URLs du Jour

2011-12-09

  • At Reason, Jacob Sullum takes issue with a tiresome bit of Barackrobatics: the President's constant use of strawmen signalled by "there are some who…" and "there are those who…". Sample from Obama's recent Kansas speech:
    In the midst of this debate [about the best way to restore growth, prosperity, balance, and fairness], there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that's happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.
    Comments Sullum:
    Who are these "some" who say everyone should fend for himself while playing by his own rules? Obama does not say, but they sound like real dicks, don't they?
    Sullum provides other examples.

  • We trash the "fact-checking" Politifact site every so often, but they did a good job on debunking a legend that's apparently widespread among Christmas haters. Here's the way it's phrased at the ACLU website:
    Congress met on Christmas Day every year from 1789 to 1855, with only three exceptions[.]
    See? Back in the day, they were serious about that Wall of Separation thing!

    This "fact" was also promulgated on a recent episode of Jon Stewart's Daily Show and a History Channel program. And it was too good to check.

    In a heroic research effort, Politifact totted up the number of times the Senate and House met on December 25 between 1789 and 1857. Their result: twice.

  • There's P.J. O'Rourke content at the Weekly Standard. Our hero is given two dreadful books to review: Shiny Objects (subtitle: "Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy") and Against Thrift (subtitle: "Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul"). Sample from his discussion of the former work:
    Further bungling numbers, Roberts cites UCLA’s annual survey of freshmen. In 2010, 77 percent of the college kids said they thought it was important to be “very well-off financially.” In 1980, 62.5 percent thought so. And in 1966, 42 percent were of that opinion. To Roberts, this proves that everything in America is getting worse; to a parent, this proves that kids are getting smarter.

  • The lads at Language Log keep their eyes open for new and unusual linguistic constructions, and in this post, Geoffrey K. Pullum describes one seen in recent ads:
    I love my house now belongs to my ex-wife.
    I'm not interested in getting married in church is more romantic.
    I like working with you is impossible.
    See what they do there? Life changes on you quickly, even in mid-sentence.

    Unusual, but not new, Pullum notes. The songwriter Jimmy Webb used the same trick in the song "Honey Come Back", recorded in 1970 by Glen Campbell, and dozens of others since.

  • The National Review editors go full-libertarian on the United States Postal Service:
    Our preferred solution is to get the government out of the mail business. Congress should end the monopoly and sell USPS to the highest bidder. In the age of almost universal Internet access, there is no reason for the government to run a mail company. The USPS services that customers are willing to pay for will continue, and the rest will fall by the wayside. If possible, privatization should also give the new owner a chance to fight the company’s unions, which have negotiated unusually high salaries and benefits, on a level playing field — first in union elections, and then, if workers vote to keep their representation, at the bargaining table.
    Not bad from a publication that still sends me dead trees every couple weeks. (They admit, however, that this is "not particularly realistic on a political level.")

  • News you can use, from Wired: The Right (and Wrong) Way to Die When You Fall Into Lava.

    The author notes, correctly, that most movies get the physics wrong.


Last Modified 2012-09-24 11:43 AM EST