URLs du Jour

2019-12-20

  • The Google LFOD alert rang for a BBC news report about… Trump impeachment and a US state divided. It's by Jane O'Brien, identified as "BBC correspondent, New Hampshire".

    Yes, the Beeb has a New Hampshire correspondent.

    Two things are taken very seriously in New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley - politics and snow.

    There was palpable excitement when several inches of the white stuff fell on Impeachment Day. But the vote itself garnered little more than a collective shrug of weariness and resignation.

    Local radio stations gave equal weight to coverage of the proceedings and reports on which ski trails were operating.

    "The partisans are very partisan and have already decided one way or the other and those in the middle are still undecided and probably a little disinterested," says Mark Guerringue, publisher of the Conway Daily Sun.

    Congratulations, Publisher Mark, you've hit on one of my Language Cop peeves: using "disinterested" because you think it sounds somehow classier than "uninterested". (Maintaining the distinction between the two words is a lost cause, unfortunately. But that's never stopped me before.)

    Where were we? Ah:

    Support for the president is strong among Republicans while Democrats are celebrating Wednesday's vote to impeach him. But New Hampshire also has a strong independent streak - the state motto "live free or die" is proudly displayed on license plates.

    Sometimes it seems that every foreign-press article about New Hampshire is obligated to point that out. This is what happens when writers are paid by the word.


  • David Harsanyi has a suggestion for the D-side partisans: Impeach Him If You Like, but for the Love of God, Stop Pretending You Care about the Constitution.

    Perhaps Donald Trump deserves to be impeached for his Ukrainian adventure. Heck, maybe he deserves to be impeached for sending that insanely entertaining letter yesterday. But those are political considerations for Democrats. Impeaching the president isn’t a Constitutional imperative. Nor is it a patriotic obligation. Democrats, who today ludicrously wrap themselves in the patina of “rule of law,” know this well. Not very long ago, they were rationalizing and cheerleading unprecedented abuses of power under the Obama administration. And they’ll be cheerleading for more abuses of the Constitution the next time they win the White House.

    Nancy Pelosi can dress in black, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and act as if this impeachment is her solemn obligation, but everyone saw the Democratic party’s hysterical reaction to the 2016 election. Everyone saw dozens of candidates running in 2018 — either implicitly, but most often explicitly — on getting rid of the president. Just last week we learned that people within our intelligence agencies subverted the law to help Democrats concoct a three-year national panic meant to undermine the veracity of a fair election.

    “The Republic is why we are here today. We are custodians of the Constitution. A Republic by the people for the people,” writes one Eric Swalwall, a man who once pondered the possibility of nuking Americans who demanded to practice their Second Amendment rights. Trump-era liberals had argued for the abolition of the Electoral College long before they were pretending to care about Ukrainian autonomy. Democrats were talking about stacking the Supreme Court long before any whistleblower showed up. If your contention is that the Constitution protects abortion on demand through the ninth month but are fine with undermining property rights, gun rights, religious freedom, and any meaningful separation of power, you’re not a custodian of the Constitution, you’re partisan with an agenda. So do what you must. But it’s been insufferable watching you playact sentinel of the American Republic — whose presumptions, institutions, documents, and Founders you don’t really seem to like very much.

    Let's not forget the ongoing hostility of Democrats to various aspects of the First Amendment; whenever they say they want to "get money out of politics", that's shorthand for censorship of political speech.


  • We gripe about the American educational system (with good reason). But as Alex Berezow reports at the American Council on Science and Health: Chemophobia: Nearly 40% of Europeans Want a Chemical-Free World. As reported in Nature Chemistry:

    The first series of questions was designed to measure chemophobia, the irrational fear of chemicals. As shown below, 30% of Europeans report being "scared" of chemicals, and about 40% try to "avoid contact with chemical substances" and want to "live in a world where chemical substances don't exist." Obviously, this is impossible. Everything -- water, food, your smartphone -- is a chemical or a combination of chemicals.

    The second series of questions was designed to assess basic chemistry and toxicology knowledge. The results were far worse: 82% of respondents didn't know that table salt is table salt, whether it is extracted from the ocean or made synthetically. Another 91% didn't know that "the dose makes the poison" is true, even for synthetic chemicals.

    Amusing! Wonder what the USA results would be?


  • At Reason, Deirdre McCloskey suggests: Don’t Trade Stock Tips or Obsess About the Fed, Read Moby Dick Instead.

    You need to be inoculated from some strange but popular notions about the economy. After the inoculation—it won't hurt much—you can turn off CNBC and skip over most of the economic chatter. It'll give you time to read Moby Dick. You really should. It's amazing and is markedly less fictional than the notions here.

    Let's begin with this one: The stock market is predictable. CNBC specializes in it, with its talking, or sometimes shouting, heads. People want certitude, and stock tips provide the illusion. The industry of stock tipping came out of some century-old court decisions that trustees be prudent. The idea was to prevent the trustees from making off with the assets of widows and orphans yet allow for regrettable but unforeseeable losses. Preventing an agent from cheating the principal is the most ancient reason for accounting. But how to be prudent? Well, take sober advice on what stocks will perform. From CNBC.

    More concentrated wisdom from Deirdre at the link.


  • At the Concord Monitor, occasional columnist Jim Baer looks at Privacy madness in America. His musings are kicked off by an unpleasant encounter:

    I visited a local health provider to request an appointment. I innocently walked up to the counter. An unpleasant clerk looked up and loudly and publicly rebuked me: “Stand back! Can’t you see I am working on a patient’s private records?” I could feel my cheeks flushing bright red. I could see other clients staring at me as if I was a child molester. I cannot repeat what I wanted to say to her.

    My only error was that I failed to read all of the caution signs that were festooned to the side of her counter that notified me that she was a person of substance and admiration in her professional community.

    Yeah, I bet it happened just that way. Although I can't help but wonder how the "unpleasant clerk" (who doesn't have access to the pages of the Concord Monitor) would recount the incident.



Last Modified 2019-12-20 3:03 PM EST