Do Facts Matter Anymore? By Thomas Sowell

Amid the rioting in Milwaukee, there is also a clash between two leading lawmen there — Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and the city of Milwaukee’s Chief of Police Edward Flynn. They have very different opinions about how law enforcement should be carried out.

Chief Edward Flynn expresses the view long prevalent among those who emphasize the social “root causes” of crime, such as income disparities and educational disparities, as well as the larger society’s neglect of black communities.

Chief Flynn puts less emphasis on aggressive police action and more on community outreach and gun control.

Sheriff David Clarke represents an opposite tradition, in which the job of the police is to enforce the law, as forcefully as necessary, not to make excuses for law-breaking or to ease up on enforcing the law, in hopes that this will mollify rioters. Sheriff Clarke would also like to see law-abiding blacks be armed.

Differences of opinion on law enforcement are sharp and unmistakable — and have been for more than 50 years. However, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Unfortunately, facts seem to play a remarkably small role in clashes over law enforcement policies. And that too has been true for more than 50 years.

In his memoirs, the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that “all of us must assume a share of the responsibility” for rising crime rates in the 1960s because “for decades we have swept under the rug” the slum conditions that breed crime.

But the hard fact is that the murder rate in the country as a whole was going down during those very decades when social problems in the slums were supposedly being neglected.

Homicide rates among black males went down by 18 percent in the 1940s and by 22 percent in the 1950s. It was in the 1960s, when the ideas of Chief Justice Warren and others triumphed, that this long decline in homicide rates among black males reversed and skyrocketed by 89 percent, wiping out all the progress of the previous 20 years.

The same reversal in the country at large saw murder rates by 1974 more than twice as high as in 1960. This was after the murder rate had been cut in half from where it had been in the 1930s.

Ghetto riots, which erupted in the 1960s, were blamed on poverty and discrimination. But what were the facts?

Poverty and discrimination were worse in the South than in the rest of the country. But ghetto riots were not nearly as common in the South.

The most deadly ghetto riot of the 1960s occurred in Detroit, where 43 people were killed — 33 of whom were black. In Detroit at that time, black median family income was 95 percent of white median family income. The unemployment rate among blacks was 3.4 percent and black home ownership was higher in Detroit than in any other major city.

What was different about Detroit was that politicians put the police under orders that restricted their response to riots — and some rioters said “the fuzz is scared.” It was black victims who paid the highest price for letting rioters run amuck.

By contrast, Chicago’s 1960s mayor Richard Daley came on television to say that he had ordered his police to “shoot to kill” rioters who started fires. There was outrage among the politically correct across the country. But Chicago, with a larger population than Detroit, had no such death rate in riots.

In later years, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s aggressive police policies in high-crime neighborhoods cut the murder rate down to a fraction of what it had been before.

But, in England, opposite policies prevailed, with what London’s “Daily Telegraph” newspaper referred to as “politically correct policing” that has police acting “more like social workers than upholders of law and order.”

Although England had long been regarded as one of the most law-abiding nations on Earth, riots that swept through London, Manchester and other British cities in 2011 were virtually identical to riots in Ferguson, Baltimore and other American cities. Most of the British rioters were white but what they did was the same, right down to setting fire to police cars.

But do facts matter anymore?

Thomas Sowell, a National Humanities Medal winner, is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and author. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.


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The Macaroni in ‘Yankee Doodle’ is Not What You Think By Michael Waters


An engraving of a “macaroni’s dressing room,” from 1772. (Photo: Wellcome Images, London/CC BY 4.0)


Meet the stylish gender-role rebels of 1770s England.

Generations of American kids forced to sing “Yankee Doodle” have grown up justifiably puzzled by its lyrics.

Though the song, set to an upbeat melody, appears to satirize Americans, it is today treated as a patriotic anthem. Anyone who is not given proper context—that “Yankee Doodle” was originally created by the British to ridicule Americans, and that American soldiers reclaimed it during the Revolutionary War—might well question the point of the song.

But perhaps the most confounding part of “Yankee Doodle” is its opening. To the average listener, the first verse appears to describe an American man who confuses a feather for a piece of pasta:

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.

The “macaroni” in question does not, however, refer to the food, but rather to a fashion trend that began in the 1760s among aristocratic British men.

On returning from a Grand Tour (a then-standard trip across Continental Europe intended to deepen cultural knowledge), these young men brought to England a stylish sense of fashion consisting of large wigs and slim clothing as well as a penchant for the then-little-known Italian dish for which they were named. In England at large, the word “macaroni” took on a larger significance. To be “macaroni” was to be sophisticated, upper class, and worldly.

