URLs du Jour

2019-01-07

[Amazon Link]

  • At Reason, Baylen Linnekin asks the question: Will ‘Frenzied Hectoring’ by British Food Nannies Never End?.

    In December, England's chief medical officer, Sally Davies, urged the nation to adopt still more "taxes on unhealthy food high in sugar and salt." This was just months after England's soda tax took hold.

    "Those sectors that damage health must pay for their harm or subsidise healthier choices," Davies says in a report that suggests the tax money should be used to underwrite purchases of fruits and vegetables.

    Davies's argument came just days after details of a draft British government proposal to institute byzantine calorie restrictions on a variety of foods.

    Blimey! And this is under a Tory government? Winston Churchill must be rolling in his grave, then asking for a cigar and a whisky.


  • Michael Shermer writes at Quillette on a serious topic: Genes, Environment, and Luck: What We Can and Cannot Control. Those of us who are (at least moderately) successful, and also honest with ourselves, know that a lot of that success was unearned.

    On the other hand, we can also honestly point out that if we had made different choices, things could have turned out a lot worse. Don't we deserve credit for our good choices, and deserve the resulting outcome? Sure.

    Anyway, Shermer's article examines the concept up and down. His bottom line:

    In the end, if the cosmic dice rolled in your favor, how should you feel? Modest pride in one’s hard work is no vice, but boastful arrogance at one’s good fortune is no virtue. Cultivate gratitude. What if you’ve been unlucky in life? There is consolation in the fact that studies show in the long run what’s important is not success so much as living a meaningful life, which is the result of having family and friends, setting long-range goals, meeting challenges with courage and conviction and, as Polonius advised (Hamlet Act 1, scene 3): “this above all: to thine own self be true.”

    I find very little to disagree with there.


  • A did-I-just-blow-your-mind article from Natilie Wolchover at Wired: Space and Time Could Be a Quantum Error-Correcting Code.

    That year—2014—three young quantum gravity researchers came to an astonishing realization. They were working in physicists’ theoretical playground of choice: a toy universe called “anti-de Sitter space” that works like a hologram. The bendy fabric of space-time in the interior of the universe is a projection that emerges from entangled quantum particles living on its outer boundary. Ahmed Almheiri, Xi Dong and Daniel Harlow did calculations suggesting that this holographic “emergence” of space-time works just like a quantum error-correcting code. They conjectured in the Journal of High Energy Physics that space-time itself is a code—in anti-de Sitter (AdS) universes, at least. The paper has triggered a wave of activity in the quantum gravity community, and new quantum error-correcting codes have been discovered that capture more properties of space-time,

    For better or worse, we don't live in an anti-De Sitter universe. Ours is plain old de Sitter, where expansion will go on forever, and things will eventually get very boring. Fortunately, we're living in more interesting times.


  • If you've already cheated on your New Year diet resolutions, Mr. Lileks can help: Eight new diets you can fail to use successfully. Sample:

    Diet No. 3: Atkins. This was popular for a while, and some people still swear by it, which is to say they shout "$*#(@#SON OF A #(@# I want a French fry!" You can't have carbs. That means very little bread, sugar, potatoes or any of the other things that give life meaning.

    Downside: you will actually find yourself uttering strange things, like, "I am so incredibly sick of bacon." It seems unlikely anyone could utter those words in seriousness, but there you are, staring at another plate of bacon, and you realize you would pay $9 for a frozen Eggo, even though you suspect they are made out of wood pulp. You want bread so bad you go to the garage with a bag of croutons and huff the crumbs.

    I did Atkins for a year and lost so much weight you could see my ribs. Mostly because I was always carrying around a plate of ribs, because that's what I ate: meat. Important lesson: it's one thing to lose so much weight your clothes hang loose, but when you shed so much that your socks don't stay up, it's time to hit the Häagen-Dazs.

    I'll be going back on my diet once I finish these Christmas cookies…


  • The Keene Sentinel writes, wistfully: On heels of Keene ordinance, proposed bill would raise state tobacco age to 21. Yes, of course, LFOD shows up:

    [Keene City Councilor Margaret M.] Rice said New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” mantra, coupled with people’s personal attachments in the debate — ranging from family members who have died from smoking-related diseases to those adamant they could not have quit without vaping — makes raising the tobacco age a much more intense issue than other business facing the council.

    “I think people really care because they see people being affected by this in their life, and that matters a lot to them,” she said. “And on the other side, there are people who really feel strongly that, (with the) Live Free or Die mentality, that they want their government to be making smart decisions and not necessarily ones that impede their daily activities in a way that they don’t see as being fair.”

    Such is the subtle editorializing: LFOD is a "mantra" or a "mentality". Not really anything to take seriously, just a brain-glitch that people adopt without much thought.


  • The other recent bit of LFOD-related news is reviewed at Two Buttons Deep: Keene, N.H. Business “Pho Keene Great” Forced To Remove Sign Because The World Is Pho Keene Dumb.

    First of all, I was today years old when I found out pho is pronounced “fuh.” I was also today years old when I found out New Hampshire’s state motto “Live Free Or Die” is just some letters of their license plate. We were just discussing at our latest 2BD meeting about how ridiculously PC this world is. How do we have Trump as our leader but Pho Keene is what gets shut down? Blows my mind. This play on words is not only great for business, but a running joke that has been around since my elementary school bus. Remember the Sofa King?

    Yes, he of the motto "Our prices are Sofa King low."

    The "2BD" author calls New Hampshire the "Alabama of the north." Ouch.