URLs du Jour

2018-04-28

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  • A fortune cookie compare-and-contrast from Proverbs 13:6:

    6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
        but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

    Which is better? Let me think on that and get back to you.


  • From behind the WaPo paywall, Megan McArdle bids A farewell to free journalism. The occasion is her former employer, Bloomberg, moving to a paywall model.

    But by the time The Post approached me, I’d already concluded that the battle for the open Internet was lost. Sooner or later, virtually everyone in the industry is going to put his or her content behind a subscription wall. And in general, you should bet on “sooner” rather than “later.” This week, Vanity Fair became just the latest in a long line of publications to say “If you want to read us, you’ll have to subscribe.”

    As New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen noted on Twitter, Bloomberg already has “one of the greatest subsidy systems ever invented”: the terminals that it sells to financial companies at a cost of $20,000 per user per year. If they still want a paywall, we should be bearish on the chances that anyone else in the news business will make a go of the “free content” model.

    Just sayin': I've noticed that a lot of paywalls can be evaded, at least for the present time, via the Google Chrome Incognito Filter. This includes the WaPo.

    Disclaimer: I have print subscriptions to Reason, National Review, Wired, and the Wall Street Journal which (after some legerdemain) let me surf freely on their websites. Three out of those four I highly recommend (guess which).

    As long as I'm on the topic: you can subscribe to dead-trees Consumer Reports and they still don't give you full access to their website content; that's extra. You suck, Consumer Reports.


  • Gee, I thought Mary Eberstadt might have overstated her case in It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. But now that I'm sensitized to the issue, I'm picking up on things like Walter Olson's post at Cato: Feds Try To Force Church Cafeteria To Pay Volunteers As Employees:

    The Grace Cathedral church near Akron, Ohio, found itself in big legal trouble for running a (money-losing) cafeteria open to the public in which much of the labor was provided free by volunteer members of the congregation. Beginning in 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor investigated and then sued it on the grounds that for an enterprise, church or otherwise, to use volunteer unpaid labor in a commercial setting violated the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. A trial court agreed with the Department and found liability, but now, in Acosta v. Cathedral Buffet et al., the Sixth Circuit has reversed the ruling and sent the case back for further proceedings, noting that “to be considered an employee within the meaning of the FLSA, a worker must first expect to receive compensation.”

    Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing in concurrence, takes issue with what may be the most remarkable argument advanced by the Department of Labor: that the congregation volunteers should count as employees because “their pastor spiritually ‘coerced’ them to work there. That argument’s premise — namely, that the Labor Act authorizes the Department to regulate the spiritual dialogue between pastor and congregation — assumes a power whose use would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”

    That whole Church/State "wall of separation" thing doesn't work when State can breach it in order to push Church around. What's next? A demand that church choir members be paid union scale?


  • It's a good thing I don't live in California, because my blood pressure might be much higher after reading things like this (from Reason's Christian Britschgi): California Gov. Jerry Brown Called Gas Tax Opponents 'Freeloaders.' Now He's Spending Billions of Their Money to Fund Transit They Don't Use.

    When California Gov. Jerry Brown was defending SB 1—last year's transportation funding package, which included $5.4 billion in annual gas tax and vehicle registration fee increases—he had an uncharitable term for his opponents: freeloaders.

    "The freeloaders—I've had enough of them," he said at an Orange County event. "Roads require money to fix." The state was strapped for cash, he argued; drivers needed to pay up, lest the roads and highways devolve into gravel paths.

    And—yes, you guessed it—"A total of 28 projectswere awarded SB 1 money. None of them involves road upkeep at all." Suckers.


  • The about-to-be-paywalled Bloomberg columnist Virginia Postrel points out: Gas Mileage Standards Were Never Meant to Fix Climate Change. The occasion is Ford's decision to stop building nearly all of its sedans.

    CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] regulations implicitly assume that every carmaker offers a full assortment of vehicles. They treat the “fleet” as the relevant unit to regulate. Higher average requirements distort corporate strategies and encourage companies that are good at making trucks to make compact cars as well, even if their customers don’t want them. This artificially induced competition, often at giveaway prices, hurts manufacturers that are good at making small cars. The credit system ameliorates this effect by allowing small-car specialists to sell their credits to competitors who produce larger vehicles, but only in a roundabout way.

    In the real world, on real streets, emissions depend not on car dealers’ full offerings but on individual vehicles and the people who drive them. One drawback of CAFE standards is that they apply only to new cars, a tiny fraction of those on the road. So they take a long time to reduce actual emissions. The rest of us happily go on driving our out-of-date vehicles, using just as much gasoline as ever.

    It appears the Trump Administration is looking to "freeze" current CAFE standards. Which is better than nothing, but better would be nothing: get rid of them entirely.


  • And of course, news you won't see anywhere else from the Babylon Bee: Planned Parenthood Defends Bill Cosby: ‘Sexual Assault Is Only 3% Of What He Does’

    While almost nobody is willing to defend Bill Cosby any longer after he was convicted of sexual assault Thursday, the former television star and comedian found an ally in abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

    President Cecile Richards came forward to claim that since sexual assault is only about 3% of what Bill Cosby performed over his long and illustrious career, the egregious offenses should be overlooked.

    Warning: particularly wicked satire.


Last Modified 2018-04-29 5:10 AM EST