URLs du Jour

2021-06-16

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Today's Amazon Product du Jour doesn't have anything to do with our URLs, I just like it.

I don't use sudo though. Bias against letting people issue privileged commands without knowing the root password.

Alternate t-shirt slogan suggestion: "I Love Linux. So su me."

  • I Predict a Significant Increase in Headlines Containing "Biden" and "Confuses". Christian Britschgi has one: Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Confuses Costs for Benefits.

    The list of things that President Joe Biden hopes to accomplish with his American Jobs Plan is nearly as impressive as its $2 trillion price tag. "It's not a plan that tinkers around the edges," Biden bragged during an April speech in Pittsburgh. "It's a once-in-a-generation investment in America. It'll create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs. It'll grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interest, and put us in a position to win the global competition with China."

    The president's speech did not dwell on the specific projects he wants to fund or how he might go about delivering them in a cost-effective manner. He focused instead on all the money he plans to spend and its potential for stimulating the economy. For Biden, the actual impact of new roads and rail lines on commute times and shipping costs is less important than the gargantuan price. That attitude suggests Biden's plan will buy a lot less infrastructure than it would if he prioritized efficiency.

    Britschgi's being awfully kind with "suggests" in that last sentence.

    Also in the news: Biden confuses Libya and Syria three times during remarks at G-7 summit.


  • Continuing the Confusion… Peter Suderman is also pretty rough on Biden: Study Finds Biden’s American Jobs Plan Would Result in Fewer American Jobs.

    If you've been following recent congressional spending negotiations, you've probably heard about President Joe Biden's $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan. This is a bit of a misnomer, since the plan would spend hundreds of billions on programs that are not, strictly speaking, infrastructure, though, for the purposes of politics, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress have decided to call infrastructure. But the Infrastructure and a Bunch of Other Unrelated Stuff That We're Going to Insist Is Actually Infrastructure Plan is a bit of a mouthful, and sadly doesn't produce a memorable acronym. So they named the proposal the American Jobs Plan instead.

    Biden certainly has lofty ambitions for the Jobs Plan. A White House fact sheet on the proposal declares it will, among other things, "unify and mobilize the country to meet the great challenges of our time" (climate change and increased competition from China, the fact sheet says) and "invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race." (Fine, sure, if you say so…although I'm not quite sure I'd call these puffy statements facts.) There are mentions of racial justice and rural communities, clean energy and caregiving, and even a few nods to roads and bridges. Biden wants his Jobs Plan to do it all—or, at the very least, to do an awful lot until the next trillion dollar plan comes around.

    But here, too, there is a problem with the name. For as it turns out, there's good reason to think Biden's American Jobs Plan would result in fewer American jobs.

    But there will be a lot more resources devoted to what politicians want, a lot fewer devoted to what private citizens want.


  • I Really Should Read More Popper. Martin Gurri channels him pretty well, though: The Enemies of the Open Society.

    In The Open Society and Its Enemies, the great philosopher Karl Popper posited two general types of communities. One was open to information. By multiplying knowledge, it sought to adapt to a changing world and improve the conditions of life. The institution that propelled and sustained the open society, Popper believed, was modern science. Its preferred political vehicle was liberal democracy.

    The second type of community, which Popper sometimes called “tribal,” considered its laws and customs to be part of an immutable cosmic order and condemned innovation as a crime against the hidden forces that upheld that order. New information entailed the corruption of morals; the highest duty of those in authority was to freeze social relations in place. The tribal mind inclined to magic—that “charmed circle of unchanging taboos.” While this was a very ancient way of organizing humanity, Popper observed that it had provided a model for the totalitarian systems of the 20th century in their revolt against the open society.

    I happened to be re-reading Popper when the controversy about a possible Wuhan laboratory spill staggered, zombie-like, out of its grave. That story is worth repeating. It begins with our abysmal ignorance about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the first cases appeared in China, specifically in the city of Wuhan—where there happens to be a lab specializing in virology. We know, too, that the Chinese regime has persistently lied about and obfuscated the subject. That’s what it does in awkward situations.

    Awkward indeed. Gurri notes that "science" did its part, transforming itself "from an enterprise that still largely valued the dispassionate study of nature into an avenging goddess of anti-Trumpism."


  • Everything You Know Is Wrong, Part CLXII. Glenn Greenwald writes on The Enduring False Narrative About the PULSE Massacre Shows the Power of Media Propaganda.

    On the fifth anniversary of the PULSE nightclub massacre in Orlando, numerous senators, politicians and activist groups commemorated that tragic event by propagating an absolute falsehood: namely, that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was motivated by anti-LGBT animus. The evidence is definitive and conclusive that this is false — Mateen, like so many others who committed similar acts of violence, was motivated by rage over President Obama's bombing campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and chose PULSE at random without even knowing it was a gay club — yet this media-consecrated lie continues to fester.

    On Saturday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) falsely described the massacre as an "unspeakable act of hate toward the LGBTQ+ community.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) went even further, claiming “the LGBTQ+ community was targeted and killed—all because they dared to live their lives.” Her fellow Illinois Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, claimed forty-nine lives were lost due to “anti-LGBTQ hate” (he forgot the +). These false claims were compiled by the gay socialist activist Matt Thomas, who correctly objected: “the shooter literally picked PULSE at random from Google after security was too tight at the mall he went to first,” adding that while LGBT groups “are hopeless of course,” too much money and power is at stake for them to give up this self-serving fiction. But he asked, “Shouldn’t the bar be a little higher for senators?”

    Those who think Trump-addled Republicans are uniquely wedded to their evidence-free narratives should definitely read this. It's a bipartisan phenomenon. Except the "mainstream" media is an enthusiastic accomplice on one side.


  • Low-Information Voters Get Low-Information Candidates. I'm not sure whether to be amused or depressed by this story. Michael Graham writes: He Thought Kuster Was a State Rep, But Capitol Hill Rioter Says He's Running Against Her Anyway.

    Supporters of U.S Rep. Annie Kuster were no doubt surprised to learn she was facing a challenge for her Second District congressional seat from a January 6 Capitol Hill rioter. But they weren’t nearly as surprised as he was.

    “I thought Ann was a state representative,” Jason Riddle of Keene, N.H. told NBC Boston last week.

    Keene, man. It's our state's version of Austin, Texas.