URLs du Jour

2020-12-11

  • An amusing juxtaposition from the Twitter account Politically Stripped:

    I need to stop relying on Arwa for female hair analysis.


  • Rational Optimist Matt Ridley provides the good news: The power of science has delivered the best possible news in a ghastly year.

    Happy Christmas! The BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine’s approval, with others to come, is the best possible news at the end of a ghastly year. Vaccination is humankind’s most life-saving innovation, banishing scourge after scourge from the face of the earth. It is a technology that is so counterintuitive as to seem magical, but when it works it is unbeatable. The extinction of smallpox in 1977 was probably science’s greatest achievement.

    Britain has been among the most incompetent countries at managing the pandemic, taking far too top-down and centralised an approach, but it will be the first to get vaccinating, weeks before America and a month before the lumbering bureaucratic dinosaur across the channel. We can thank Kate Bingham, our brilliant biologists and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. I recall being told by somebody with insider experience long before this that the European Medicines Agency added very little to what we do domestically, except duplication and delay. 

    I'm a semi-fan of Jerry Coyne, who blogs at Why Evolution is True. But sometimes he comes up with bad takes, like this (part of his daily "Hili dialogue" post from yesterday):

    Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, so it’s likely that our northern neighbors will start getting vaccinated next week. The NYT says, “The approval could mean that Canadians receive injections of the vaccine from the U.S.-based company before Americans do.” But who the hell cares. This isn’t a race between countries, but a race between death and medical logistics. If Canadians get protected earlier than we, that’s great!

    Ah, Jerry. Saying "it's not a race" is true, but misses the point. Which is: every day of unnecessary bureaucratic delay is killing people.

    "Who the hell cares?" You should.


  • At Hot Air, Allahpundit is properly disdainful of the modern GOP, and notes the latest Stupid Party symptom: 106 House Republicans sign onto Texas's disgraceful election lawsuit because that's what being a good Republican means now.

    I’m reading headlines today at liberal websites like “The GOP Abandons Democracy” and “More Than Half of House Republicans Sign On to Trump’s Election Coup” and feeling the old familiar urge to bristle with indignation. Surely the left is once again demagoging some legitimate Republican project in hyperbolic scaremongering terms. Liberal bias, plain as day.

    It isn’t. Those headlines are accurate. The Republican Party, at least a substantial chunk of it, is now the sort of sinister caricature of itself that a leftist might draw. In an age of hyperpartisanship it’s almost impossible to be as wretched and corrupt as your political enemies claim you are, but somehow they’ve done it. More than half the House caucus has joined a lawsuit that would disenfranchise millions, cause an irreparable schism between U.S. states, install a disordered unelected demagogue in office for another four years, and obliterate whatever remaining institutional credibility the Supreme Court has.

    Patterico notes that the Republican candidates in Georgia's US Senate runoff election have also expressed their support for the Texas lawsuit:

    You know, I thought I favored the GOP winning in the Georgia runoff, but I don’t really think I do any more. This lawsuit is a patently meritless regurgitation of already-rejected claims and is really nothing more than a pretext for a dictatorial grab of power. On one hand, I want the GOP to hold the Senate — but if it doesn’t, because these two people of low character can’t pull it off, then oh well.

    Ditto here.


  • Arnold Kling quotes Charles Murray in asking Who needs the HEEs? The HEEs being "Highly-Educated Elites".

    I’ve written a thought experiment for ongoing work. What happens if everyone with IQs below 110 disappears? Civilization collapses. If everyone with IQs of 110+ disappears except some engineers? Some deterioration here and there, but civilization continues.

    Arnold notes that (aha!) HEEs control a lot of resource allocation, and quotes a recent example from the WSJ:

    Under the GOP plan, businesses could receive a second PPP loan, and schools and colleges would be granted more than $100 billion in aid, while $31 billion would go toward vaccine development and distribution.

    That's the working-class GOP for ya.


  • I believe Jim Treacher is asking a rhetorical question: So, Hunter Biden's Laptop Was Real After All, Huh?.

    Hey, did you ever find out about a particular thing that was absolutely, undisputedly, 100% true? Like, no doubt at all? You had ironclad proof and everything? And after you found out about it, did you then run into somebody else who simply refused to believe it, no matter the evidence? Sure, we all know somebody like that. In 2020, it’s practically a hobby. But that’s not a good thing when the person who refuses to acknowledge facts and evidence is supposed to be a journalist.

    For instance, take Hunter Biden’s laptop. Please! Take it, because CNN and the NYT and the rest of those frauds didn’t want to hear about it before the election. They refused to cover the story, and when they finally had to, they dismissed it.

    Treach has plenty of examples from CNN, NPR, etc. And I note that Politico still has this gem from October 19: Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.

    Right. Let's see how many of those perceptive folks make it into the Biden Administration.


  • And in our occasional "Stupid Wired Article" department, an opinion piece from one Sandeep Vaheesan: Antitrust Litigation Isn't Enough. Biden Needs to Go Further.

    Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam filed parallel antitrust suits against Facebook for the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, and practices that excluded competitive threats in social networking and messaging. In October, the Department of Justice and 11 states filed a complaint against Google alleging the monopolization of mobile search and search advertising. Though Democrats surely hope President-elect Joe Biden makes a clean break with the Trump administration on many issues, the new president would be wise to embrace partial continuity in one area—antitrust enforcement.

    While there’s been no shortage of antitrust action in recent months, Biden’s trustbusters can and should do even more to remind large corporations that they cannot operate with impunity. Litigation, while important, is not enough. The present antitrust system is costly, complicated, and time-consuming, guaranteeing little besides years of investigation and litigation—and billable hours for lawyers and economists. An effective and durable assault on corporate dominance requires new rules that ensure that powerful firms are quickly brought to account for wrongdoing. Even with a potentially divided government through 2022, the Biden administration—through the FTC—can begin fixing the law immediately.

    Note that when Sandeep advocates "fixing the law", he means, essentially, abandoning the rule of law. Instead of clear, generally-applicable rules to guide acceptable business behavior, American business is essentially at the whim of whatever rules the current presidential administration decides to make up.

    Antitrust is already pretty arbitrary. Sandeep wants to make it more so.


Last Modified 2020-12-11 7:47 AM EST