URLs du Jour

2018-05-08

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 13:15 is another good news/bad news fortune cookie where the two bits don't quite match up:

    15 Good judgment wins favor,
        but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.

    The Message "translation" is a little more lenient:

    15 Sound thinking makes for gracious living, but liars walk a rough road.

    Hey, just a rough road; lie away! I prefer the Old Testament judgmentalism of "destruction", though. Preferably via fire and brimstone. (I'm well aware that this sort of attitude won't get me a writing gig at the Atlantic any time soon.)


  • I went back to fix a very old [July 2006] blog post in which the Nu Html Checker discovered some noncompliance. The post made fun of Happy Planet Index which (at the time) had made something of a splash by naming the "happiest place on Earth": Vanuatu!

    Which made me wonder: is that stupid Happy Planet Index still around? Yes, as it turns out; click above to see it.

    Followup question: is it any more in touch with reality? No, it's not.

    They've changed their pseudo-scientific calculation of the Index since 2006 to add in an "Inequality of Outcomes" factor. It's graphical at the site, but in words (definitions at the link):

    HPI = Wellbeing x Life expectancy x Inequality of outcomes
    Ecological Footprint

    [Note: In order for this to make ideological sense, I think the "Inequality of Outcomes" should be instead "Equality of Outcomes". Anyway, the formula is clear: the bigger that number, the happier the country.]

    Executive summary: The US of A is a pretty miserable place, with its HPI of 20.7 sticking it 108th place out of 140 ranked countries.

    Easily beating us out are such Edenic places as Venezuela: HPI 33.6, in 29th place overall. Where, as the NYT reported last December, As Venezuela Collapses, Children Are Dying of Hunger.

    Many families scavenge for food in the streets or at garbage dumps. Few are homeless, and most said they had never had trouble finding food before the crisis. Hundreds of people can be seen picking through garbage cans each evening when restaurants, grocery stores and residential buildings take out their trash for collection.

    Well, maybe the Happy Planet folks dropped a decimal point somewhere in their calculations. Hey, another happy place is Nicaragua: in seventh place with its HPI of 38.7!

    Just the place from which you expect to see this sort of headline, from just a few days ago: As Nicaragua Death Toll Grows, Support for Ortega Slips.

    It has been two weeks since lethal clashes between protesters and pro-government forces erupted in Nicaragua, and the number of deaths is still not clear. But this much is: It keeps climbing.

    By Friday, the toll of students, counterprotesters, bystanders and police officers who died in five days of student-led demonstrations against President Daniel Ortega’s government had risen to at least 45 and was expected to climb further. In this Central American country of six million people, that tally makes this the deadliest unrest by far since nearly three decades of war ended in 1990.

    I could go on, but … won't. The Happy Planet folks truly live in an alternate reality, dangerous to the extent that anyone takes them seriously.


  • At the American Spectator's "Spectacle" blog, David Catron asks, provocatively: Is New Hampshire’s Medicaid Work Requirement Racist?

    Yesterday, New Hampshire became the fourth state to get approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement work requirements for some able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid benefits. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats and other leftist opponents of work requirements spin this news.

    The party line is that such requirements are based, as it has been phrased in the Nation, “on age-old racist and sexist tropes about ‘lazy’ people who don’t want to work, especially people of color and women of color.” And this nonsense hasn’t been limited to hoary Stalinist rags. USA Today issued the following call to arms several months ago:

    [I]t’s important that we expose the argument for work requirements for what it actually is — an attempt to perpetuate myths that stereotype people of color and stigmatize popular public programs that opponents simply don’t like.

    I'll connect the dots: if you see "work requirement" and automatically think "aimed at 'people of color'", then it just might be you who's harboring an invidious racial stereotype.


  • Higher education is Chronicled, unflatteringly, in the Chronicle of Higher Education: He Makes a Joke. She Isn’t Laughing: ‘Lingerie’ Comment in Elevator Leads to Uproar Among Scholars.

