URLs du Jour


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  • Our Amazon Product du Jour is brought to you on the recommendation of Dave Barry's blog, where it's claimed that "some of the photos are NSFW", especially if you work at PETA or NOW.

  • I have not made a big deal out of my mild Red Sox fandom. (Since the 1975 World Series, and Pudge Fisk's arm-waving homer in game six, should you care. So I've been through many sucky years with them.)

    Every single member of the organization, all the way down to whoever cuts the outfield grass at Fenway, has my undying gratitude for their stellar season.

    But "Red", at the Surviving Grady blog, pays tribute to someone a little less anonymous. Because, as he says: Everything Alex Cora Touches Turns To Gold.

    Savvy readers of this blog (yes, all eight of you) have heard this rant before. That Alex Cora didn’t just fall off the turnip truck and end up on Lansdowne. The man won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007 and the Astros in 2017 and he knows a thing or two about the game. He’s a thinker and a schemer, and everything that has transpired thus far in the Red Sox’ season has done so according to his design. For all we know, the stock market may rise and fall on his every whim.

    So I’ve come to the conclusion that second guessing the man is a fool’s errand, despite the fact that second guessing the manager of the Boston Red Sox is the single most popular pastime in New England. Whether you’re an MIT professor or a seasoned gambler who isn’t afraid to try betting on sports to earn a living, you’ll never unlock the riddle wrapped in an enigma that is Alex Cora’s brain.

    I can only hope that Craig Kimbrel's will-he-blow-the-save antics don't land me in the hospital.

  • Back to our usual fare: George Will bemoans Congress’s Theatrical Indignation about Hate Crimes.

    Even though states, unlike the federal government, have police powers, states’ hate crime laws also are problematic on policy grounds. They mandate enhanced punishments for crimes committed as a result of, or at least when accompanied by, particular states of mind that the government disapproves. The law holds us responsible for controlling our minds, which should control our conduct. The law always has had, and should have, the expressive function of stigmatizing particular kinds of conduct. But hate crime laws treat certain actions as especially reprehensible because the persons committing them had odious (although not illegal) frames of mind. Such laws burden juries with the task of detecting an expanding number of impermissible motives for acts already criminalized. And juries must distinguish causation (a particular frame of mind causing an act) from correlation (the person who committed the act happened to have this or that mentality). So, even if the HCPA were not unconstitutional, it would be unwise.

    Crimes are very seldom committed by people with admirable motives. Distinguishing which mental states are especially deserving of extra punishment is moral grandstanding.

  • Speaking of moral grandstanding, Jason Brennan (at Bleeding Heart Libertarians) notes: If You’re Not Continuously Outraged, You Must be a Horrible Person!!! (Yes, three exclamation points. I, for one, am not sure three are adequate.)

    Today on Facebook I read a comment from someone saying he hates America because so many Americans are apathetic about politics and current events. (He didn’t offer any comparative stats about apathy in other countries, so I don’t know how much he also hates Canadians, Mexicans, or the Swiss. Presumably, he despises almost everyone in the world, since very few people are highly engaged.)

    The argument seems to be something like this: Horrible things are happening everyday. If you are either A) unaware of those things or B) aware of them but not outraged by them, then you must be a bad person. After all, good people have the right kind of knowledge and have the right emotional responses to things. The right response to horrible injustice is immense outrage. The right response to tragedy is immense sadness.

    Is it, though? On the contrary, continuous outrage or sadness is often a sign of pathological narcissism.

    For the nth time, I recommend the Elvis Costello mantra:

    I used to be disgusted
    And now, I try to be amused

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie offers a welcome distinction to binary thinkers: I Don't Hate Trump Because He Is 'the Average American in Exaggerated Form.' I Dislike Him Because of His Policies and Temperament.. (It's a response to a wrongheaded WSJ column from David Gelernter, a guy I usually like.)

    Where were we? Oh yeah, talking about how the politicization of everyday life turns people into monsters. Politics is mostly zero sum, meaning one side wins and the other loses and just has to eat it. From a classical liberal perspective, this is one of the main reasons that politics should be squeezed into as small a corner as possible, reserved for those few things that require forced consensus (courts, law enforcement, taxes, some roads and schools). Most parts of life are more voluntary and open-ended, with exit being a prime option. If you don't like somebody's restaurant or store, you can just go elsewhere. If you don't like the reigning party's tax policy, you still have to pay up.

    It might seem odd for this politics-obsessed blog to say (but it's really not): making "everything about politics" is a dysfunctional mental state.

  • "Politics-based Outrage" is really a theme for us today, no? Jeff Jacoby further discusses those who are Outraged — but only when it's convenient.

    Amid the shockwaves of condemnation that followed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a number of conservatives have been upset not at the savagery inflicted on the expatriate Saudi dissident and journalist, but at the widespread outrage over his grisly death. Some have openly disparaged Khashoggi, deriding him as an Islamist who supported the Muslim Brotherhood and palled around with Osama bin Laden. Others have mocked his calls for liberal reform as "a cover" for his "real work" of praising terrorists and attacking Israel.

    Their claims are outdated and/or exaggerated. But even if they had merit, why assault the reputation of someone who did nothing to deserve such a horrifying death? Why seek to dampen the infamy of the Saudis' repugnant crime?

    We could all use a little more introspection. Self included, of course.

  • Steven J. Milloy writes at CEI: Vehicle Tailpipe Emissions Are SAFE. Specifically, he thinks the EPA's claims that particulate matter (PM) emissions are particularly (heh) deadly are bunk.

    Indeed, the pre-Trump EPA spent much of the last 25 years building the case that PM (soot and dust) in outdoor air is virtually the most lethal substance known to man. Obama EPA chief Lisa Jackson testified in 2011 to Congress that, “Particulate Matter causes premature deaths. It doesn’t make you sick. It is directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” She pegged the annual death toll due to PM in outdoor air at 570,000 – about 1-in-5 deaths in the U.S. Alleged deaths caused by PM was how the Obama EPA justified all its war-on-coal rules.

    But my new analysis, just published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, entirely debunks the notion that PM in outdoor air kills anyone at all.

    I have no idea whether Milloy is right, but his claims deserve to be taken seriously. He's got some pretty damning details about the genesis of EPA's PM standards. I'm sure, however, that his claims will be (a) largely ignored and (b) to the extent they are not ignored, be subject to ad hominem attacks.

  • An amusing tweet: Fat Cats in the New Yorker.

    I am a subscriber to Wired, which is, like the New Yorker, a Condé Nast publication (at least for now). And I've noticed a similar disconnect between its ads and its editorial content.

    If President Trump really wanted to be impish, he'd propose exorbitantl high excise taxes on Movado watches, high-end Kohler plumbing fixtures, everything Jimmy Choo sells, Acuras, premium bourbon, …

    (Yes, even premium Bourbon. Let them drink Old Crow.)

  • And, finally, news you (almost certainly) can't use, but is nonetheless of interest: That Trippy Green Code in ‘The Matrix’ Is Just a Bunch of Sushi Recipes.

    Green code in Japanese-inspired symbols trails down a computer screen like digital rain. It tells those who can read it what's happening in The Matrix, a virtual reality.

    Simon Whiteley, creator of The Matrix code, attributes the design to his wife, who's from Japan.

    "I like to tell everybody that The Matrix's code is made out of Japanese sushi recipes," says Whiteley, a production designer from England who's now based at the Animal Logic animation and visual-effects studio in Sydney. He scanned the characters from his wife's Japanese cookbooks. "Without that code, there is no Matrix."

    This explains why I get hungry every time I watch The Matrix.

Last Modified 2018-12-26 7:37 AM EST