In “Yankee Doodle,” then, the British were mocking what they perceived as the Americans’ lack of class. The first verse is satirical because a doodle—a simpleton—thinks that he can be macaroni—fashionable—simply by sticking a feather in his cap. In other words, he is out of touch with high society.

But what is fascinating about those fashionable British macaronis is how quickly they fell out of favor—and how, within a decade, a word that once denoted worldliness became synonymous with excess and male femininity.

It helps to think of the macaronis in waves. The first wave—those aristocrats returning from the Grand Tour in the 1760s—made macaroni fashion emblematic of social status. While their rather large wigs and slim clothes were seen as a bit feminine, they remained well within the bounds of acceptability, and actually became quite trendy.

But in the 1770s, as macaroni fashion spread beyond its aristocratic roots, these traces of femininity were amplified many times over. Thus came the second wave, when macaroni men were defined by their effeminacy.

As The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine noted, at this time the word macaroni “changed its meaning” from a sophisticated Brit to “a person who exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion.” Seemingly overnight, the term “macaroni” became one of ridicule, and entire industries sprung up in order to deride these macaroni men.

The new macaronis were characterized in a relatively singular way: most were gaunt men with tight pants, short coats, gaudy shoes, striped stockings, fancy walking sticks, and—most recognizably—extravagant wigs. Humorous depictions showed macaroni men wearing giant wigs topped off by comically small tricorn hats and attached to thick pigtails. Often these wigs were heavily powdered and were nearly half the size of the macaronis themselves. One representative comic showed a macaroni with hair so long that he needed a servant to carry it around for him.


In England at the time, masculinity was about moderation: masculine men were polished but not extravagant, and their wigs were sober. Women, in contrast, did not wear wigs, but they padded their coiffures with so much decoration that their hair became famous for its height. (According to “Hair, Authenticity, and the Self-Made Macaroni,” a popular joke at the time “held that because their hair was so tall, ladies were forced to sit on the floors of their carriages in order to fit inside.”)

That macaronis emulated many facets of female dress did not escape the notice of English commentators, who variously referred to macaronis as “that doubtful gender,” “hermaphrodites,” and “amphibious creatures.”

One song described a macaroni as thus: “His taper waist, so strait and long, / His spindle shanks, like pitchfork prong, / To what sex does the thing belong? / ’Tis call’d a Macaroni.”

The Oxford Magazine similarly described the macaroni as not belonging to the gender binary: “There is indeed a kind of animal, neither male, nor female, a thing of neuter gender, lately started up among us. It is called a Macaroni. It talks without meaning, it smiles without pleasure, it eats without appetite, it rides without exercise, it wenches without passion.”

Whether these critiques of macaronis insinuated homosexuality is debated. Certainly it is difficult to generalize one way or other: though some commentators appeared to frame macaronis in terms of same-sex attraction, not all did. Regardless, macaronis became a fixture of popular imagination for their rejection of traditional gender roles. Rumors circulated that macaronis drank only milk, avoided eating roast beef at all costs, and disdained popular gathering places like bars and coffeehouses. According to “The Darly Macaroni Prints and the Politics of ‘Private Man,'” they were also frequently compared to devils, reptiles, monkeys, and butterflies.

In fact, the public shaming of macaronis grew so commonplace that it became an industry: in the early 1770s, Mary Darly, a cartoonist by trade, devoted so much energy to caricaturing macaronis that her store in London became known as “The Macaroni Print Shop.” Darly’s ridicule of macaronis became the first widespread use of the caricature as a means of social commentary.

In one caricature, entitled “What, is this my son Tom?,” a farmer pokes at his son’s wig with a whip, unable to believe that his son has taken on such an effeminate dress. The son, meanwhile, is presented as ridiculous: his hair and pigtails are gigantic, his cane is inexplicably tousled, and he carries around a decorative sword.

A caricature of the macaroni fashion. (Photo: Library of Congress/LC-USZ62-115003)

The cartoon’s description captures the remorse of an older generation convinced that its youth were wrecking the culture:

The honest Farmer, come to Town,
Can scarce believe his Son his own
If thus the Taste continues Here,
What will it be another Year?

In the 1770s, satirical prints like these proliferated, and they came to define macaronis in the public consciousness. Today, it is difficult to separate these caricatures from the actual macaronis. It is even likely that portrayals of macaronis were highly exaggerated; by some accounts, macaroni dress in the 1770s did not in fact stray too far from the norm.