    He says he was joking when he asked to be let off an elevator at the ladies’ lingerie department. A female scholar who was attending the same annual meeting of the International Studies Association was not amused, and neither was the association when she complained.

    Now his refusal to formally apologize has touched off the latest skirmish in the #MeToo battles rocking academe. At issue is whether a comment made in jest rises to the level of a punishable offense, and what happens when a complaint some deem as trivial results in a vicious online backlash against the offended party.

    The "offended party" with her ladies’ lingerie in a bunch is Simona Sharoni, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Merrimack College, just down the road in North Andover, MA. The elevator was in a Hilton in San Francisco, where both accused and accuser were at a swanky meeting of the "International Studies Association".

    It's clear to me that Professor Sharoni is not merely easily offended. I'm willing to bet that she is eagerly looking for things to be offended by. It's one of the more prevalant campus diseases.


  • At NRO, Jim Geraghty notes A Strange Criticism of Illegal Gun-Possession Prosecution in the NYT. Specifically, a news article that bemoans the Trump Administration push to start cracking down on illegal gun posession. Comments Geraghty:

    What’s indisputable is that for a long time, through administrations of both parties, federal prosecutors largely looked the other way on illegal attempts to purchase a firearm. In 2013, the Washington Post concluded, “Neither the Bush administration nor Obama administration ever prosecuted even one-quarter of one percent of the people who failed to pass a criminal background check.” Attempts to prosecute straw buyers were similarly rare; it simply was deemed a low priority.

    The Times article seems to suggest that prosecuting individuals for illegal possession of a firearm is a waste of time, money, and law-enforcement resources. But we’ve seen several mass shooters in recent years who shouldn’t have been able to purchase a gun because of past criminal behavior (the Charleston church shooter, the Texas church shooter, the Waffle House shooter) or past run-ins with police that did not result in charges (the Parkland shooter). Every dangerous criminal is “low priority” at the beginning of his career.

    It's telling when the advocates of "common sense gun regulation" can't bring themselves to cheer enforcement of actually existing regulations. Why, it's almost as if their real aim is to start pushing the country down a slippery slope…

    Also commenting on the same point is the Minute Man: Enforcing The Law? Nooooo!

    Awkard! "Let's pass tougher gun laws but not enforce them against minorities" is unlikely to be a catch-fire message. On the other hand, "Let's lock up more ethnics!" may not play to the Democratic base.

    Yes, if you get serious about enforcing gun crimes, there's gonna be "disparate impact".


  • At Granite Grok, Steve MacDonald reports on some welcome fiscal news: So-Called ‘Free Money’ for Rail Study Yanked From New Hampshire Transportation Budget.

    In late April the NH Senate pulled a four million dollar rail study line-item out of the State’s ten-year transportation budget. The Senate passed the amended version, denying the choo-choo fetishists yet another expensive act of engineering voyeurism.

    The advocates for waste, fraud, and abuse were not happy.

    Steve's exactly right: this is another study covering precisely the same issues as previous ones. (See: Einstein's apocryphal definition of "insanity": doing the same thing, expecting a different result.)

    There is simply no justification for spending (lowball estimate) hundreds of millions on a choo-choo to transport (generously) a few thousand NH people to and from work in MA each day.


  • And Dave Barry pointed out this wonderful wedding notice in the Palm Beach Daily News: Palm Beach Wedding: Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Johnson.

    The marriage of Savile Collins de Montenay FitzAlan de Dinan Lord to Kenneth Lowell Harvey Oscar Johnson took place Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Palm Beach.

    Whoa. That's a lot of names. How do you fit that on a driver's license?

    But here's the punchline:

    The bride is manager of the SPAM® Museum in Austin, Minn., and community relations at Hormel Foods.

    Darn. That's only a bit over 40 miles from where Mom used to live. We could have easily visited the SPAM® Museum, if only we knew it was there.