all”

Matthew Contenitti:

Conservatives have placed freedom at the heart of their political program since the 1930s. They have resisted the encroaching control of centralized bureaucracies by appealing to the dignity of human life, the limited government of the Constitution, and the space that market economics provides for individual choice and competition.

This consensus held despite criticism from libertarians and traditionalists. It held because the principles and institutions of the American Founding anchored conservatives in a national history and culture that, among other things, have long been individualistic and suspicious of authority. It held because conservatives of all stripes perceived a common danger in unconstrained government and, perhaps most important, in the Soviet Union and global communism.

The consensus unraveled in the 1990s. Victory defeated American conservatism. The collapse of the Soviet Empire, disintegration of the Soviet Union, and China’s turn toward state capitalism removed, or obscured, the communist threat. Congress lowered marginal tax rates and exempted more Americans from income taxes. Lawmakers imposed time limits and work requirements on welfare, and caseloads fell. Cities adopted broken-windows policing and removed violent criminals from the streets, and crime declined. For a moment in 2001, and again from 2003 to 2007, Republicans enjoyed full control of the federal government for the first time in 50 years.

What Happened When Oregon Decriminalized Hard Drugs

Jim Hinch:

Three years ago, while the nation’s attention was on the 2020 presidential election, voters in Oregon took a dramatic step back from America’s long-running War on Drugs. By a 17-point margin, Oregonians approved Ballot Measure 110, which eliminated criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of any drug, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. When the policy went into effect early the next year, it lifted the fear of prosecution for the state’s drug users and launched Oregon on an experiment to determine whether a long-sought goal of the drug-policy reform movement—decriminalization—could help solve America’s drug problems.

Early results of this reform effort, the first of its kind in any state, are now coming into view, and so far, they are not encouraging. State leaders have acknowledged faults with the policy’s implementation and enforcement measures. And Oregon’s drug problems have not improved. Last year, the state experienced one of the sharpest rises in overdose deaths in the nation and had one of the highest percentages of adults with a substance-use disorder. During one two-week period last month, three children under the age of 4 overdosed in Portland after ingesting fentanyl.

For decades, drug policy in America centered on using law enforcement to target people who sold, possessed, or used drugs—an approach long supported by both Democratic and Republican politicians. Only in recent years, amid an epidemic of opioid overdoses and a national reconsideration of racial inequities in the criminal-justice system, has the drug-policy status quo begun to break down, as a coalition of health workers, criminal-justice-reform advocates, and drug-user activists have lobbied for a more compassionate and nuanced response. The new approach emphasizes reducing overdoses, stopping the spread of infectious disease, and providing drug users with the resources they need—counseling, housing, transportation—to stabilize their lives and gain control over their drug use.

Florida’s general-education standards in public universities don’t justify the attacks from critics.

Henry Mack:

In May, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a series of higher-education bills, among them Senate Bill 266. As Florida’s system chancellor over public colleges, I helped design the provisions of that bill, which amended general-education requirements for students at all Florida colleges and universities. General education had become larded with “diversity” education; SB 266 stipulates that it should aim instead at universal knowledge and an understanding of our democracy. In short, the law clarified the legislative and executive expectation for what every undergraduate student attending our public colleges and universities should know, or at least be exposed to, in general-education coursework.

Naturally, the reform drew criticism from across the political spectrum. Journalists and academics argued that it would drive talent away from Florida and compromise the state’s competitiveness. Faculty claimed that the legislation infringes on academic freedom, viewpoint diversity, and shared governance. The American Association of University Professors has been particularly vocal about its displeasure with the direction of Florida’s higher-education aims. Still others speculated that the change would result in the loss of accreditation statusfor the Sunshine State’s universities, or in hostile environments for minority and low-income students.

None of this is true. Since the bill’s passage, Florida education leaders have in fact been flooded with inquiries from teachers wanting to move to the state. These interested instructors also believe that public colleges and universities should ground their general education coursework in the history of Western Civilization and the Great Books tradition—aims that SB 266 now makes explicit. This approach is not new, nor should it be controversial.

The Struggle for Legal Equality Isn’t Over Yet

Dan Lennington

The battle lines are drawn. After the United States Supreme Court declared affirmative action in college admissions illegal last month, politicians and university presidents vowed to make the decision a dead letter. Taking them at their word, “diversity” — that is, favoring applicants based on race — will be preserved by any means necessary.

President Biden pledged that his administration would find a “new path” that “protects diversity.” Harvard’s president Lawrence Bacow promisedto marshal the “talent and expertise of our Harvard community” to figure out a way to “preserve” an admission system that results in racial diversity. And the Association of American Universities declared that America’s top 71 research institutions will continue to pursue “diversity throughout the academic enterprise.”

In other words, our universities have ironically recalled George Wallace, essentially declaring, “Racialism now, racialism tomorrow, racialism forever.” But to succeed, they must find a way to subvert the law. Absent direct defiance (and schools may try to hide a fair amount of that), the answer is finding a racial proxy — something that isn’t race but approximates the same result.