And though humor was a primary driver of these caricatures, some scholars—like Amelia Rauser—argue there is also another motive: cartoonists, like the public at large, were attracted to the striking singularity of the macaronis. Macaronis were certainly odd, but they were also brave. In a society that emphasized individuality, it is not hard to imagine that they became folk heroes of a kind—and that many of the people who laughed at them felt a tug of longing for the freedom with which they lived.

By the time the macaroni fashion trend died in the early 1780s, the legacy of these early gender-role rebels was preserved almost entirely through caricatures. Well, and through that peculiar song, where a man confuses a feather for macaroni.

Posted: August 24, 2016

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Lifetime of Study by Peter Leavell

Push yourself. No one will do it for you.
Your characters are only as brilliant as you.

Book clubs across the world, critics living in New York, and college professors looking for something to be angry about, read our work. The thought is frightening.

Here’s the only way to strengthen your work:

Make theology, psychology, and philosophy your life study.

You’ve studied craft. Excellent. But you’re not done. You’ve simply taken English 101.

Important: Genius and clever and smart have nothing to do with deep characters. Hard word, determination, and insanity are key.

Credit Kade Leavell

Study theology because everything done throughout history is a search for God or an escape from God. Knowing theology gives the writer an ability to stretch your character’s crisis to unknown heights.

Psychology is my weakest point, because I’m not interested in Myers Briggs and his amazing personality quiz. Putting people into categories makes me uncomfortable. I prefer to do my own observations and answer to myself the eternal question resounding through the millennia—why in the world did he do that?

Philosophy is overlooked because we like to believe our lives are based on doctrine and sound principles, not sheer reasoning. However, most of our lives are based on philosophy. The United States, simply put, is based on philosophical ramblings of Greeks and Romans, with an economic system built loosely on ideas of a Scottish moral philosopher named Adam Smith. Our characters agree with these philosophies, or they don’t. Having studied these philosophies gives us tools with which to expand our characters.

Tradition, as another philosophical example, must start as a new way of doing something, then last at least a full generation. Given this test of time, the tradition is probably good, but the reasoning behind the tradition is lost. A traditional school year is plotted around a farming harvest cycle. We take it for granted some scientific survey found the cycle works best, but it’s not true. The writer, knowing the philosophy behind traditions, help give depth to our characters, whether the writer wants to use the information in their novel or not.

Real life decisions look like cause and effect. But in our books, there must be some sort of continuous trail of logical progression which makes the reader say, ‘ah yes. That makes sense. I don’t agree, but I can see why.’ Human behavior, many times, is more like, ‘what in the world? Why did you do that?’

When our character enters a crisis, his or her ability to reason through the problem and proceed is only as good as your personal studies of philosophy. You can’t write something you don’t know.
By studying theology, psychology, and philosophy, we may shed light into our character’s reasoning that will resonate with the reader that he or she hadn’t known about themselves. Is there anything more satisfying?

If your character is in love with history, science, art, or some other aspect of humanity, your studies have exploded into so much more awesomeness. No one said writing deep characters would be easy. But if it were easy, everyone would do it.

How to proceed? The secret is to start.

—Read the Bible once a year. Twice, if you can, in two versions.
—Adding a book discussing doctrine or Christian history never goes amiss.
—Consider picking up a scholar such as C.S. Lewis or Dorothy Sayers and read everything he or she has written. It’s a great starting place to stretch both theology and philosophy. And you’ll learn how to be a scholar-first-class.
—Don’t believe everything you read. Test the ideas with first the Bible, then other works.
—Psychology periodicals abound, and are fairly easy reads. Again, I prefer just studying people.
—Read classic literature, since most classics are a blend of intriguing plotline and character development.

—Pick up Plato and Augustine. Grind through them, taking notes and outlining.
I’m not saying study is easy. But I am saying study is worth it.

Can you put a price on education? Devote yourself to a lifetime of study, and your work will reflect in your characters!

Peter Leavell

Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at, or friend him on Facebook: Peter R. Leavell.

Posted: August 8, 2016
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The Bible Project—The Law

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What a Trumpian Supreme Court Might Look Like? By John Yoo and Jeremy Rabkin

Would justices appointed by Trump be able to restrain him?


In 1952, the National Archives in Washington arranged to put an original parchment text of the Constitution — along with an original parchment text of the Declaration of Independence — on public display. Because of the Cold War concerns about nuclear attacks, the Archives designed the display cases to slide down into a bomb-proof vault below the building. Even if the Soviets launched nuclear devastation on our nation’s capital, the Constitution would still be safe for future generations.


