URLs du Jour

2020-07-03

  • I dump on Wired a lot. As a part of the Condé Nast family of publications, it can be tediously and predictably statist. Which is why I was gratified to see this bit of debunking from Gilad Edelman: ‘Covid Parties’ Are Not a Thing.

    The dreaded “Covid party” has come to Alabama. Even as the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state reached record highs, news came out this week that college students in Tuscaloosa have been throwing parties with infected guests, then betting on the contagion that ensues. “They put money in a pot and they try to get Covid,” said City Council member Sonya McKinstry. “Whoever gets Covid first gets the pot. It makes no sense.”

    That much, at least, is true: This story makes no sense. Despite its implausibility and utter lack of valid sourcing, the fantasy of Alabama virus gamblers has nonetheless exploded across the internet, with slack-jawed coverage turning up in CNN, the New York Post, and the Associated Press, among many others. A representative headline declares, “Tuscaloosa students held parties, bet on who got coronavirus first.”

    ("But I saw it on the TV news!" Yeah, so did I. Shame on me, and you, for watching TV news and attaching one shred of credibility thereto.)


  • Veronique de Rugy channels another intrepid French economist: As Bastiat Would Say, Peer Past the Obvious With Pandemic Policies.

    [If you would like to brush up ahead of reading VdR's column, peruse M. Bastiat's essay "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen."]

    Oh, how I wish we would have remembered to earnestly account for the unseen effects of policies put into place during this pandemic that will pop up in its aftermath.

    Take, for example, the massive amount of additional debt the federal government has imposed on future generations of Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. That which is seen is the money flowing from the federal government to the unemployed, to those taking leave due to rescue money given to businesses during the pandemic. While we might be aware in the abstract that there is an accompanying rise in U.S. government indebtedness, that which is not seen is the increase in taxes that must be paid by future generations. Nor do we see the slower economic growth that will be caused by the need to pay off this debt.

    Even less obvious are the unseen effects of making permanent the supposedly temporary creation of federal paid-leave entitlements. While it's easy to point to all the advantages of such a move for the 35% of women who didn't have any such benefits pre-COVID-19, it's more difficult to see the lower wages and employment that will result. Also hidden from our vision is the increase in employment discrimination fueled by this policy: When governments arbitrarily increase employers' costs to hire certain groups, fewer members of those groups get hired. The academic literature is clear that such legislation inflicts very real negative effects on women.

    Well, there are all these broken windows. Surely hiring all those people to replace them will bring the economy back, right?


  • The National Review editors bid Good Riddance to the Blaine Amendments.

    It took a century and a half, but the Supreme Court finally rejected the Blaine amendments. The Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue is a victory for religious believers, schoolchildren, poor and working-class parents, and the rule of law. It is a loss only for bigots, militant secularists, and the teachers’ unions. The scandal is that four members of the Court would have gone the other way.

    Kendra Espinoza, a Montana single mother working three jobs, had a scholarship to send her daughters to a private school of her choice; she chose Stillwater Christian School. The scholarship was partly funded by tax credits from the state that were available for parents to choose any private school, religious or not. Then, the Montana supreme court stepped in, ruling that because the program included religious schools, the whole thing had to be shut down for everyone.

    The reason was Montana’s Blaine amendment. […]

    New Hampshire's Constitution has a Blaine Amendment enacted in 1877, and the usual suspects (teacher unions, "civil liberties" groups) attempted to use it to shut down a law giving tax credits to businesses providing scholarships that could be used at religious schools.

    Fortunately, the NH Supreme Court let the law live. NHPR (aka "Commie Radio") has a good collection of its articles on the issue.


  • The "trustees and senior leadership" of Dartmouth College, at the other side of our fair state have emitted a Joint statement.

    As Dartmouth senior leaders, we want to express our strong support for the growing movement across the nation to put an end to systemic and systematic racism demonstrated so tragically by the recent killings of Black people at the hands of the police. […]

    Systemic and systematic, baby. Why stick just one meaningless adjective in front of a noun when you can use two?

    And coming soon to a reeducation camp near you:

    We will make implicit bias training mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff.

    It's important to point out that the obvious interpretation of the term "implicit bias training" is incorrect. It's not meant as a how-to!

    Here's the thing about "implicit bias training": it probably does not work.

    But that's not the point. The point is really getting that little joyful frisson inherent in making it mandatory. Shoving people around, bending them to your will.

    Which brings us to…


  • An LTE from Bob Dougherty of Newport, Lincoln County, Oregon. Background: Last week, the county ordered mandatory facemask-wearing, except for "people of color".

    The next day, the county said, uh, never mind about that exception. Oops.

    (Amusing CNN headline: "An Oregon county drops its mask exemption for people of color after racist response". Wait a minute, the response was racist? What about the exception itself?)

    Anyway, back to Bob's LTE: he remains dissatisfied.

    Mandatory face coverings seem to have caused quite a stir in Lincoln County recently. A flashing message board greets visitors with “Face Coverings Appreciated.” But where is the enforcement? Where there is no enforcement, there are no laws. Many of our own police officers do not wear face coverings.

    Apparently, even in Oregon, people will ignore arbitrary government decrees! Bob knows where the blame lies, and it is that pesky state across the country from Oregon:

    Recent research has shown that transmission of COVID-19 can be all but eliminated if everyone wore a face covering in public. But civil liberties trump best practices in the land of the free. After all, “Live Free Or Die” is the New Hampshire state motto — but at what cost?

    Bob, your drive-by slam at New Hampshire makes no sense whatsoever.


  • But across the pond, a publication named The New European hates Brexit, despises Boris Johnson, and apparently pays a writer named Michael White to write stuff in that vein: Boris Johnson’s Britain: Uncertainty, empty words and repeated failures. Which I otherwise not bother with, except:

    It’s wise to try and sympathise with ministers in a daunting situation which finds echoes in many countries and regions the world over. The mounting sense of crisis in the US – 4% of the world’s population, but 25% (125,000) of its Covid deaths – is painful to watch. Mostly southern states of the Texan ‘live free or die’ variety which re-opened too soon and too casually face resurgent outbreaks.[…]

    Texan live free or die? Michael, you ignorant slut, I don't think so.

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I bet someone told Annette Bening she was finally going to win an Oscar for this. You've been nominated four times. This time, for sure!

Well, she didn't. But she really acted the crap out of her role here, playing an about-to-die Gloria Grahame. (IMDB trivia: "Annette Bening was fifty-nine-years-old at the time of this movie's release, making her two years older than Gloria Grahame was when she died.")

It centers around Ms. Grahame's 1978-1981 on/off romance with Peter Turner, a young Brit actor. Despite the three-decade age difference, they hit it off. Problems: Gloria's kind of a diva (of course), and is very sensitive to any reference to her age, or her predilection for younger guys. (In real life, she was married four times, the fourth time to her stepson from her second marriage. Scandalous! A female Woody Allen!)

And there are those health worries, which she tries to cure with apricot kernels and black grape juice. She avoids doctors, which doesn't turn out well.

As near as I can tell, no effort was made to recreate Ms. Grahame's amazing eyebrows for Ms. Bening. I swear they arched halfway up her forehead! But maybe I'm imagining that. (Ms. Bening admits she did attempt to mimic Grahame's eyebrow arch.)