URLs du Jour

2019-09-02

Happy Labor Day! Or, as we know it at Pun Salad Manor: Monday, except no mail or Wall Street Journal. Capitalist swine that I am, let me share a bit of propaganda from AEI:

[Happy Capital and Labor Day]

And for our regularly-scheduled programming…

  • Daniel J. Mitchell does a fine job of accumulating links demonstrating The Recycling Folly. His bottom line?

    The bottom line is that most recycling programs impose a fiscal and personal cost on people for very meager environmental benefits.

    Indeed, the benefits are often negative once indirect costs are added to the equation.

    So why is there still support in some quarters?

    In part, it’s driven by contributions from the companies that get paid to process recycled material.

    But that’s only part of the story. Recycling is a way for some people to feel better about themselves. Sort of an internalized version of virtue-signalling.

    That’s not a bad thing. I like a society where people care about the environment and feel guilty about doing bad things, like throwing trash out car windows.

    But I’m a bit old fashioned in that I want them to feel good about doing things that actually make sense.

    Landfills are (as Mitchell notes) "cheap, safe, and plentiful". They should be encouraged. Instead, we get the Great Pacific garbage patch.


  • At the Daily Wire, Ashe Schow deflates another Cause for Alarm: MSNBC Claims National Zoo Could Lose Pandas Due To Trade War With China. There Is No Evidence To Support This..

    On Thursday, the network ran a segment claiming the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. “could lose pandas over Trump’s trade war.” The 1 minute, 40 second segment offered exactly zero evidence that this was anything other than a completely made up fear from MSNBC.

    “The president’s trade war with China could soon cost the National Zoo in D.C. its most beloved attraction,” said Ayman Mohyeldin, filling in for Katy Tur. “As tensions rise between the U.S. and China over trade, the pandas that thousands flock to see eat bamboo and tumble down their habit could be sent to China, which technically owns them. The vulnerable species is only on loan here in the U.S.”

    Sounds like another case of reporters desperately making up stories. They can't just say "sorry, no news today".

    And, after all, it's not like pandas are difficult to get…


  • Wow. Tyler Cowen interviewing Neal Stephenson. That's like a perfect storm of smartness. Sample:

    [Cowen:] If we had a Mars colony, how politically free do you think it would be? Or would it just be perpetual martial law, like living on a nuclear submarine?

    [Stephenson:] I think it would be a lot like living on a nuclear submarine. Being in space is almost like being in an intensive care unit in a hospital, in the sense that you're completely dependent on a whole bunch of machines working in order to keep you alive. A lot of what we associate with personal freedom becomes too dangerous to contemplate in that kind of environment.

    Um, good point. If I were to emphasize one point in my "Genealogy" of Morality post from a few days ago, it's that general facts about the social environment (specifically: you're on Mars, and the outside atmosphere is 6 mbar of mostly CO2) can drastically change your moral code.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson reminds us why Joe Biden is Unfit for the Presidency.

    There are two possible explanations of Joe Biden’s inability to tell the truth about things: One is that his mind is failing him, the other is that his honor is. In neither case is Biden fit to hold the office of president of the United States of America, and Democrats would discredit themselves and endanger the nation to nominate him.

    Yes, yes, go ahead — “But, Trump!” etc. — and continue when you’ve completed the ritual of equivocation, and don’t think too hard about how far and in what direction that line of moral self-justification has carried the Republican party.

    Joe Biden is a plagiarist and a liar, among other things. In the most recent example, detailed by the Washington Post, Biden made up a story in which he as vice president displayed personal courage and heroism in traveling to a dangerous war zone in order to recognize the service of an American soldier who had distinguished himself in a particularly dramatic way. It was a moving story. “This is the God’s truth,” he concluded. “My word as a Biden.”

    Upside: Trump-Biden debates might be the most surreal TV series ever.


Last Modified 2019-09-02 2:43 PM EST

Lion

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This 2016 movie was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture. So about time I saw it, right? (Not that it matters, but I've now seen seven out of the nine nominees from that year. Only missing the winner, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea.)

Opening is in desperately poor India, where young Saroo and his older brother Guddu try to make things a little better for their mom and baby sister by swiping coal from passing trains, and selling it for milk. Which is fine, except one night Saroo and Guddu get separated, Saroo gets on a train looking for him, and promptly gets whisked away to far-off Calcutta.

Saroo avoids one disaster after another; Calcutta is a lousy place to be a kid on your own. But eventually, he's adopted by a saintly Australian couple.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Saroo is a young man with a hot girlfriend. But he's tormented with memories of his lost family, and undertakes to backtrace his journey, and find them. This causes a lot of stress. But eventually… Well, do you think this movie would have been made if Saroo failed to get back to his boyhood home?

So, not bad, but Netflix thought I would like it better.

Die A Stranger

[Amazon Link]

Continuing with my "Catch Up on Steve Hamilton" reading project. This one's from 2012. Getting there!

It's in his series of books with protagonist Alex McKnight. Ex-ballplayer, ex-cop, ex-PI, Alex just wants to live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and quietly rent his cabins to tourists. But as usual…

It's a sad time for Alex's Native American friend Vinnie; his mother has passed away. She was a wise old bird, and Vinnie's disconsolate. And soon, very drunk. And then inexplicably goes missing, in the company of his ne'er-do-well cousin Buck.

And (oh oh) this disappearance comes at the same time as a mass murder carried out at a small remote airfield, where incoming Canadian hydroponic marijuana is traded for cash. This is no coincidence.

Alex is still a decent detective, and accompanied by Vinnie's long-lost father (who everyone assumed was still in jail), he sets off to track down his missing friend. It's a safe bet that he'll find himself in mortal danger.

Pretty good outing for Alex, I kept turning the pages. An ending I did not see coming.