URLs du Jour


■ After numerous Proverbial assurances that Divine Justice would guarantee good behavior payoffs in the real world, Proverbs 16:8 seems to back off on that a bit. If your life plans don't bring you vast riches…

8 Better a little with righteousness
    than much gain with injustice.

[Sigh] I suppose.

■ We have a lot of LFOD business to transact today. Let's start with a recent LTE to Seacoast Online from Maria Sillari of Portsmouth. She thinks New Hampshire desperately needs more housing options. She makes a number of totally correct points: the Seacoast (and NH generally) do need more housing options; housing shortages mean increased housing prices, which is very bad news for (especially) young people starting out; this (in turn) means people will, on the margin, move to more hospitable states, and this will negatively impact the state's workforce, our demographics, and our economy.

But Maria errs in making it all about the homeless, and "affordable housing" (by which she apparently means state-subsidized housing). And she goes off the rails here:

If we continue to take a Live Free or Die approach to affordable housing, our state motto may soon more appropriately become the Live Free AND Die state.

You see what she did there?

Pun Salad Fact Check: although by many measures, New Hampshire is one of the most economically-free of the states, that emphatically does not apply in areas relevant to housing: land use and zoning restrictions.

See (for example): the Cato site, Freedom in the 50 States. Their New Hampshire page is straightforward: we are number one in overall freedom.

But skip to one of the components, Land-Use Freedom. New Hampshire is not just a little worse on that score; it ranks near the bottom at 45th place.

In summary, Maria has her eye on the problem, but misdiagnoses in attributing it to LFOD. We could use more of it.

Pravda on the Merrimack reports on the nefarious activity of (sigh) my very own state senator, David Watters: Bill would raise age to buy tobacco to 21 in New Hampshire

Mirroring a growing trend across the country, a new bill in the New Hampshire Legislature would raise to 21 the legal age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Democratic state Sen. David Watters of Dover said the measure he co-sponsored with Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Republican, comes down to public health and saving the lives of young people.

I'm very tired of the "logic" that treats 18-to-20 year-olds as "adults but not really". Yes, we trust you to vote, get married, kill your unborn baby, or serve the country in the military. But God forbid (but actually State forbid) that you have a beer or cigarette.

Of course there were naysayers:

But state Sen. Andy Sanborn, a Republican, doesn’t appear to be a fan.

The conservative from Bedford, who’s running for the open congressional seat in New Hampshire’s 1st District, said he had not seen the bill before, but after taking a quick look at it, told the Monitor the legislation “doesn’t seem like the New Hampshire ‘Live Free or Die’ philosophy.”

No foolin'. Although Andy makes it less of a freedom issue when he goes on to bemoan the loss in cigarette tax revenue.

I wish Watters would propose raising the tobacco-buying age to something that would really save lives: maybe 45 or 50? Hey, why not?

■ The Conway Daily Sun editorializes that our state should be Preparing for cannabis. Reacting to the recent NH General Court vote to legalize pot:

Several elected officials, including Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and state Reps Frank McCarthy (R-Conway) and Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), were against it, opining that, given the state’s opioid crisis, now is not the time to legalize another drug.

It is cynical if not laughable that these same politicians don’t trust their constituents with a little weed yet proudly stand behind the ethos of our “live free or die” state, which shamelessly promotes the sale of alcohol at state rest areas and allows everyday people to walk around with concealed, loaded handguns, no permit required.

Well, yeah. Shamelessly. Except a real LFOD state wouldn't have state-owned booze shops.

■ And I believe this may be the most remote LFOD item we've ever blogged. From The Whistler, a Nigerian website, comes news out of Africa: Cameroon’s Separatist Group Warns Buhari, Release Our President Or…

Here is the lede:

Ambazonia’s Interim Government (former British Southern Cameroons) has warned of dire consequences should the Nigerian Government fail to immediately and unconditionally release its President, Julius Ayuk Tabe.

Looking up "Ambazonia" in Google Maps fails, and the Wikipedia article explains why that is. The region is nestled between Nigeria and Cameroun. It has been part of Cameroun since 1961, and the residents have been steamed about that ever since. And …

Southern Cameroons declared its independence on the 1st of October 2017, and officially called its territory made up of the two English speaking regions of current Republic of Cameroon; The Federal Republic of Ambazonia. It has since then formed its Interim Government and the Interim President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, has appointed his first cabinet in exile.

This move (apparently) made neither Nigeria nor Cameroun happy. But…

“We have battled the injustice forced upon us by the British Government for Fifty Six years. If the International Community thinks we are now ready to let go at this juncture, it is mistaken. If the UN, EU, Commonwealth, the AU, the US and British governments want to stop a bloodbath in Cameroon, THE TIME IS NOW, not tomorrow. “Every one of us, 8million Ambazonians will be killed before our territory will be made part of Cameroun again. WE WILL “LIVE FREE OR DIE.”

So, we'll see what happens. It would be nice to have an African country with the same motto as New Hampshire, especially with that cool name: "Ambazonia".

And, no, I don't know whether the correct spelling is Cameroun or Cameroon.

And a final geographic note: Southern Cameroon is not south of Cameroun.

■ But that's enough LFOD for today. The BBC asks Has pop music lost its fun? Obviously, yes. [Insert "young people today" rant here.] But I liked this computer-sciencey bit:

Repetition in pop is a key part of its appeal, as essential in Little Richard's Tutti Frutti as it is in Big Shaq's Man's Not Hot. That said, a sterling 2017 report by Daniel Morris on repetition in pop lyrics suggests that hit songs are getting closer and closer to a one-word lyric sheet.

The Lempel-Ziv algorithm is a lossless way to compress data, by taking out repetitions, and Morris used it as a tool to examine 15,000 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 from 1958 to 2014, reducing their lyrics down to their smallest size without losing any data, and comparing their relative sizes. He found two very interesting things. The first was that in every year of study, the songs that reached the Top 10 were more repetitive than their competition. The second is that pop has become more repetitive over time, as Morris points out: "2014 is the most repetitive year on record. An average song from this year compresses 22% more efficiently than one from 1960."

There you go: the science is settled, music today sucks.