URLs du Jour


Well, thanks a lot San Francisco. I should have gone more with my faith in traditional bourgeois Midwestern values triumphing over decadent left-coast whackadoodles.

On with our show.

  • Jonah Goldberg uses current disease news to come up with an interesting metaphor: The Intellectual Wet Market.

    Like a lot of people, I don’t want to talk about impeachment anymore. So, let’s zoom out. It seems to me that our entire culture is becoming a kind of wet market. Memes—ideas, customs, fashions, behaviors that spread via imitation—can be a trite concept these days. But another way to think of them is as germs. The internet is a particularly conducive medium for them. Look around and you can see what I mean all over the place. The various market stalls of the alt-right butcher their bushmeat daily, and some of it contaminates other stalls. Attempts at maintaining hygiene discipline fail and some people become infected, in part because the intensity of partisan captivity lowers their immune systems. Some of the products end up in the mainstream food supply and for one reason or another some people become fond of, even addicted to, exotic fare they would never dream of trying never mind developing a taste for. 

    Of course, it’s not just politics. Our culture is shot through with cross contaminations and exotic fetishes, as people shop for fashions and meaning from a global, uh, Chinese menu. As a result, weird, quirky, interesting and, yes, idiotic misapplications of concepts proliferate as it becomes ever more difficult to keep the batshit droppings out of the sauce. For instance, Gwyneth Paltrow is selling “psychic vampire repellent” to rich people who are dumb enough to buy it. People who can’t read Hebrew prattle about the Kaballah and try to fill their swimming pools with something called “Kaballah water.” Intellectuals grab square-peg concepts off the shelf try to cram them into the round holes of our souls. Politicians who think they know something about Scandinavian socialism believe that utopia awaits if they can just get it through customs intact and set it up here. 

    Jonah is to be congratulated on not making, as far as I can tell, the obvious point about things "going viral" on social media.

  • We didn't watch a lot of the Super Bowl, so we missed a lot of the good ads. And we missed at least one lousy one, Mike Bloomberg's. Which I will embed:

    Problem, as Jacob Sullum notes: Michael Bloomberg’s Claim About ‘Children’ Killed by ‘Gun Violence’ Is Off by 73%.

    Michael Bloomberg's Super Bowl ad, which presents the Democratic presidential contender as a brave advocate of public safety who is not afraid to take on "the gun lobby," claims "2,900 children die from gun violence every year" in the United States, which is not true. That number includes young adults as well as minors, and it includes suicides as well as homicides.

    Bloomberg's campaign cited Everytown for Gun Safety, a Bloomberg-backed group, as the source of the number used in the ad. "Annually," the organization said in June 2019 fact sheet, "nearly 2,900 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed." The ad changed "children and teens" (including young adults) to "children," presumably because that makes the deaths more shocking, strengthening the emotional case for the gun control policies Bloomberg favors.

    In contrast, note the "analysis" of the ad found at Politifact which notes the inclusion of young adults as "children", but does not mention the suicide inclusion.

    Politifact is garbage. And Mike Bloomberg is a liar.

  • To further gloomify your Monday, Brian Reidl of the Dispatch explains Why $1 Trillion Deficits Are Here to Stay. A fun factoid for us geezers:

    Those who dismiss 30-year budget projections should note that the existence of 74 million baby boomers is not a theoretical guess like an inflation rate. The boomers walk among us, and their Social Security and Medicare payment formulas are already set in permanent law. The typical married couple retiring today will, over their lifetime, have paid $161,000 into the Medicare system, and receive $498,000 in benefits. They will also come out $70,000 ahead in Social Security. Now multiply these shortfalls by 74 million retiring baby boomers and factor in a shortage of working-age taxpayers to replenish the revenues. The math is unforgiving.

    These costs are growing over time. The yearly Social Security and Medicare shortfall was $440 billion last year. It is projected to reach $1.869 trillion in 2030. This $1.4 trillion cost increase explains virtually the entire growth in the projected budget deficit over the next decade.

    Neither party's politicians are particularly interested in discussing this issue. Major media would rather cover "interesting" partisan catfights instead of drawing attention to boring math-based issues.