URLs du Jour

2020-03-07

[Amazon Link]

  • As one WSJ editorialist used to say all the time: what would we do without experts? So it's fitting that this article by Sumathi Reddy appears in the (probably paywalled) WSJ: Here’s Why Health Experts Want to Stop Daylight-Saving Time.

    Early Sunday morning, most people in America will spring forward and move their clocks one hour ahead to daylight-saving time.

    It is good news for those who enjoy more daylight in the evening. But experts say a growing body of evidence shows that the annual time shift is bad for our health, disrupting our circadian rhythms and sleep and leading to a higher immediate risk of heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation and potentially car accidents.

    So, yet another way Our Federal Government is killing us. If I suddenly stop blogging tomorrow, you'll know what happened.

    Let me trot out once again one of my favorite crackpot ideas: The Right Number of Time Zones is Zero.


  • Genius Harvard Econ Prof Greg Mankiw summarizes The Biden Tax Plan. (And links to a full analysis by the Tax Policy Center.)

    Most noteworthy is the huge increase in taxes on high-income households. The top one percent would see a 40 percent increase in federal taxes (all federal taxes combined). Their average federal tax rate would rise from 29.7 to 41.7 percent.

    The buried assumption is that Our Federal Government will take that extra money (estimated $4,000,000,000,000 over ten years) and spend/"invest" it more wisely and productively than the private citizens from whom they're grabbing it.

    Suggestion: the Feds should demonstrate doing that with the money they already get first. I won't hold my breath.


  • Ann Althouse has witnessed A ridiculous mix of masculinity and femininity, so absurd you're in no danger of believing or empathizing. Yes, it's Bill Clinton, who's interviewed in a new Hulu documentary about his wife. And after twenty-two years, he's come up with a brand new psychobabble explanation.

    Ann's analysis is short and sharp, so here's The Whole Thing:

    It's Bill Clinton, quoted in "Bill Clinton Explains Monica Lewinsky Affair as ‘Managing My Anxieties’/Mr. Clinton was asked about the scandal for the Hulu documentary series 'Hillary'" (NYT):

    "You feel like you’re staggering around — you’ve been in a 15-round prizefight that was extended to 30 rounds, and here’s something that’ll take your mind off it for a while,” Mr. Clinton says. “Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever, things I did to manage my anxieties for years."
    He pictures himself as a boxer going 20 rounds, then suddenly he's in Oprahesque confessional mode,  offering up bullshit bonbons of self-insight. Don't eat that. But it's good for a laugh.

    But it's really not so funny. He says "something that’ll take your mind off it" and "things I did." But the thing was a human being — a woman. Even as he's trying to present himself as having reflected and gained perspective and wisdom, he's still speaking of Monica Lewinsky as an object, understood in terms of what she did for him. His new insight is only to diminish the use she had. He ought to have managed his anxieties better, but at the time he took advantage of her — you know, of the thing.

    Bubba's new bullshit excuse will probably last only as long as it takes to come up with some different bullshit excuse.


  • Jonah Goldberg's new enterprise, the Dispatch, has moved over to paywall mode, subscriptions run $100/year, and since I am not floating in money, I am declining for now.

    But Jonah's weekly newsletter, the revered G-File is still free, as near as I can tell, and it's usually a hoot. In this week's entry, Jonah is Standing Athwart Progress, Literally. There are some political points made, but here's something I did not know:

    I think the brilliant linguist John McWhorter is absolutely convincing when he argues that words are always changing their meaning. Well, the words aren’t doing the changing; they’re not sentient entities. Rather, the meaning of words is constantly changing to fit the needs of speakers and societies. It’s all very, very Hayekian—which in lowfalutin language means “Duh, that’s right.” 

    Consider the word “cheater.” Originally, a cheater was a royally appointed officer who monitored the monarch’s escheats. These were lands that would revert back to being the crown’s property when the owner died without heirs. The thing is, the cheaters were famous, uh, cheats. In 1662, the English writer and clergyman William Gurnall observed that a “Cheater may pick the purses of ignorant people, by shewing them something like the Kings Broad Seal, which was indeed his own forgery.” Cheaters became so well-known for swindling people out of their lands that the title cheater took on a different meaning. I love the irony that we get the term cheater from the fact that cheaters prospered—which, I’ve been told, they never do. 

    Jonah goes on to describe the decline of the word "literally". And (what the hell) I'll excerpt that bit too:

    My use of “figurative” and “literal” above brings me back to McWhorter, who may be the foremost defender of using “literally” figuratively. Saying “literally” is just another way to add emphasis to what you’re saying, McWhorter argues. We all understand that someone isn’t speaking from beyond the grave—or telling their vampire origin story—when they say “I literally died.”

    I get it. But here’s my problem. We still need a word for “literally.” The only synonym for literally on this list that does the job of literally is “not figuratively.” But try using that in a normal sentence. “If we keep spending money this way, we’ll not figuratively go broke!” “The wolverine was so annoyed that it not figuratively ate the man’s penis!”

    Similarly, "racism". Among the woke, you can't be "racist" against white people.

    Yeah, fine, but in that case we still need a word for invidious slurs against people because of their skin tone.