Perhaps we should admire that level of devotion to the Constitution. But we have a stronger preference for avoiding nuclear war. We also want to avoid trade wars and the end of American alliances that are decades old. In short, we are unwilling to entrust our nation’s foreign and security policy to a Trump administration.


But many conservatives still cling to the spirit of the 1950s — at least in their apocalyptic level of constitutional devotion. They say we must accept all other risks so that a President Trump might defend the Constitution, or at least the Supreme Court.


We have already gone on record in opposition to this position, in our op-ed for the Los Angeles Times titled “Filling Supreme Court Vacancies Isn’t a Good Reason to Vote for Trump.” Among other things, people who think this way imagine that because Trump said he would appoint justices recommended by the Federalist Society, he will actually follow through. He may flip-flop and walk back and reposition himself on everything else, but not on his pledge to support conservative judges because . . . there does not seem to be any “because” to support this faith in Trump’s integrity, except the forlorn hope that he respects constitutional conservatives too much to throw them overboard.


Trump supporters also assume that because Trump intends to appoint good people to the courts, the Senate will acquiesce. They believe that Trump will be more successful in his appointments than Presidents Reagan, G. H. W. Bush and G. W. Bush. It’s hard to imagine why Trump, with no experience at all bargaining with legislators, would be more successful (or no less successful) than his far more experienced predecessors.


We would like to add several other considerations that weigh against the notion of Trump as a constitutional bulwark. The first is that the Constitution is not just the case law of the Supreme Court. Some of the most important issues — regarding separation of powers or federalism — do not get before courts, or they don’t generate clear rulings even when they do. Much of the Constitution depends on shared understandings, patterns of practice, and informal precedents.


President Obama has extended executive authority beyond any of his predecessors, as with his penchant for rewriting laws or refusing to enforce them. A successor might try to repudiate or at least isolate the worst of these practices. How likely is a President Trump to let legal arguments stand in the way of anything he might take it into his head to do? How likely is he to appoint legal advisers with the clarity and resolution to tell him when he is overstepping?


Trump has proved unwilling (or unable) to find senior campaign advisers who can tell him when he’s going wrong. Suppose he nonetheless wins the election. How likely is he to follow the advice of more experienced hands? Or heed advice on anything on which he takes so little interest as the Constitution?


But suppose some important issue does get to the courts. One of the few pledges Trump has continually reaffirmed is that he’ll build a wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it. He never mentions Congress, so he seems to think he can levy construction charges against Mexico on his own. How? One version he has floated is to stop money orders from Mexican (or Mexican-American) workers back to relatives in Mexico.


Now think about the resulting lawsuits. Trump feels a compulsion to prove he’s a “winner” and to trash his opponents, and then to protest if he doesn’t win, “the system is rigged.” Will the Supreme Court restrain him? Will it feel confident enough to do so again and again, as Trump’s conduct may require? Does anyone think a Court with several Trump appointees will prove a reliable barrier to Trumpian excesses? Does anyone think a Court with several Trump appointees will prove a reliable barrier to Trumpian excesses?


But what if Hillary’s appointees overturn the handful of conservative victories of the past decade? That will be sad. We think the Court would err, for example, if it were to reverse its recent cases holding that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own firearms. But it may not be better, in the long term, to “save” such rulings under a Court identified with Trump.


One of the most discouraging trends on the Court in recent decades has been the disciplined bloc voting by Democratic appointees on major issues. They persist in treating decisions that they dislike — on the Second Amendment, campaign contributions, religious freedom — as open questions, subject to reconsideration. Many academic commentators approve and encourage that level of partisanship.


But so far, this has all been a matter of what is said in dissents. It might well be that even some of the Court’s liberals would, in practice, be reluctant to overturn a whole series of conservative precedents. That might undermine the authority of their own rulings. But that assumes a Court that still retains some general aura of public acceptance. Think, then, about a court with two or more Trump appointees. How much long-term authority will its controversial rulings attain?


To imagine that they shape constitutional understandings over the long term, one must believe that judges are not affected by tides in public opinion — or, in this case, that judges remain indifferent to a constant, fierce barrage of attacks, associating every controversial ruling with the scowling or pouting face of Donald J. Trump. If the Court did what Trump demanded, it would be branded “the Trump Court.” Future Court majorities may well take pride in rescuing the country from “the shameful legacy of the Trump era.”


