URLs du Jour


  • I think Biden won, I think conspiracy theorizing is entirely bogus and counterproductive, but that's old news. So I'm ready to look ahead to our near future and so is Michael Ramirez:

    [Speaking of Natural Disasters]

  • But that's not all the bad news. Via Slashdot, a Reuters report of what they probably think is good news: Biden's top tech adviser makes regulation more likely.

    President-elect Joe Biden’s top technology adviser helped craft California’s landmark online privacy law and recently condemned a controversial federal statute that protects internet companies from liability, indicators of how the Biden administration may come down on two key tech policy issues.

    Bruce Reed, a former Biden chief of staff who is expected to take a major role in the new administration, helped negotiate with the tech industry and legislators on behalf of backers of a ballot initiative that led to the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act. Privacy advocates see that law as a possible model for a national law.

    Reed also co-authored a chapter in a book published last month denouncing the federal law known as Section 230, which makes it impossible to sue internet companies over the content of user postings. Both Republicans and Democrats have called for reforming or abolishing 230, which critics say has allowed abuse to flourish on social media.

    Get ready for "regulation" making your online life more tedious. Specifically, the "abuse" will still be allowed to flourish on social media, as long as it's directed against the correct targets.

  • And that's still not all the bad news. Betteridge's law of headlines probably does not apply to David Boaz's post at Cato: Will Biden Turn the Education Department over to the Teachers Unions?

    President‐elect Biden is rumored to be considering a teachers union head to be his secretary of education. Since the Education Department was essentially created by the National Education Association, this is basically just confirming their control. It’s understandable that Biden would promise to name a teacher for this post. After all, who knows education better than teachers? It no doubt sounds good to voters. But imagine a candidate promising to name a defense contractor as secretary of defense, an oil company CEO as secretary of energy, or a real estate developer as HUD secretary. For each of those the candidate could plausibly raise the same argument, that few others would know more about the subject. But there would be a lot more public skepticism about naming a provider of the service to run the federal department in those cases.

    The near future will be dedicated to shovelling more money into the educrat wallets. And disappointed head-shaking at the continuing mediocre results of government schooling.

  • This WSJ article is probably paywalled, but I found it interesting enough to comment upon: Chocolate Makers Are Having a Hard Time Cutting Down on Sugar.

    LONDON—A longstanding push to slash sugar in chocolate has stalled, leaving confectionery makers in a sticky situation amid the threat of regulation that could hit sales.

    In the U.K.—where people eat more chocolate per head than anywhere but Russia—a government report shows the industry has made little progress toward a 2020 deadline to cut sugar. That has prompted health campaigners to call for a tax on chocolate similar to a levy on sugary soft drinks, which in several countries has reduced consumption or propelled reformulation.

    I didn't know that about Russia, dollink. I thought their unhealthy habits were limited to vodka and cigarettes.

    But the bottom line is that regulators are dedicated to making chocolate taste worse, so you'll eat less of it. How long will it take for them to crack down on homebrew chocolate? Chocolate speakeasies?

  • A good podcast from Reason where Nick Gillespie interviews Virginia Postrel about her new book: The History of Fabric Is the History of Civilization. Promo video:

    Virginia (I call her Virginia) did a great job of uncovering why fabric is a taken-for-granted miracle. I've queued up her book at the library.

  • And Kevin D. Williamson's Tuesday column has a great bit on Household Words.

    Household is part of a set of old English formulations (smallholding, freehold, householder, etc.) that survive into modern English in legal usages and certain dusty and slightly archaic-sounding expressions, and in names such as Smallhold Farms, a Brooklyn-based operation that provides exotic mushroom to New York City restaurants. The first attested use of household in English is the 14th-century Bible translation undertaken by John Wycliffe (not to be confused with Wyclef Jean) and similar expressions have been around for a long time in Scots (houshald), Dutch (huishouden), German (Huushollen), Norwegian (husholdning), etc. Shakespeare tried really, really hard to make household happen in English — he used it in a dozen plays, from Anthony and Cleopatra to The Taming of the Shrew and practically all of the Henrys — but it did not become a common English expression — a household word — until Charles Dickens started a magazine called Household Words.

    Household word has two meanings in English that are distinct but related: common or famous. “Clint Eastwood is such a big movie star that his name is a household word,” or “Google and Xerox do not want to end up like ‘aspirin,’ a formerly capitalized name that comes into such common use that it ceases to be a proper noun and ends up a household word.” Household word’s meaning of famous is of course an application of its meaning of common: Everybody knows what a doorknob is, and everybody knows who Alec Baldwin is. (If you don’t, the answer is: a doorknob.) But a person whose name is a household word isn’t common at all — that’s a very uncommon thing. English is funny that way.

    I'm reading KDW's new book, one or two articles per day. It's great.