A Trick of Light

[Amazon Link]

Well, I was seduced into getting this book by a Reason podcast interview with co-author Kat Rosenfield. Her collaborator: Stan Lee. Yes, that one. Before he died.

Kat seemed like a nice person, said some sensible things about cancel culture.

So I spent an Interlibrary Loan pick at the University Near Here, the it wended its way down from Bangor Public Library, and…

Well, it wasn't my cup of tea. I commit to reading library books all the way through, but instead of the "what comes next" elicited by even potboiler fiction, my recurring thoughts here were:

"Egads, this is stupid."

"Please make it stop."

"Why did they think this would be a good idea?"

It originally came out solely as an audiobook. Maybe it works better in that medium. But, a page at random (265): "The Inventor has warned him of what's to come: a global takeover that would bring the world as he knows it to an end, ushering in a new era like something out of a nightmare. A horde of networked humans marching through the streets, demanding cooperation — and forcing it one the ones who refuse."

Yeesh.

But, hey, you might like it.

URLs du Jour

2020-03-06

[Amazon Link]
You'll want to grab our Amazon Product du Jour before embarrassment forces it to be withdrawn from the market…

  • At Reason, Peter Suderman has sober analysis: Elizabeth Warren Drops Out. Her Failed Campaign Is a Reminder That Even Democratic Voters Don’t Want a Woke Policy Wonk in the White House.

    On the campaign trail, Warren called for trillions of dollars in new government spending on education and climate change, massive regulatory interventions into the structure and operations of large technology companies, criminal penalties for spreading voting disinformation online, and a radical revamp of corporate governance.

    Although she distinguished herself from the explicit socialism of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), her closest rival, by insisting that she was a capitalist "to her bones," Warren never really demonstrated much fondness for markets. More often than not, she appeared to view them as an inherently corrupt system that required aggressive management from an enlightened expert class. Warren was a capitalist who hated capitalism. 

    We'll probably have Elizabeth to kick around for awhile to come. But as Mark Steyn says, for now it's Pow Wow Ciao.


  • George F. Will has good news: Sensible Americans might be saved from dismay in November.

    “Enlightened statesmen,” wrote James Madison, “will not always be at the helm.” His genius extended to understatement, and until Tuesday it was approaching probable that by midnight of November’s first Tuesday, sensible Americans would be elated and distraught — elated because someone grotesquely unsuited to the presidency would have been denied that office, but distraught because such a person had won it.

    Together, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump would constitute the most repulsive presidential choice in U.S. history. The Democratic Party, however, is not the world’s oldest party because it fecklessly allows its presidential nomination to be grasped by someone who — let us plainly state the most important fact about Sanders — dislikes this nation.

    I'm sorry, Mr. Will. The prospect of President Biden also dismays me.


  • At that notorious right-wing mag, the Atlantic, Edward-Isaac Dovere explains How Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden Enriched Their Families.

    Donald Trump has set a new bar for presidential self-dealing. But two of the Democratic front-runners have their own, lower-level history of mixing family and politics.

    Since the 1970s, Senator Bernie Sanders, who has spent his entire career railing against the political establishment, and Joe Biden, who likes to point out that he was for years the poorest member of the Senate, have repeatedly directed campaign dollars to close relatives. As mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders even directed taxpayer money to his wife. Some of these practices were touched on in reporting at the time, but the full picture has acquired new importance in the context of the campaign against Trump, whose golf outings alone have sent millions of taxpayer dollars to his family-owned firm.

    Click through for the deets. Trump is bad on this, of course. But when your self-image is one of overweening righteousness, it obviously gives you license to engage in behavior you'd decry as corrupt in others.


  • And I rarely tweet, but:

    Context, if you need it, is all over the place this morning, but I think Charles C. W. Cooke has an exceptionally cogent point beyond pointing fingers and laughing: The ‘Million Dollars Per Person’ Affair Is Telling.

    This, right here, is why so many left-leaning Americans think that “the billionaires” can pay for everything. It’s why Elizabeth Warren was enthusiastically boosted by the media despite her ridiculous pretense that she could pay for a series of gargantuan initiatives without raising taxes on anyone but the extremely rich. It’s why Democrat after Democrat promises not to raise “middle class taxes” while promising programs that require the raising of middle class taxes. How did this bad tweet make it onto TV to be endorsed? Why did Mara Gay agree with it? Why didn’t Brian Williams notice? Because the people involved in this clip thought it was true. This is how they see the world.

    If you're the kind of person who likes Facebook-fencing: the easiest way to knock a progressive off balance is with facts, data, and math. They'll often try to change the subject.


  • Tyler Cowen summarizes a recent paper: The Consequences of Treating Electricity as a Right. (We wild-eyed classical liberals would usually put sneer quotes around "right".) From the abstract (reformatted):

    1. In step 1, because a social norm has developed that all deserve power independent of payment, subsidies, theft, and nonpayment are widely tolerated.
    2. In step 2, electricity distribution companies lose money with each unit of electricity sold and in total lose large sums of money.
    3. In step 3, government-owned distribution companies ration supply to limit losses by restricting access and hours of supply.
    4. In step 4, power supply is no longer governed by market forces and the link between payment and supply is severed, thus reducing customers' incentives to pay.

    Left as an exercise for the reader. Plug other goods in for "electricity" and see how closely you get to reality.


  • And an LFOD reference at a law blog: Can You Be Sued for Spreading Coronavirus?

    What happens, for example, if you know you have the COVID-19 infection and fail to take the proper precautions—thereby spreading the contagion around and infecting others?

    A New Hampshire man could prove to be an interesting (hypothetical) test case here.

    According to a local NBC affiliate in New York, City, the unnamed Live Free or Die State’s index patient was told to stay put and self-isolate by medical professionals after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier last week.

    Dartmouth. What a smart bunch of people they have.

    Sometimes people use "Live Free or Die state" to avoid typing "New Hampshire" one more time. But in this case, it seems somewhat more than that.