All about the Benjamins: Researchers decipher the secrets of Benjamin Franklin’s paper money

Brett Beasley:

“Benjamin Franklin saw that the Colonies’ financial independence was necessary for their political independence. Most of the silver and gold coins brought to the British American colonies were rapidly drained away to pay for manufactured goods imported from abroad, leaving the Colonies without sufficient monetary supply to expand their economy,” Manukyan said.

However, one major problem stood in the way of efforts to print paper money: counterfeiting. When Franklin opened his printing house in 1728, paper money was a relatively new concept. Unlike gold and silver, paper money’s lack of intrinsic value meant it was constantly at risk of depreciating. There were no standardized bills in the Colonial period, leaving an opportunity for counterfeiters to pass off fake bills as real ones. In response, Franklin worked to embed a suite of security features that made his bills distinctive.

Language history and we: the case of “like”

Anatoly Liberman:

In 1894, the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen brought out a book titled Progress in Language. Whether anything in language can legitimately be labeled as progress is a moot point, but no one doubts that language indeed has history. The larger the speaking community and the more mobile the population, the faster the change. Problems arise when we go beyond such trivialities. Language does not remain stable even in our lifetime, and different people react differently to this phenomenon. Assuming that we notice the changes, do we accept, or do we resist them? I will skip phonetic problems, because it is the vocabulary and usage that deserve our attention here. 

This post owes its existence to Valerie Fridland’s book Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English (Viking, 2023). The book deals with some processes in Modern (American) English, and the author is very much on the side of “progress in language.” If I am not mistaken, her main point is that as long as some widespread phenomenon can be explained, it should be accepted. This approach does not convince me. For instance, I have read numerous interviews with celebrities in sports and music, and almost every noun in them is accompanied by a single epithet, namely, f—ing. I can easily explain why people speak so: the word is nowadays on everybody’s lips from the age of three, and many Americans don’t know any other equally expressive qualifying word. This argument does not make me look “for the good in [their] bad English.” 

Some chapters in the book are less exciting than others: among them, the triumph of the word dude. Dude is a respectable relative of the aforementioned epithet: instead of using many nouns, people have limited their vocabulary to a single one: this is practical and convenient, because with overchoice comes much sorrow: the more knowledge, the more grief.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Pension funds

Taxpayer funded Censorship: RFK edition

Andrew Lowenthal and Matt Taibbi:

Yesterday witnessed another bizarre display of cartoon authoritarianism on the part of the Democratic Party, as members beat up one of their own presidential candidates, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, in a hearing of the House Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Related: RFK Jr. is — by far — the most approved-of political figure in the United States right now.

“The NextGen Bar Exam represents the complete abandonment of competence as a standard.”

Josh Blackman:

Last week, I wrote about the apparent efforts to make the NextGen Bar Exam far simpler that the current exam. I received an email from a person who worked as a state board of law examiners. With permission, I reproduce the email, stripping any reference to the person’s state.

I was an Assistant to the *** Board of Law Examiners when the *** Supreme Court decided to adopt the UBE [Uniform Bar Exam]. The sales pitch for the UBE from the NCBE, as presented to the group of assistant bar examiners I was among, was threefold.  First, it won’t be any worse that the current bar exam.  Second, it will be better for the applicants because they will have more flexibility in deciding to which state they should move.  Third, everybody else is doing it.  None of those explanations supports such a dramatic change in public policy as the adoption of the UBE and the abandonment of a state-specific essay test.  For my part, I asked two questions:  If the UBE is not an affirmative improvement over the status quo, why should we change?  Why should the *** Supreme Court elevate the applicants’ interests in residential flexibility over ensuring that ***’s new lawyers have demonstrated some level of competence in *** law?  I did not receive satisfactory answers to either question.  The Board and the other assistants seemed inclined to blindly defer to the so-called expertise of the NCBE and generally unwilling to consider the consequences of the policy change.

A group of prominent scientists spread misinformation about COVID’s origins. Mainstream journalists missed the story.

Nate Silver:

But I’m going to make an exception here, because we have a scandal where the facts are relatively simple and clear — but which was nevertheless extremely consequential.

Here’s the scandal. In March 2020, a group of scientists — in particular1, Kristian G. Andersen the of The Scripps Research Institute, Andrew Rambaut of The University of Edinburgh, Edward C. Holmes of the University of Sydney, and Robert F. Garry of Tulane University — published a paper in Nature Medicine that seemingly contradicted their true beliefs about COVID’s origins and which they knew to be misleading. The paper, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2”, has been cited more than 5,900 times and was enormously influential in shaping the debate about the origins of COVID-19.

We know this because of a series of leaked and FOIAed emails and Slack messages that have been reported on by PublicRacket News, The Intercept and The Nation along with other small, independent media outlets. You can find a detailed summary of the claims and a copy of the emails and messages here at Public. There’s also good context around the messages here (very detailed) or here and here (more high-level). 

