URLs du Jour


  • A brief personal yarn. Our local Sunday paper finally showed up this morning. The only reasons we continue to subscribe: (1) coupons; (2) week-old crossword puzzles from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

    So I was doing the NYT crossword puzzle, and one across clue was:

    Number in an office?

    Seven letters, and the only way I got it was figuring out the down answers for each letter. I'll put the answer here in white type, mouse-highlight to see it:


    My reaction: "I don't get this. I don't get this. I don't … Oh, I get it." And an audible moan.

    See if you do better.

  • At Reason (donate to their webathon while you're there), Jacob Sullum tells the story of a current Supreme Court case: New York City, Which Defended Its Onerous Gun Transport Restrictions As Necessary for Public Safety, Concedes They Weren’t.

    For decades, New York City enforced uniquely onerous regulations that effectively prohibited licensed pistol and revolver owners from taking their weapons outside their homes, even when they were unloaded and stored in a locked container, unless they were traveling to or from one of seven gun ranges in the five boroughs. When several gun owners challenged those regulations, the city successfully defended their constitutionality for five years, obtaining favorable rulings from a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. But after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of that decision, the city rewrote its rules, backed a state law that eased restrictions on transporting guns, and urged the Court to drop the case, arguing that the regulatory and statutory changes made it moot. During oral arguments today in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, several justices seemed skeptical of that claim, which is transparently aimed at avoiding a Supreme Court decision that could clarify the contours of the Second Amendment.

    It would be nice to get some clarity from the Supremes on Second Amendment stuff. Avoiding the mootness issue and ruling on the onerous restrictions would be a great start.

  • Matt Ridley, the Rational Optimist, gives the good news in the headline: GM Crops Like Golden Rice Will Save the Lives of Hundreds of Thousands of Children. But there are some green weenies that say nay:

    Given the scale of human suffering Golden Rice could address, there may be no better example of a purely philanthropic project in the whole of human history. Yet some misguided environmental activists still oppose Golden Rice to this day.

    Prominent among these is Greenpeace, the environmental lobby group which now has annual revenues of nearly $300m and a highly-paid chief executive overseeing a sophisticated fund-raising operation. Greenpeace lobbied to set very strict rules on the use of genetically-engineered crops which had the effect, whether intended or not, of making life difficult for Potrykus and Beyer. In January 2000, the same month that the development of Golden Rice was announced to the world in Science magazine, there was a meeting in Montreal of delegates from 170 countries working to come up with an international protocol on the regulation of biotechnology. This process had been started the year before in Cartagena, Colombia. Greenpeace was there, both protesting in the streets (“Life before profits!”) and working behind the scenes to draft rules for the delegates.

    And you can be sure all the Greenpeaceniks were well-fed.

    It always sets my teeth on edge when I notice one of those smug "NonGMO Certified" labels on a jar, box, or carton of something we've purchased. It means we've sent a small market signal that we are ignorant science-illiterate idiots.

  • At Cato, Alan Reynolds examines the nonsense emitted by one of Senator Liz's tame economists: Simon Johnson Claims the Warren Health Plan is a Gift to U.S. Businesses. A sample:

    "The health-care burden hurts American business," says Johnson, due to "the onerous contribution most companies are required to make through employer-sponsored insurance." Would the Warren plan end that "onerous contribution"? Of course not. They're counting on it to pay 43% of the cost of the plan. 

    Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler explains: "Instead of employers continuing to give that money to insurance companies, Warren proposes that businesses direct 98 percent to the federal government [$8.8 trillion] and keep 2 percent for themselves. . . "

    Would the Warren plan prohibit the next government from requiring employers to pay a vastly more "onerous contribution" in the future? Of course not. The Warren plan would also raise taxes on corporations and their investors by some $6.3 trillion, according to Kessler, so any ephemeral promise of reducing companies' insurance premiums by 2% for a year or two is hardly great news for American business.

    A successful Democratic candidate will have to hire better flim-flammers than Simon Johnson.

  • At the (maybe paywalled) WSJ, William McGurn wonders: Will Bloomberg Buy the Election?.

    If Joe Biden falters, the received wisdom runs, nominating Michael Bloomberg to head the Democratic ticket would boost the party’s chances next November by pitting a strong, credible moderate against Donald Trump. It’s possible. But the former mayor of New York could do his party an even bigger favor just by losing.

    The reason has to do with the Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Instead of hailing the decision as a welcome victory for the First Amendment—it overturned an FEC ban that had prohibited airing a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton right before the 2008 Democratic primaries—today’s Democratic orthodoxy holds that Citizens United has left American democracy for sale to the highest bidder.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders puts it this way: “We do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections, and that is why we are going to overturn Citizens United, that is why multibillionaires like Mr. Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election.”

    McGurn goes on to argue that if Bloomberg can't buy his way into the White House, that would persuade would-be Citizens United overturners that their premises were mistaken.

    I'm doubtful. Among the faithful, that is a belief somewhat impervious to evidence.

  • On a related note, Iowahawk reacts to Zuck's latest:

    I encourage you to click over to Twitter and RTWThread.