URLs du Jour

2009-10-28

  • Can you stand yet another link on Obamacare? Jacob Sullum notes that none of the major players are being particularly honest about the effect of mandatory "universal coverage" on health care costs.
    Defining one minimum medical package for the entire country, thereby inviting every health care interest to descend upon Capitol Hill and lobby for inclusion, will compound the inflation caused by state requirements. [The Cato Institute's Michael] Cannon warns that such a federal standard could force 100 million Americans into more expensive plans while effectively banning the money-saving combination of high-deductible insurance and health savings accounts.

    The upshot is a phenomenon we have seen many times before: Instead of protecting us from big business, big government buys it off with our money.

    Or, to quote (once more) Amarillo Slim: "Look around the table. If you don't see a sucker, get up, because you're the sucker."

  • At the Technology Liberation Front, Berin Szoka is clearly frustrated with how statists use the language of liberty to push … well, less liberty. The specific case is the "Net Neutrality" debate, as articulated by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC:
    What makes Maddow's comments so stunning is not her view that corporate America, rather than government, is the real enemy of freedom. That view is simply part of the long-regnant political orthodoxy. No, what's stunning is that she actually thinks that her side is losing the "war of words" just because Sen. McCain had the gall to use the term "Internet Freedom" as a rallying-cry for the outdated, bourgeois notion that "freedom" means the absence of coercion by the one entity that can enforce its commands at the point of a gun and call it "justice": that coldest of all cold monsters, the State. That's precisely what "liberalism" used to be about until people like Rachel appropriated that word and words like "liberty" and "freedom" as slogans for control.

  • Have you seen the Levi's TV ad where a scratchy recording of a Whitman poem accompanies a quick-cut black-and-white semi-depressing video? At Slate, Seth Stevenson fills in the details: for example, that it's thought to be Whitman himself reading that poem. Whoa.

    Stevenson thinks the ad is "a small artistic gem", except for the Levi's logo at the end. I think it's semi-irritating, except for the historical interest. But there's YouTube of the ad at the link, so you can make your own call.

  • Over 7200 years ago, a nearby star went supernova. Well, fortunately, not that nearby; it took until 1054 AD for light from the explosion to reach us. And, however unpleasant it might have been for anyone in the immediate vicinity, it's quite beautiful today.

Chasing the Dime

[Amazon Link]

A non-Harry Bosch novel from Michael Connelly. Without Bosch, some of Connelly's stylistic seams show a little bit: dialog is a little stilted, characters aren't quite three-dimensional. (I'd say somewhere around 2.7, though.) And the prose isn't magnificent, just significantly above average. But Connelly does know how to tell a story and grab your interest, so all in all, this is a pretty good read.

The protagonist is Henry Pierce, a chemist with a company on the verge of making an enormous killing in the biotech/nanotech field. They're about to file patents on a revolutionary method for powering nanites, and they're in the process of wooing a venture capitalist who'll put them on the path to capitalistic success.

There are just a couple of minor problems: Henry's dedication to his work has caused a nasty breakup with his girlfriend. And his new phone in his new apartment is getting calls meant for "Lilly", typically from lonely busnessmen in hotels. A little digging discovers that Lilly is a standout on one of those websites offering temporary intimate services.

But now Lilly has disappeared, and Henry (for personal reasons disclosed later) becomes a little obsessed with tracking her down. His amateur detective work, aided by the social engineering skills he developed on a college whim, leads him to various underbellies of L. A., and (unsurprisingly) into danger, deception, and very justified paranoia.

Although Bosch isn't present, there's a gratifying indirect reference to him late in the book. Also, Henry's a big fan of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears A Who!, very appropriate for someone working in nanotech.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 9:09 AM EST