URLs du Jour

2018-10-27

[Amazon Link]

  • For the record, I gave up on World Series Game 4 after 14 full innings, slightly after 2am this morning. If I'd only stayed awake for another hour and 20 minutes, I could have seen… the Red Sox lose, thanks to a walk-off homer in the 18th inning.


  • I occasionally browse the website of the University Near Here to see what mischief my former employer might be up to. Oooh, here's a new Social Media Policy! Included in the 2018-2019 (PDF) version of Student Rights, Rules, & Responsibilities (page 52). First paragraph is a grabber:

    Students have extensive access to social media. Social media offer a variety of positive experiences and benefits to students, including increased engagement in the community, increased sense of social connection and sense of well-being. They also harbor a number of known risks to students’ privacy, future employment and current well-being. The risks include, but are not limited to: bullying, harassment, defamation and injury to reputation. Those risks arhmunication.

    I've bolded a word which I found to be … problematic.

    This might be fixed at some point; I've sent in a suggested correction, to replace "arhmunication" with the better known term "covfefe".

    But (at least semi-seriously): what does it say when (apparently) nobody can bother to proofread the Very Important Social Media Policy before it's released to the world? If they can't get the relatively simple stuff right, how likely is it to be logically coherent policy?


  • Governing takes a look at the proposed NH constitutional amendment protecting privacy, to be voted up or down on the November ballot: A Right to 'Live Free From Government'? States Are Granting It to Citizens..

    Question 2 aims to protect Granite State residents' privacy rights in the digital age. If approved by voters, the measure would amend the state constitution to say: "An individual's right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential and inherent."

    The goal is to ensure that governments get permission before snooping through citizens’ private social media accounts, internet search histories, emails and text messages.

    The article also reveals why I wasn't able to find out who voted for and against the amendment in the NH House.

    But state Rep. Timothy Smith, a Democrat who declined to reveal how he voted in the House's anonymous vote to pass the amendment, says many of his fellow lawmakers were afraid to oppose it for fear of appearing anti-privacy, and because they didn't expect it to pass. He has "serious reservations" about how it's written.

    I am embarrassed to say that I didn't even know anonymous voting was possible in the NH House.

    But it's ironic (I think) that our legislators apparently think "privacy" extends to you not being able to find out how they voted on privacy matters.


  • I can't quite decide whether this story, by Paula Bolyard at PJMedia is amusing or sad. Both, I guess: Tech Community Outraged after SQLite Founder Adopts Benedictine Code of Conduct.

    The founder of the world's most widely used database engine ignited a firestorm in the tech community after it was revealed that he had posted a code of conduct for users based on the teachings of the Bible and an ancient order of monks founded by Benedict of Nursia.

    You can read it (now renamed "Code of Ethics") here. After it was discovered and publicized among the Social Justice Warrior community, SQLite founder Richard Hipp found himself in a shitstorm familiar to heretics: how dare you promulgate someone else's Code of Conduct?

    One critic advised Hipp to "seek professional help to avoid this kind of behaviour in the future." Yes, in the name of tolerance and diversity, SJWs feel free to speculate on others' supposed mental dysfunction.

    Paula Bolyard's article is strongly recommended, especially to those who might have any lingering doubts that "Social Justice" is about anything other than grabbing the power to bend others to your will.


  • Speaking about bending others to one's will, Andrew Cline (at the Josiah Bartlett Center) writes on Wayfair and the New Hampshire Advantage. Bottom line: the recent Supreme Court decision allowing other states to force New Hampshire businesses to collect their sales taxes is worse than you (probably) thought.

    Wayfair opens the door to cross-border collection of multiple state taxes — personal and corporate income, franchise, gross receipts, etc.

    By eliminating the physical presence standard, Wayfair gives new meaning to the term “the long arm of the law.” Any “nexus” that can arguably connect a business or individual to another state can create a tax liability in that state.

    States are already pursuing this, which has the potential of eroding, if not destroying, the New Hampshire Advantage. People move here to avoid income taxes and shop here to avoid sales taxes. If Wayfair creates a de facto national income and sales tax, New Hampshire loses a major competitive advantage over other New England states.

    It was a remarkably bad 5-4 decision, with an unusual grouping of dissenters: Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.


  • And at Reason, Zuri Davis notices a story we've noted here last month: The Air Force Spent Over $300,000 on 391 Special Coffee Mugs.

    If you think you're paying too much for coffee, you've got nothing on the U.S. Air Force, which spent roughly $300,000 just on custom coffee mugs over the course of two years.

    A Fox News report alleges that the Air Force spent an exorbitant amount of money on specialty coffee mugs for the 60th Aerial Port Squadron at Travis Air Force base in California. The metal mugs have the ability to reheat beverages while air refueling tankers are in flight. As cool as the feature sounds, the mug's shape makes it highly susceptible to shattering when dropped...which happens frequently. The cost of a single mug has doubled from $693 in 2016 to $1,280 in 2018. At the time of the report, Project On Government Oversight's Dan Grazier said that the mugs' intended purpose of aiding "the crew's alertness by providing caffeine" could be similarly achieved "with a few cans of Red Bull."

    Yes, once again: your United States Air Force spends $1280 on a coffee mug that easily breaks when dropped.

    For $1280, you'd expect a mug that senses when it has been dropped and deploys Mars landing airbags.


  • And the great John Kass of the Chicago Tribune triggers our Google LFOD alert with Swedish body hacking, a Halloween horror story.

    Socialist Sweden was once beloved by the American left as an enlightened land of high technology, stellar health care and liberal immigration policies. Recently, though, when Swedes decided they had had enough unfettered immigration, they were forgotten by American media.

    But not me. I love the Swedes. One of the best men I know is a Swede. They are a people of great hockey. Their thin pancakes and lingonberries are fantastic, and they have a dry sense of humor. Sweden also gave us the mystery writer Stieg Larsson, author of the “Millennium” series. But sadly, Larsson died of a heart attack, having subsisted, it is said, mostly on strong coffee and processed foods.

    Just to clarify: John's column is about The Ritual, a 2017 British horror film mostly set in Sweden. And self-microchipping. And LFOD comes in here:

    We all have choices to make, and free will is still free will. There was an American subculture that once held to the motto “Live free or die.” But now our motto is “Shut up and take it.”

    Hm. A good alternative motto for those who find LFOD a little too aggressive.