URLs du Jour

2019-06-14

[Amazon Link]

Administrative note: Readers may have noticed that I occasionally embed the genius cartooning of Michael P. Ramirez, using one of two methods: (1) the 'embed.ly' service; (2) embedding the tweet that Mr. Ramirez composes.

Neither is that great. The embed.ly method clips the cartoons, and (worse) occasionally fails altogether. And the tweet method displays a lot of extra junk.

So I'm going back and redoing things, rewriting a few embeds each day. I'm uploading the cartoons to my Google Drive and embedding from there. It's a little tedious, but the result seems more reliable and looks better.

Hope I don't get sued.

  • At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Dan Klein writes on how members of a small, unimportant, impotent fraction of the political scene should refer to themselves: Classical Liberal > Libertarian?.

    Increasingly, the political left is being accused of being illiberal. Meanwhile, “classical liberal” gains usage (see 1, 2). Some of those who call themselves classical liberal are quick to distinguish that from “libertarian” (for example, Stephen Davies here, Charles Cooke here).

    The rise of “classical liberal” might be built on putting down “libertarian.”

    What’s the difference? And what about conservatives? Can they be classical liberals?

    An interesting taxonomic discussion. I'm not a fan of labels, because you'll invariably wind up sharing your label with some people with whom you'd rather not be 100% associated.


  • National Review's Kevin D. Williamson takes on a recent Nicolas Kristof column in which he contrasted Guatemalan immiseration with (specifically) the $295 hamburger you can get at a trendy NYC restaurant. Kevin asks the relevant question: But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?.

    Kristof never gets around to saying what he believes to be the relationship between the $295 hamburger and the hungry kids in Guatemala. All he offers is: “Something’s wrong with this picture,” i.e., cheap moralizing. Guatemala’s hungry children deserve more than posturing.

    The lesson we usually are meant to take from these juxtapositions is that the luxury of the rich causes the deprivation of the poor, that we should “live simply that others may simply live.” But that does not really stand up to five seconds’ critical thinking: Do you know what they do not have very much of in Guatemala? Restaurants selling $295 hamburgers. And do you know what they do not have very much of on the Upper East Side? Children stunted from starvation.

    There is a lesson in there.

    If there's the slightest doubt in your mind about the lesson, or even if there isn't, click on through.


  • In our occasional 'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means' department, Billy Binion reports at Reason: Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders Claims to Love ‘Economic Freedom’.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) made his case for democratic socialism yesterday in a speech at George Washington University and an interview on CNN's Anderson 360. Among other things, he called for a "21st Century Economic Bill of Rights" that guarantees "a decent job that pays a living wage," "quality health care," "a complete education," "affordable housing," "a clean environment," and "a secure retirement."

    Sanders, who is vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, pitched his policies as the only means to "achieving political and economic freedom in every community."

    Yes, Bernie's "freedom" involves the government giving you stuff, getting other people to pay for it. If you're lucky.


  • In our "Aieee, we're all gonna die" department, CBS News reports on a recent Taurid swarm study: Earth is approaching the same "meteor swarm" that may have caused Tunguska impact in 1908, when entire forest in Russia exploded.

    A swarm of meteors heading toward Earth could have the potential to cause a catastrophic impact, a new study from Western Ontario University says. The so-called Taurid swarm is a recurring event that some scientists believe could have played a role in the biggest Earth impact of modern times, in 1908, when a space rock slammed into Siberia with enough force to destroy an entire forest.

    What has become known as the Tunguska explosion of 1908 was so powerful that the blast leveled 80 million trees over an 800-square-mile area. It's considered to be a one-in-1,000-year event, according to Western Ontario University. But while the Tunguska explosion occurred just over a century ago, another such phenomenon could occur much sooner than its 1,000-year expectancy, the researchers say. That's why they're focusing new attention on the Taurid swarm.

    If you would prefer to read something a little less breathless and a little more science-based, (my old classmate) Kelly Beatty at Sky & Telescope has you covered.


  • So meteor swarms are (potentially) hazardous to your planet. Is that the reason we never see aliens? Maybe, but that's not the only possible explanation! Science Alert reports that A Physicist Has Proposed a Pretty Depressing Explanation For Why We Never See Aliens.

    The Universe is so unimaginably big, and it's positively teeming with an almost infinite supply of potentially life-giving worlds. So where the heck is everybody?

    At its heart, this is what's called the Fermi Paradox: the perplexing scientific anomaly that despite there being billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy – let alone outside it – we've never encountered any signs of an advanced alien civilisation, and why not?

    The new "depressing" explanation is a two-parter: (1) "the first life that reaches interstellar travel capability necessarily eradicates all competition to fuel its own expansion" and (2) that's probably us.

    Why is this seen as "depressing"? It's science. Nobody finds Ohm's Law depressing.


Last Modified 2019-06-15 5:09 AM EST