URLs du Jour

2018-01-26

■ I learned something today from Proverbs 16:17:

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
    those who guard their ways preserve their lives.

OK, the advice is good and sensible, but pretty mundane: arrange your life to avoid temptation. Steer away from the lady in our Pic du Jour, for example. I don't see a motorcycle helmet on her, do you?

But… highway? Surely that's a modernism injected into newer translations, to appeal to the youngfolk, right?

<voice imitation="john_mclaughlin">Wrong!</voice> The 1611 King James Version of 16:17 also has "highway". Dictionary.com tells us the word has been present in English since "before 900".

No information found on who was the first to say "My way or the highway."


■ Cato has published The Human Freedom Index - 2017. It's good reading for globetrotters, but basically, I'm just concerned with the "good parts": how the US of A is doing.

  • We ain't number one. (That's Switzerland.) We are not even in the top 10. (Which are, in descending order: Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.)

  • The US is in 17th place.

  • But (let's look on the bright side) we are up from the previous ranking: 24th place in 2014, with improvements both in economic freedom and personal freedom.

  • But (let's look on the dark side) we were in 11th place as recently as 2008.

Bottom line, as usual: considerable room for improvement.


■ There's little controversy that occupational licensing is a dreadful rent-seeking activity. New Hampshire's record in this regard is mediocre (as in: could be worse, should be better). But there's an effort under way to … make things worse. But the good news, sort of, is that it's also kind of silly. As reported by WMUR: State considers licensing art therapists

Lawmakers in Concord are considering licensing art therapists as one way to tackle the state's mental health crisis.

Those who practice art therapy said its healing effects are real, and the greatest skeptics often make the biggest breakthroughs.

It's unsurprising, to say the least, that people making money off art therapy claim that it works. Also unsurprising: the legislator behind this rent-seeking scheme is my very own state senator, David Watters.

I'm skeptical on the benefits of art therapy (see here for an NIH overview of evidence).

There are only six states that issue art therapy licenses. (Six more "regulate art therapy under another professional license"). In the remaining 38, the mentally ill are condemned to exist under the care of unlicensed art therapists.

I, for one, am a big believer in dog-walking therapy. (OK, I said that as a joke, but Googling shows that it's actually a thing.) Where's my license?


■ Have you been wondering what the Russia "Fake News" scare is all about? Good news, bunkie, David Harsanyi has the answer: The Russia ‘Fake News’ Scare Is All About Chilling Speech. The latest iteration claims that the #ReleaseTheMemo Twitter hashtag, asking that the public be allowed to see the GOP-written memo that alleges FBI malfeasance is being driven by Russkiebots. Which caused prominent Democrats to demand that Twitter and Facebook launch an immediate investigation.

I’d rather we live with Russian troll bots feeding us nonsense than authoritarian senators dictating how we consume news. I mean, has anyone yet produced a single voter who lost his or her free will during the 2016 election because he had a Twitter interaction with an employee of a St. Petersburg troll farm? Or do voters tend to seek out the stories that back their own worldviews?

If your argument is that American are uninformed and easily misled, I’m with you. Just look at all the people who believe that a $46,000 buy on Facebook by the Russians was enough to destroy the pillars of our democracy. But if you want to live in a free and vibrant nation, you have to live with the externalities of that freedom.

As Frank Herbert pointed out, all those years ago: Fear is the mind-killer.


■ At Reason, Robby Soave reports: Libertarian Banned from Facebook for Tide Pod Joke That Mocked Liberals. Specifically, a version of this joke (which, as I type, Twitter hasn't censored):

Robby comments:

It's sadly true that thousands of kids ages six and younger eat highly poisonous Tide pods each year, though only a handful of them die as a result. But those were accidents involving little kids who didn't know better. Aside from a handful of yo-yos on YouTube, it simply isn't the case that a host of teenagers are deliberately eating Tide pods. It's a joke, akin to the faux public mourning of Harambe the gorilla.

No one should be freaked out about Tide pod jokes. That includes you, Facebook.

I wonder how large a role the libertarian thrust of the joke played in Facebook's censorship decision?


■ And our Tweet du Jour: