Dave Rubin speech at USC postponed indefinitely over “safety concerns”

Dave Rubin may have been criticized for not challenging some of his “problematic” guests (e.g., Milo Yiannopoulos), but I think that criticism is largely unfair, for Rubin’s brief is to just let guests talk on the premise that unfiltered, un-reactive speech is useful in letting viewers see someone’s true opinion. And you may object to some of Rubin’s views, like his libertarianism. But one thing you can’t accuse him of is being mean, abrasive, or promulgating “hate speech”. He has one aim: to promote discourse between people separated on the political spectrum, hoping it will bring them together. Maybe that’s a vain hope, but it’s a noble one.

And having met Rubin, and been on his show, I can vouch for the fact that he’s a really nice guy (everyone agrees on this, from right to left), and is mild mannered and calm. Say what you will about Rubin, his talks are not going to incite violence. (Well, given today’s students, I may be wrong!)

So it’s especially galling that, according to The Tab, Rubin’s upcoming talk at the University of Southern California (USC) has been postponed indefinitely by safety concerns—by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Rubin was invited to speak by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL):

According to an email provided by USC YAL President Chad Lonski, DPS said that they would need to have two armed guards “trained in dealing with potential disruptions or protests.” YAL would have to front the costs as well. For two DPS officers, it would cost $67.50 and they would have to work a minimum of four hours. That’s a total of $540.


DPS’s Threat Assessment Detective determined that Rubin’s controversial history “may present security issues,” that a bag checker would not be able to solve. Rubin says he is a classical liberal thinker, though he has recently distanced himself from progressive liberals, who he refers to as regressive. In a recent PragerU video called “Why I Left the Left,” Rubin said that “the regressive left ranks minorities in a pecking order to compete in a kind of oppression Olympics.”

. . . At USC, Rubin will discuss how Democrats allowed Trump to win if YAL are allowed to follow through with the event or receive enough funding to pay for armed guards, Lonski said.

The Tab notes as well that Rubin, unlike Yiannopoulos, has no history of inciting violence or strident protest at his talks: Rubin’s recent talk at UCLA drew only a handful of protestors.

Here’s the 4½-minute Prager University video in which Rubin classifies himself as a “classical liberal”. You probably won’t agree with all of Dave’s sentiments, nor do I: I think that if you can’t force a baker to bake a cake for a gay wedding (and Rubin thinks that bakers should have that “freedom of religion”), then why can you force a baker to bake a cake for a Muslim, or a black person? He presumably agrees with the Hobby Lobby decision as well, and I don’t. (Note, though, that gay activist Peter Tatchell agrees with Rubin on the cake issue, though he objects to the messages sometimes put on the cakes, not that they’re ordered by gays.)

Regardless of whether you agree, though, can you really make the case that Rubin’s purveying “hate speech,” or that his appearances should be postponed or canceled? After all, he is raising questions that impugn not people but ideas, and his own ideas are surely worth discussing. It’s galling that today’s generation of students would find sentiments like those in the video above so disturbing that they would engage in violent or uncontrollable disruptions.

Apparently even the mildest criticism of today’s Left is considered “hate speech,” and that’s a sad state of affairs.

U.S. State Department deletes congratulatory tweet for Oscar-winning director who opposed Trump’s immigration order

Well, compared to the damage our new President is likely to do to the country, this incident doesn’t count as much. But it’s a sign of how mean-spirited the administration is.

As you may know, Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian director, won the Oscar this year for Best Foreign-Language film for “The Salesman.” (I haven’t yet seen it, but it gets a 97% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) But this wasn’t his first win: he nabbed the same award for his 2012 movie “A Separation.” Here’s a man who knows what he’s doing.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government doesn’t share that view, at least publicly. As Reuters reports. the U.S. State Department’s official Persian language Twitter account initially congratulated Farhadi for his win, and then deleted the tweet. Why would it do that? Here’s one clue:

Farhadi boycotted the Oscars ceremony to protest Trump’s January executive order that temporarily banned entry to the United States by Iranians and citizens of six other Muslim-majority countries, and issued a statement criticizing the order. The ban was blocked by federal courts, although the administration is working on a new order.

Farhadi chose two Iranian-Americans – a female engineer and a former NASA scientist – to represent him at the ceremony. Anousheh Ansari, an engineer who was the first female space tourist, read a statement on Farhadi’s behalf calling the travel ban “inhumane.”

“Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” Ansari said, reading from Farhadi’s statement.

According to screenshots circulating on Twitter, the @USAdarFarsi account posted a message around 1 a.m. EST congratulating Farhadi on the award, which was Iran’s second Oscar victory. The tweet was then deleted, although it is unclear exactly when.

“A congratulatory tweet was posted,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “We later removed the post to avoid any misperception that the USG (U.S. government) endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.”

