URLs du Jour

2018-04-17

[Amazon Link]

  • We haven't had a lot of Proverbs recently about the poor, but Proverbs 14:31 attempts to make up for that:

    31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
        but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

    Note that these Proverbs were written when nearly everyone was dirtier-than-dirt poor. The Proverbialist needed an ancient Israeli version of Deirdre N. McCloskey (e.g., our Amazon link du jour) to discover the best way to stop oppressing the poor: use trade-tested betterment to make them unpoor.


  • At Reason, Eric Boehm reports that a Government Watchdog Says Pruitt's $43,000 Phone Booth Broke the Law. Oh oh.

    A soundproof phone booth built for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt cost more than $43,000 and circumvented federal rules for office renovations, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

    In an eight-page letter to congressional Democrats, who had requested a review of Pruitt's phone booth project after reports of it surfaced in the press, GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong wrote that the EPA violated two federal laws by failing to notify Congress before spending the money and by using those funds in a manner prohibited by law. The second violation is a function of the first—because the agency did not notify Congress, the funds used to build the phone booth were not legally "available" when the EPA used them.

    The bigger question might be why Pruitt needed a phone booth that costs as much as a brand new BMW.

    Boehm lists off some of Pruitt's admirable EPA reforms, and people who favor prosperity instead of overregulation should check that out. But (bottom line) maybe we could get those same reforms established by someone who doesn't spend taxpayer money like a drunken sailor.


  • Lifezette reporter Brendan Kirby calls attention to: Big Tech Leading Censorship ‘War’ on Conservatives, Report Says.

    Censorship by social media giants is the new front in the “war” on conservative thought — and conservatives are badly losing it, according to a comprehensive study released Monday by a media watchdog group.

    OK, so here's the thing. Well, actually, a number of things. The study is brought to us by the Media Research Center (MRC), which is fine.

    But in order to see the "study", you (apparently) need to go to https://info.mrc.org/censored, a page which will allow you to enter your first name and e-mail address in exchange for "an email containing your digital copy of the full report". And (unless you uncheck some boxes) also subscribe you to some MRC newsletters.

    Uh, no thanks.

    In addition, the summaries of the MRC study suggest that it may be primarily, if not entirely, based on news reports and research done elsewhere. (E.g., this 2016 Gizmodo story that quoted "former Facebook workers" claiming they "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers".) Any original research that I haven't seen elsewhere, MRC?


  • The Verge reports on something you may have forgotten long ago: OLPC’s $100 laptop was going to change the world — then it all went wrong.

    It was supposed to be the laptop that saved the world.

    In late 2005, tech visionary and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte pulled the cloth cover off a small green computer with a bright yellow crank. The device was the first working prototype for Negroponte’s new nonprofit One Laptop Per Child, dubbed “the green machine” or simply “the $100 laptop.” And it was like nothing that Negroponte’s audience — at either his panel at a UN-sponsored tech summit in Tunis, or around the globe — had ever seen.

    It didn't work out, yet another—literal—academic scheme to end-run mainstream hardware manufacturers to commodify cheap computing for the third-world masses.

    I played with one once, wangled by a UNH education prof who asked me to help get it on the wireless network. And then I forgot about this would-be world-saving device until now.

    Good thing to remember when some guru comes up with the next grand scheme.


  • The Google LFOD News Alert rang for this WMUR story: Steven Mnuchin, Ivanka Trump heading to Derry to discuss tax reform law. It's happening today! But unless you're already invited, don't bother to just show up: it's closed to hoi polloi.

    A senior Trump administration official said Monday that 150 invited guests will be in the audience at the Derry Opera House on Tuesday for a discussion of the Republican tax reform plan signed into law in December by President Donald Trump.

    As WMUR reported Sunday, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is officially an advisor to the president, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, will be in New Hampshire on Tax Day to discuss the plan. Former Gov. John H. Sununu will moderate the event, which is not open to the general public.

    But where's LFOD? Ah, there:

    The [aforementioned senior Trump administration] official said that Sununu “celebrates the fact that New Hampshire has a history and tradition of being a state that lives by its motto, ‘Live Free or Die,’ and that includes lower taxes.”

    But, agin, LFOD does not imply that you can just show up at the Derry Opera House and expect to get in to chat up Steve and Ivanka.


  • A funny article at the Daily Mail: Parents reveal the VERY strange things they've taught their children to say - purely for their own amusement. Example: a young man teaching his toddler brother to say something picked up off a billboard: "micro-surgical vasectomy reversal". And added: "He didn't stop saying it for literal[ly] years."

    But also:

    And one confused user remembered his parents rather unique way of dealing with tantrums, writing: 'Whenever my brother threw a tantrum as a baby my parents would chant 'live free or die' until he calmed down it was weird'.

    Must have been Granite Staters.


  • And James Lileks also brought back memories of old Mac Warehouse ads at the Bleat. After some discussion of tax procrastination:

    Don’t think I was ever that bad, but I had a few years of shaving it close, because the anxiety produced by contemplating the forms - THE GOVERNMENT FORMS - made me put it off, and then I’d say “it’s time to get down to it” and I’d drive to Prof. Egghead for software. Ah, damn. They’re out. Well, let’s call Kerry at MacWarehouse. Maybe she’ll pick up.

    Don't remember Kerry? Well, if you're a computer geek of a Certain Age (basically, alive in the 80s), click over. You will.