URLs du Jour

2021-03-17

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  • We Knew That, But It's Good To Be Reminded: Jacob Sullum in Reason says Congress Uses COVID-19 As a Cover for an Epidemic of Fiscal Recklessness.

    The "recovery rebates" that Americans began receiving this week supposedly have something to do with the economic damage caused by COVID-19 and the control measures it inspired. But like most of the so-called American Rescue Plan Act, these payments, which account for more than a fifth of the bill's $1.9 trillion price tag, are only tenuously related to the pandemic.

    The Democrats who championed the law hope those bribes will buy them votes in the midterm elections. But you really should be thanking your children and grandchildren, because they will ultimately pick up the tab for this package and the rest of the $5 trillion spending binge that Congress claimed was justified by a public health emergency.

    You should thank your children and grandchildren. Or, more honestly, apologize to them if you voted for Democrats.


  • More Automatic Than a Patellar Reflex. John Sexton has the latest from the University of North Korea Vermont: Professor criticized Critical Race Theory at University of Vermont, now students want him fired.

    Last week a professor at the University of Vermont uploaded a video criticizing what he dubbed the “secular religion” of race at the school. Professor Aaron Kindsvatter said he was afraid to make his comments because he doesn’t want his current or former students to think he is dismissing genuine complaints of discrimination they might have faced. But he said that on campus there is now a new form of discrimination taking place.

    “This discrimination is against whiteness, it is today,” he said. He continued, “So whiteness falls under the umbrella, in the derogatory meaning of the word, falls under the umbrella of critical social justice…The thinking that informs it is so crude and so lacking in falsifiability.”

    And you'll never guess what happened next! Well, you probably will.


  • What's That Smell? The WSJ's James Freeman wonders: Is Something Dying in Darkness at the Washington Post? Assuming you know the basics:

    To review, the Post ran with bogus quotations attributed to President Donald Trump supplied by one anonymous source who was not even on the call. Two months later, when a Journal report revealed the quotations to be false, the Post only revealed the identity of the anonymous bearer of false information after she granted her permission.

    How kind of the Post and how generous of Ms. Fuchs to finally let readers in on the full story. We live in an age of cancel culture, but it seems that people who fabricate negative stories about Mr. Trump can expect eternal media forgiveness.

    This is perhaps the perfect ending to the story of Trump-era press coverage and helps explain why media outlets never punished the anonymous sources of bogus Russia collusion stories by outing them. The bearers of false witness never gave their permission! Will this odd media courtesy be extended to anonymous sources who supply false claims about President Joe Biden?

    Your guess is as good as mine. That is, assuming your guess is the same as mine: "no way".


  • What is "Any Disconfirming Evidence", Alex? Tim Harford's interesting insights into What Conspiracy Theorists Don’t Believe.

    Some people believe the most extraordinary things. Earth is flat, and airplane GPS is rigged to fool pilots into thinking otherwise. COVID-19 vaccines are a pretext to inject thought-controlling microchips into us all. The true president of the United States is Donald Trump; his inauguration will happen on January 20, make that March 4, make that a date to be arranged very soon.

    The question “How could anybody believe this stuff?” comes naturally enough. That may not be the most helpful question, however. Conspiracy theorists believe strange ideas, yes. But these outlandish beliefs rest on a solid foundation of disbelief.

    To think that Trump is actually still the president, as some in the QAnon movement do, you first have to doubt. You have to doubt the journalism practiced by any mainstream media outlet of any political persuasion; you have to doubt all the experts and the political elites; you have to doubt the judiciary, the military, and every other American institution. Once you have thoroughly disbelieved all of them, only then can you start to believe in Trump’s ascension being just around the corner—or in lizard overlords or alien prophets.

    In flat earth news a couple months back: Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg who destroyed more than 500 doses of covid vaccine is a flat-Earther

    A few months back I engaged in a series of small comment spats with election truthers. I know exactly what Harford is referring to.


  • Let's Be Very Careful and Kill a Few Thousand More People. Jim Geraghty has the latest on Europe's vaccine bungling, specifically its AstraZeneca freakout. Blood clots?

    Last week, we received an update on that Baltimore warehouse with “tens of millions of doses” of the AstraZeneca vaccine ready to go, with word that another 30 million doses are currently bottled at AstraZeneca’s facility in West Chester, Ohio. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told Reuters yesterday that independent monitors are reviewing the results of AstraZeneca’s ongoing U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial, and emergency authorization could come in about a month.

    But a lot of European countries suspended using the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, and while I try not to get over my skis and remain humble about my ability to make sweeping conclusions about medical topics, it appears the leaders of these countries have lost their minds.

    Based upon the available data, an individual person’s odds of developing blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine are one in 459,459; for perspective, the U.S. CDC says that your odds of being struck by lightning are one in 500,000.

    Geraghty: "Really, can we please bury the stereotype or trope that Europeans are sophisticated modern cognoscenti and we’re just a bunch of Bible-thumping backwater hicks?"


  • Hey, did you watch the Grammys? Neither did I. Jim Treacher has the data: Grammys Ratings Drop Lower Than Cardi B's IQ.

    Ah, music. Remember that stuff? Long, long ago in the Before Times, when nobody knew what coronaviruses or Faucis were, people would gather together with special tools called “instruments” and make various sounds that could be pleasing to the ear and mind. We called these groups of people “bands,” and some of them were pretty good! Not usually, but every once in a while. A few of them figured out how to assemble those sounds into artifacts called “songs,” and the ability to craft these artifacts was highly prized in our society. An entire industry was built around this process, and it was capable of producing songs of great power and beauty. It wasn’t perfect, because nothing ever is, but it was alive. It inspired and moved people. Mankind sang light into the darkness, and our children grew up knowing that we small, fragile creatures could transcend our mortal bodies and touch the hand of eternity.

    One of my Jeopardy! categorical weak spots: any popular music post-2004 or so. I just sit on the sofa, vacant look on my face, understanding neither the clues nor the responses.


Last Modified 2021-03-18 7:22 AM EDT