The messages show that the authors were highly uncertain about COVID’s origins — and if anything, they leaned more toward a lab leak than a spillover from an animal source. But none of that was expressed in the “Proximal Origin” paper, which instead said that “we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”. Granted, there is a little bit of ass-covering — “More scientific data could swing the balance of evidence to favor one hypothesis over another,” they also wrote in the paper. But the message — natural origin good, lab leak bad — was received clearly enough by mainstream news outlets. “No, the new coronavirus wasn’t created in a lab, scientists say”, reported the CBC in covering the paper. “COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has a natural origin” was the headline at Science Daily.

In the Slack and email messages, the authors worked to manipulate the media narrative about COVID-19’s origins and to ensure that their private uncertainty wasn’t conveyed in conversations with reporters. They also thought they were going to get away with it. “The truth is never going to come out ”, wrote Rambaut in one message. This went beyond mere motivated reasoning. There was an enormous gap between what the authors believed privately and what they stated publicly, including in the “Proximal Origin” paper — again, see the above links for more detail.

Latin School of Chicago Litigation

Alisa Rosenbaum:

The old idiom, “if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck,” directly applies to the Latin School of Chicago for what increasingly appears to be a hostile, bullying environment for both students and parents alike.

Both Chicago Contrarian and many other media outlets have covered the story of the $100 million lawsuit filed against the Latin School by Rosellene and Robert Bronstein for its role in the suicide of 15-year-old Nate Bronstein, a former student there.

Recently, Latin stands accused of failing to deliver school records (as highlighted in a recent Chicago Tribune article) to the parents of Nate, who took his own life in early 2022 due to repeated bullying and cyberbullying at the hands of students at school-sanctioned events. Nevertheless, Latin’s latest blunder shows how far this school has fallen in its treatment of students.

In the latest Latin offense, a pair of graduating twins were allowed to walk but not receive their diplomas nor transcripts for college matriculation due to a dispute between the school and the twins’ mother, Katie O’Dea.

Ms. O’Dea had left her role as the school’s director of communications after 16 years in November 2022 (according to her LinkedIn profile), holding a valid enrollment contract for her children to finish the academic year after paying the agreed upon discounted sum. Yet her children were still denied their diplomas and transcripts.

O’Dea filed a lawsuit on June 27 along with her husband, Daniel McKee, and their children, Molly and Hugh McKee.

The Rise and Fall of the Chief Diversity Officer: Diversity executives hit the exits as company priorities shift; ‘everything is a battle’

Te-Ping Chen and Lauren Weber:

New analysis from employment data provider Live Data Technologies shows that chief diversity officers have been more vulnerable to layoffs than their human resources counterparts, experiencing 40% higher turnover. Their job searches are also taking longer. 

“I got to 300 applications and then I stopped tracking,” says Stephanie Lubin, who was laid off from her role as diversity head at Drizly, an online alcohol marketplace, in May following the company’s acquisition by Uber. In one case, Lubin says she went through 16 rounds of interviews for a role she didn’t get, and says she is now planning to pivot out of DEI work.

The number of CDO searches is down 75% in the past year, says Jason Hanold, chief executive of Hanold Associates Executive Search, which works with Fortune 100 companies to recruit HR and DEI executives, among other roles. Demand is the lowest he has seen in his 30 years of recruiting.

At the same time, he says, more executives are feeling skittish about taking on diversity roles.

China notes, July ’23: on technological momentum

Dan Wang:

I think the reason they haven’t given everyone access to AI chatbots is straightforward: regulators in Beijing would rather not let them run in the wild. Chinese tech companies may be hobbled by lack of access to the most advanced chips; and they’re probably hurt by the lack of training data, since most of the trainable texts are in English rather than Chinese. But Chinese companies rarely hesitate to release substandard products into the market in order to claim early-mover advantages, so a greater force must be holding them back.

CIA Spy Games for Kids

Taxpayer funded Central Intelligence Agency:

Test your cryptography skills by cracking the code of Kryptos, a sculpture at CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Be warned though, many have tried and few have succeeded. To date, only three of the four messages have been revealed. Can you solve the last one? Download the code here to test your skills.

Wesleyan University Ends Legacy Preferences in Admissions

Jennifer Calfas:

The Mid­dle­town, Conn., in­sti­tu­tion joins sev­eral other uni­ver­si­ties for­go­ing the decades-old prac­tice of giv­ing the chil­dren of alumni pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in the ad­mis­sions process, which dis­pro­por­tion­ately ben­e­fits stu­dents who are wealthy and white. The Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion strik­ing down the use of af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion in col­lege de­ci­sions in June elim­i­nated a tool many uni­ver­si­ties used to di­ver­sify their cam­puses, thrust­ing legacy pref­er­ence into the spot­light.

Wes­leyan Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Michael S. Roth said in a state­ment Wednes­day that legacy sta­tus “has played a neg­li­gi­ble role in our ad­mis­sions process for many years.” But the lib­eral-arts col­lege, which had a 15.7% ac­cep­tance rate for the class of 2027, found it nec­es­sary to for­mally end the prac­tice fol­low­ing the high court’s de­ci­sion, he said.