All posts by Jim Zellmer

Two new books examine the ordinary roots of our extraordinary regime of high-tech monitoring.

Sophia Goodriend:

The Listeners tells the history of wiretapping in the United States through ordinary biographies. “Wherever possible, this book is centered on people,” Hochman writes in the introduction. “In part, this is to counteract the long-standing tendency in surveillance studies to grant extraordinary agency to agencies”—the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Instead he looks to the lives of regular criminals, businessmen, spies, and innovators. His story begins with D. C. Williams, an infamous Californian convict. Williams was thrown in jail for intercepting corporate communication, selling the information to stock traders, and amassing millions via illicit espionage. Williams may sound like the cybercriminals of today, who regularly hack into corporate servers and defraud financial markets, but he was actually the first person to be convicted of intercepting electronic messages in America: “The year—and here’s the twist to the story—was 1864.”

The Listeners resurrects figures like Williams in order to underscore that “surveillance is, and always has been a constitutive element of our communications ecosystem.” Wiretappers arrived on the scene around the Civil War, with soldiers tapping into electric cables as soon as they began transmitting wartime communication. Electronic listening spread from military campaigns to criminal pursuits and then to the arsenal of local law enforcement. In 1895, around the time municipal telephone companies established networks in New York City, mob bosses and police forces rented out vacant offices to set up eavesdropping nests. They paid a host of freelance listeners to sit hunched over telephone receivers, listening in on private phone calls across the city. Many received special technical training in signal intelligence during their time in the army and were eager to cash in on their skills.

Notes on Wisconsin Choice schools and exam outcomes

School Choice Wisconsin:

On Thursday, September 29, 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the state test scores via the Wisconsin Student Assessment System.

As in prior years, students in Wisconsin’s school choice programs outperformed traditional public school students on the college-readiness ACT exam.

“This continuing pattern is quite noteworthy,” said Nic Kelly, School Choice Wisconsin President. He added: “The fact that choice students from low-income and working-class families score higher on average than public school students is consistent with other data and research. Despite taxpayer funding at 60% of public school levels, choice students are ahead of the pack.”

While students are required by state law to take the ACT (and other) exams, more than a quarter of Milwaukee Public Schools students did not do so. By comparison, 90% of choice students took the exam*.

“Private schools in the Choice programs navigated many obstacles to get their kids to take the required tests,” Kelly said.

The dangers of a headline figure

Quentin Stafford-Fraser:

The problem is that the media are so keen to feed people a single, simple number, that for weeks we’ve been hearing about what’s happening to the energy costs for the average household and referring to that as a capped number, when in fact, of course, it’s the price per kWh that’s been capped. (More info here.) If, say, you use twice as much as the average household, your bill could be £5000. Some not-very-smart people even think they can use as much as they like, because, hey, it’s been capped now, and they’re going to get a nasty surprise! And similarly, of course, if you use half as much, you can worry a bit less about that headline figure.

This desire to reduce things to one number causes problems in many situations. Remember when the only way most people had to assess the PC they wanted to buy was based on its CPU’s GHz? (Or MHz for those with longer memories?)

Now, the headline figure for every electric car is the number of miles it can do on a charge, when lots of other factors will affect how easy it is to use in reality, like how fast it charges, or its drag coefficient (which affects how its energy use varies with speed). For many people, long journeys are relatively rare, and the important question when embarking on one will actually be something like, “How fast will this be able to recharge at the type of chargers available about 150-200 miles from my house?” And even that question is much less important if the chargers happen to have a nice cafe or restaurant next to them!

Just type a description and the AI generates matching footage

James Vincent:

A team of machine learning engineers from Facebook’s parent company Meta has unveiled a new system called Make-A-Video. As the name suggests, this AI model allows users to type in a rough description of a scene, and it will generate a short video matching their text. The videos are clearly artificial, with blurred subjects and distorted animation, but still represent a significant development in the field of AI content generation.

“indoctrinated with the idea that academic standards and rigor needed to be swept away to achieve equity on campus”

Zachary Marschall:

Roughly a third of college students are “indeed ‘quiet quitting’ in order to preserve their mental health this fall semester,” Intelligent discovered in its survey of 1,000 participants earlier last month.

“Quiet quitting” is the national trend of over half of the American labor force putting the bare minimum into their jobs because they no longer feel engaged or motivated to grow within the company, according to Gallup.

This trend is the passive – and cowardly – alternative to actively submitting a resignation or bringing up work-related grievances with a supervisor or HR. To borrow from Lionel Trilling, there is a moral obligation to work hard and strive for betterment in all areas of life. Virtue demands it.

Civics: Hong Kong authorities reject Jimmy Lai request for UK lawyer

China News Asia:

Hong Kong’s government has refused permission for jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai to be represented by a British lawyer at his upcoming national security trial, a court heard Friday (Sep 30).

Lai and a group of executives from the now-shuttered Apple Daily newspaper are being prosecuted for “colluding with foreign forces”, an offence under a new security law China imposed on Hong Kong to stamp out dissent.

‘There’s only so far I can take them’ – why teachers give up on struggling students who don’t do their homework

Jessica Calarco and Ilana Horn:

We were curious about how teachers reward students who complete their homework and penalize and criticize those who don’t – and whether there was any link between those things and family income.

By analyzing student report cards and interviewing teachers, students and parents, we found that teachers gave good grades for homework effort and other rewards to students from middle-class families like Gina, who happen to have college-educated parents who take an active role in helping their children complete their homework.

But when it comes to students such as “Jesse,” who attends the same school as Gina and is the child of a poor, single mother of two, we found that teachers had a more bleak outlook.

The names “Jesse” and “Gina” are pseudonyms to protect the children’s identities. Jesse can’t count on his mom to help with his homework because she struggled in school herself.

“I had many difficulties in school,” Jesse’s mom told us for the same study. “I had behavior issues, attention-deficit. And so after seventh grade, they sent me to an alternative high school, which I thought was the worst thing in the world. We literally did, like, first and second grade work. So my education was horrible.”

Jesse’s mother admitted she still can’t figure out division to this day.

K-12 Marketing: PBS Edition

I always find it interesting to observe what is being pushed, and perhaps why. PBS.

“with little consideration for the staff or other customers, she said”

Daniela Jaime:

Torres said she’s had to tell students repeatedly not to smoke or vape indoors and be courteous towards patrons, but the response has been so negative that on one occasion, she said, a student threw food at her after being kicked out. Torres no longer allows students to dine in, posting signs at the door, but does provide them to-go orders.

“I have regulars who come from work. I get embarrassed by (students’) behavior, so I don’t sit them anymore,” she said.

But those problems pale in comparison to the series of break-ins at the current site that began in September of last year.

“I just thank God we didn’t have any huge scares,” Torres said, “especially since the waitress is my daughter. The material stuff, well, that comes and goes, but my daughter, she doesn’t.”

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Related: The Milwaukee County Pension Scandal that lead to Scott Walker’s election to county Executive and later the Governor’s office.

$pending on the 2022 Wisconsin Governor election: Evers and Michels; education climate

Molly Beck and Daniel Bice:

Evers entered the final two months of the race with about $5 million more in cash than Michels.

The first-term governor received $20,000 donations from 10 individuals, including Andrea Soros, daughter of liberal billionaire George Soros. Others who maxed out were Abigail Dow, an instructional coach in New York City; Joseph Kaempfer, a real estate agent in Virginia; Stephen Clearman of Valatie, New York; Eileen Stauss, a Washington attorney; and Los Angeles billionaire Lynda Resnick.

Among Michels’ supporters who gave the maximum amount were Louis Gentine, the retired CEO of Sargento Foods Inc.; Michele Gentine, Louis Gentine’s wife; Dan Ariens, CEO of the Ariens Co.; David Charles, president Cash Depot; John Dykema, president of Campbell Wrapper Corp. in De Pere; and Madison developer Terrance Wall.

Check out this article from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Group reports $55 million in TV ad buys in Wisconsin governor’s race, making it most expensive in the country.

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

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”

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Related: The Milwaukee County Pension Scandal that lead to Scott Walker’s election to county Executive and later the Governor’s office.

“It’s hard to imagine a better demonstration of the double-standard in content moderation”

Matt Taibbi:

A brief note to subscribers about YouTube’s decision to demonetize TK material, saying Matt Orfalea’s factual video “isn’t suitable for all advertisers”

Today we’re releasing a video Matt Orfalea has been working on, showing years of audio and video clips, tweets, and headlines in which Democratic Party politicians and media figures describe Donald Trump’s presidency as illegitimate. Before it was even published on this site, Matt received the above notice.

I’d like to thank YouTube for making our point. The material in this video does not promote the idea that any election was stolen or illegitimate. On the contrary, it shows a great mass of comments from Democratic partisans and pundits who themselves make that claim, about the 2016 election. Those comments were not censored or suppressed when made the first time around, by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Karine Jean-Pierre, Adam Schiff, Rob Reiner, Tom Arnold, and Chris Hayes, among many others. 

Nor did any platform step in to issue warnings when my former boss, Keith Olbermann, promised with regard to Trump’s ascension to the White House, “It will not be a peaceful transfer of power.”

How many more women?

Sydney Writers Festival

In How Many More Women? Jennifer Robinson and Keina Yoshida examine the laws around the world that silence women, and explore the changes we need to make to ensure that women’s freedoms are no longer threatened by the legal system that is supposed to protect them.

Join Jennifer Robinson live in-conversation with Jane Caro for a powerful and accessible exploration of our legal systems as she breaks open the big judgments, developments and trends that have and continue to silence and disadvantage women.

This event is presented by Sydney Writers’ Festival, the UNSW Centre for Ideas, UNSW Law & Justice, and is supported by Allen & Unwin.

Chicago Neighborhood high schools losing students

Sarah Karp:

One of the justifications given for phasing out the West Side’s Crane High School is that most students in the attendance boundary are “voting with their feet” to go elsewhere. Only 17 percent of the students living in the neighborhood this year attend Crane, notes Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat.

But Crane’s situation is far from unique. In just the last five years, the percentage of students attending their neighborhood high school fell by 10 percent, from nearly half in 2006-2007 to about 37 percent in 2010-2011, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of CPS data.  

Five years ago, no high school enrolled fewer than 20 percent of the students in its attendance area.  Last year, nine schools did, and Hirsch and Tilden enrolled just 13 percent of students in their neighborhood.

Dyett High School in Washington Park, also slated for phase-out and eventually closure, enrolls 19 percent of its area’s students.

The flight from neighborhood schools is not just happenstance: It is the result of the district’s orchestrated policy to give students more choices. Those choices include magnet and selective enrollment high schools, which have been a mainstay for years. But over the past decade, the number of options grew significantly, with charter, military and contract high schools opening up. They now serve 26,000 students, five times the population these new schools enrolled in 2000.

The Next Century of Computing
80 Brief Predictions for the Future

Charles Rosenbauer:

It will become practical for ordinary people to write operating systems from scratch again.

