URLs du Jour


FoxTrot reminds us it's Pi Day. Check it out if you enjoy Jason's nerd humor. We'll post a nice animated GIF we dug out of Wikipedia years back:

[Pi Unrolled]

  • But by coincidence it's also the Day You Forgot to Set Your Clocks Ahead. If that's put you in a bad mood, I suggest Jeff Jacoby, who demands that we Heed the science and abolish daylight saving time. DST was sold as an energy-saving gimmick (coercively applied, of course). Jeff points out that rationale proved to be bogus, but like most legislated bad ideas, that didn't cause repeal.

    But it's worse than "not working":

    But daylight saving time doesn't just fail to deliver the single most important benefit expected of it. It also generates a slew of harms. In the days following the onset of daylight time each March, there is a measurable increase in suicides, atrial fibrillation, strokes, and heart attacks. Workplace injuries climb. So do fatal car crashes and emergency room visits. There is even evidence that judges hand down harsher sentences.

    All of which helps explain the growing chorus of scientists calling for an end to daylight saving time.

    The public-health problems stem not just from the loss of an hour of sleep once a year but from the ongoing disruption to the human circadian clock. The body's internal rhythm "is supposed to gradually adjust over the course of a season, with sleep and wake times slowly changing in response to the changing length and intensity of sunlight," wrote Dr. Shelby Harris, a specialist in sleep disorders, in a 2014 essay. When we "spring forward," we shift our internal clocks faster than nature intended. "One hour may not seem extreme, but we can't reset our circadian rhythms as easily as we change the time on the microwave. . . . [I]t's clear that the human body does not readily or easily adapt to jarring changes in the alarm clock."

    But is that enough? At National Review, Steve Hanke and Christopher Arena say, sure, It’s Time to Dump Daylight Saving. But what we should really do is…

    It’s time for a complete overhaul of how we keep track of time — a practical solution that saves time and money and is good for our health, too.

    We should scrap our current system of time zones and daylight savings in favor of worldwide adoption of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time. This would mean that everyone’s watches around the world would be set at exactly the same time. The only difference they would notice, depending on where they are located, would be where the sun is in the sky at a particular hour. Thus midday would be as it is today in all parts of the world, when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. What would be different under UTC is the time on your watch. In New York, midday would no longer be 12:00 p.m., but rather 5:00 p.m. (17:00 UTC).

    A number of commenters freak out about using UTC. The sun high in the sky at 1700 UTC? Madness! They seem to be inordinately attached to numbers based on an arbitrary, and not particularly sensible, standard.

    I'd only slightly disagree with the Hanke/Arena wording. You would, of course, be able to set your watch to whatever wacky hour you want. (I am basically a libertarian.) But if you want to (for example) set up a Zoom meeting with people scattered around the country, or the world world, it would be so much easier to say "Let's have it at 14:30" and everyone would know what that means without having to do math.

    I've been on this hopeless crusade for a long time. See my 2013 post The Right Number of Time Zones is Zero.

  • Mary Chastain notes that the World's Largest Bookseller has (sort of) responded to queries about its removal of When Harry Became Sally from its virtual shelves: Amazon Won’t ‘Sell Books That Frame LGBTQ+ Identity as a Mental Illness’. She links to a letter that Amazon sent in response to queries from Senators Rubio, Hawley, Braun, and Lee. They make an unexceptional general rule:

    That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content. All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we.

    Fine. And (they claim) one of the specific rules they have in making such decisions: thumbs down on "books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness."

    I've come to the belief that "mental illness" is a pretty slippery concept. And certainly there's an existence proof that one can switch one's gender ID and still remain mentally functional otherwise: Deirdre, used to be Donald, McCloskey.

    Does When Harry Became Sally deal adequately with When Donald Became Deirdre? I don't know. And (as far as Amazon is concerned) I shouldn't even be able to find out.

    And (of course) Amazon's rules allow selling books (e.g., Mein Kampf, Sayings of Chairman Mao) by some of the greatest mass murderers in history. And they're worried about the writings of Ryan T. Anderson as a uniquely dangerous threat?


    I don't think Amazon will be able to apply its newfound rules with any logical consistency, let alone fairness. I think they'll simply cave to the loudest mob. Which is sad, and doesn't provide much reason for optimism for the future of free expression in America.

  • Kevin D. Williamson (NRPLUS article, sorry) looks at Farhad Manjoo’s Climate-Change Theology: Secular Moral Panic. Manjoo recently took to the NYT to flail himself for his travel habits.

    Manjoo, who sheepishly (but not really sheepishly — the kids call it a “humblebrag,” I believe) admits to having jetted from San Francisco to London for a one-hour book talk and from San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore for two trivial lunch meetings, has had a change of heart, a come-to-carbon-neutral-substitute-Jesus moment, and he wants to build a world with less international jet-setting and more stay-at-home ass-sitting, more Zooming and less sonic-booming. (I know, but maybe they’ll bring back the Concorde.) Like its cousin misery, asceticism loves company, and so Manjoo proposes to begin his campaign of moral improvement with . . . you peons, of course.

    “Do you really need to fly?” the headline asks. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe you need to mind your own goddamned business.

    But, why not play the game? Do you really need a tomato? You can live a perfectly happy life without one. The tomato, too, was once regarded as sinful: Europeans once thought of it as excessively voluptuous, associating it with the forbidden fruit of the Bible, believing alternately that it was poisonous or an aphrodisiac. Tomatoes apparently used to be sexy, which probably is why “tomato” used to be slang for an attractive woman.

    Nobody needs a tomato.

    Nobody needs fine Au Lit sheets or a Tesla. Nobody needs to go to the moon. Nobody needs more than one pair of shoes. Nobody needs another self-righteous New York Times columnist.

    How about another book? How about an Internet connection? Do you really need . . . to be a blue-nosed busybody?

    That's a longish excerpt, but I even had a hard time stopping there.

  • Hey, kids, what time is it? As noted above the answer today may be: "an hour later than you think". But Steven Greenhut has an alternate answer for us: it's Time for Conservatives To Rethink Their Priorities.

    A recent column on a pro-Trump website argued that libertarians such as myself ought to stop supporting third-party candidates and join their side in an effort to stand up to the Left—something of urgency now that Democrats control the presidency, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. It's an argument I've often heard.

    "This is an existential battle," wrote Edward Ring in American Greatness. "Siphoning off voters from the side that's fighting the hardest to preserve individual liberty and economic freedom is not principled. It is nihilism." Years ago, that position was at least tenable—back when Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan and Thomas Sowell energized the conservative movement.

    I've seen arguments like that too. Like Greenhut, I'm not persuaded. It might be too much to ask of GOP pols, after years of supporting/worshipping President Bone Spurs, to snap back to supporting fiscal sanity, federalism, free trade, and free markets.

    But at least making lip service to libertarian principles would be a good idea. I, for one, am a sucker for such sweet talk, and it might sway my vote.