. . . The @USAdarFarsi account, which launched in February 2011 and seeks to engage directly with Iranians, had previously tweeted messages about “The Salesman,” including on Jan. 24, when it noted its Academy Award nomination and sent best wishes to Farhadi.

That tweet, which is still online, was published days before Trump issued the travel ban that sparked Farhadi’s protest.

Umm. . . congratulating him for his win doesn’t mean endorsing everything he says, though in this case I agree with both Farhadi’s sentiments and his gesture. But the State Department could have been big enough to congratulate the man for his achievements (after all, aren’t we trying to be friends with Iran?) without a mean-spirited revocation of those congratulations.

Here’s the tweet captured by Steve Herman before it was deleted. I can’t read the Persian, but perhaps a reader can.


From Reuters and the Torygraph


Here’s Farhadi at the 2012 Academy Awards in 2012 with his Oscar for “A Separation”:



Quackery of the month: Cincinnati Zoo uses chiropractic on tiger cub, adjusting spine to cure “failure to thrive”

I know that some readers say that chiropractic treatment has “helped” them, but the practice has no scientific basis, though for a simple one-time back-cracking it may be efficacious. But it’s used to treat general medical conditions, and it’s telling that even Wikipedia says this about the practice of “chiropractic” (my emphasis):

There is no good evidence that chiropractic is effective for the treatment of any medical condition, except perhaps for certain kinds of back pain. Generally, the research carried out into the effectiveness of chiropractic has been of poor quality. Numerous controlled clinical studies of treatments used by chiropractors have been conducted, with conflicting results Research published by chiropractors is distinctly biased. For reviews of SM for back pain chiropractic authors tend to have positive conclusions, while others did not show any effectiveness.

There is a wide range of ways to measure treatment outcomes. Chiropractic care, like all medical treatment, benefits from the placebo response [readers: note] It is difficult to construct a trustworthy placebo for clinical trials of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), as experts often disagree about whether a proposed placebo actually has no effect. The efficacy of maintenance care in chiropractic is unknown.

See this paper, which supports that conclusion, even the uselessness of chiropractic for back and neck pain; and see this list of harms purported to be caused by chiropractors. Further, here’s a summary of dangerous procedures used by chiropractors who manipulate the spines of newborn humans.

The idea that adjusting spines can help all kinds of medical conditions, such as the “failure to thrive” of the tiger cub described below, is pure quackery. And it can be dangerous, as we learned recently when model Katie May died of a stroke after a chiropractor adjusted her neck after a fall. (Neck adjustments are particularly dicey because the cervical vertebrae, when manipulated, can damage the spinal cord or arteries.) In May’s case, as Orac concludes at Respectful Insolence, rapid adjustment of her neck caused that stroke. No reputable physician would have done what that chiropractor did. (See here for Orac’s other criticisms of chiropractic “medicine”, which he deems quackery—even for lower back problems.)

Now people who go to chiropractors have only themselves to blame for using a form of “alternative medicine” that, says science, produces no benefits. (And no, I don’t want comments from readers saying how chiropractic helped them. I could just as easily get similar letters from Chinese people who use “alternative medicine” like deer horns, or from Americans who use homeopathic “medicine”.) But animals have no choice. So when I saw this video (which I published recently) of a very young tiger cub at the Cincinnati Zoo getting chiropractic neck adjustment for “failure to thrive,” it made me sick. Also in the video is Thane Maynard, head of the Zoo, touting the quackery:

This chiropractor apparently has no experience with baby tigers, which aren’t the same as humans. (Need I add that the configuration of their spinal cord and brain is horizontal rather than vertical?). Look at the quack adjusting the cervical vertebrae of this thing, and listen to him assert that “there’s a lot of science behind what really happens behind chiropractic adjustment” (WRONG!) and that “if the first vertebra is out of alignment . . . you restore the nerve flow [???] to the rest of the body.” What, exactly, is “nerve flow”?

I am at a loss to know why a reputable zoo would consult a chiropractor with no animal experience to “adjust the neck” of a tiny tiger. Did they ask a vet first? Why not a human physical therapist? And to see Thane Maynard, head of the zoo, buying into this quackery shows that zoo people can buy into quackery as much as do ignorant laypeople.

I sent the email below to the Cincinnati zoo–twice–and asked for a response. Of course I have gotten none. I’d tweet my beef to Thane Maynard himself, but his tweets are “protected”, so I can’t.  Here’s what I submitted on the form used to contact the zoo:

As an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, I want to register my objection to your having used a chiropractor to deal with one of your young tiger cubs, as documented in the YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylIjr1FkBOc

Do you seriously think that a quack adjusting the spine of a baby tiger would help it? What evidence is there that this kind of spinal manipulation, which can be dangerous (it’s killed people) would be efficacious? The chiropractor’s “scientific” explanation of adjusting the first cervical vertebra is totally ludicrous, saying that it’s ‘adjusting the nerve flow to the rest of the body.’

