URLs du Jour

2019-12-27

[Amazon Link]

  • Our Amazon Product du Jour is a "new" book by Mr. Heinlein. Why yes, he has been technically dead for over 30 years. But nevertheless:

    The Pursuit of the Pankera is 185,000 [sic] word novel that includes the same characters as in The Number of the Beast. Both books have similar beginnings, however, Beat [sic] takes a different, unrelated story line, while Pankera is focused on the original conflict and concludes with a more traditional Heinlein ending.

    Heinlein's original manuscript has gone undiscovered until recently. Heinlein distributed a copy of the manuscript to close friends and colleagues at Worldcon, the world science fiction convention. Over the years, the unpublished manuscript was forgotten and portions were taken apart, however, critical segments survived, and Heinlein left it with his papers when he died.

    So… it could be awful. Still, the Kindle version is a mere $7.99 as I type, it will be out this coming March, and you can probably guess for yourself whether I hit the "Pre-order now" button.


  • My current Presidential candidate undertakes his annual responsibility to reassure us that we will once again (probably) make it through the year despite the best efforts of politicians and their enablers: Dave Barry 2019 year in review. Skipping down to the end:

    Finally, mercifully, this highly eventful year draws to a close. As New Year’s Eve approaches, the nation pauses to look back on 2019 and throw up a little bit in its national mouth. But then the nation looks forward to 2020, and it feels faint stirrings of hope in its national heart. Because America has been bitterly divided before. There was the Civil War, for example, and that time when we could not agree on the color of that dress on the Internet. If we got through those troubles, we can get through the current ones. Because in the end, despite our political differences, we’re all Americans, and we care about each other, and want the best possible future for everyone. Right?

    Nah.

    But Happy New Year anyway.

    Back atcha, Dave.


  • For some reason, Dave missed a pretty obvious target, but Jacob Sullum at Reason covers it: The Vaping Panic Is a Major Setback for Public Health.

    When tainted lettuce causes an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease, the federal government does not issue general warnings about the hazards of eating. Nor does it order a recall of all fresh vegetables. Instead it focuses on the specific products consumed by the people who got sick.

    After doctors began to report respiratory illnesses among vapers last summer, by contrast, federal agencies urged the public to avoid all vaping products, including legal e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine, even though it was clear early on that the vast majority of cases involved black-market cannabis extracts. That indiscriminate approach undermined public health in two ways.

    First, it did not provide specific guidance to cannabis consumers who might have avoided the products implicated in the lung disease outbreak if they had been adequately informed. Second, it scared smokers away from vaping products that offer potentially lifesaving alternatives to conventional cigarettes. The vague warnings also encouraged a series of panicky state bans that threatened to drive vapers toward illegal products that may pose special hazards.

    Executive summary: In its frantic effort to save us, Your Federal Government will probably end up killing more of us.


  • [Amazon Link]
    The Claremont Review of Books is a little too Trumpy for me, but this review by William Voegeli of The Sports Gene (link at right) and other books on human diversity seems pretty sensible: Liberty, Equality, Reality.

    Unfortunately, the “essential unity of the human species,” noble concept though it may be, is a cosmic or moral axiom rather than a scientific principle. Guarding science against abuse begins with making empirical observations accurately and reporting them scrupulously, even when the data cast doubt on our most cherished beliefs and aspirations. No intellectually honest writer would say, “Some have speculated that Kenyans might have, on average, longer, thinner legs than other people,” any more than she would say, “Some have speculated that Pygmies might be, on average, shorter than other people.” These are verifiable facts, not tendentious conjecture.

    Someday we'll be honest with ourselves about actual human diversity. Not in my lifetime, though.


  • George F. Will despises Trump more than I do, but he's clear-eyed enough to observe: Democrats’ denial on health care may produce Trump’s reelection.

    In 2019, the Democratic presidential candidates’ debates about health care have perhaps presaged a healthier party in 2020. The beginning of T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker” — “In my beginning is my end” — could be Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s campaign’s autopsy. Five months before she had the kamikaze courage to embrace the most futile and despised social policy of the last third of the previous century — compulsory busing of schoolchildren away from their neighborhood schools, in pursuit of racial “balance” — Harris did something even less explicable. Seven days after her campaign began, with a flippancy that proclaimed her unfamiliarity with health care’s complexities, she essentially said: Come to think about it, or actually without really thinking about it, “let’s move on” from private health insurance. Has any presidential campaign begun by alarming more people?

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential prospects may have passed their apogee on Nov. 1, when she explained, or purported to explain, how she would pay for her version of Medicare-for-all. Various analysts of different philosophic persuasions came to the same conclusion: She fell $10 trillion or so short of the real one-decade cost of her single-payer plan. In 2016, Hillary Clinton said a single-payer plan would “never, ever come to pass.” Warren’s only concession to reality has been to promise to not implement her plan until three years after she has fulfilled her recent promise — she cannot moderate her aggressions against those who disagree with her — to wear a Planned Parenthood scarf at her inauguration.

    The funny thing (for suitably small values of "funny") is that the issue that destroyed the Republicans in 2018 may destroy the Democrats in 2020.

    (And then bankrupt us all shortly afterward, but political timeframes don't extend that far.)


  • Did you miss any? Check 'em out at the Federalist: The Top Viral Moments Of The 2010s. Who could forget…

    Disgusting!