  1. Silicon compilers will become common place. In response, innovative fabs will scale up wafer-sharing services. It will soon be possible to design a custom CPU or ASIC, upload the files to TSMC’s website, pay $500 and have a batch of 10 chips delivered to your door a couple months later. Hardware engineering will become almost as commonplace as software engineering.
  2. In the short term, the inevitable Javascript chip design frameworkswill create massive security problems, baked into unchangeable silicon. Software engineers are not prepared for hardware engineering. The low costs and low volumes around shared wafer prototyping will mitigate problems somewhat, but eventually the powerful formal methods tooling that has already been used by hardware engineers for decades will be forced into the hands of a much wider audience.
  3. The computing industry will get over its irrational fear of Turing. Undecidability is deeply misunderstood; undecideable problems must be solved, and are regularly solved by any useful static analysis tool. Undecidable problems are not incomputable (that’s a separate computability class), but rather are the computational equivalent of irrational numbers; impossible to compute exactly, but rather easy to approximate. A golden age of code analysis and formal methods will follow once this misplaced fear is gone.

Ivy League Commentary

Evan Mandery:

To some extent, elite colleges are simply collateral damage in the culture war. Indeed, the thrust of Vance’s speech is about the need to break through the indoctrination of the liberal intelligentsia — via what he calls “red pilling,” a reference to The Matrix — where the “fundamental corruption” at the root of the system, as Vance put it, can’t be unseen once seen. “So much of what drives truth and knowledge, as we understand it in this country,” Vance said, “is fundamentally determined by, supported by and reinforced by the universities in this country.”

But that’s not the whole story. Another line of attack is about access. It’s about who gets to be part of the elite, and whether America has gotten a fair return on the massive investment that it has made in elite colleges. For, difficult as this might be for liberals to hear, almost everything Trump said to the crowd Bobby Knight had warmed up was true.

But that’s not the whole story. Another line of attack is about access. It’s about who gets to be part of the elite, and whether America has gotten a fair return on the massive investment that it has made in elite colleges. For, difficult as this might be for liberals to hear, almost everything Trump said to the crowd Bobby Knight had warmed up was true.

Sound like Trump?

Simon’s guest was Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling journalist, podcaster and public intellectual.

For generations, elite colleges have been given a pass in accounting for what they’ve done in exchange for the massive benefits that they have received. The bill has come due. Soon, elite colleges are going to have to answer two simple questions.

Why are they exempt from taxes?

1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

Notes on Wisconsin’s latest K-12 annual exam results

Olivia Herken:

Middleton-Cross Plains and Wisconsin Heights were among the highest-scoring districts in the county. The lowest scores in the county came from One City Schools, a Madison charter school that opened its elementary school in the fall of 2018.

‘Way behind’

Only 7.7% of One City’s third-graders and 5.9% of fourth-graders scored proficient or higher in English and language arts, and 7.7% of third-graders scored that high in math. In science and social studies, which is given to fourth-graders, 11.8% scored proficient or higher.

Kaleem Caire, founder and CEO of One City, said the low test scores are partly because 68% of the school’s students were new last year, with almost all of them testing two grades behind. The school was also participating in the Forward Exam for the first time and stumbled when following the testing protocol, Caire said, largely because of staffing shortages that left students and staff unprepared.

“We just had kids who were way behind,” Caire said, adding that the school was also adjusting to the pandemic less than two years after it opened.

Caire said he didn’t consider the test scores an essential measure of the school, saying its staff are focused on a holistic approach to students’ education. The school has added a tutoring program and supplemental programming to give direct help to students in the classroom, he said.

Despite the scores, the school’s mission “is working,” Caire said.

“We weren’t expecting to see significant results from our students,” Caire said.

Scott Girard:

The local gap between Black students and their white peers also grew, with 5.8% of Black students testing as proficient in math in 2021-22 and 58.9% of white students. In 2018-19, those figures were 10.4% and 60.6%, respectively.

Student Debt Cancellation Challenged

Dave Cieslewicz:

In what was an inevitable move, Pres. Joe Biden’s plan to unilaterally cancel up to $20,000 in student debt, costing taxpayers around a half-trillion dollars overall, is being challenged in federal court.

The conservative Pacific Legal Foundation is bringing a suit in the federal district court for southern Indiana, arguing that Biden’s use of the HEROES Act as justification for his move was a misuse of that law.

To get access to the court you need standing, so PLF found a plaintiff who says that he doesn’t want the relief on his student loan and will be forced to pay state income taxes in Indiana on the unwanted gift. That strikes me as tenuous and, in fact, the White House claims that anybody who doesn’t want the handout simply doesn’t have to take it.

Principal Gone missing in Madison’s public schools: Where is Jeffrey Copeland?

David Blaska:

Former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz asks those questions this morning (well, not the last one). So should anyone concerned about Madison’s young people. Jeffrey Copeland was the principal of Sennett middle school until removed two weeks ago. He apparently left the district completely this past Monday 09-26-22. Why? That’s what parents and faculty would like to know. Sounds like he was pushed out because he was doing something right. Wouldn’t be the first time. The WI State Journal reports:

Teachers said the behavioral issues the school had been seeing in recent years, including bullying and damaging school property, nearly disappeared under Copeland’s short tenure, and some said such problems began returning after he was placed on leave.
— ‘Parents, staff question departure of Sennett middle school principal.’

Dave Cieslewicz:

There is a story in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal that highlights three things that are wrong with the Madison School District.

The story was about new Sennett Middle School principal Jeffrey Copeland, who lasted there only a few weeks. Copeland was placed on administrative leave on September 13th and he left the district altogether on September 26th.

Here’s the first and most important problem with this: The information in the story suggests that Copeland may have been dismissed because he was imposing order and discipline at his school, something that has been a big issue in the district for years. To quote the story:

Teachers said the behavioral issues the school had been seeing in recent years, including bullying and damaging school property, nearly disappeared under Copeland’s short tenure, and some said such problems began returning after he was placed on leave.

K-12 tax & spending climate: One pound of butter cost $4.70 on average in August, compared to $3.63 a year ago

Zoe Hahn:

You may believe it’s butter, but you may not believe the price.

Butter prices are at an all-time high: One pound of butter cost $4.70 on average in August, compared to $3.63 a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the reasons for the price spike are complicated.

Grocery prices rose 13.5% in August on the year, and the price of food rose 11.4%. Both were the highest since 1979. But butter showed one of the biggest jumps in price: In August, butter was 24.6% more expensive year over year.

Thousands of Students Take Courses Through Unaccredited Private Companies. Here’s a Look Into One of Them.

Taylor Swaak:

A growing number of students are taking courses offered by unaccredited private companies and completing them in a matter of days or weeks — often for less than $200 — and then transferring the credits to colleges.

The practice was pioneered by companies like StraighterLine, which entered the market in 2009 to a mix of intrigue and skepticism, seeking to transform college access and affordability. StraighterLine boasts credit-transfer agreements with more than 150 American institutions, most of them private,

Thousands of Spanish children were taken from hospitals and sold to wealthy Catholic families. This is Ana Belén Pintado’s story.

Nicholas Casey:

On a balmy October day in 2017, Ana Belén Pintado decided to clear out some space in her garage. Her father, Manuel, died in 2010, followed by her mother, Petra, four years later. Their belongings sat gathering dust at her home in Campo de Criptana, a small town in the countryside south of Madrid. As she carefully opened the boxes, she marveled at the objects inside — her childhood dresses, a doll, an old dictionary — each so familiar, reminding her of a life the three of them once shared.

But then she came across some papers she had never seen: medical records from decades ago, including a note from her mother’s doctor. Petra Torres, the note said, had been married for eight years. She was 31 years old and had been trying to have a family. But a set of X-rays indicated that she had a uterine anomaly and obstructed fallopian tubes.

In other words, Pintado’s mother had been sterile. The diagnosis was dated April 1967, six years before Pintado was born.

Pintado had long believed that the couple who raised her were her biological parents, but there were a few puzzling aspects about her family. She had no brothers or sisters, which was rare in a small, Catholic town like Campo de Criptana — Pintado herself, who was then 44, had three children of her own. There was also an odd incident that happened after her father died: A lawyer handling the estate found some papers that showed she was born with a different last name, but before anyone in the family could have a closer look, her mother snatched the documents away and refused to speak about them again.

As Pintado sat in her garage, sifting through the papers, she found another document that was just as confounding as the doctor’s note. It was a birth certificate, which indicated that her mother had given birth to a girl in the Santa Cristina maternity clinic in Madrid. “Good appearance and vitality, good coloration,” a hospital staff member wrote. The paper was dated on Pintado’s birthday, July 10, 1973. There was even a room number: 22.

620M in taxpayer funds to Yale…

Aaron Sibarium:

The oversight committee is requesting a briefing on what steps—”if any”—the department has taken to safeguard academic freedom on campus, according to a copy of the letterobtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Delivered to Biden education secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday, the letter rattles off a string of cases in which taxpayers have indirectly footed the bill for censorship, including the $620 million the Education Department sent to Yale University, where administrators investigated a law student for using the term “trap house” in an email.

Zero trust e-sim

What if employers could offer their employees a deal: we’ll cover your monthly data costs if you agree to let us direct your work-related traffic through a network that has Zero Trust protections built right in? And what’s more, we’ll make it super easy to install — in fact, to take advantage of it, all you need to do is scan a QR code — which can be embedded in an employee’s onboarding material — from your phone’s camera.

Well, we’d like to introduce you to the Cloudflare SIM: the world’s first Zero Trust SIM.

iPhone = Privacy?

Sylvan Kerkour:

So to start, any iPhone (or mobile phone for that matter) is a location tracker that is always on you and tied to your identity (SIM card).


Now let’s talk about your iPhone’s Operating System: iOS.

According to a study published in March 2021 (PDF) by a team of researchers from Trinity College in Dublin, iOS sends a lot of data about your phone to Apple, such as your phone number, your unique device identifier, your location and your IMEI number.

You can disable some of this data collection (but not all) in Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

iOS also uploads a copy of all your pictures, contacts, calendars, notes… to Apple to synchronize it across your devices and keep a backup in case your iPhone is lost or stolen.

Thus, anyone who has access to your iCloud account, whether it be a hacker, an Apple employee, or a government agency, has also access to that data.

Again, this can be disabled in Settings > Apple ID > iCloud, and then toggle off what you don’t want to upload to your iCloud account.

Finally comes Siri, and this is where I think that Apple is the most dishonest. By default, each app that comes preinstalled with the iPhone, and each app you download from the App Store is used to train Siri on your data. The problem is: it’s not totally clear what data is uploaded to Apple to train Siri in the cloud, and what data stay on your device for local training.

Anyway, you can go to Settings > Siri & Search and disable everything, and then for each app toogle off Learn from this AppSuggestions - Show on Home ScreenSuggestions - Suggest App.