In all likelihood, this tiger would have gotten better by itself, but, at any rate, your publicizing the use of quack medicine for animals will only promote its further use on both animals and humans.

I would like your response about why you used this method in view of the lack of science behind it and the possibility it would endanger the cub.

Jerry Coyne
Professor Emeritus
Dept. Ecology & Evolution
The University of Chicago

Now what do you think the chances are that I’ll get a response? I’m not holding my breath, but I’m also tenacious.

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have some bird photos from reader Karen Bartelt; her notes are indented:

Just a potpourri of “dueling birds” at my feeders last month.

Dueling male northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) looking at a red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus):


Dueling downy woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens); two females and a male/female confrontation:



Dueling northern flickers (Colaptes auratus):


We went to Starved Rock SP (near Utica IL), last week hoping to see bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).  We saw about a dozen in a field just southwest of the entrance gate.  There was a carcass, probably a deer, in the field, and adults and juveniles were having quite a time.  I was only able to photograph half of them on the ground at any one time.  The park was nice, but we saw no eagles.  Why dive in cold water to catch fish when there is a nice carcass a half mile away?



John Fahey: “Wine and Roses”

So we had some John Fahey yesterday, but I’m going to put up one more song: one of my favorites. This is a rare video of a very young John Fahey playing what’s identified as “Red Pony.” However, I think the song is misidentified, as I’ve long known it as “Wine and Roses” from his Takoma album Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favorites. It has that combination of folk, blues, and melancholy that’s characteristic of Fahey’s music.

I once wrote Fahey—we had some correspondence—asking what guitar he played. He answered that he played an old “Bacon and Day Señorita guitar” that he bought with a bowed neck. (He also told me where he got it, but I’ve forgotten. I don’t think many fans wrote to him!) And indeed, that’s the guitar he’s playing here.

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Wednesday, and it’s March—March 1, 2017, to be precise, and the 60th day of the year. The first two months ended with record-setting weather in Chicago, as reported in this tweet:

Could it be. . . . global warming?

And this begins a new food month; here are all the foods honored in March:

National Fresh Celery Month
National Noodle Month
National Flour Month
National Frozen Food Month
National Nutrition Month
National Peanut Month
National Hot Cross Bun Day (Good Friday)
National Sauce Month
National Caffeine Awareness Month

National Flour Month? Which lobbyist slipped that in? And “caffeine awareness month”? I don’t like the sound of that at all!. Today is also “National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day”, which, given the placement of the apostrophe, implies that it’s for only one peanut butter maven. Finally, it’s Yap Day, celebrating Yapese culture.

News o’ the day: I see that Trump made kissy-kissy with Congress last night, which is more or less what he had to do to retain a shred of credibility. (I did not listen to his talk.) He’s clearly been reigned in for the nonce, but don’t expect him to suddenly become a good president. This is just a “President Act”. Speaking of that, the former President and Michelle Obama have signed their post-term book deals: the advances for both books, which will be published by Penguin Random House (my own publisher) are in the neighborhood of 20 million dollars.

On this day in 1565, Rio de Janeiro was founded, and, in 1692, the Salem Witch Trials began in Massachusetts with the hauling of three people before the court. On March 1, 1867, Nebraska became the 37th state, and exactly five years later, Yellowstone National Park became (according to Wikipedia) “the world’s first national park.” On this day in 1896, Henri Becquerel, using uraniums salts, discovered radioactive decay, for which he got the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. In 1932, the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping occurred on March 1, for which Bruno Hauptmann was ultimately executed.  On this day in 1953, Stalin had a stroke; he died four days later.  In 1961, John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps (were any readers in it?), and, 13 years, later, seven men were indicted in the Watergate scandal for their role in the break-in and attempts to cover it up. Yahoo was incorporated on March 1, 1995, and exactly 3 years later Titanic became the first film to gross over a billion dollars.

Notables born on this day include Frédéric Chopin (1810), Lytton Strachey (1880; read his Eminent Victorians and Queen Victoria), Glenn Miller (1904), Ralph Ellison (1914), and Harry Belafonte (1927; he’s 90 today). Day-O! Those who died on this day include Paul Scott (1978, author of The Raj Quartet and Staying On, five fantastic novels), Arthur Koestler (1983), Edwin Land (1991), and Minnie Miñoso (2015).  Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is cuddling with houseguest Sarah. They are sitting on MY couch, and I can’t help but be a wee bit jealous:

A: I see that you’ve found a new place.
Hili: Somebody must take care of our guests and you’re terrible at it.
In Polish:
Ja: Widzę, że znalazłaś sobie nowe miejsce.
Hili: Ktoś musi zajmować się gośćmi, a wy jesteście w tym okropni.