Perhaps Trump appointees and others will stand firm. But then what? To believe that someone like Trump can reshape constitutional law, one has to believe not only that Trump will appoint highly capable, resolute, and principled judges to the Supreme Court. It also requires us to believe that Trump will be reelected and then pass on his prestige to a follower — such as Chris Christie — in order to keep restocking the Court with resolute Trumpists who can withstand the drumbeat of protest and opposition. Since previous Republican presidents failed to maintain such momentum in their Court appointments, Trump has better prospects only if he has the unique attributes he sometimes claims. (“I alone can fix it!”)


What we’ve actually seen in this campaign is that Trump is a highly polarizing figure. That won’t change should he manage to get himself elected. If he does win despite the campaign he has run, his advisers will conclude that they must “let Trump be Trump.” His instinct will be to rule as he has won, by exacerbating the divisions in our society and disdaining to expand his governing coalition. To say we need him for the Supreme Court is to say we can accept a Supreme Court operating on the precise fault lines of almost all our domestic political disputes. And that will help to build a solid constitutional structure?


If you can believe that, you can believe Trump has all the magical powers he claims to have in dealing with foreigners — making them pay up, stand down, respect us, and doing so “very fast,” just by acting “smart” and “tough.” If you find this plausible, we admit that you are beyond the reach of argument and have passed into the realm of fantasy. Pleasant dreams! — John Yoo is the Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Jeremy Rabkin is a professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University.

— John Yoo is the Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Jeremy Rabkin is a professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University.
Posted: August 18, 2016
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Sic Definition By Marko Ticak

Sic can be one of several things:

  • An adverb denoting that something is quoted as is, including mistakes.
  • A Scottish word with the same meaning as such.
  • A verb meaning “to attack” or “to entice to attack.”

Sic is the funny little word that lurks within brackets and stands beside spelling or grammar errors. It’s been doing so since the middle of the nineteenth century, and while it’s regularly seen today, people still wonder about its meaning and how to define it. It turns out there are a few ways to define sic, because there’s the Scottish sic and the English sic beside the Latin sic we see in brackets.

Sic—What Does It Mean?

The sic you see in quoted text marks a spelling or grammatical error. It means that the text was quoted verbatim, and the mistake it marks appears in the source. It’s actually a Latin word that means “so” or “thus.”

If you’re from Scotland, you probably know that sic is another way of saying “such.” It can also be a verb that means “to attack something or someone” or “to entice to attack.” This sic, the one that means “to attack,” is unrelated to the Latin sic. It’s an alteration of the verb seek.

How to Use Sic

Sic is usually found in brackets or parentheses, and it can also be italicized. If you want to quote someone or something in your work, and you notice the source material contains a spelling or grammatical error, you use sic to denote the error by placing it right after the mistake. It shows your readers that you didn’t just make a typo.

A note of caution: when you use sic to mark a mistake, make sure it’s really a mistake. Just think of all the spelling differences between British and American English. Even if a spelling seems unfamiliar to you, double-check it before you sic it.

It’s possible that some might consider using sic as bad form because it’s used to point out other people’s mistakes. But then again, if you don’t point them out, they could be considered yours. Use your judgment. If it’s obvious that you’re quoting a Twitter post that’s full of misspellings, marking each one with a sic might look like you’re making fun of the writer.

Sic Examples

“I have expressed my sincere position regarding my contract status and with sound mind have expressed my stands (sic) to the Texans organization.”

“We all gon (sic) be dead in 100 Years. Let the kids have the music.”
Toronto Sun

“It might may (sic) no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief.”

Posted: August 15, 2016

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Why We Love to Read By Tim Challies

I have watched the avid outdoorsman, the fisherman, come slowly drifting by. He goes by morning after morning, day after day, always at the same time, always casting into the same locations. He is patiently waiting for the big one, waiting for that hard strike, that long battle that will land him his prize.

I do not fish, but I do read, and I find them similar. The avid reader takes in book after book, day after day, searching each one, looking carefully for those few but important ideas. Four hundred pages—or eight hundred—is a small price to pay for an idea. It is a small price to pay for knowledge that leads to application that leads to life change.

Sometimes you need to do a lot of reading to come away with one really good idea. Some books yield nothing but nonsense; some yield nothing but ideas you have come across a thousands times before. But then, at last, you find that one that delivers. There is such joy in it. Such reward.

The fisherman is rewarded when at last he has his fish. He takes a picture of it, weights it, takes it home, has it mounted, and displays it for the world to see. The reader is rewarded when at last he has his idea. He takes that idea, he thinks about it, he talks about it, he weighs and considers it, and he integrates it into his life.

No wonder, then, that we love to read. We read to discover that prize. We read to learn, and we read to live.


Posted: August 13, 2014

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