URLs du Jour

2020-05-27

  • Patterico (actually "Dana") has just about had it with President Bone Spurs: Trump Recklessly Pushes Debunked Conspiracy Theory in Series of Obscene Tweets.

    You know, I’ve avoided posting about this story because it’s so disturbing to me that the President of the United States would promote a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory, and cause undue hurt to an innocent family as a result. But I am publishing a post about it because I am livid that Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a very real family, whose members have already mourned and grieved the loss of their loved one and find themselves grieving all over again because, in an effort to smear MSNBC on-air host Joe Scarbarough, our deranged president has insinuated in a series of indefensible tweets that foul play was involved in the death of Lori Klausutis, and that Joe Scarbarough was at the heart of it.

    Trump is a bad person. But…


  • He's not the only bad person in the world, or even the United States. Yes, his tweets are "reprehensible", according to the Federalist's Mark Hemingway. But Media's Unpunished Lies Hurt Us Far Worse Than Trump's Tweets.

    A U.S. senator read into the congressional record accusations, wholly without evidence, that an honorable and accomplished man is a gang-rapist for no reason other than that fair democratic elections have rendered them politically impotent to stop his nomination to the Supreme Court. When this happens and, in turn, is enabled and cheered on by the media industrial complex, don’t expect Trump supporters to feel convicted or responsible for what Trump does or says.

    When nearly every major news agency in the country is implicated in the vicious social media pile-on and physical threats directed at a Catholic high school kid for the crime of wearing a MAGA hat, to the point outlets such as CNN are quietly settling libel suits, you start to see why Trump voters are nonplussed right now.

    I'm not a Trump voter. And never will be. But I'm nonplussed right now, about the same amount near-zero of plussedness that I've been running on for years.

    (If you are nonplussed by the word "nonplussed", then this English StackExchange entry is for you.)


  • Daniel J. Mitchell has some interesting thoughts on Coronavirus and the Two Americas. He quotes a number of people, but I liked this from the WSJ's Peggy Noonan, hardly a libertarian wacko:

    There is a class divide between those who are hard-line on lockdowns and those who are pushing back. We see the professionals on one side—those James Burnham called the managerial elite, and Michael Lind, in “The New Class War,” calls “the overclass”—and regular people on the other. The overclass are highly educated and exert outsize influence as managers and leaders of important institutions—hospitals, companies, statehouses. …Since the pandemic began, the overclass has been in charge—scientists, doctors, political figures, consultants—calling the shots for the average people. But personally they have less skin in the game. The National Institutes of Health scientist won’t lose his livelihood over what’s happened. Neither will the midday anchor. I’ve called this divide the protected versus the unprotected. …Here’s a generalization based on a lifetime of experience and observation. The working-class people who are pushing back have had harder lives than those now determining their fate. They haven’t had familial or economic ease. No one sent them to Yale. …they look at these scientists and reporters making their warnings about how tough it’s going to be if we lift shutdowns and they don’t think, “Oh what informed, caring observers.” They think, “You have no idea what tough is. You don’t know what painful is.”

    Bonus quote from Thomas Sowell: "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."

    Mr. Mitchell suggests the problem is more general: those people make decisions that shift costs onto others, while bearing no costs themselves.


  • Mr Geraghty makes a number of salient observations this morn, including this one:

    Our Zach Evans notes that the former senator and former U.S. ambassador to China Max Baucus is regularly denouncing President Trump on Chinese state television. Evans observes, “the former senator sits on the Board of Advisers to Alibaba Group. He also runs a consulting firm, Baucus Group LLC, which connects American and Chinese businesses.”

    Every now and then I marvel that former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is now pretty much a lobbyist for the Russian oil industry, and everyone in the West has more or less accepted it. Our media — and the U.K. media, and other western countries — is justifiably anti-Putin . . . but when a former head of state of a NATO country signs on to become a Putin stooge, they generate a mild “tsk-tsk” and move on. Considering all the ire at Trump for his swooning for Putin, you would think we could spare some more anger for a former head of state who’s signed an actual contract with Putin allies.

