URLs du Jour

2021-06-02

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  • Because They Can. Next Question? Jacob Sullum avoids that obvious answer to his question: Why Is the TSA Making Vaccinated Air Travelers Wear Masks?.

    The situation for air travelers is quite different [from Jacob's movie theater]. Under a rule that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently extended through September 13, all passengers, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, must wear face masks "at all times" in airports and on airplanes. Violators are subject to a $250 fine the first time around and a $1,500 fine for repeat offenses. As you might expect from the agency that gave us "security theater," the face mask rule is a form of "hygiene theater," gratuitously incommoding passengers to create the illusion of added safety.

    While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "recently announced that fully vaccinated travelers…can travel safely within the U.S.," the TSA says, "the CDC guidelines still require individuals to wear a face mask, socially distance, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer." The TSA's attempt to pass the buck is more than a little misleading.

    The CDC's latest guidelines actually say that fully vaccinated people "can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance." So yes, as long as the TSA requires all airline passengers to wear masks, that edict qualifies as an exception to the general rule. But that hardly means the TSA's requirement is based on scientific guidance from the CDC, as the TSA implies.

    I will note that I'm still forbidden from even going inside the libraries at the University Near Here because, despite receiving two shots of Moderna long ago, I'm not part of the UNH COVID testing program.

    This is really bad "hygiene theater". It's like a production of Cats staged by pre-schoolers.


  • And When I Say "You", I Mean "You, Personally". Brian Reidl takes down Hawaii's Senator Schatz embrace of "Modern Monetary Theory" Sorry Senator Schatz, You Should Pay for Infrastructure.

    Senator Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii) recently embraced this case, tweeting: “We should deficit finance infrastructure. Money is cheap, and the things being built last for 30 or 50 or 100 years, so it should be amortized over that period This ‘pay for’ thing is nuts. You just shouldn’t pay cash for infrastructure in a low interest rate environment.”

    Where to even begin?

    How about his contention that “money is cheap” so Washington should take advantage of this “low interest rate environment”? This argument would be more persuasive if Washington were actually locking in today’s lower interest rates with long-term bonds. Instead, the average maturity of the federal debt is just 62 months and declining. This means that if interest rates rise at any point in the future, nearly the entire U.S. debt will soon roll over into those higher rates. Senator Schatz is essentially endorsing the approach of a homeowner who responds to today’s low interest rates by purchasing a multimillion-dollar home and financing it with an adjustable-rate mortgage that resets in five years. Gee, what could possibly go wrong there?

    I can think of a few things, but you should probably read Brian instead.


  • Is There An "NH Media Style Manual"? Michael Graham has noticed In NH Media, 'Controversial' Is A Euphemism for 'Popular'.

    At NHPR, it’s “a controversial right to work bill”

    At the leftwing news outlet InDepthNH, the headline reads: “House Panel Votes Ought To Pass on Controversial Right To Work Legislation.”

    And WMUR reported on events “ahead of a House vote in Concord on a controversial right to work bill.”

    The New Hampshire press corps has clearly made up its mind: Republican proposals to join the 27 other right to work states and stop forcing workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment are “controversial.”

    Michael points to a recent poll commissioned by the Josiah Bartlett Center that broke 68%-22% in favor of allowing employees to not pay union fees.


  • Meanwhile The UNH Women's Crew Team Is Changing Its Name To "Whores With Oars". A belated note showing the continued racial progress at the University Near Here: Sisters in Step dance troupe changes name to Wildcat Dance Crew.

    After 24 years, the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) dance troupe “Sisters in Step” has changed its name to “Wildcat Dance Crew.” This decision comes after the recent discovery of the group’s history of cultural appropriation. 

    Sisters in Step was founded in 1997 by six women of color as a creative outlet for women of color on a predominantly white campus. The group dance style focused on hip-hop and traditional African American step dance. “Stepping” is a percussive dance in which the “body becomes an instrument, using footsteps, claps and spoken word” to produce complex rhythms and sounds. “Sisters in Step” has its own unique group step dance. 

    Co-captains of Wildcat Dance Crew, Taylor Nygren and Emily Clickner, have both been involved in competitive dance since they were kids and were welcomed into the dance troupe as freshmen in the same auditioning class. However, they weren’t aware of Sisters in Step’s history as a group created by and for women of color until after becoming captains. 

    Taylor and Emily identify as People of Pallor. The group won't be doing the "traditional African American step dance" moves going forward.


  • What About Bacon? The Astral Codex Ten substack has an article about the Moral Costs Of Chicken Vs. Beef.

    I've previously argued that meat-eaters concerned about animal welfare should try to eat beef, not chicken. The logic goes: the average cow is very big and makes 405,000 calories of beef. The average chicken is very small and makes 3000 calories of chicken. If you eat the US average of 250,000 calories of meat per year, you can either eat 0.5 cows, or 80 chickens. If each animal raised for meat experiences some suffering, eating chicken exposes 160x more animals to that suffering than eating beef.

    Might cows be "more conscious" in a way that makes their suffering matter more than chickens? Hard to tell. But if we expect this to scale with neuron number, we find cows have 6x as many cortical neurons as chickens, and most people think of them as about 10x more morally valuable. If we massively round up and think of a cow as morally equivalent to 20 chickens, switching from an all-chicken diet to an all-beef diet saves 60 chicken-equivalents per year.

    But some people have argued that we also need to consider global warming. Cows produce methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Chickens don't. How does this affect the calculations?

    I kind of like what comes after. But really, aren't there other things to consider besides just suffering and carbon emissions?


Last Modified 2021-06-03 5:54 AM EDT