URLs du Jour

Veterans Day 2021

[Veterans Day]

Thank one near you.

  • Me too. And yet I keep blogging about it. P. J. O'Rourke tells us: Why I Hate Politics. After plugging the American Consequences publisher, Stansberry Research:

    Politicians are always trying to tempt us to give more power to politics. Power of any kind is dangerous… Political power is particularly dangerous. Politics is a Rottweiler ready to be unleashed on your problems. And you’ve stuffed raw meat down the front of your pants.

    Politicians work themselves into a lather arguing in favor of the benefits of government power. Using that kind of “politician logic” I can prove… Anything

    Here, I can prove that shooting convenience-store clerks stimulates the economy… Jobs are created in the high-paying domestic manufacturing sector at gun and ammunition factories. Additional emergency medical technicians, security guards, health care providers, and morticians are hired. The unemployment rate is lowered as jobseekers fill new openings on convenience store night shifts. And money stolen from convenience-store cash registers stimulates the economy where stimulus is most needed: in low-income neighborhoods where the people who shoot convenience store clerks go to buy their crack.

    Considering all the good it does, I am simply flabbergasted that everyone in the House and Senate isn’t smoking crack and shooting convenience-store clerks this very minute… (instead of just smoking crack).

    Do read the whole thing, because Peej goes on to explain "the real problem isn’t politicians, the real problem is politics."

    Maybe. I'm reminded (however) of Heinlein's adage (Podkayne of Mars, you can look it up.): "Politics is just an name for the way we get things done … without fighting."


  • Do we blame this on "politics" or "politicians"? At Techdirt, Mike Masnick shakes his head at recent proposed legislation: The Latest Version Of Congress's Anti-Algorithm Bill Is Based On Two Separate Debunked Myths & A Misunderstanding Of How Things Work

    It's kind of crazy how many regulatory proposals we see appear to be based on myths and moral panics. The latest, just introduced is the House version of the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, which is the companion bill to the Senate bill of the same name. Both bills are "bipartisan," which makes it worse, not better. The Senate version was introduced by Senator John Thune, and co-sponsored by a bevy of anti-tech grandstanding Senators: Richard Blumenthal, Jerry Moran, Marsha Blackburn, Brian Schatz, and Mark Warner. The House version was introduced by Ken Buck, and co-sponsored by David Cicilline, Lori Trahan, and Burgess Owens.

    Click through for the deets; it's another data point in support of the general thesis: there's nothing wrong with social media that the government can't make much worse.


  • Because it's a giveaway to … guess who? Eric Boehm reminds us: America's Ports Need More Robots, but the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Won't Fund Automation.

    Yes, the subsidies doled out as part of President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure deal are expressly forbidden from being used to automate operations at American ports. Instead, taxpayers will spend billions to upgrade existing cranes with lower-emissions alternatives that won't actually work any faster or cheaper. It's a major missed opportunity.

    Why? Biden's close ties to labor unions probably have something to do with it. Along with the cost, unions are the biggest reason why American ports don't have more robots. When an automated terminal was introduced at the Port of Los Angeles a few years ago, the politically powerful longshoreman's union that represents dockworkers threw a fit.

    But the automated terminals were a hit with truck drivers who work at the port. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2019 that drivers, who are paid by the delivery, were thrilled to have more reliable loading schedules, instead of having to wait around for hours to pick up a container. One truck driver told the paper that automation meant no longer having to "wait hours and hours in long lines" because the dockworkers decided to "leave early to go to lunch and come back late."

    The hours that drivers wait in line count against their "on duty" time limit, which means they can spend less time doing useful work, like getting PlayStations to your local Best Buy.


  • When he's right… We've had our quibbles with David French, but he's on target at the Dispatch (unfortunately subscriber-only): An Airing of Grievances Against Diversity Training. He posts this example, observing that "if this […] isn't stereotyping, I don't know what is."

    [Bridging?]

    Is this slide actually transforming hearts and minds in the real world? Sure, some people might be persuaded, just as other people counter that effect through negative backlash, but the vast majority do not walk away thinking, “I had no idea that private ownership of my car is a product of white individualism.” 

    So what’s the appeal of training like this? Or of more benign but equally ineffective diversity training measures implemented in other contexts? While there are of course some employers who are ideologically committed not just to the existence of diversity training but also to the specific content of that training, I think a better answer is summed up in two words—pain avoidance.

    I retired from my job before any of this really hit. The worst I got was an online pointy-clicky course about sexual harassment. Kind of a how-to. But as long as you kept hitting the right buttons, you were fine.


  • Everything is seemingly spinning out of control. Because I've added Matthew Yglesias's substack to my reading list. He's a lefty who occasionally gets mugged by reality. A recent example: "Critical Race Theory" and actual education policy, part one. We'll look at part two another day, maybe, but here are his main points:

    1. Extended closures of schools that hurt students’ measured learning outcomes and widened the racial gap in measured learning outcomes

    2. The adoption of racial equity initiatives with little demonstrated efficacy in improving outcomes

    3. The stigmatization of the kinds of tests that are our main tool for assessing whether or not children are learning

    None of that is very controversial in righty-land, but it's heretical among the anointed.


  • Don't look at me. Local lad Michael Graham looks at the near-term NH political landscape: If Not Sununu, Then Who?

    On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Sununu shocked many political observers—and broke even more D.C. GOP hearts—by announcing he will not be challenging Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan next year. And while there are no guarantees in politics, the popular, three-term incumbent was as close to a lock as a GOP candidate in New England can get. Last year Sununu got more votes in New Hampshire than either Donald Trump or Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

    I thought Chris Sununu's brother, John E., was a pretty good senator (one-term, 2002-2008). But I suspect his brotherly advice was: don't.

    Graham goes through the list of potential candidates, notes the ones who have disclaimed an interest in running, and the remaining ones seem pretty weak to me.


  • And then there's General Dan Bolduc. Who is running, and claims …

    During a conspiracy-spinning interview with radio host Jack Heath Tuesday retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc called fellow Republican Chris Sununu a “Chinese Communist sympathizer” whose family business “supports terrorism,” and claimed he drove the governor from the U.S. Senate race.

    Bottom line from Michael Graham's NHJournal article:

    “He was a lousy candidate when he was sane,” one NHGOP insider told NHJournal. “Running as a lunatic isn’t much of an improvement.”

    Last year, when he was running for the NH-01 House seat, I noted his campaign platform had one huge, deal-breaking, red flag for me: he supported a Constitutional amendment to "overturn the Citizens United decision".

    I.e., allow politicians to control "acceptable" political discourse about elections.

    I'm told he walked that back at some point. Sorry, General, too late.