And don’t forget to do that each time you install a new app from the App Store.

The Two Fiduciary Duties of Professors

Jonathan Haidt

In September 2016 I gave a lecture at Duke University: “Two Incompatible Sacred Values in American Universities.” I suggested that the ancient Greek word telos was helpful for understanding the rapid cultural change going on at America’s top universities that began in the fall of 2015. Telos means “the end, goal, or purpose for which an act is done, or at which a profession or institution aims.” The telos of a knife is to cut, the telos of medicine is to heal, and the telos of a university is truth, I suggested. The word (or close cognates) appears on many university crests, and our practices and norms — some stretching back to Plato’s academy — only make sense if you see a university as an institution organized to help scholars get closer to truth using the particular methods of their field.¹

I said that universities can have many goals (such as fiscal health and successful sports teams) and many values (such as social justice, national service, or Christian humility), but they can have only one telos, because a telos is like a North Star. It is the end, purpose, or goal around which the institution is structured. An institution can rotate on one axis only. If it tries to elevate a second goal or value to the status of a telos, it is like trying to get a spinning top or rotating solar system to simultaneously rotate around two axes. I argued that the sudden wave of protests and changes that were sweeping through universities were attempts to elevate the value of social justice to become a second telos, which would require a massive restructuring of universities and their norms in ways that damaged their ability to find truth.

Civics: FBI misled judge who signed warrant for Beverly Hills seizure of $86 million in cash
U.S. Private Vaults in Beverly Hills

Michael Finnegan:

The privacy invasion was vast when FBI agents drilled and pried their way into 1,400 safe-deposit boxes at the U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills.

They rummaged through personal belongings of a jazz saxophone player, an interior designer, a retired doctor, a flooring contractor, two Century City lawyers and hundreds of others.

Agents took photos and videos of pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms and a will, court records show. In one box, agents found cremated human remains.

The Cost of Biden’s Student Loan Write-off: $420 Billion

Wall Street Journal:

The Democrats who run Congress didn’t even ask for CBO’s estimate despite the huge claim on taxpayer dollars. They simply abdicated their power of the purse to the President. But the ranking Republicans on the House and Senate education committees inquired, and CBO director Phillip Swagel responded in a letter with the horrifying political math.

The cost of Mr. Biden’s unilateral extension of the moratorium on student loan payments for another three months through December will be $20 billion. But that’s a bargain compared to the $400 billion cost of canceling up to $10,000 in debt issued by June 30 this year, plus another $10,000 for recipients of Pell grants.

CBO says that doesn’t even count the cost of Mr. Biden’s steps to ease the terms on federal income-based repayment plans that are on top of the $10,000-$20,000 loan forgiveness. Independent analysts have estimated that cost at $150 billion or more, which would take the cost to $570 billion.

This is an unprecedented act of peacetime fiscal recklessness. Mr. Swagel says the foregone repayments will fall in 2023 alone by the equivalent of 0.08% of U.S. GDP and continue for 30 years, adding each year to the amount the Treasury will have to borrow to make up for lost interest and repayments of principal.

A new class, the Cyber Bohemians, avoid work while living off their affluent parents.

Andy Kessler:

Why so many quitters? And who’s paying for DoorDashed dinners and the exorbitant rent for all these un- and underemployed? Government handouts are dwindling, so, you guessed it, now it’s mom and dad—enabling parents. They can afford it: As of March, baby boomers were sitting on a whopping $71 trillion to spoil their kids with. Did you know that half of U.S. households currently support an adult child? Maybe that’s why so many young folks use hyphenated names, paying tribute to both enabling parents.

The U.K. has this problem too. Brits refer to kids leeching off their parents as “failed fledglings.” In Japan it is “parasite singles.” And for those who fear a takeover by China, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is dealing with the tang ping or “lying flat” movement, a group with no motivation. The movement is quickly turning into bai lan or “let it rot,” best summarized by the slogan, “Someone has to be a loser, why not me?”

Back home, many younger folks who do actually work seem to require a “purpose” for their careers—something sustainable and equitable or whatever else. They need everything to be upcycled, organic, ethical, fair-trade, minimalist, inclusive and cruelty-free. That means they won’t work for companies such as “carbon spewing” Exxon or “nicotine peddling” Philip Morris. But even companies like Facebook are a no-go. Remember, they helped elect Donald Trump. Same with Twitter. Amazon? Environmental disaster. Google? Works with the Defense Department. Apple? Joe Rogan once used an iPhone. We all know an expensively educated corporate guy turned yoga instructor turned ESG advocate. Is this progress?

Tocqueville predicted that an ‘immense and tutelary power’ would replace genuine popular rule.

Emily Finley:

President Biden’s Sept. 1 speech in Philadelphia on “unity” is a poignant example of the confusion surrounding the concept of democracy. Mr. Biden declared that MAGA Republicans threaten “the very foundations of our republic.” The phrase a “threat to American democracy” is so commonplace these days that it hardly carries any meaning—except that it encapsulates the reigning ideology of our time, an ideology so pervasive that it almost goes unnoticed. It is like the air we breathe.

“War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength” from Orwell’s “1984” comes to mind, but there is a long tradition in the West of this paradoxical interpretation of democracy. Enlightenment-era thinking, and arguably even Plato, puts forth the thought that an ahistorical ideal of justice ought to act as the primary guide to politics. Jean-Jacques Rousseau applied this idea in “The Social Contract.” The general will, Rousseau says, is what the popular will ought to be, even if it isn’t expressed by actual living people. The general will conveniently requires the translation of a wise legislator for its instantiation.

Many of the most vocal champions of democracy, from Thomas Jefferson to our own day, have been advocates of this Rousseauean inversion, using the word “democracy” as justification for what would otherwise be naked authoritarianism

The American College of Surgeons promotes the latest political quackery.

Richard Bosshardt:

As the son of a Brazilian mother and American father, I welcomed her praise of diversity, but Dr. Reede’s speech made no meaningful mention of “excellence.” Surgery is a discipline that demands excellence in all its stages, from training to practice. Should diversity supplant quality in surgeon performance, patient care would suffer. Remarkably, Dr. Reede’s vision was met with rapturous acceptance by the college’s leadership, and the unqualified push for diversity became a lodestar for the group.

My concern deepened in 2020, when the college convened a “task force on racial issues.” It presented a series of recommendations on how the college can “confront racism in surgery” by creating a new office of diversity, advocating for policy reforms, and adding “anti-racism to existing ACS values.” The college later hosted a leadership retreat for all surgical societies promoting “DEI and anti-racism,” with keynote speaker Ibram X. Kendi, the most recognized advocate of the “antiracist” philosophy. Mr. Kendi argues that racial discrimination is necessary to right past wrongs.

Why Adults Still Dream About School

Kelly Conaboy:

I have a recurring dream. Actually, I have a few—one is about dismembering a body (I’d rather not get into it), but the more pertinent one is about college. It’s the end of the semester, and I suddenly realize that there is a class I forgot to attend, ever, and now I have to sit for the final exam. I wake up panicked, my GPA in peril. How could I have done this? Why do I so consistently self-sabota—oh. Then I remember I haven’t been in college in more than a decade.

Someone with intimate knowledge of my academic career might point out that this nightmare scenario is not that far removed from my actual collegiate experience, and that at certain times in my life, it did not take the magic of slumber to find me completely unprepared for a final. And, well … regardless of what may or may not be true of my personal scholastic rigor, I suspect the school-stress dream is quite a common one. Even among nerds.

Redistribute resources away from the richest, most exclusive schools

Matthew Yglesias

The Supreme Court seems very likely to deal a major blow to college affirmative action programs when it rules on the Harvard v. Students for Fair Admissions case. 

In the controlling precedent from Grutter v. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that “race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time … the Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” She was writing in 2003, 19 years ago rather than 25. But at the time, Day O’Connor was the median justice. When she retired, the median justice became the more conservative Anthony Kennedy. Then when Kennedy retired, the median justice became the more-conservative-still John Roberts. And when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, the median justice became the even-more-conservative Brett Kavanaugh. Given this substantial rightward shift, we should expect some precedents to be overturned, and since even O’Connor seemed torn on this particular question, I very much doubt that Kavanaugh is. 

And the Court doesn’t need to fear backlash here. In public polling, overwhelming majorities say race should not factor into college admissions. In Blue Rose Research competitive message testing (previously seen on Slow Boring), affirmative action performs worse than cutting police funding in partisan framing and pro/con arguments.

Biden Admin Plans to Regulate Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets

Mary Chastain:

The administration wants to take these steps:

The reports encourage regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), consistent with their mandates, to aggressively pursue investigations and enforcement actions against unlawful practices in the digital assets space.
The reports encourage Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as appropriate, to redouble their efforts to monitor consumer complaints and to enforce against unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.
The reports encourage agencies to issue guidance and rules to address current and emergent risks in the digital asset ecosystem. Regulatory and law enforcement agencies are also urged to collaborate to address acute digital assets risks facing consumers, investors, and businesses. In addition, agencies are encouraged to share data on consumer complaints regarding digital assets—ensuring each agency’s activities are maximally effective.

The Financial Literacy Education Commission (FLEC) will lead public-awareness efforts to help consumers understand the risks involved with digital assets, identify common fraudulent practices, and learn how to report misconduct.

The DOJ launched the Digital Asset Coordinators (DAC) Network, which includes “150 designated federal prosecutors from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.” Eun Young Choi will direct the DAC.

CUNY enrollment declines as billions in repairs are delayed

Sophia Chang:

Total enrollment in the CUNY system has declined from 274,000 in fiscal year 2018 to 243,000 for fiscal year 2022, according to the Mayor’s Management Report released last week.

Peter Lipke, a biology professor at Brooklyn College, said he has trouble recruiting graduate students due to outdated equipment and poorly maintained labs. He recalled a steam pipe leak in 2020 that destroyed a $500,000 electron microscope.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to train students in state-of-the-art techniques where they would get jobs in laboratories,” Lipke said.

James Davis, president of the Professional Staff Congress that represents faculty and some staff, said repairs would help convince students to return to campuses.

What do a Real Housewife, an Olympic athlete, and a doula have in common? They’re all being paid by an ad-tech startup as influencers—peddling not products but ideologies.

Benjamin Wofford:

Staffed by a plucky 14-person team, Urban Legend keeps its largest asset carefully hidden away inside its servers: an army of 700 social media influencers who command varying degrees of allegiance from audiences that collectively number in the tens of millions. The company has painstakingly cultivated this roster to reflect every conceivable niche of society reflected on the internet: makeup artists, Nascar drivers, home improvement gurus, teachers, doulas, Real Housewives stars, mommy bloggers, NFL quarterbacks, Olympians, and the occasional Fox News pundit.

The billionaire Duke trustee behind the remaking of gender

David Larson:

In comment to Carolina Journal, Duke denied that Pritzker had any influence over this decision on the board but did not answer a question about whether any donations from the family were involved in the funding of the clinics. 

