URLs du Jour — 2014-01-09


  • A disgustingly cheerful article in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, late last week:

    DOVER — An international trip gave City Planner Chris Parker a chance to learn how to implement urban agricultural strategies closer to home.

    In November, Parker was one of 400 people — eight from the Granite State — to attend a conference in Cuba and learn more about the practice of urban agriculture. Parker was among several city planners nationwide to participate. Overall, representatives from 39 countries took part.

    No word on how much Dover taxpayers kicked in for Parker's trip to the Caribbean Gulag. (And if they didn't pay, who did?) Foster's doesn't ask inconvenient questions.

    Just a reminder from Freedom House about Cuba:

    Cuba is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013 and is also on Freedom House’s list of the world’s worst human rights abusers. Any form of political opposition is consistently suppressed, as dissidents face harassment, beatings, exile, acts of repudiation, and unlawful detentions. Cuba’s subservient judiciary is used to ensure the Communist Party’s supremacy. Freedoms of expression, association, and assembly are limited or denied entirely. The government closely regulates all media outlets and restricts access to outside information. Journalists and bloggers are often arbitrarily detained. Cuba has consistently played a negative role on the [UN Human Rights Council], voting against resolutions on Iran and Syria while supporting resolutions that open the door to abuses.

    But, hey, the gardens are nice.

  • Kevin Williamson had a fine article on Appalachia in a recent National Review, and it's finally available online. I'd give it a Pulitzer right now, but that's me.

    Two interesting things among many: first, your tax dollars at work:

    It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.

    And since I am a huge fan of Justified, I assumed the area was as violence-ridden as your average episode. Not so:

    There’s a great deal of drug use, welfare fraud, and the like, but the overall crime rate throughout Appalachia is about two-thirds the national average, and the rate of violent crime is half the national average, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

    But do read the whole thing.

  • I was prepared to be unimpressed by "Awesome Life Hacks" but there are 89 of them, and they are imaginative. My guess is you'll find something useful. You'll never throw away another bread clip.

    (I wonder if they should rename “Hints From Heloise” to “Awesome Life Hacks”.)

  • Three selections from Frank J.'s random thoughts. One geeky:

    Hey, Linux, why don’t you just assume sudo in front of everything because when I ask you to do things, I really do want you to do it.

    One pop-culturish:

    It helps to not know anything about history when watching Downton Abbey so you don’t get spoilers.

    And one political:

    You think the problem is income inequality. I think the problem is not enough whiners getting punched in the junk. We’re at an impasse.

    Sure, it looks easy. But if it were, more people would be as funny as Frank, and that's clearly not the case.

Last Modified 2014-01-10 5:34 AM EDT