URLs du Jour

2020-03-25

  • Brendan O'Neil looks at The luxury of apocalypticism at Spiked Online:

    People’s refusal to panic has been a great source of frustration for the establishment in recent years. ‘The planet is burning’, they lie, in relation to climate change, and yet we do not weep or wail or even pay very much attention. ‘I want you to panic’, instructs the newest mouthpiece of green apocalypticism, Greta Thunberg, and yet most of us refuse to do so. A No Deal Brexit would unleash economic mayhem, racist pogroms and even a pandemic of super-gonorrhoea, they squealed, incessantly, like millenarian preachers balking at the imminent arrival of the lightning bolt of final judgement, and yet we didn’t flinch. We went to work. We went home. We still supported Brexit.

    Our skittish elites have been so baffled, infuriated in fact, by our calm response to their hysterical warnings that they have invented pathologies to explain our unacceptable behaviour. The therapeutic language of ‘denialism’ is used to explain the masses’ refusal to fret over climate change. Environmentalists write articles on ‘the psychology of climate-change denial’, on ‘the self-deception and mass denial’ coursing through this society that refuses to flatter or engage with the hysteria of the eco-elites. Likewise, the refusal of voters to succumb to the dire, hollow warnings of the ferociously anti-Brexit wing of the establishment was interpreted by self-styled experts as a psychological disorder. ‘[This is] people taking action for essentially psychological reasons, irrespective of the economic cost’, said one professor.

    Unfortunately for me, the local elite is … Mrs. Salad, who's pretty freaked out. And is not particularly happy with my refusal to panic.


  • Kevin D. Williamson, writing at National Review is a born editor, and is not enamored of one current cliché. Coronavirus Response: ‘Is The Cure Worse than the Disease’ Question Unanswerable. (NRPlus article)

    Jonah Goldberg wrote a book arguing that we live in part under a “tyranny of clichés,” and one of the most shopworn of clichés — “The cure is worse than the disease” — is at the moment at the forefront of our public discourse. Millions of lives and untold trillions in wealth and income may be saved — or lost — as the result of public policies shaped by that cliché.

    In the matter of the coronavirus epidemic and our response to it, the question “Is the cure worse than the disease?” is almost useless, because it asks us to judge one discrete thing we know against a half-dozen critical things we do not know.

    I refer you back to yesterday's post with a link to the distinction between risk and uncertainty.


  • Some site maintenance is resurrecting old articles at the Law & Liberty site, and here's one from about a month ago, from James C. Capretta: Market-Driven Health Care Is Worth the Effort

    The alternative to Medicare for All is a market-driven health system, but, at the moment, it has few champions. Republicans in Congress and officials in the Trump administration will fight “socialized medicine” in its many forms, but they show little appetite for advancing policies that would move decisively in a less governmental direction.

    Their reticence, though regrettable, is understandable. An unavoidable lesson from other high-income countries is that voters like government-run health care. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, fresh off of securing a substantial majority in the U.K’s December election, has stated that his number one priority is securing more funding for the National Health Service (NHS). Voters see personal autonomy and responsibility as non-negotiable on most matters, but when it comes to their health needs, they want others—mainly their physicians—to make the majority of decisions for them, and the government to take care of the bills.

    I get the psychology, believe me. Nobody wants to "need" medical care that they can't afford. Better to imagine that, whatever ills befall, the government (or "insurance") will provide appropriate care, no questions asked.


  • At the Federalist, Chrissy Clark looks at recent history: Hypocritical Media Downplays Wuhan Virus For Weeks, Then Critiques Fox News For Shifting 'Rhetoric'.

    Mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Vox, have criticized Fox News for allegedly promulgating lies about the severity of the widespread Wuhan virus. But their critiques land with a thud, as these same outlets also played a role in in downplaying the crisis.

    On Monday’s edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” host Tucker Carlson showcased the mainstream media’s inability to hold themselves accountable for initially pushing a relaxed narrative about the coronavirus in late January and early February.

    Chrissy accumulates evidence from Vox, CNN, the NYT, and the WaPo to bolster her contention. It's pretty damning.

    Was there a major media outlet, politician, or health organization that got this precisely right? Finger-pointing is easy, why be selective?


  • And Power Line notes the evolution of the online NYT headlines for the same article: Our Garbage Media in One Story. No excerpt, just check it out.


  • And our local freaks at Free Keene caused the knelling of our Google LFOD News Alert. They're upset about our Gov: As Governor Bans Assembling Over Ten People, Nobody to Lead Gathering at NH State House on April 1st at 2pm! ("Nobody" in this case refers to an actual person that's going by that monicker.)

    On his official campaign blog, ElectNobody.com, Nobody announced the civil disobedience event and reminded people where the state’s supposed motto came from: “Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.” – General John Stark. Before last week, New Hampshire was not a free state, but now all illusions of freedom have been completely wiped away and it’s become all-out tyranny. Something must be done. It’s time to stand up for the freedom to assemble.

    Well, fine. I'll be here. Let me know how that works out.

The Second Life of Nick Mason

[Amazon Link]

This book really has some big guns writing laudatory blurbs: Harlen Coben (front cover), Steven King, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Don Winslow (back cover). Makes you wonder what the author, Steve Hamilton, has on those guys.

But never mind that. Mr. Hamilton takes a break here from his series character Alex McKnight, and tells the story of (surprise) Nick Mason. As the book opens, Nick's getting out of the high-security United States Penitentiary Terre Haute, where he was serving a long sentence. Which has been overturned. Yay, right?

Wrong. Because the release was arranged by a powerful Chicago crime boss, Darius Cole, who sees Nick as sort of a ninja he can groom to be a warrior for his continued dominance over the city's organized crime scene. All Nick really wants to do is reconnect with his ex-wife and daughter, live some sort of straight life. But Darius demands loyalty and obedience, which involves Nick perpetrating some more crimes. And trying not to get caught or killed.

It's a convoluted tale of criminals and dirty cops. A page-turner, no question. But the whole sub-genre of "guy gets out of jail only to get involved in a lot of violent mayhem" is pretty well-travelled. (Remember Jim Thompson's The Getaway? 1959.)

If I had a further quibble, it would be overuse of the f-word, which seems to be Mr. Hamilton's way of indicating that his dialog and the characters' inner monologues are gritty and realistic.

Broken Harbor

[Amazon Link]

This is the fourth entry in Tana French's "Dublin Murder Squad" series. The protagonist narrator here is Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a supporting character in the previous book, Faithful Place.

Mick makes it clear from the get-go that he's nobody's sweetheart. He's all about the job, corralling the perps, being the best detective on the squad. He's got no patience for fools, and he thinks just about everyone is a fool. For a new and horrific case, he takes on a new partner, Richie. Not because he'd like to show the youngster the ropes and act as a benevolent mentor; instead, he thinks that the youngster will be easier to browbeat into doing things Mick's way.

But the case really is horrifying. "Broken Harbor" is the old name for a new real estate development on Ireland's east coast, and it's only partially finished because the developers have gone bust. But one of the finished houses has been the scene of a gruesome attack, leaving a dead husband, two dead kids, and a wife in intensive care. And there's some really weird shit at the crime scene, involving a lot of baby monitors, holes punched in the walls, an open attic hatch with wire mesh over the opening.

As the case develops, it turns out Mick (unfortunately) has Broken Harbor history that shook his own family, and threatens his ability to deal with the present situation. As has been the case with the previous books in the series, the story is not just about solving the case, but also the psychic damage that the solution wreaks on the participants.