J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, is currently the 43rd governor of Illinois, and his family has been very active in Democrat politics. His sister, Penny, was co-chair of former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and later become his secretary for the Department of Commerce. 

J.B.’s cousin Jennifer Pritzker, a twice-married father of three born James Pritzker, is the only openly transgender billionaire, after announcing a transition in 2013. Jennifer had been a lifelong Republican and was a veteran once based out of Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but in 2020 backed away from that support, donating to Joe Biden as well as the Libertarian Party because of Republican positions on LGBTQ issues. 

Tablet Magazine in June of 2022 published a detailed breakdown by Jennifer Bilek of how J.B., Jennifer, and many other billionaire members of the Pritzker family are influencing the rapid transition of society away from a binary understanding of gender towards a spectrum of synthetic sex identities.

“Racial preferences should now be thought of like chemotherapy, a cure that can cause side effects that should be applied judiciously.”

John McWhorter:

We’ve applied the cure long past that point, and have drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year. In a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, said, ‘we expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences’ in the university admissions context ‘will no longer be necessary.’ That was considered resonantly wise at the time. But now we have only about six years to go. Folks, it’s time.”

Additional commentary

Jarring’ study reveals hiring bias at US institutions

Anna Nowogrodzki

Specifically, the study, published in Nature on 21 September, shows that just 20% of PhD-granting institutions in the United States supplied 80% of tenure-track faculty members to institutions across the country between 2011 and 2020 (see ‘Hiring bias’). No historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) were among that 20%, says Hunter Wapman, a computer scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) and a co-author of the paper. One in eight US-trained tenure-track faculty members got their PhDs from just five elite universities: the University of California, Berkeley; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Stanford University in California; and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“It’s not surprising, but it is jarring” to see these data, says Leslie Gonzales, a social scientist who studies higher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “There’s so much brilliant work and training of brilliant scholars that’s happening outside of this tiny sliver” of institutions, including at HBCUs and HSIs — and it’s being overlooked, she says.

Public-University Curricula Are ‘Government Speech,’ Florida Says

Sarah Brown

The state of Florida asserted on Friday that faculty members’ curriculum and in-class instruction at public universities is “government speech” and “not the speech of the educators themselves.” Therefore, such expression is fair game to be regulated by state lawmakers.

“A public university’s curriculum is set by the university in accordance with the strictures and guidance of the State’s elected officials,” lawyers for the state wrote in a court filing. “It is government speech.”

The state was responding to a lawsuit that several professors and a student filed earlier this year, alleging that the “Stop WOKE” Act violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutionally vague and racially discriminatory.

Civics: Who’s our real president? Joe Biden — or the staffers who keep walking back his comments?

Glenn Reynolds:

That departure made some sense. Back in February, Biden seemed to grant Vladimir Putin a green light to invade Ukraine. White House spokesmen quickly walked that back, but the green light, coming directly from Biden’s lips, apparently convinced Putin that he could launch an invasion without blowback.

That turned out to be wrong, of course, and now the United States is involved in a proxy war with Russia, while sanctions and export disruptions cause the world’s food and fuel markets to go crazy and have Europe looking at a long, cold winter of gas shortages and electrical blackouts. So firmness, this time.

Girls Are Leaving High School Basketball, and Here’s Why

Rachel Bachman:

But last school year, basketball dropped to the fourth-most-popular girls’ sport by participation, according to the data released this month by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Girls’ basketball has lost 19% of its players since 2002, while the top girls’ sport, track and field, grew 10%, along with volleyball (+15%) and soccer (+27%). 

Though boys’ and girls’ high school sports participation overall declined 4% since 2019 in the first post-pandemic national survey, girls’ basketball dropped 7%.

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The fall of girls’ basketball is even more pronounced given the growth in popularity of the women’s game: TV ratings for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and the WNBA are on the rise.

Several forces are driving the decline. More athletes are sticking to one sport nearly year-round. Schools have added other sports for girls, which have lured athletes away from basketball. Some girls see basketball as too difficult to play, or even not “girly” enough, coaches say. 

“It’s sad,” said Erica Delley, first-year head coach at Dallas’s Kimball High School, which was a regional power when she played there in the early 2000s. “That’s why I came back, to make a difference and try to encourage kids to play.”

The Long March of the YIMBYs

Noah Smith:

It was inevitable that some kind of backlash would happen; you can only force people to pay so much for the places they live before they get mad and revolt. And it was predictable that the revolt would begin in California, the country’s most NIMBY state. YIMBYism is the form that backlash took.

The YIMBY movement is not a typical American movement. Its goals are narrower than most economic movements — it’s not about changing the whole role of government, it’s just about getting more housing. At the same time, it’s an ideological big tent — most YIMBYs are lefties (because most people in overpriced metros are lefties), but a few are libertarian types or fed-up businesspeople, and a few are hardcore socialists. This combination of narrow goals and freedom from broader ideology allows the movement to launch a pragmatic, multi-pronged assault on housing scarcity. YIMBYs want deregulation when it comes to things like zoning and parking requirements, but they also strongly support public housing and a vigorous role for state development planning. In other words, YIMBYs just want housing, and lots of it, any and every way they can get it. 

The California upzoning campaignIt’s instructive to watch the YIMBYs’ progress in California, because that state is really the epicenter and the pace-setter for the YIMBY/NIMBY clash. From 2018 through 2020, State Senator Scott Wiener introduced two bills, SB 827 and SB 50, that would have massively upzoned every part of California that was near a transit hub. Both bills were defeated, leading some to conclude — prematurely — that the YIMBYs would never make a dent in the NIMBY fortress.

A White House Student Loan Forgiveness Whopper

Wall Street Journal:

Many student borrowers get into trouble because they don’t understand basic financial management. Neither do the Biden officials who claim the President’s student loan cancellation is fully paid for by this year’s decline in the federal budget deficit.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model estimates that the President’s student loan relief could cost as much as $1 trillion. The White House is cagey about the cost, and says it doesn’t matter anyway since the federal deficit is on track to fall by about $1.7 trillion this fiscal year from last year’s $2.7 trillion, which was the second largest in history after 2020.

Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, recently explained: “This is paid for. It is paid for and far more by the amount of deficit reduction that we’re already on track for this year,” adding that “compared to the previous year, 1.7 trillion more dollars are coming into the Treasury than are going out.”

Commentary on legacy taxpayer supported K-12 Governance outcomes

Leah Triedler:

But in a statement after the speech, Republican Sen. Alberta Darling, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said Wisconsin students’ poor performance stems from Gov. Tony Evers “refusing to reform education in Wisconsin” despite Republican efforts, including a literacy bill Evers vetoed twice.

Darling said Underly is following in his footsteps.

“The DPI Secretary refuses to acknowledge failure,” Darling said. “Under her watch, too many children in our schools are failing. There was not a single acknowledgment that less than one-third of students are proficient in English or Math. Instead of accepting we have the largest achievement gap in the country, she’d rather change the definition.”

Underly, however, outlined ways to improve student achievement and bridge racial disparities. She said policymakers and educators need to recognize that those disparities stem from a gap in representation and engagement, not the student.

“Instead of blaming the student because of their learning challenges or their family, because their parents are working multiple jobs to get by, or their school district or teachers are under-resourced,” Underly said, “instead of placing blame about their achievement, we can make important choices about curriculum that can make a difference.”

That includes increasing representation in curriculum, she said. All students, especially students of color, need to see themselves reflected in what they learn, she said, and not just learn about trauma and struggle, but also growth.

That includes teaching students about the country’s complicated history, Underly said.

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”

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.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Notes on the pros and cons of single payer (K-12 taxpayer models…)

summarised via Tyler Cowen:

But going forward, I think the old metrics that showed large advantages for single payer are going to continue to slide. Unions (formal or otherwise) are going to militate for higher pay. Governments are going to have to deal with one side of the political spectrum going into hoc to the health employees and the other polarizing to the folks in the disfavored region(s) who are lower priority for healthcare and pay more in taxes for the “giveaways”. And all of it is going to run into the trouble that the developing world is going to have fewer kids and hence fewer physicians while the relative advantage of immigrating is going to continue to fall.

Single payer was overwhelmingly built on the post-World Wars consensus and environment. It operates as a monopsony. What on earth would make us think that it would be stable into the future?

That is from “Sure.”

TC again: There is a natural tendency on the internet to think that all universal coverage systems are single payer, but they are not. There is also a natural tendency to contrast single payer systems with freer market alternatives, but that is also an option not a necessity. You also can contrast single payer systems with mixed systems where both the government and the private sector have a major role, such as in Switzerland.

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”

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.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Students cannot pass a basic citizenship exam: A shameful indictment of our education system

Nicholas Giordano:

Instead, many will write how they never actually read the U.S. Constitution, which is horrifying given the number of years they have attended school prior to taking my course. Others will reference Article 7 where it explains “…guaranteed minimum wages and salaries shall be established, state support ensured to the family, maternity, paternity and childhood, to disabled persons and the elderly, the system of social services developed, state pensions, allowances and other social security guarantees shall be established,” and praise the foresight of the founding fathers.

Needless to say, when I reveal the results and my deception, the look on the students’ faces is priceless. The shock, embarrassment, and shame can be seen in their expressions. These exercises, however, have proven to be an invaluable tool to make my classes more successful, and they dramatically improve student engagement.

There are three objectives behind these assignments.

The first is to open students’ eyes to how unfamiliar they are with the country they are living. As I explain to the students, they have opinions about everything, but how can they say what the government should/should not be doing when they do not know why the government exists, the institutions within the government, and the roles and responsibilities of these institutions?

Tax Basics Glossary

Gas Tax

A gas tax is commonly used to describe the variety of taxes levied on gasoline at both the federal and state levels, to provide funds for highway repair and maintenance, as well as for other government infrastructure projects. These taxes are levied in a few ways, including per-gallon excise taxes, excise taxes imposed on wholesalers, and general sales taxes that apply to the purchase of gasoline.

Commentary on “bias response teams”

Jenna Robinson:

It’s no secret that university students, once known for their brash defense of unfettered free speech, have gone rather quiet on the issue. Campus surveys reveal that most college students self-censor to some degree and that certain ideas are now taboo on campus.

A new report from Speech First, a membership association of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens fighting back against toxic censorship culture on college campuses, provides insight into one of the reasons students fear speaking up: Bias Response Teams. These squads (or reporting systems) are specifically created to “solicit, receive, investigate, and respond to” reports of “bias incidents” or other allegedly offensive speech. Speech First’s report pulls no punches, calling Bias Response Systems “elaborate schemes … designed to silence dissenters, stifle open dialogue, and encourage students to report speech they deem unacceptable.” Like most such initiatives on campus, their efforts tend to run in a single ideological direction.

