URLs du Jour


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  • Let's start out with Cafe Hayek's Quotation of the Day... (for yesterday, actually):

    [O]ur economic intuitions are a legacy of the tribal age. Most anti-capitalist arguments, then, no matter how much complex-sounding sociological jargon they may use, are really just sophisticated rationalisations of primitive urges.

    That's from Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies by Kristian Niemietz, a pretty sharp cookie.

  • Virginia Postrel (as usual) does a great job of articulating what we're missing: Coronavirus Is Teaching Me What I Can’t Do Online. She uses her own experience doing research for her upcoming book:

    Faced with the threat of a deadly virus, we’re lucky to have substitutes for in-person interactions. But in today’s world of virtual everything, too much knowledge is locked down in shuttered libraries and socially distanced minds. I couldn’t have written my book at all under current circumstances. The information needed is simply inaccessible — something that those calling for virtual conferences and online higher education to become the post-pandemic norm fail to appreciate.

    Consider higher education. Even ignoring the learning that takes place in hands-on studios and labs, late-night bull sessions and mealtime conversations, virtual education has a serious problem. Much of the world’s knowledge is contained in copyrighted works that aren’t available electronically and can be hard to obtain even with an unlimited budget for purchases. The problem is especially acute for scholarly books, which tend to go out of print quickly and often don’t come in electronic versions. Contrary to what many of today’s students assume, not every important source of information is online. One reason you can’t easily start a research university, even with plenty of money, is that you can’t duplicate libraries that took decades, even centuries, to build.

    The University Near Here is struggling to get back to normal, but one of the ways things ain't normal is that they've restricted library use to faculty, staff, and students who are in the testing protocol. So I'm banned. I get the argument even though I'm not a threat.

  • The Babylon Bee gets pretty close to reporting California reality: State With No Electricity Orders Everyone To Drive Cars That Run On Electricity.

    Gavin Newsom, governor of the state with the highest people-to-electricity ratio in the nation, banned gasoline cars yesterday via executive order. The order takes effect in 2035, meaning by that time, everyone in the state with no electricity will only be able to plug in their cars to the power grid that does not work.

    No, he really did. I'm not sure I'll be around in 2035 to see how this works out, but I'm assuming it will be hilarious.

  • The Google LFOD News Alert rang for a column by By the Rev. Robert John Andrews in the Danville [PA] News. And Reverend Bob wonders: When did accountability become disposable?.

    Our son is an essential worker, which means he works in a liquor store in Fort Collins, Colorado. He’s a cartoonist too, which means he needs a regular income besides his commissions. His mother likes him working there because he gets the inside scoop on quality chardonnays.

    That's a pretty good opening. I bet the Rev writes a punchy sermon. But LFOD? Ah, there 'tis:

    Every now and then there’s a yahoo. Our son bet that their most recent yahoo probably had several restraining orders on him. He arrived, all 6 foot 6 and 300 pounds, refusing to wear a mask. Bigfoot’s T-shirt announced: "Live free or die." You can live free and die if you wish, but you won’t shop in this store. No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. Sensible rules. He bristled at being told the rules. What’s with this perverse pleasure in trashing decorum, norms? He lurched a threatening gesture, trying to intimidate the workers by wanting to take it out to the parking lot. He’d fight them all, stoking his victimhood. It’s everybody else’s fault. The store manager, from Brooklyn, forced yahoo to retreat to his pickup which sported political signs and flags.

    Reverend Bob is identified at the foot of his column as a Presbyterian. I'm weak on doctrinal differences between Protestant denominations, but I was unaware that they're so judgmental about "yahoos" whose pickups (ah ha!) sport "political signs and flags".

    I was also unaware of Presbyterian proclivity to use that stale "live free and die" line way after its sell-by date.

  • But back here in the LFOD-mottoed state, we have a CongressCritter election coming up, and the R guy has found a line of attack on the D guy: Mowers slams Pappas for 15-year-old article opposing ‘Live Free or Die’ motto.

    n 2005, as a state representative three years out of Harvard, Chris Pappas wrote a piece in a local newspaper calling for an end to the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto. He’s been dealing with criticism about it from Republicans pretty much ever since.

    Now, in 2020, the Democratic congressman’s Republican challenger in the 1st Congressional District race says the essay showed that Pappas, even today, is “against” Granite State values.

    Pappas's defense is, essentially: hey, I was just kidding.

    If you're interested, Skip at Granite Grok commented on Pappas's position here and a JPEG of the article is here

Last Modified 2024-01-21 11:02 AM EDT

When Will There Be Good News?

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That's Kate Atkinson asking the musical question, in the third entry in her Jackson Brodie series. Brodie is an ex-cop, ex-private detective, living off a fortune bequeathed him in the first book. And he's mostly a guy to whom things happen, instead of making them happen himself. Since I am now a Brodie Old Hand, I can add "as usual" to that observation.

Also as usual: you don't want to be any of the book's characters. Their lives are full of death (by murder, accident, suicide, illness, …). Their familial relationships (among the survivors) are forever on the rocks. It's kind of a miracle I was able to keep reading amidst all the bleakness. (Amazingly, in between all the mayhem and madness, Atkinson can be very funny, too.)

It's an intricate plot, with a lot of moving pieces. Thirty years back, a madman murders nearly an entire family. The survivor grows up to be a doctor, married to a dodgy businessman, with a cute baby. She hires 16-year-old Regina ("Reggie") as a nanny. (Dead mom, mentally-ill guardian.) Reggie's older brother is a criminal, and his dealings threaten to spill into Reggie's life. Plus which, the doc goes missing with the baby and Reggie seems to be the only one concerned about that. And that madman has just been released from prison.

And Jackson has a new wife, although he's still kind of obsessed with a lady cop he met in a previous book. Who's also married, but still has feelings for…

Oh, and a horrific train crash. Like I said, there's a lot going on. Atkinson is a fine writer, both in her prose style, and her ability to keep all those plot-plates spinning on their sticks.

Last Modified 2024-01-23 2:06 PM EDT