URLs du Jour

2019-03-08

[Amazon Link]

  • To cheer up your day, a reminder from Jim Geraghty about the bullet we dodged in November 2016 [only to be hit by a different bullet, but what are you gonna do]: Hillary Clinton's 2016 Election Loss: Her Latest Excuse. Herself is quoted:

    I was the first person who ran for president without the protection of the Voting Rights Act, and I will tell you, it makes a really big difference. And it doesn’t just make a difference in Alabama and Georgia; it made a difference in Wisconsin, where the best studies that have been done said somewhere between 40 [thousand] and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls because of the color of their skin, because of their age, because of whatever excuse could be made up to stop a fellow American citizen from voting.

    The WaPo awards her 4/4 Pinocchios

    There’s an important debate to be had over voter ID laws and their effect on turnout, considering how rare voter fraud cases are in the United States and the risk of disenfranchisement. We’re looking at something different here. Clinton made a series of specific claims that were way off-base.

    The Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 had no bearing on Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin study she relied on for her 40,000 estimate says its findings from two counties should not be extrapolated to form statewide conclusions. Her spokesman did not cite any study for the 80,000 estimate. Voter registration in Georgia did not decline from 2012 to 2016.

    And (even) Politifact considered this worthy of its coveted Pants[uit] on Fire classification.


  • Do you ever wonder about an alternate history timeline, where American fascists might try to sell us on their ideology?

    "Yeah, we know those fascists in Europe were bad, but what we're proposing is Democratic Fascism? That's totally different!"

    "Oh, OK then."

    Anyway, Megan McArdle isn't having even adjectivally-modified socialism: Democratic socialists are selling us a system that no longer works. Assuming they can agree on what it is:

    For [Bernie] Sanders, democratic socialism is Scandinavia. Not good enough, retorts the website Jacobin, which declared “Democratic Socialism Isn’t Social Democracy” in a headline last year. Around the same time, one of the website’s staff writers said in an article for Vox that social democracy’s ultimate goal is to “end capitalism.” Jacobin has pointed the way in various articles: nationalize vast swaths of the economy, abolish wage-slavery and turn every workplace into a miniature democracy.

    It’s a radical vision not simply of redistributing the fruits of our labor, but fundamentally altering how that work is organized, to something less like the army and more like the prom committee. On the left, this seems to be gaining on Sanders’s “Norway, but bigger” model of democratic socialism.

    I was never on prom committee. Sounds like I (warning: recurring theme) dodged a bullet.


  • My home town has been engaging in back-and-forth recycling policies pretty much since I've been living here: decades. At Reason, Eric Boehm notes that it might be time to call it quits: Some Towns Are Trashing Their Costly, Inefficient Recycling Programs.

    Should that empty soda bottle go in the recycling bin or the trash can? Increasingly, it doesn't really matter.

    A large portion of America's plastic and paper waste used to go from our recycling bins to China, where it was refashioned into everything from shoes to bags to new plastic products. But since the end of 2017, China has restricted how much foreign trash—er, recycling—it buys, including cutting off purchases of waste paper products, like all the junk mail that goes directly from your mailbox to the recycling bin.

    The article cites Franklin, NH, which nowadays just sends "recyclables" to the incinerator.


  • An interesting article at Ars Technica from an Electronic Frontier Foundation guy, Daniel Nazer: Theranos: How a broken patent system sustained its decade-long deception. Assuming you know the broad outlines of the story:

    For any disaster as large as Theranos, there’s plenty of blame to go around, of course. Both Holmes and former COO Sunny Balwani now face federal fraud charges. Theranos’ star-studded board of directors failed to do adequate oversight. Walgreens ignored warning signs before launching its in-store partnership. Some VCs and journalists were too eager to believe Theranos’ unproven claims.

    But the patent system also played an important, and often overlooked, role in the situation. The USPTO gave out patents much too easily, giving Theranos early credibility it didn’t deserve. Theranos then used these patents to attract staff, investors, and business partners. The company would last for 10+ years and burn through half a billion dollars before the truth finally emerged.

    An interesting detail: the only thing worthwhile left of Theranos is its hundreds of patents which don't reflect any actual inventions. This, as Nazer notes, is a "portfolio of landmines for any company that actually solves the problems Theranos failed to solve."


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for a Holly Ramer AP story: Death penalty repeal bill passes New Hampshire House. OK, that's the news, but who invoked LFOD, and for what purpose?

    Among those arguing for repeal was Safiya Wazir, a 27-year-old Democrat whose family fled the Taliban when she was 6. She said the United States should remove itself from the troubling list of nations endorsing government-sponsored violence, and she invoked New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" motto.

    "Let's put the emphasis on living," she said. "New Hampshire is better than this."

    As noted before, you'd expect the "or die" part might weigh in favor of capital punishment, but that's the thing about LFOD: it's very flexible.


Last Modified 2019-03-09 7:51 AM EDT