“The U.S. Government’s Vast New Privatized Censorship Regime”

Jenni Younes:

One warm weekend in October of 2020, three impeccably credentialed epidemiologists—Jayanta Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff, of Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard Universities respectively—gathered with a few journalists, writers, and economists at an estate in the Berkshires where the American Institute for Economic Research had brought together critics of lockdowns and other COVID-related government restrictions. On Sunday morning shortly before the guests departed, the scientists encapsulated their views—that lockdowns do more harm than good, and that resources should be devoted to protecting the vulnerable rather than shutting society down—in a joint communique dubbed the “Great Barrington Declaration,” after the town in which it was written.

The declaration began circulating on social media and rapidly garnered signatures, including from other highly credentialed scientists. Most mainstream news outlets and the scientists they chose to quote denounced the declaration in no uncertain terms. When contacted by reporters, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins of the NIH publicly and vociferously repudiated the “dangerous” declaration, smearing the scientists—all generally considered to be at the top of their fields—as “fringe epidemiologists.” Over the next several months, the three scientists faced a barrage of condemnation: They were called eugenicists and anti-vaxxers; it was falsely asserted that they were “Koch-funded” and that they had written the declaration for financial gain. Attacks on the Great Barrington signatories proliferated throughout social media and in the pages of The New York Times and Guardian.

Yet emails obtained pursuant to a FOIA request later revealed that these attacks were not the products of an independent objective news-gathering process of the type that publications like the Times and the Guardianstill like to advertise. Rather, they were the fruits of an aggressive attempt to shape the news by the same government officials whose policies the epidemiologists had criticized. Emails between Fauci and Collins revealed that the two officials had worked together and with media outlets as various as Wired and The Nationto orchestrate a “takedown” of the declaration.

Nor did the targeting of the scientists stop with the bureaucrats they had implicitly criticized. Bhattacharya, Gupta, and Kulldorff soon learned that their declaration was being heavily censored on social media to prevent their scientific opinions from reaching the public. Kulldorff—then the most active of the three online—soon began to experience censorship of his own social media posts. For example, Twitter censored one of Kulldorff’s tweets asserting that: “Thinking that everyone must be vaccinated is as scientifically flawed as thinking that nobody should. COVID vaccines are important for older, higher-risk people and their caretakers. Those with prior natural infection do not need it. Not children.” Posts on Kulldorff’s Twitter and LinkedIn criticizing mask and vaccine mandates were labeled misleading or removed entirely. In March of 2021, YouTube took down a videodepicting a roundtable discussion that Bhattacharya, Gupta, Kulldorff, and Dr. Scott Atlas had with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, in which the participants critiqued mask and vaccine mandates.

Because of this censorship, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff are now plaintiffs in Missouri v. Biden, a case brought by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, as well as the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), which is representing them and two other individuals, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and Jill Hines. The plaintiffs allege that the Biden administration and a number of federal agencies coerced social media platforms into censoring them and others for criticizing the government’s COVID policies. In doing so, the Biden administration and relevant agencies had turned any ostensible private action by the social media companies into state action, in violation of the First Amendment. As the Supreme Court has long recognized and Justice Thomas explained in a concurring opinion just last year, “[t]he government cannot accomplish through threats of adverse government action what the Constitution prohibits it from doing directly.”

How the Feds Coordinate With Facebook on Censorship


The civil case was brought by the Attorneys General of Missouri and Louisiana, who allege that misinformation crackdowns by the tech giants are legally “government action,” since they involve “open collusion” with public officials. In a court filing last week, the AGs posted some of what they have already obtained, which they call “a tantalizing snapshot into a massive, sprawling federal ‘Censorship Enterprise.’”

Well, maybe. Many of the email chains read like good-faith interactions between public officials and internet companies worried about clearly false information. What raises eyebrows in some communications, though, is an oozing solicitousness toward top White House advisers. This week the judge granted additional discovery, meaning more emails soon.

Civics: Did Nina Totenberg Have a Conflict of Interest in Covering Justice Ginsburg?

Jonathan Adler:

Writes Lubet:

To protect Ginsburg from surprises, Totenberg routinely alerted her in advance to the topics she intended to cover, which is generally prohibited by NPR’s Ethics Handbook. The rule against “previewing” questions does not apply to side jobs, but even then the handbook cautions against “entanglements that conflict with our journalistic independence.”

In raising questions about whether Totenberg’s coverage was influenced by her relationship, Lubet focuses on the controversy surrounding Justice RBG’s comments about then-candidate Donald Trump (which I coveredextensively on this blog).

Following an uproar about her flagrant breach of judicial ethics, Ginsburg issued a tepid statement of regret, calling her remarks “ill-advised” and promising to “be more circumspect” in the future.

Totenberg was scheduled to interview Ginsburg a few days later. Following her “usual practice,” she told the justice that “I was going to ask her about what she had said.” “That’s my job,” she explained, “I’m going to ask you about it as I would anybody else,” telling Ginsburg, “she could get mad at me” if she wanted to.

The interview was not much to get mad at. Totenberg asked Ginsburg why she decided to “say you were sorry,” rather than why she’d made the remarks in the first place. Ginsberg gave her prepared answer: “Because it was incautious.” Totenberg did not raise the ethics issue, suggesting instead that the justice had merely “goofed.” Even that was too much for Ginsburg. “It’s over and done with, and I don’t want to discuss it anymore.”

Totenberg accepted the stonewalling. The obvious next question – to anyone not tiptoeing around a friend’s embarrassment – was whether Ginsburg would recuse herself from cases challenging the election. That would have put Ginsburg on the spot – and any answer would have been extremely meaningful in light of later events – but Totenberg let it drop.

A User’s Guide to All the Banned Books in Texas

Dan Solomon:

Over the past year, schools and libraries around the country have been banning a whole lot of books. And while this is a nationwide phenomenon, no state’s schools have embraced the practice of declaring certain stories and perspectives forbidden to their young people the way that Texas’s have. According to a list compiled by the literature and human rights nonprofit PEN America, between July 1 of last year and June 30, Texas has seen 801 bannings. That’s a huge number! Compare that with, say, Alaska or South Carolina, which have banned one book each. (In both instances, it’s Maia Kobabe’s award-winning comic book memoir Gender Queer, which has also been banned in nine districts in Texas.)

That figure—801 banned books—refers not to individual titles but rather to the number of times any school district has issued a ban. Some titles, such as Gender Queer, appear multiple times, having been banned from Canutillo (fifteen miles northwest of downtown El Paso) to Clear Creek, 785 miles to its east. Others, such as Brent Sherrard’s Final Takedown—a slim, out-of-print volume from a small Canadian publisher about a kid who faces time in juvenile detention—appear but once (in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District, the most avid banner of books in the state). Some are banned in school libraries, others in classrooms. Some have been removed pending an investigation that the school district may or may not have the time and resources to conduct in a timely manner. Most have been banned by administrators, while others are the result of a formal challenge from a parent or other community member. In any event, the guiding principle remains the same: to ensure that students are not exposed to ideas that their elders do not want them to consider, by making it increasingly difficult to access the volumes in which those ideas are contained. (Teenagers are, of course, famously respectful of such rules, and rarely seek out such materials on their own.)

“but the reality is that increasing the corporate income tax hurts the very people those services are meant to help”

  • Corporate income taxes make it more expensive for businesses to invest in technology and equipment that can increase efficiency, produce more product breakthroughs, and generate higher revenue – all things that enable companies to increase wages through raises, bonuses, and promotions, and to create new jobs.
  • Studies show that higher corporate taxes reduce wages most for young workers, the low-skilled, and women, groups that already face significant barriers to working, like limited transportation or high childcare costs.
  • Many economists, including those at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), agree that the corporate income tax is one of the most harmful and least efficient ways to fund our priorities.

European Government views on the use of Google Analytics

The Danish Data Protection Agency

rganisations in Denmark that use Google Analytics must therefore assess whether their possible continued use of the tool takes place in compliance with data protection law. If this is not the case, the organisation must either bring its use of the tool into compliance, or, if necessary, discontinue using the tool.

A very important task for the Danish Data Protection Agency is to give guidance to citizens about their rights and to give guidance to Danish organisations in how they comply with data protection law. As is the case with data protection law, we at the Danish Data Protection Agency are neutral to technology, and therefore have no interest in either approving or banning certain products. We are not at all empowered to do so,” added Makar Juhl Holst and continued:

“Following the decisions of our European colleagues, however, we have experienced a great demand for guidance in relation to specifically Google Analytics, and we have therefore made an effort to look into this specific tool more closely.”

Why Does The NEA Want Kids To Learn Butthole-Licking?

Rod Dreher:

I apologize for being gross, but it’s necessary. You have to be shocked into recognizing the moral horror of what a part of the nation’s largest teacher’s union is doing. It is unspeakable, but we have to speak about it.

The most effective work that the irreplaceable Christopher Rufo does is simply to get documents from institutions, and post them in full to the web, so ordinary people can see what kind of corrupt, racist or otherwise depraved people run these institutions. His latest is from the LGBTQ+ caucus of the National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teachers union, representing three million teachers nationwide.

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”

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.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Providence Journal reporter Linda Borg grades herself critically for her coverage of the state takeover, pandemic shutdown, and schools reopening

Colleen Connolly and Alexander Russo:

School district takeovers. Lawsuits. Recalls. Sudden resignations. Providence Journal reporter Linda Borg has seen and done it all.

She’s been at the paper for 35 years, the last 15 of which she’s covered K-12 education.

But nothing could have prepared her for the pandemic, during which the vast majority of Democratic-controlled school districts closed in-person learning and — with the exception of Providence —kept them closed for prolonged periods.

“I think I focused more on the challenges rather than the pluses,” Borg told us about her pandemic coverage. “We wasted a lot of time on the latest school to close, how superintendents felt unsupported, and how Providence was screwing up online learning.”

We wasted a lot of time on the latest school to close, how superintendents felt unsupported, and how Providence was screwing up online learning.

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What are the big education stories for your coverage area?

LB: Probably the biggest one is the takeover, which is now in its fourth year. Schools Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green has become kind of a punching bag for the Providence Teachers Union.

The other big issue has been COVID. We were one of the first states to really reopen, at least in a hybrid fashion.

“It should be to ensure no aid is needed in the first place.”

Christensen Institute:

In my view, those words in the most recent Goalkeepers report, are the most important Gates wrote in the annual update.

The brilliance of the words is masked in its simplicity. 

Gates notes that, as millions of people in low-income countries go hungry, the cumulative spend on food aid from 2005 to 2020 was $57 billion while just $9 billion was spent on agriculture research in the same time period. This vast contrast in spending illustrates that much of the industry is focused on perpetuating the existing system designed to tackle symptoms and not the root cause. 

Although Gates’ comments were about food aid in particular, I think the same paradigm shifting thinking should apply to all aid. 

