URLs du Jour


  • I can't stop with Freedom Unfiltered's Hayek memes. And I'd say "sorry", except I'm not:

    That's from 2013, but really timeless.

  • The Google LFOD News Alert brought up a Philadelphia Inquirer article purporting to explore the "psychology of why it’s hard for us to accept a pandemic".

    But what they really mean by that: why won't more Americans meekly do what they're told?

    As the number of COVID-19 cases in the country climbed past one million last week, people in Philadelphia and New Jersey were overcrowding beaches and parks, largely ignoring social distancing and masks — apparently proving that many still cannot accept the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Blame psychology. First off, foresight is not a particular skill for most of us, experts say. And “live free or die” is more than a slogan; it’s an apt description for the mindset of many Americans. Finally, it is hard to assess the threat of an enemy you can’t see.

    Suppose you were a journalist, and you had a modicum of common sense. If you were assigned to write an article on why people were (allegedly, vaguely) "largely ignoring social distancing and masks", you might interview a few of them.

    Not this inquiring Inquirer reporter, however. It's off to the "experts", who—let's be honest—speculate on how the minds of those ignorant yahoos are working. Not well, all agree.

    Nobody thinks to psychoanalyze (say) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose policy forced nursing homes to accept patients diagnosed with coronavirus. Apparently that call killed a lot of people whose only mistake was being old in New York.

    And nobody seems to question the psychology of the "experts" who demand that people not make their own judgments about risk, based on their own knowledge about their situation.

    And there are plenty of people who are properly docile, following government edicts and the advice of "experts". Even as those orders and suggestions change, from day to day. Nobody's shrinking their heads. That's assumed to be normal, desireable behavior.

  • And nobody, as near as I can tell, has attempted to diagnose what makes Brit "expert" Prof Neil Ferguson tick.

    The scientist whose advice prompted Boris Johnson to lock down Britain resigned from his Government advisory position on Tuesday night as The Telegraph can reveal he broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover.

    Professor Neil Ferguson allowed the woman to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The woman lives with her husband and their children in another house.

    Gosh, maybe Neil was exposed to a New Hampshire license plate or something. They carry the LFOD virus, y'know.

  • Baseball Crank Dan McLaughlin looks at a recent Max Boot column, and points out what should be obvious: China in 2020 Is Not Kansas in 1918. Dan's article is a masterpiece of research that flattens Boot's "uncommonly silly" thesis. It's tough to excerpt, but…

    First, Boot glosses over the considerable historical debate over where the 1918 outbreak began. The Kansas theory was largely popularized by John Barry, in his 2004 book The Great Influenza. While Barry conceded that there was no direct evidence connecting the January 1918 outbreak in an isolated, rural Kansas county to the U.S. Army base at Camp Funston, he advanced an apparently persuasive argument that Haskell County had “the first recorded instance anywhere in the world of an outbreak of influenza so unusual that a physician warned public health officials.” A decade later, however, working from newly unearthed records, Canadian historian Mark Humphries pinpointed an earlier origin — China’s Shanxi province:

    Humphries finds archival evidence that a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917 was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish flu. He also found medical records indicating that more than 3,000 of the 25,000 Chinese Labor Corps workers who were transported across Canada en route to Europe starting in 1917 ended up in medical quarantine, many with flu-like symptoms. . . . Humphries discovered that a British legation official in China wrote that the disease was actually influenza, in a 1918 report. . . . At the time of the outbreak, British and French officials were forming the Chinese Labor Corps, which eventually shipped some 94,000 laborers from northern China to southern England and France during the [First World War]. . . . The Chinese laborers arrived in southern England by January 1918 and were sent to France, where the Chinese Hospital at Noyelles-sur-Mer recorded hundreds of their deaths from respiratory illness.

    I've noted the "Kansas Flu" argument from a couple of my Facebook friends (before I decided to unfollow them). It's been 36 years since Jeanne Kirkpatrick described the tendency of some Americans to Blame America First. It continues to be a thing.

  • Kevin D. Williamson (among other topics in his regular Tuesday column) has Free Advice for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    “Our brains are just designed to experience a lot of excruciating pain at the idea of being alone,” she tells the New York Times, in an excellent profile written by Mark Leibovich. “When you cast those lonely votes, you feel like your colleagues respect you less, and that you are choosing to marginalize yourself.” Naturally, she lapsed into her self-romanticizing mode, imagining herself starring in a movie called The AOC Story: “I walked home in the rain,” she said. Of course she walked home in the rain. “I was very in my feelings, big time, and I felt very discouraged . . . . I was just, like, heartbroken,” she said. “I have, like, existential crises over it.”

    Those final “likes” make mockery all too easy. But take her seriously for a moment.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez holds an elected office, but she is not a creature of politics — she is a creature of media, from cable news to Twitter. She has much more in common with fellow New Yorkers Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly than she does with such House predecessors as Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neill. And even as she imagines adolescent little cinematic vignettes for herself, soulfully walking home through the rain and all that silliness, she is not the lead writer on The AOC Story — only an actress. She cannot control the media story arc any more than anybody else can. “I felt like my colleagues were making opinions about me based on Fox News,” she told Leibovich. “It almost felt like instead of them actually talking to the person who was next to them, and physically present in front of them, they were consuming me through television. And I think that added a lot to the particular loneliness that I experienced.”

    Okay, so we didn't get to KDW's actual advice. You'll have to click through for that.

  • And finally, Neal McCluskey celebrates the 40th anniversary of the U. S. Department of Education ("ED"). And Neal says: 40 Years Is Enough. He summarizes a recent Cato webinar, which details the multiple. manifest issues and recommends reform. Summary:

    Given Washington’s burdensome education presence and dubious performance—not to mention lack of constitutional authorization—in all areas we recommend loosening federal control. This includes increasing states’ discretion in using money they get—actually, get returned—from D.C.; allowing states to adopt multiple curriculum standards and tests; increasing school choice in federal jurisdictions; and much more. All of the recommendations are intended to be politically feasible in the near‐​term, and I encourage you to read the entire paper.

    Federal education meddling, especially since the advent of the Department of Education, has been of questionable value at best, and a high‐​dollar, bureaucratic failure at worst. On ED’s 40th birthday, it is time to start making things right.

    Unfortunately, unless Justin Amash pulls out a surprise win in November, the meddling will continue.