URLs du Jour - 2014-10-21

Lots of good URLs today. Click through, Read The Whole Thing, hit back-arrow to come back, lather, rinse, repeat. You won't be sorry.

  • I hardly ever watch TV news, but a combination of factors led me to put on Fox News last night, and so I was treated to the video spectacle of the Keene (NH) Pumpkin Fest Lady Ruth Sterling trying to manhandle freelance reporter Jared Goodell. (Apparently she was objecting to his coverage of the weekend pumpkin rioting.)

    The Free Keene folks have put up a longer clip:

    Reason has more. Notably, Ms. Sterling demands to know if Mr. Goodell is a "Free Stater", apparently considering this a term of opprobrium for people who like the Free State Project. (Yes, even though our state's motto is "Live Free or Die".)

    What's with Keene anyway? It's the town that …

    • gave us State Rep Delmar Burridge, who responded to a constituent's request to favor a marijuana bill by cc:'ing "two members of the Keene Police Department in case you want to change your ways and act legal and save your friends.";

    • gave us State Rep Cynthia Chase who deemed the "Free Staters" to be "the single biggest threat the state is facing today" and encouraged people to let them know they "are not welcome here."

    • contains a local branch of the University System Near Here, Keene State, which sports a red light speech code rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (as does UNH);

    • and of course, their Police Department has a frickin' tank. (I'm not sure if that was called out over the weekend. I think Free Keene would have mentioned it if it had been.)

    Any way we could give Keene to Vermont, perhaps in exchange for two towns to be named later?

  • Jared Goodell (as near as I can tell) is on the fuzzy boundary between "Official Media Journalist" and "Some Dude With A Video Camera". That makes a natural lead-in for Nick Gillespie's interview at Spiked Online, where (among other things) he argues against the distinction.

    ‘In a good way’, [Gillespie tells the interviewer], ‘the press in America is not licensed or regulated, nor does it have to seek certification from the state before it’s allowed to do what it does. I think that’s extremely important because one of the pressing issues in the US, and I think elsewhere, is that the press has a seemingly different relationship to government, to state power, to corporate power, than mere citizens. And a lot of people push this as a positive thing. As a result we have press-shield laws so that reporters won’t be put in jail for refusing to name their sources. They have been given certain exemptions from legal process. And I think that’s very disturbing.’

    And [I'm sure my buddy Nick would agree] it goes the other way too: the Pumpkin Lady should not feel entitled to shove someone around just because he didn't show up in a van with a satellite dish.

  • This NYMag interview with Marc Andreessen is interesting and provocative all the way through. Andreessen identifies himself politically as a "[George] McGovern libertarian" almost guaranteeing that he is going to take a position that will irritate anyone at some point. Here's his response to complaints about the high-tech sector's alleged lack of diversity:

    […] I think the critique that Silicon Valley companies are deliberately, systematically discriminatory is incorrect, and there are two reasons to believe that that’s the case. No. 1, these companies are like the United Nations internally. All the diversity studies say that the engineering population is like 70 percent white and Asian. Let’s dig into that for a second. First, apparently Asian doesn’t count as diverse. And then “white”: When you actually go in these companies, what you find is it’s American people, but it’s also Russians, and Eastern Europeans, and French, and German, and British. And then there are the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Indonesians, and Vietnamese. All these different countries, all these different cultures. To believe in a systematic pattern of discrimination, you’d have to believe that we’re discriminatory toward certain people without being discriminatory at all toward an extremely broad range of ethnicities and religions. Because of Pakistanis, we’re seeing a higher-than-ever proportion of Muslim employees in a lot of our companies.

    No. 2, our companies are desperate for talent. Desperate. Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs. The motivation to go find talent wherever it is is unbelievably high.

    According to Wikipedia, Andreesen voted for Obama in 2008, and Romney in 2012. So maybe we could put his politics in the "mugged by reality" category.

  • At Forbes, Rich Karlgaard highlights a recent paper that estimates the effects of US federal regulation to be "negative and substantial", shaving "about two percentage points on average over the period 1949-2005".

    That may not sound like much, but it adds up. For example: "GDP at the end of 2011 would have been $53.9 trillion instead of $15.1 trillion if regulation had remained at its 1949 level."

    Even if you cut the paper's guesstimate of regulation's cost in half, it would still making us significantly poorer, as Karlgaard details:

    • Per capita income would be $101,000, not $54,000.

    • Per capita wealth would be $480,000, not $260,000. It would probably be higher than that, since savings rates might be higher.

    • The U.S. would have no federal, state or municipal debts or deficits.

    • Pensions would be solid. So would Social Security.

    … and more.

    This isn't a particularly new observation. It's been over a century since Hugh Walpole advised: "Don't play for safety. It's the most dangerous thing in the world." In a more modern context, the obsession of minimizing risk at any cost has made us poorer and (hence) less safe.

  • And finally, a small humblebrag, somewhat outside the normal blog subject area: throwing caution to the winds, I recently installed the Fedora 21 Alpha Linux release on my home workstation.

    All went basically OK until they issued a 3.17 kernel update from the initial version 3.16. And my wireless card stopped working.

    Booting back to the 3.16 kernel got things working again. Still, wtf? I finally screwed up the courage to submit a bug report. And (good news) smarter people than I found and fixed the bug, and the fix will make it into Beta.

    So if you run Fedora 21 Beta, and use a wireless card with a Broadcom 4318 chipset, and it works, you can thank… well, you can mostly thank those good folks who maintain the Fedora kernel. But at least I kicked off the process.

Last Modified 2014-12-05 11:18 AM EDT