The broader aid industry is no different. In our book, The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty, my co-authors and I describe how the vast majority of official development assistance (foreign aid) funds conventional development projects–building schools, hospitals, institutional reform initiatives, etc.–target the symptoms of poverty, not the root cause.

How U.S. Tech Companies Fueled China’s Surveillance State

Liza Lin and Josh Chin:

As the U.S. government intensifies its efforts to decouple American technology from China’s sprawling surveillance state, a new report by the U.N.’s human rights agency demonstrates the urgency of that task. The U.N. found that China’s treatment of Turkic Muslims in the remote region of Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”

The Chinese government’s chilling campaign to forcibly assimilate minorities in Xinjiang relies heavily on a sophisticated system of mass digital surveillance—one that was built, and continues to operate, thanks to contributions from Silicon Valley. U.S. companies have long sought to profit off China’s desire to monitor its citizens, and it is surprising how deep those connections go.

Student-Loan Forgiveness Raises a Question About College

Jason L. Riley:

Some 20 million students will head off to college and university this fall, and we wish all of them well. But are we allowed to ask whether that number is too high?

Economists call it the “fallacy of composition,” which is the assumption that what’s true for members of a group must also be true for the group as a whole. To use a popular example: It’s true that if someone stands up in a football stadium, that person will be able to see better. But it’s not true that if everyone stands up, everyone will have a better view.

“Are you so stupid you would send your children to be educated by Stelter for 75 grand a year?”

Roger Simon:

“Fight Fiercely Harvard!” as Tom Lehrer used to sing in a mock football fight song. “Demonstrate to them our will.” However, that will—a university devoted to even-handed intellectual inquiry for the public good—no longer exists. The truth has an inconvenient way of interfering with propaganda.

The Ivy League schools that once did so much to help build our country along with others conventionally highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report are now doing their best to undermine its principles and destroy it.

So why is this a good thing?

Because when they do something so stupid, and almost ludicrously anti-intellectual, as to hire the likes of Stelter and de Blasio, they expose the nature of who they really are, what their institutions have become.

More people, including reluctant alumni, have to face reality. Many aren’t giving as much—and they shouldn’t. They shouldn’t give at all, yet “alma mater” continues to exert a significant pull on the emotions and values of many. They work hard to make it that way.

In our house, we know this well, since my wife is a graduate of Princeton and I’m a graduate of Dartmouth and Yale. We are bombarded with alumni newsletters, magazines, and so forth. All are now written, clone-like, in the same contemporary left-wing politically correct style. That makes them seen oddly unsophisticated and, again, almost deliberately anti-intellectual, as if created by “woke” robots.

They immediately fill our waste baskets, just as we no longer donate to the schools’ alumni funds—not that the latter matters. Most of these institutions are so rich that you have no influence unless you are prepared to donate in the millions.

But we have more power than we think. Not just alumni, all parents do. It could be put succinctly: Are you so stupid you would send your children to be educated by Stelter for 75 grand a year? (Dorothy Parker could have written a great limerick about that. )

Not a Single US State Is Requiring Kids to Get Vaccinated to Attend Public School. Why?

Jon Miltimore:

It’s also possible that lawmakers have realized vaccinated individuals can still get sick and spread the virus, and therefore concluded vaccinations are a matter of personal health, not public health. Yet once again this theory is undermined by the presence of other vaccine mandates that remain in place. Some may contend that we’ve simply beaten the virus and mandates are no longer necessary, but official statistics show Covid deaths and cases remain stubbornly high.

So what’s the answer?

What’s most likely is that political considerations are at play. Yet this thesis too, at first blush, appears to be undermined by the reality that polls show Americans support Covid vaccine mandates in schools.

“Critical Race Theory Is Bad Medicine”

Richard Bosshardt:

My membership in the American College of Surgeons goes back almost 30 years. The 84,000-member professional society’s sole focus should be improving the standard of surgical care, but in recent years the college has made a priority of promoting critical race theory and so-called antiracism. Like many radicalized organizations, the college has taken to punishing members who raise concerns over its new agenda.

The college’s elevation of ideology—and demotion of surgery—was swift. I saw the first signs in 2019, when the college invited Joan Y. Reede to deliver its prestigious annual lecture. Dr. Reede is dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School. The topic of her speech was “a path toward diversity, inclusion, and excellence.”

As the son of a Brazilian mother and American father, I welcomed her praise of diversity, but Dr. Reede’s speech made no meaningful mention of “excellence.” Surgery is a discipline that demands excellence in all its stages, from training to practice. Should diversity supplant quality in surgeon performance, patient care would suffer. Remarkably, Dr. Reede’s vision was met with rapturous acceptance by the college’s leadership, and the unqualified push for diversity became a lodestar for the group.

tudent debt is not the problem, the Higher Education Cartel Is

Peter Roff & Gordon S. Jones

In truth, however, the issue of student-loan forgiveness is a distraction from the real problem in higher education. Tuition rates have risen faster than inflation for decades. What no one wants to confront, even as we proceed to forgive as much as $1 trillion in student loan debt, is what has created the whole situation: the stranglehold that the higher-education cartel has on colleges and universities.

The last person to look at this seriously was William Bennett, back when he was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education. A study he commissioned found that tuition rates rose each year by about as much as Congress boosted federal educational assistance to college students. It was never established whether this was an example of coincidence or correlation. Media coverage ever since has tended to focus instead on suggesting that too many young people, especially the poor and minorities, can’t afford to go to college.

It’s time to take another look. Mitch Daniels, the outgoing president of Indiana’s Purdue University, has managed to keep tuition flat (and under $10,000 a year) for most of his tenure. He’s the exception, at least among the leaders of big schools. The cost to attend most colleges and universities is soaring, likely because so few people question the activities of “Big Ed.”

The cartel works hard to keep everyone in line. Almost a year ago, the University of Austin (UATX) was founded to provide an alternative to the conformist wasteland of modern American academia. UATX’s ability to move forward was contingent, it said, on its ability to raise an initial $10 million – an amount subsequently pledged by Matt Andresen, a co-founder of the Chicago-based Headlands Technologies LLC., and his wife Teri. That much money may well get the school off and running, but to challenge Big Ed, a much more fundamental problem will need to be addressed: accreditation, a process that the cartel, with the backing of the Department of Education, uses to control the curriculum of virtually every American university.

UATX has, inexplicably, announced it will seek accreditation. Its founders and advisers must know that to achieve accreditation they will have to compromise, if not surrender outright, on the very things that they created the school to do: break from the learning environment that can be found at most any other college or university. The threat of withholding accreditation is used to enforce intellectual and ideological conformity, wokeism, and censorship on campus. Even such conservative icons as Hillsdale College and the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies bow down to the accreditation gods.

A Nation Tries to Banish Jargon. If Only it Were That Simple

Mike Cherney:

A push to pass a law pro­mot­ing the use of sim­ple lan­guage in New Zea­land’s gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments is prov­ing com­pli­cated. For one thing, no one can quite agree on what plain Eng­lish ac­tu­ally means.

Nearly 70 cit­i­zens and groups have made writ­ten com­ments. Of­fi­cials put to­gether a 53-page re­port, and a leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee needed 19 pages to ex­plain and present an amended ver­sion of the bill. Law­mak­ers have quoted “Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia” au­thor C.S. Lewis, Amer­i­can lin­guist Ju­lia Pene­lope and for­mer British Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher on the im­por­tance of be­ing clear and con­cise.

Taxing Mechanical Engineers and Subsidizing Drama Majors

Alex Tabarrok:

In The Student Loan Giveaway is Much Bigger Than You Think I argued that the Biden student loan plan would incentivize students to take on more debt and incentivize schools to raise tuition with most of the increased costs being passed on to taxpayers through generous income based repayment plans. Adam Looney at Brookings takes a deep dive into the IDR plan and concludes that it’s even worse than I thought. Here are some of Looney’s key points:

Civics: Raising the cost of taxpayer funded transparency

Andrew Capps:

Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory has raised the price of transparency at Lafayette Consolidated Government with a new fee for public records that appears to violate the Home Rule Charter. 

Guillory’s administration has embraced a recent change in state law that allows local governments to charge the public for “electronic transmission” of public records. 

In the past, LCG has not charged for electronic records, and it has typically only levied fees for physical copies or for CDs to deliver large amounts of records. 

But Guillory recently implemented a new $1 per page charge to deliver any digital public records, including by email or through thumb drives and CDs. The change comes without approval from Lafayette’s city and parish councils, a likely violation of Lafayette’s Home Rule Charter.

The Scandal Rocking the Chess World

Elliot Kaufman:

My chess career peaked when I was 6. One game away from victory in the Ontario Chess Championships for the first grade, I blundered and lost.

Since then, I’ve traded on chess trivia. My father spiked a tennis ball into the face of Aman Hambleton, now a grandmaster and popular online chess streamer, when Mr. Hambleton was 12. I tried, without success, to recruit grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky to my college fraternity. In hindsight, his wonderful attacking style might not have translated to the beer-pong table. After my brother accepted a draw in a game at the 2004 World Youth Chess Championships, a 12-year-old Fabiano Caruana, now one of the world’s top players, leaned over from a neighboring board and told him that there had been a way to win. After a decade of second-guessing, my brother entered the game into a computer engine and found out it was a dead draw. Mr. Caruana had been wrong.

Computer engines have another use in chess: cheating. Magnus Carlsen, the best in the world, wouldn’t stand a chance against Stockfish, a top engine. That’s the issue today in a scandal that has the chess world as agitated as a Russian chain smoker with his chess clock winding down.

Professional fakers are charging people up to $150 an hour to sit in their job interviews for them

Britney Nguyen and Rob Price:

Some job candidates are hiring proxies to sit in job interviews for them — and even paying up to $150 an hour for one.

In a recent Insider investigation into the “bait-and-switch” job interview that’s becoming increasingly trendy, one “professional” job interview proxy, who uses a website to book clients and keeps a Google Driver folder of past video interviews, said he charges clients $150 an hour.

The proxy was approached by Aamil Karimi, who works at cybersecurity firm Optiv as a principal intelligence analyst. Karimi, who posed as a job seeker to talk to the proxy, told Insider’s Rob Pricethat the “bait-and-switch” trend has been on the rise because of more work-from-home jobs and overseas hiring.

MIT moves forward with ‘freedom of expression’ statement

Logan Dubil:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is moving forward on a proposed statement of principles on free speech and academic freedom.

MIT President Rafael Reif announced in early September that there will be two forums this month with faculty to discuss the proposed “Statement on Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom.”

The working group’s effort, which included a 56-page report released this summer, grew out of a controversy surrounding a canceled speech to be given by University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot.

Professor Abbot saw his speech canceled at MIT after activists led a campaign against him due to his comments critical of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs. He was slated to speak on climate change, not DEI policies.

He did not respond to a media inquiry sent by The College Fix in the past week that asked for comments on the university’s free speech efforts.

