URLs du Jour

2019-11-23

[Amazon Link]

  • The Amazon Product du Jour, the Karl Marx Money Bank, has nothing to do with our other content, but I saw it at Power Line's Week in Pictures and thought it was cute. The title at the bottom: "Das Kapital". Hee.


  • Reason's Jacob Sullum is a trusted source, and he says: The Evidence That Trump Abused His Powers Is Clear and Convincing.

    As someone who has found Donald Trump's presidency to be equal parts hilarious and horrifying but is still not convinced that whoever the Democrats end up nominating would be better, everything considered, on the issues I care about, I have mixed feelings about the impeachment inquiry. On one hand, I tend to agree with Gene Healy that the impeachment power, which has never been used to actually remove a president in the 230 years since George Washington started his first term (although the threat of impeachment led Richard Nixon to resign), has been sorely neglected. On the other hand, I'm not sure that party-line votes to impeach Trump in the House and acquit him in the Senate will do much to reinvigorate that power in a salutary way.

    For similar reasons, the political impact of impeachment is uncertain. It could help Trump in next year's election by energizing his supporters or hurt him by energizing his opponents. Likewise for congressional Republicans and Democrats. The one thing Trump's impeachment probably won't do is sway anyone who does not firmly identify with either camp. That's a shame, since the conversation about what counts as an impeachable offense is worth having. Instead we have a shouting match between rabid partisans that obscures the important issue of when a president's conduct is so intolerable that his fate should not simply be left for voters to decide.

    We ain't gonna get a principled argument about impeachable offenses either from our current crop of politicians or their media lackeys. Or, as Jacob says:

    If Donald Trump were a Democrat (as he was from 2001 to 2009), we can be sure that Republicans would be pouncing on the allegations against him instead of blithely dismissing them. Conversely, Democrats would be doing what the Republicans are doing, resorting to increasingly desperate defenses of their guy. For anyone who does not feel at home in either major party, these reflexive reactions are as mystifying as the passion of baseball or football fanatics is to people who take no interest in professional sports. And given the weird hodgepodge of policy positions that passes for ideology in both parties, this political tribalism is not much more meaningful.

    Jacob's summary of the evidence seems solid to me, but I may be biased due to Trump calling me "human scum."


  • A long and (for me) poignant "Morning Jolt" from Jim Geraghty at National Review: William F. Buckley to Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump: How Did Conservatives Get Here?.

    At some point in your development, probably in your younger years, you stepped into the world of politics out of curiosity and it lit something within you. While lots of your peers found it boring, you started to feel like it was a grand crusade in the best sense. You had a set of values you believed in, ideas you wanted to defend, and policies you wanted to enact — you grew to believe that in some way, nothing less than the fate of the country is at stake. We’re lucky to be born or to become Americans, but this country can be greater. We can solve our problems. And you — little, humble, never expected to amount to much, you — can be a part in this grand effort to make the country a better place. You found something bigger than yourself to believe in, and suddenly, everything had a clear purpose. You have a mission.

    And you had heroes! Depending upon your age, they likely included William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, John Paul II, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, maybe Newt Gingrich or Jack Kemp, or plenty of others. You found leaders you thought were smart, wise, and farsighted. When they spoke, they filled you to the brim with confidence and optimism and determination.

    See if you recognize yourself anywhere.


  • And I still retain enough physics to be impressed by this Wired story: What Makes an Element? The Frankenstein of Sodium Holds Clues.

    A few years ago, a group of physicists created an unusual, never-before-seen subatomic particle. Using a particle accelerator at Riken, a Japanese research institute, they slammed streams of calcium nuclei against a metal disk, over and over, for hours at a time. Then, sifting through the aftermath of the collisions, they found their coveted particle. They named their creation: sodium.

    That’s right, sodium. Don’t let the familiar name fool you; you’ll never find this object in ordinary table salt. Almost all sodium on Earth is sodium-23, where the number refers to the 11 protons and 12 neutrons that make up its nucleus. Yet those 23 particles do not encompass all that can or could be sodium. Technically, any nucleus with 11 protons is sodium. The periodic table, after all, organizes the elements by the number of protons in their nuclei, and sodium is element number 11. That says nothing about the number of neutrons the particle harbors inside.

    Spoiler: they managed to cram 16 extra neutrons into sodium nuclei to create (however briefly) sodium-39. That's (roughly) the equivalent of a stack of 1000 dominoes.


  • And our Google LFOD alert rang for our local paper touting the upcoming appearance of Lenny Clarke. He buttered us locals up a bit…

    While Clarke said there’s nowhere for comics to hide from today’s scrutiny, he said he finds New Hampshire audiences tend to have an open mind, which he appreciates. He played a show in Manchester earlier this year that he said went well.

    “New Hampshire is so much better to work,” said Clarke. “They’re more willing to look at what you’re saying and give you the benefit of the doubt.”

    But…

    Clarke still rags on Granite Staters, poking fun at their license plates that say “Live Free or Die.” Coming from the Bay State with higher taxes, Clarke likes to tease, “I’d pay a little.”

    “Eighty-percent of the people do not get it. Twenty percent, they just high-five each other,” said Clarke. “I can’t educate and entertain at the same time.”

    Um, Lenny? That eighty percent who aren't high-fiving? They may "get it" just fine, it's not that funny.