    Amazon is allegedly the bad guys in the eyes of many on the Left, but former Obama press secretary Jay Carney is making a good living as one of their senior vice presidents. David Plouffe went to Uber and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, EPA head Lisa Jackson went to Apple, and Eric Holder went to Airbnb. Corporate America is evil and greedy and the driving force behind worsening inequality . . . but if some former Democratic official wants to cash in, it’s all cool.

    Some days make you just want to lock up politicians at random. They don't have to have done anything. Just to put a scare into the others.


  • Finally, an interesting post from Mark J. Perry: Only 51 US companies have been on the Fortune 500 since 1955, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity.

    What do the companies in these three groups have in common?

    Group A: American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics, and National Sugar Refining.

    Group B: Boeing, Campbell Soup Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Deere & Company, General Motors, IBM, Kellogg Company, Procter and Gamble Company, and Whirlpool Corporation.

    Group C: Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Home Depot, Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, and Target.

    All of the companies in Group A were in the Fortune 500 in 1955, but not in 2019.

    All of the companies in Group B were in the Fortune 500 in both 1955 and 2019 (and have remained on the list every year since it started in 1955).

    All of the companies in Group C were in the Fortune 500 in 2019, but not in 1955.

    Also in Group B: General Electric. I'm not sure if they'll be in Group B next year. We'll see, I guess.

Ready or Not

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Another just-OK movie from the Netflix DVD queue. Their description:

When a young bride marries into a ridiculously rich and delightfully deranged family, her wedding night becomes her worst nightmare as she's forced to play a lethal game of hide-and-seek and must fight to stay alive.

Mrs. Salad apparently read up to that first comma and thought it would be some sort of screwball romantic comedy. Sorry, honey.

There are some laughs, because the movie doesn't take itself very seriously. The deranged family is really deranged, having sold their collective souls to Satan, in exchange for success for their board game empire. This only requires them to make new entries into the family (like our young bride) play a potentially lethal game.

It all winds up with a daemon ex machina ending. Spoiler, sorry.

If you're thinking: this sounds kind of like Get Out from a few years ago: I think you're right. Substituting "white girl" for "black guy" as the protagonist.

If you haven't seen Get Out, get that instead.

How To

Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems

[Amazon Link]

I'm a big fan of Randal Munroe's xkcd web comic, so this book was a natural thing to put on my Christmas list. And I finally got around to reading it. (One chapter per day; don't want to overdose.)

The theme is: take a "normal" question, and (as the subtitle suggests) take the answer to absurd lengths using scientific insight and very dry humor.

Example: Chapter 13, "How to Play Tag". Pretty simple, but what's your strategy if you're the slowest runner in the game? (If you're not the slowest, you just run after and tag someone slower.)

Well, you wait until they slow down or stop. They have to eventually, right?

Then, what's their strategy? Run long enough to open up enough of a lead so they won't be tagged while stopped.

Which immediately suggests (to Munroe): what if there's a two-person tag game between a world-class sprinter (like Usain Bolt) and a world-class miler (like Hicham El Guerrouj)? What about a game between you and Yiannis Kourous, who once ran 180 miles in a 24-hour period? What if…

It's all illustrated with Munroe's cartoons, with his stick figure people. And there are guest stars: in Chapter 22, "How to Catch a Drone", he wonders how (say) athletes might be able to use their equipment to knock one down. And he actually gets Serena Williams to see if she could whack an actual drone out of the sky with a well-aimed tennis ball shot. (Spoiler: heck yes, she could.)

In another bit of wonderfulness, in Chapter 5, "How to Make an Emergency Landing", Munroe turns to astronaut Chris Hadfield. Who turns out to have the same demented whimsical take on such questions as Munroe. Could you land a small plane on a ski jump? Maybe, replies Hadfield, if you managed to come in just right and stalled the plane just at the little flat part on the bottom of the jump…

I enjoyed the book a lot. I would especially recommend it as a gift to some curious/geeky teenager, if you know any.