Lagnaippe: a gif of cat balancing dice on its paw. Click on screenshot to go to the gif:


And here is a boxing cat:

h/t: Ivan, Paul

Cat misjudges leap

Dogs don’t have real dignity, but cats do, making it all the more distressing when a cat (like this one) loses that dignity.

NYT rates 20 events of the Trump presidency on two axes: 70% are both important and abnormal

This figure (at the bottom of the post) was in today’s New York Times‘ “The Upshot” section, and rates 20 events of the Trump presidency on two axes: “normal —> abnormal” and “not important” —> “important.” The rankings were determined by polling “experts across the ideological spectrum”, with “experts” being either in government or having studied government. Click on the graph to enlarge it

Note that 14 of the 20, or 70%, fall within the “abnormal and important” quadrant (one, alienating Australia is “abnormal” but borderline in importance), only four “normal and important”, and only one each in “normal and not important” (firing Sally Yates; I suppose “normal” means “that’s what a President would do when someone doesn’t follow his orders), and “abnormal and not important” (Kellyanne Conway’s touting of Ivanka Trump’s brand). Of course the Times doesn’t have to actually define these categories, which makes them a bit dubious: all it did was just ask experts, each of which may have their own definition. Some, for example, would call Conway’s promotion “important”.

Here’s one example of each category; the gray dots are presumably the spread of answers among the experts, with the average being represented in the bottom overall figure.

Abnormal and important:


Normal and important:


Abnormal and Unimportant:


Normal and unimportant:


I’ll add this one because it had the biggest spread among the experts, with many seeing it relatively unimportant and 7 either normal or borderline normal.


You can read about each event at the link at the top.


Nick Cohen is feeling his oats

The good news is that Nick Cohen (author of What’s Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way. and You Can’t Read This Book, both well worth reading) is a national treasure. The bad news is that he’s the UK’s national treasure, and so we don’t read him that much in the U.S. But he’s a good non-regressive Leftist, and tonight he’s in good form:

Student suspended for not abiding by “oops” and “ouch” requirements for microaggressions

UPDATE: A reader has identified, in comment #10, the school where ms. Gradstein goes, and I’ve found email addresses you can write to if you want to protest her suspension for being too rational in a school that infantilizes its students. Under comment #10 I’ve also put the email I’ve sent to the university.


Campus Pride is a site supporting LGBTQ students; its mission statement says that it “represents the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network ‘for’ and ‘by’ student leaders. The primary objective of Campus Pride is to develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBTQ and ally students on college campuses across the United States.”

Now that’s fine, but it does get a bit tone-police-y in its “ground rules” for discussion. There are many, but I’m concentrating on the last two here: the “oops” and “ouch” requirements:

Ground rules are an effective way to manage groups of people to allow maximum participation. This list is not a complete list! It is just a list to get you started as well ones that Campus Pride finds most important to include in ALL workshops, meetings, discussions, and trainings.

RESPECT another person’s right to have opinions and thoughts that are different from yours.

Take RESPONSIBILITY for your own learning.

Be OPEN to considering alternative thoughts, ideas, opinions and behaviors.

Say OOPS and, or acknowledge when you may unintentionally say something and wish you had not.

Say OUCH when someone’s words or actions may hurt you.

Well, fine, but one student, who took a video of her disagreeing with this terminology that was enforced in a college class, was suspended for posting it on Facebook. Her story is on Reddit:

quidbat[S] 101 points 12 hours ago*

I just challenged the idea of the “oops” and “ouch” method in class, and I recorded it. I go to a small liberal arts school that has a hard core PC culture, and a lot of people disagreed with this video, including the fact I took it (even though it’s legal in this state and not against any specific school policy that I’m aware of). It got back to the administration, and now I’m suspended for breaking “student conduct.” I do understand how it was a breach of classroom trust, though.

Here’s the video, and I’m not sure what class this was, or what college she was attending. Yes, it is a bit surreptitious to take this video and post it, but it does reveal how infantilized some classes have become. It’s really embarrassing for whoever this teacher was to be seen enforcing college students in saying “oops” and “ouch”. Can you imagine if real-life discourse was enforced like this? We’d be back in Soviet Russia, where you could go to the gulag for wrapping a fish in a newspaper that had Stalin’s picture on it.

I suspect that this student was punished more for revealing what went on in class than for posting the video itself. Others may disagree, claiming it’s a violation of confidentiality and privacy, and I can see that. Still, nobody other than the student is shown, and it does show is the dark side of authoritative Leftism.

 h/t: Cindy