Civics: While ultimately cleared of all charges, the case against him cost Stevens his seat in the US Senate in 2008.

The heart of the DOJ/FBI prosecution was the allegation that Stevens had failed to disclose over $250,000 worth of work on his Girdwood “chalet”. It was $250,000 of work ostensibly done by his friend Bill Allen’s company, VECO, in addition to the $180,000 which Stevens had paid for the so-called improvements.

Events would eventually make it obvious that Stevens overpaid by $80,000 or more and should have been suing to get some of his money back.

But the FBI/DOJ team had a different narrative they were selling.

On July 30, 2007 they hired a locksmith and invited news and TV crews to observe their “raid” on Sen. Stevens home.

The Anchorage Daily News, in the person of Rich Mauer, as well as reporters from Anchorage TV station Channel 2 and commentator-for-hire Shannon (Shannyn) Moore were there by invitation.

What this intrepid band of reporters failed somehow to notice was that there was no way that $180,000 much less the alleged additional $250,000 from VECO, had been spent on upgrading Ted’s rather modest chalet.

Nor did they see any incongruity in the FBI, normally religiously silent about ongoing investigations, inviting them to what became a show and tell.

Nor, it is worth noting, have any of these intrepid souls had the moral courage to set the record straight by admitting that they were duped by the investigators.

But why would Sen. Stevens’ friend Bill Allen testify to something which was patently untrue?

Undisclosed by the FBI/DOJ team were several salient facts:

Bill Allen was in the process of selling his company, VECO, to CH2MHill for net cash proceeds somewhere in the neighborhood of $432,000,000.

The majority of those proceeds were allowed to flow through to Allen family members and trusts as well as several minority owners. Only the $70,000,000, which was to go directly to Bill Allen, was impounded by the DOJ pending his cooperation in the prosecution of Sen. Stevens.

Also undisclosed was the fact that Allen, once named Alaskan of the Year, now drunken and brain-damaged from a motorcycle accident, was himself under investigation by the Anchorage Police Department for illicit sexual relations with a minor, and that the investigation was being quashed by the FBI/DOJ.

The carrot for Allen’s cooperation was the release of his $70,000,000; the stick was the frozen investigation of Allen’s own corrupt criminal acts.

Ultimately the illegal prosecution of Sen. Stevens was thrown out, first by Judge Emmett Sullivan, and then by Eric Holder.

But it cost Stevens his seat in the US Senate.

In July of 2008, just months before the elections, a DC jury convicted Stevens. Using the suborned false testimony of Bill Allen, hiding evidence of Stevens’ innocence, the FBI and DOJ had piled on charges and leaked so much false and damaging evidence to the “press” that the Washington DC jury returned a conviction.

But all this was only part of the story. In Florida, a minor league Democrat named Vic Vickers, packed up his household goods and headed to Alaska. He changed his registration to Republican, filed to run for US Senate and proceeded to spend a million dollars on “campaign” ads that said little, other than “Stevens is a crook.”

And, in Washington DC, the Democratic National Committee, then under Chuck Schumer’s leadership, was grooming Mark Begich to replace Stevens. In Alaska Begich was cautious in his criticism of Stevens because of Stevens’ popularity. In DC where his financial and political support was based he was vicious in attacking Ted.

In April of 2009 Judge Emmet G. Sullivan dismissed the ethics conviction of Ted Stevens. In a 14 minute diatribe he said that he had never seen “mishandling and misconduct like I have seen” in the Stevens trial. He then appointed a special counsel to determine if the prosecutors themselves should face criminal charges themselves.

Commentary on US Civil Liberties

Matt Taibbi:

But, they say, don’t worry, we’re not using any of those secrets, you can trust us. After all, we’re United States Attorneys. (And their paralegals. And legal assistants. And, perhaps, a few IRS or DEA or FBI agents, whose only job is to make cases against the types of people in those files. But still, don’t worry). Just because the whole concept of attorney-client privilege, as well as the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments — guaranteeing rights to free speech, against unreasonable searches, and to due process and legal counsel, respectively — were created to bar exactly this kind of behavior, they insist the state would never abuse this authority.

Taint team targets are unpopular. They’re accused drug dealers, terrorists, corporate tax cheats, money launderers, Medicare fraudsters, and, importantly of late, their lawyers. You can add Trump administration officials to the list now. In cases involving such people government prosecutors have begun making an extraordinary claim. As a citizen cries foul when the state peeks at attorney communications, the Justice Department increasingly argues that affording certain people rights harms the secret objectives of the secret state. 

The Trump case is almost incidental to this wider story of extralegal short-cuts, intimidation, improper searches, and especially, a constant, intensifying effort at discrediting the adversarial system in favor of an executive-branch-only vision of the law, in which your right to stand before a judge or jury would be replaced by secret bureaucratic decisions. “Trump has become the way they sell this,” says one defense attorney. “But it’s not about Trump. If you focus on Trump, you’ll miss how serious this is. And it started a long time ago.” When? “Go back to 9/11,” he says. “You’ll see.” 

What follows is a brief history of the cases leading to the controversial decisions in Donald J. Trump v. United States of America, as told by some of the key figures in those episodes. TV experts have told you Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to appoint a Special Master in Trump’s case is an “atrocious,” “shady as fuck,” “utterly lawless” ruling by a “stupid” and “profoundly partisan” jurist, placing Trump “above the law.” Have you noticed these analyses almost always come from ex-prosecutors, that you’ve been trained to not even blink at headlines like, Ex-CIA officer calls judge’s ruling in Trump case “silly,” and that defense attorneys on television are rarer than pearls?

The importance of stupidity in scientific research

Martin A. Schwartz

I recently saw an old friend for the first time in many years. We had been Ph.D. students at the same time, both studying science, although in different areas. She later dropped out of graduate school, went to Harvard Law School and is now a senior lawyer for a major environmental organization. At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else.

I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn’t know what to do without that feeling. I even think it’s supposed to be this way. Let me explain.
For almost all of us, one of the reasons that we liked science in high school and college is that we were good at it. That can’t be the only reason – fascination with understanding the physical world and an emotional need to discover new things has to enter into it too. But high-school and college science means taking courses, and doing well in courses means getting the right answers on tests. If you know those answers, you do well and get to feel smart.

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman Sued Over Adult-Supervised, Secretive Sex Chat Rooms for Minors

Corrine Murdock:

The citizen behind the lawsuit, Peggy McClain, claimed that Hoffman violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights provision prohibiting any attempts to encourage or coerce minors to withhold information from their parents. McClain further asserted that the children’s data was vulnerable to hacking and could therefore be sold on the dark web to child predators, noting that some of the adult chat facilitators could be child predators as well. 

“By doing the things set forth above, Katherine Hoffman is encouraging the grooming of young children,” stated McClain.

The better artificial intelligence gets, the more humans will use it to their advantage, sometimes by cheating.

Tyler Cowen:

A controversy erupted in St. Louis last week when Magnus Carlsen, the world chess champion, withdrew from a top tournament. One interpretation of his decision, drawing upon his tweet, is that he believes competitor Hans Niemann, who beat him in the third round, may have been cheating with computer assistance. Suspicions were raised further when Niemann admitted having cheated twice previously, and when issued a statement alleging yet further cheating and banning Niemann from its site.

We bring you over 1000 years of Black history in the German-speaking lands and show you why it matters right now


There are over 1 million Black people in Central Europe today. Most Europeans still don’t know of the long history of the Black Diaspora in their countries. As a result, there is a general assumption that Black people are a relatively new presence on the continent and thus are historical and national outsiders. Through historical investigation, Black Central Europe challenges these assumptions.

In our extensive Collection, you can find a wide range of sources that trace the history of the Black Diaspora in Central Europe from as early as 1000 AD until the present day. The sources include paintings, photographs, letters, excerpts of novels, sculptures, newspaper articles and much more. We have organized them into historical categories: 1000-1500, 1500-1750, 1750-1850, 1850-1914, 1914-1945, 1945-1989, and 1989-today. Small icons indicate what type of source you find when you follow the link (text, image, etc). Most of our sources and introductions can be found in both English and German; we are still working on making the website fully bilingual.

Wegmans discontinues its in-store scan-and-go mobile app, citing high losses

Lauren Forristal:

Wegman’s losses from the app point to a common problem among companies that utilize in-store scan-and-go technology — shoplifting. Walmart temporarily suspended Scan and Go, its cashierless checkout program due to theft, an ex-Walmart exec told Business Insider in 2019. Walmart initially tested the technology in 2012 and has since relaunched the self-scanning system.

Taxpayer Supported Michigan’s Department of Education encourages teachers to facilitate child sexual transitions without parental consent.

Christopher Rufo:

The Michigan Department of Education has adopted a radical gender theory program that promotes gender “fluidity” beginning in elementary school and encourages teachers to facilitate the sexual transition of minors without parental consent.

I have obtained videos and internal documentation from the state’s training program, which first took place in 2020 and was repackaged for public school employees for the 2021–2022 school year. The training program mimics the basic narrative of academic queer theory: the presenters claim that the West has created a false notion that “gender is binary” in order to oppress racial and sexual minorities. In response, the department encourages teachers to adopt the principle of “intersectionality,” a key tenet of critical race theory, in order to “dismantle systems of oppression,” which are replicated through the culture and institutions of education. (In a statement, the Michigan Department of Education defended the program as “respecting all children” and “meet[ing] the needs of their LGBTQ+ students.”)

The first step to dismantling these systems, according to the presenters, is to disrupt the gender binary. In one presentation, trainer Amorie Robinson, who describes herself as a “Black, masculine-identified, cisgendered lesbian baby boomer” and uses the “African name” Kofi Adoma, says that “we’ve been conditioned and we’ve been acculturated in this particular culture that gender is binary.” But teachers should know that, in fact, gender is a spectrum, including identities such as “gender non-binary,” “gender fluid,” “gender queer,” “gender non-conforming,” and “bi-gender.” Likewise, sexual orientation can include an expanding range of categories. Students might identify as “asexual, lesbian, straight, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, demisexual, demiromantic, aromantic, and skoliosexual,” says Robinson. “I’ll leave that to you to go Google on those. Because we ain’t got time today!”

There is nearly $200T more debt on earth today relative to the days of Paul Volcker

Lawrence McDonald:

The Fed and their collection of well-placed pawns keep lecturing us on their policy path filled with endless rate hikes to fight inflation  – but the math tells us the sales pitch is all bs. 

Three Things You Need to Know

1. The income that the Federal reserve generates comes almost exclusively from their $8.8Tr portfolio of Treasuries and agency MBS. The Fed transfers that interest income to the Federal government, and this has been a nice source of income that supports Washington DC deficit spending. However, the interest income the Fed generates is reduced by the interest it pays the commercial banks for their excess reserves. The Fed likes to call these “interest to depository institutions”. Last year this interest rate was still a paltry 0.15% but as it is directly linked to the Fed funds rate, it has since risen to 2.4%. So the interest income the Fed earns is the sum of the money it makes on the QE assets minus the money it pays the banks for their $3Tr in excess reserves.

The Backstory goes all the Way to Lehman Brothers

Fourteen years ago this week – Lehman Brothers failed.How is this colossal financial collapse, tied into the road ahead? After the Great Financial Crisis – our brain trusts in Washington wanted to make sure the U.S. financial system would never again succumb to the double-edged sword of excess leverage. Regulators forced U.S. banks to “reserve up” and so – for the last 14 years – Wall St.’s financial epicenter stored an ever-enormous dollar number of reserves – mostly found in U.S. Treasuries. Today, as promised the Fed must pay these banks MORE and MORE interest on these reserves. As the central bank hikes rates – the unintended consequences are MOUNTING along with a political backlash – potentially louder than a Donald Trump appearance on “The View.” This time next year, the Federal Government is looking at a near $400B negative swing; a) from profit to a loss on the Fed´s transfer of net interest income – triggered by a surge in interest payments to banks on reserves, b) plus $200B additional interest on their $31T debt load. Dollar headwinds are mounting from; emerging market credit risk, China currency devaluation, the Eurozone energy crisis, a weaker U.S. consumer (see Capital One CDS, the cost of default protection is on the rise), and one-year inflation expectations crashing at the fastest pace since the fall of Lehman Brothers. Sit back, think of taking the Fed Funds rate from 25bps in March to 325bps this month, that´s three years of accommodation withdrawal in just six months. The Fed is very close to table max, the risks that they have over-cooked the goose are sky high.

School Choice Politics and elected officials who attended private school

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”

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.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Notes on our visual era: “God bless,” she said she thinks. “You could have gotten that in seconds.”

Kalley Huang

Instead of just slogging through walls of text, Gen Z-ers crowdsource recommendations from TikTok videos to pinpoint what they are looking for, watching video after video to cull the content. Then they verify the veracity of a suggestion based on comments posted in response to the videos.

This mode of searching is rooted in how young people are using TikTok not only to look for products and businesses, but also to ask questions about how to do things and find explanations for what things mean. With videos often less than 60 seconds long, TikTok returns what feels like more relevant answers, many said.

Alexandria Kinsey, 24, a communications and social media coordinator in Arlington, Va., uses TikTok for many search queries: recipes to cook, films to watch and nearby happy hours to try. She also turns to it for less typical questions, like looking up interviews with the actor Andrew Garfield and weird conspiracy theories.

TikTok’s results “don’t seem as biased” as Google’s, she said, adding that she often wants “a different opinion” from what ads and websites optimized for Google say.

TikTok has leaned into becoming a venue for finding information. The app is testing a feature that identifies keywords in comments and links to search results for them. In Southeast Asia, it is also testing a feed with local content, so people can find businesses and events near them.

Ms. Johnson, a digital marketer, added that she particularly appreciated TikTok when she and her parents were searching for places to visit and things to do. Her parents often wade through pages of Google search results, she said, while she needs to scroll through only a few short videos.

“God bless,” she said she thinks. “You could have gotten that in seconds.”

K-12 civics reform

Kate Anderson:

Morrisey proposed revisions to the South Dakota Department of Education standards to provide “a true, honest, and balanced approach to American history that is not influenced by political agendas” according to an Aug. 15 statement from Governor Kristi Noem. 

Campus Reform spoke with Governor Noem’s Chief of Staff Mark Miller. He said, “Dr. Morrisey is a retired professor of civics, history, an expert on history, and we thought he was the perfect fit for what we are trying to do.”

“We, as a nation, we’re grappling with challenges to civic illiteracy and this…uncivil division between different political points of view.” Miller continued, “So we think a change in approach to how we teach social studies is in order and we expect that South Dakota will become a leader for the country and we think the other states will look to this as a model.”

On the state Department of Education’s (DOEd) website, the new standards are defined as an “[h]onest, balanced, and complete accounts of historical events and debates that foster a love of country that, like any love, is not blind to faults.”

It continues, promising “[h]istory and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism.”

“A compound denial like that often means that portions or slight variations of the statement are true”

Stewart Baker:

But there is a provision of federal law that allows electronic service providers to volunteer information to law enforcement. To do so, they need to believe “in good faith … that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay of communications relating to the emergency.” 18 USC 2702(c).

So, Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies could have developed an AI engine to search for strings of words that its legal department has precleared — in good faith — as evidence of an emergency involving a danger of death or serious injury. (And after the fact, the injuries that occurred in the January 6 riot could be used to predict such a danger from a lot of antigovernment and “rigged election” talk.)

These passages could be excerpted by social media platforms, along with identifying information, and sent to Justice, under the “danger of death or injury” exception. Justice could then use them to subpoena all of the less inflammatory posts by the same people and then farm out the results to local FBI offices for investigation across the country.

K-12 Budget Climate: Flat/Declining US income amidst tax and spending growth

Paul Overberg and John McCormick:

Amer­i­cans as a whole have ex­pe­ri­enced two years in a row of flat or de­clin­ing house­hold in­come, new gov­ern­ment data showed Tues­day, re­flect­ing the pan­dem­ic’s lin­ger­ing eco­nomic pain as in­fla­tion is also tak­ing the largest bite out of pock­et­books in four decades.

The lack of any real growth for 2021 fol­lows a de­crease in in­comes recorded in 2020, the first year of the pan­demic. To­tals in 2020 and 2021 were boosted by sig­nif­i­cant gov­ern­ment spend­ing in re­sponse to the pan­demic that helped re­duce poverty.

Hands in investing at the university of Kentucky

Chris Quintana:

With concerns about college costs and thegrowing burden of student debt, one state university has a plan to change how its students manage their finances. 

In addition to spending millions on financial aid, the University of Kentucky will offer investment accounts to all of its students by 2023.

University president Eli Capilouto said he believes the accounts will help students learn financial literacy, even if it doesn’t make them rich. 

“It’s investing in yourself,” Capilouto said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY ahead of the university’s official announcement. “To me, this is experiential learning on steroids. We’re going to learn with our students. They’ll be our partners too in how we craft these to be impactful.”

Hatched on college campuses, “critical pedagogies” have begun to leave the nest.

Daniel Buck:

Like an overlong proxy war, the “canon” skirmishes of the 1980s and ’90s no longer feature in the media, though the conflict persists. As in a battle over this or that town, the ongoing war might manifest as a fight over particular books, but the real disagreement exists between competing visions for humanity and society.

Critics of the literary canon usually point to its preponderance of white males, but this antipathy toward tradition traces down to a more fundamental, even revolutionary, first principle. The radicals behind the anti-canon movement want more than the expansion of the existing canon; they want to eradicate any commitment to aesthetic ideals, objective truth, or moral imposition. Undergirding their resentment of Shakespeare or Tolstoy is a resentment of Western values as such, and so saving the canon is about more than saving Romeo and Juliet.

Undergirding resentment of Shakespeare is a resentment of Western values as such.

In an essay that astutely chronicles the original canon war, philosopher John Searle rightly observes that “opening up the canon” would not satisfy most professorial radicals; rather, “the whole idea of ‘the canon’” had to be abolished. Professor of education Henry Giroux expresses the more radical belief of the anti-canon proponents when he criticizes the mere liberals of the 1960s (as opposed to the postmodernists), who “remained partially constrained by modernist assumptions.” Postmodernism, meanwhile, “asserts no privileged place, aside from power considerations, for the art works, scientific achievements, and philosophical traditions by which Western Culture legitimates itself.”

The Question of ‘Cold Calling’

Becky Supiano:

Attending a class where discussion is always dominated by the same handful of confident students can be annoying. It’s not great for learning, either: Participation is a form of practice, and hearing from a broad selection of classmates enhances everyone’s education.

For those reasons, many professors use “cold calling,” picking out a student who did not volunteer to contribute. Or they might use the related practice of “random calling,” found mostly in large STEM classes, in which instructors select a student or group to hear from using a random-number generator, names from a hat, or a similar tool.

“Overall, taxes accounted for about 25 percent of average consumer spending”; more than food, clothing, education, and health care combined.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

On average, each “consumer unit” paid more than $16,000 in taxes last year. This outpaces average spending on food, clothing, education, and health care combined.

The mean for total spending per unit on health care, food, education, and clothing was $16,721.42. This included an average of $8,289.28 on food, $5,451.61 on health care, $1,226.14 on education, and $1,754.39 on apparel.

The mean for total spending per unit on taxes was $16,729.73. This included $8,561.46 in federal income tax, $2,564.14 in state and local income taxes, $2,475.18 in property taxes, $5,565.45 in Social Security deductions, and $105.21 in other taxes, offset by an average stimulus payment of $2,541.71.

In addition to this disturbing tidbit, the new BLS data contains a wealth of other information on American spending habits and offers an interesting glimpse at recovery—and inflation—during the second year of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elections, K-12 Governance and Parent Choice

Mitchell Schmidt:

A new coalition of conservatives, policy groups and advocacy organizations has begun developing a package of education goals for the coming legislative session — with expanded school choice as a top priority — that could play a considerable role in the upcoming race for governor this November.

Officials with the Wisconsin Coalition for Education Freedom say the goal is to give parents and students more options. But the proposals also stand in stark contrast to priorities laid out by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers — setting up an education policy battle in the Nov. 8 election, in which Evers, a former educator and state superintendent who has opposed expanded private school vouchers, faces businessman Tim Michels, a Republican who has pledged to expand school choice offerings across Wisconsin.

People are also reading…

“The election is critically important,” said Susan Mitchell, a longtime advocate for school vouchers and founder of School Choice Wisconsin. “Gov. Evers, both as (Department of Public Instruction) superintendent and as governor, has repeatedly opposed the expansion of these programs. Tim Michels has made public a completely opposite sort of perspective, so it matters a lot in terms of getting things done.”

The coalition, launched Thursday, includes conservative groups Americans for Prosperity, Badger Institute and law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, as well as education stakeholders such as American Federation for Children, virtual education company K12/Stride, School Choice Wisconsin and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobbying organization.

The group did not provide specific legislative proposals, but officials told the Wisconsin State Journal the two biggest priorities will be “school choice for all families” and legislation seeking to establish a “Parental Bill of Rights,” letting parents sue a school district or school official if they don’t allow parents to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school, review instructional materials and outlines used by the child’s school and access any education-related information regarding the child, among other measures.

Evers vetoed a GOP-authored bill last session that would have extended those powers to parents, stating in an April 15 veto message he opposed it “because I object to sowing division in our schools, which only hurts our kids and learning in our classrooms.”

He also vetoed a measure that would have vastly expanded private school vouchers by eliminating the income limits in the statewide, Milwaukee County and Racine County private school voucher programs, as well as create a temporary education expense reimbursement program for public school students. A fiscal report estimated the bill could raise property taxes as much as $577 million.

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”

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.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?