URLs du Jour

2018-03-23

[Amazon Link]

  • The Proverbialist's good advice is marred by his oral fixation in Proverbs 14:7:

    7 Stay away from a fool,
        for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

    They could have a wise tattoo somewhere on their bodies, but I would tend to doubt that too. It's not the way to bet.


  • Ross Douthat makes a good point at the NYT, debunking the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica mind-control "freakout": Trump Hacked the Media Right Before Our Eyes.

    No doubt all the activity on Facebook and the apparent use of Facebook’s data had some impact, somewhere, on Trump’s surprise victory. But the media format that really made him president, the one whose weaknesses and perversities and polarizing tendencies he brilliantly exploited, wasn’t Zuckerberg’s unreal kingdom; it wasn’t even the Twitter platform where Trump struts and frets and rages daily. It was that old pre-internet standby, broadcast and cable television, and especially TV news.

    Start with the fake news that laid the foundation for Trump’s presidential campaign — not the sort that circulates under clickbait headlines in your Facebook feed, but the sort broadcast in prime time by NBC, under the label of reality TV. Yes, as media sophisticates we’re all supposed to know that “reality” means “fake,” but in the beginning nobody marketed “The Apprentice” that way; across most of its run you saw a much-bankrupted real estate tycoon portrayed, week after week and season after season, as a titan of industry, the for-serious greatest businessman in the world.

    And then things continued with the endless hyping of the Trump campaign on the "respectable" network news, eclipsing his more boring Republican rivals.


  • Michael Brendan Dougherty writes on The Social-Media Panic at NR:

    ‘Make no mistake: 2016 will never happen again.” Historians are not always reliable predictors of the future, but Niall Ferguson’s analysi of how Silicon Valley and the center-Left would react to the successive and surprise victories of Brexit and Donald Trump is proving correct. Conservatives and populists will not be allowed to use the same tools as Democrats and liberals again, or at least not use them effectively.

    Silicon Valley is working with its media and governmental critics to limit the damage to the center-Left going forward. You can see the dynamic in the way that the media generates a moral panic out of stories about how Brexit and the Trump election happened, and the way Silicon Valley responds. Fake news becomes a problem, and Silicon Valley responds by hiring progressive journalists as censors. I mean “fact-checkers.” You can see it in the demonetization of YouTube videos. Or in the new sets of regulation being imposed in European countries that deputize the social-media networks themselves as an all seeing social censor.

    Will Facebook/Google/Twitter slant their algorithms in favor of the Progressive left? I think that's already happening.


  • At the Federalist, Robert Tracinski describes How The Second Amendment Prevents Tyranny.

    The latest gun control hysteria being stoked by the press has revealed an enormous amount of confusion about the role of the Second Amendment as a guarantee of liberty in our constitutional system.

    That role is alternately embraced in rather simplistic form or dismissed as an absurdity: how could ragtag bands of rednecks with AR-15s ever hope to take on the U.S. military, with its full panoply of tanks, helicopters, and elite troops? The same people who say this will also insist that any American military action overseas is a mistake, because the U.S. military, with its full panoply of tanks, helicopters, and elite troops, can never hope to defeat ragtag bands of insurgents with AK-47s. But don’t look for consistency in partisan politics, and don’t be surprised when a Democratic politician wanders off script and suggests that if President Trump were to “ignore the courts,” then “this is where the Second Amendment comes in, quite frankly.”

    As Thomas Jefferson did not say: "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty."


  • At Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok provides the interesting news: Vehicle Safety Inspections Don’t Increase Safety.

    In 2003 I wrote The Politician and Mechanic Conspire to Rip Me Off in which I cited a study (another here) showing that annual automobile safety inspections do not increase safety but do waste time and money and generate unnecessary repairs. I have continued to rant about these wasteful policies ever since.

    A surprising number of states have ditched them, including New Jersey, a state that won't let you pump your own gas. While here in New Hampshire, we meekly trudge off to the inspection station every year. What happened to LFOD?


  • Ah, here it is. A change.org petition to Replace Rep. Patrick Abrami as Chair of N.H. Marijuana Study Commission. Rep. Abrami's sin is his vehement opposition to pot legalization.

    In light of this strong public support for reforming our state’s antiquated cannabis laws, the people of New Hampshire deserve a study commission chairman who is fair and unbiased, if not outright supportive of reform. As residents of the “Live Free or Die” state, we respectfully request that you relieve Rep. Abrami from his duties on the commission and appoint a more fair-minded representative to serve in his place.

    Pun Salad recommendation: junk the "study" commission, just legalize.

Razor Girl

[Amazon Link]

I couldn't help thinking while reading Razor Girl: the Carl Hiaasen universe woud make a fine cable/streaming series along the lines of Justified or Bosch. Of course they'd have to clean things up a bit for the tube, especially for FX, but even some for HBO. Nobody wants to see video of some of this stuff.

Then I think: oh, right: Striptease. A fine Hiaasen novel turned into unwatchable dreck. Except for Demi Moore's, uh, routines. Anyway, I could see reluctance to finance any more Hiaasen-based productions after that. (But according to IMDB Skinny Dip is in "pre-production", so… maybe that taboo has been lifted.)

Another problem: for some reason, I see most of the major male roles being played by the same actor: Donal Logue, the guy that plays Harvey Bullock on Gotham. That probably wouldn't work out in reality.

Anyway, let's go to the book. It's more or less a sequel to Bad Monkey, Hiaasen's previous book for grownups. That book's protagonist, Andrew Yancy, is still a disgraced ex-cop with poor impulse control, working as a restaurant inspector in Key West. He is diligently trying (1) to prevent the construction of a hideous dwelling on the lot adjacent to his house; (2) to regain his cop job; (3) and to preserve his romantic relationship with lovely Rosa, a medical worker who's tired of all the southern Florida crime detritus.

The "razor girl" is Merry Mansfield, a carefree scam artist whose current gig is intentionally rear-ending other vehicles while pretending to, uh, landscape, her, uh, lady regions. This sends her victims into enough of a carnal tizzy so her co-conspiritor can proceed with whatever felonious activities the gig demands with minimal opposition.

Merry and Andrew are the most likeable characters in the book. Following close behind is Dominick "Big Noogie" Aeola, a mafia mobster who occasionally needs to order a whack or two. Other cast members are various flavors of despicable/moronic: a lawyer who's made his riches from those class-action lawsuits you see advertised on late-night TV; the entire cast of a TV show, Bayou Brethren, fake hillbilly chicken farmers who construct fishing lures from the feathers of their roosters; the agent representing "Captain Cock", one of said TV stars, and… well, there are a lot more. Hiaasen does his usual fine job of describing the R-rated hijinks of his stable of crooks, idiots, and good guys.

Bottom line: a fun read.