URLs du Jour

2022-05-06

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • "Joe Biden" and "phony" go together like chicken and waffles. Eric Boehm seems pretty steamed about Joe Biden's Phony Fiscal Responsibility.

    The national debt is at an all-time high and this year's budget deficit is forecasted to be the third or fourth-largest in American history—but President Joe Biden claims these are signs that his administration is overseeing a period of fiscal austerity.

    Really! Here are some words that actually tumbled out of the president's mouth at a press conference on Wednesday morning: "We're on track to cut the federal deficit by another $1.5 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. The biggest decline ever in a single year, ever, in American history."

    "And the biggest decline on top of us having a $350 billion drop in the deficit last year, my first year as president," Biden continued. "The bottom line is that the deficit went up every year under my predecessor—before the pandemic and during the pandemic—and it's gone down both years since I've been here. Period. They're the facts."

    Those facts, however, exclude a few key details. Like the fact that Biden took office the year after the budget deficit hit previously unimaginable highs due to a completely unprecedented spending binge triggered by a once-in-a-generation public health disaster.

    Where's the Disinformation Governance Board when you need it?


  • Also: cowards on spending, entitlements, trade… David Harsanyi has a plea: Republicans, Stop Being Cowards on Abortion.

    Chuck Schumer will hold a vote on a bill codifying abortion’s legality so that voters, he contends, can “see where every senator stands.” Though the Senate leader believes this is a political slam dunk for Democrats, it presents a magnificent opportunity for Republicans to make their case.

    Though many conservatives have rightly avoided prematurely celebrating Sam Alito’s draft decision, many also seem frightened of debating the underlying issue. Indeed, the draft leak is a significant assault on the system, but no more so than Roe. For 50 years, our culture and media have treated this flawed decision as right and rite.

    Surely most of the public isn’t aware of the maximalist position staked out by the establishment Left. Republicans should take the opportunity to point out that even if they were moderately pro-choice, they couldn’t possibly support Schumer’s barbaric bill, which legalizes abortion for any reason on demand until the moment of birth. They should follow that up by noting that Democrats, including the president, also want taxpayers to foot the bill for abortions, including the late-term variety.

    Both of my state's senators have said they're voting for the Schumer bill, and my CongressCritter has also expressed support. They deserve questions, and Harsany suggests a few:

    “Why do you believe it’s okay for abortion factories to target minority communities? Do you share Margret Sanger’s racist position on black children? Are you okay with sex-selective abortions? If not, why not? Are you okay with abortionists eradicating people with non-life-threatening fetal abnormalities such as Down syndrome for the convenience of the customers — and it should be stressed, it most cases this means the father as well as mother – a policy that is properly called eugenics?”

    Or, to use the KDW formulation: "If you think it's wrong to kill children after they've been born, why are you OK with killing children before they've been born?"


  • Do you actually use WD-40 on chains? Never mind. Veronique de Rugy strains the chain metaphor: Putting Some WD-40 on the Supply Chain. She notes that the supply woes, while not absent, are much improved now; they aren't really the main driver of inflation.

    But you know what would help to alleviate remaining supply bottlenecks?

    For instance, Congress should immediately repeal the 1920 Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act. Under the Act, all freight moving by water between U.S. ports must be hauled on ships that are built, crewed and flagged only by Americans. These requirements directly raise the costs of shipping freight by water. And by artificially increasing the demand to instead ship by rail and trucks, the Jones Act also increases the cost of hauling freight on land.

    While at it, Congress should reform the Foreign Dredge Act, which requires that dredging barges are Jones Act compliant. This significantly inflates the costs of dredging U.S. ports, preventing expansions that could accommodate more and larger ships.

    The Biden administration must also end former President Donald Trump's punitive tariffs and import quotas. These measures inflate costs and reduce the supplies of goods — including goods that are themselves useful for further easing supply constraints. For example, Section 301 tariffs drastically reduce the supply of truck chassis in the United States, worsening bottlenecks in the surface transportation of other freight.

    And more good ideas at the link.


  • Don't be a cry-baby over hyphens. Stop and smell the wild-flowers. The New Yorker's Mary "Comma Queen" Norris provides guidance: How to Use (or Not Use) a Hyphen.

    The hyphen continues to serve a dual purpose: it both connects and separates. In justified text, it divides into appropriate syllables a word that lands on a line break, a task that machines have not yet mastered; and it is instrumental in the formation of compounds, where it is famously subject to erosion. Yesteryear’s “ball-point pen” became the “ballpoint,” “wild-flowers” evolved into “wildflowers,” and “teen-age” found acceptance as “teenage” in most outlets (but not in this one).

    In modern times, the hyphen has sown controversy. Mahdavi tells the story of how Teddy Roosevelt, in his outrage at losing the Presidency to Woodrow Wilson, in 1912, appealed to Americans’ xenophobia. He was an “anti-hyphenate.” Mahdavi writes, “Referring to the hyphen between the name of an ethnicity and the word ‘American,’ hyphenism and hyphenated Americanism was seen as a potentially fracturing and divisive force in an America on the brink of war.” Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and Chinese-Americans were all suspect. In 1915, Teddy Roosevelt made some remarks that formed “a turning point in how the hyphen became demonized both orthographically and politically.” He said, “The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic.” (Victims of anti-hyphenism might be gratified to know that during the pandemic the equestrian statue of Teddy Roosevelt was removed from in front of the Museum of Natural History.)

    I fought a losing battle for a few years at the University Near Here to use "e-mail" instead of "email". I felt betrayed by computer science hero Don Knuth's manifesto: Email (let's drop the hyphen).

    You can tell when I finally gave up. A yearly count of Pun Salad occurrences of "email" vs "e-mail" (not including this post, and note that the counts include quoted material):

    Yeare-mailemail
    200590
    2006152
    2007296
    20082016
    2009136
    201097
    201197
    201241
    201310
    201492
    2015156
    201637
    2017433
    2018824
    2019615
    2020729
    2021330
    2022211

    Yep, 2016.

    Ah, but the New Yorker is still holding out:

    [New Yorker holds out]

Light Perpetual

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

I picked up this book from Portsmouth Public Library due to a rave from Pun Salad fave Alan Jacobs. It's good! Although not my usual fare.

It springs from an actual, horrific, historical event: the V2 bombing of November 25, 1944 which destroyed a Woolworths in southeast London, along with everyone inside at the time. A total of 168 people were killed, including 5 children: Alec, Ben, Jo, Val, and Vern. The author, Francis Spufford, builds his novel in the alternate universe where, for whatever reason, the V2 was diverted or delayed, and those kids lived on. What happened?

A lot, as it turns out. We check in with the characters in 1949, 1964, 1979, 1994, and 2009; their lives are full of twists and surprises. Alec turns into a bit of a sassy weisenheimer in grade school, moves on to get a union job as a linotype operator at the Times, an unfortunately doomed profession. (I note my spell-checker no longer recognizes "linotype" as a word.) Ben develops a crippling mental illness, but then… Jo's musical talent takes her to sunny California for a bit, while sister Val makes an unfortunate life choice in marrying an actual skinhead Nazi. And opera-loving Vern has dreams of becoming a real estate mogul, and if he has to scam a soccer star in the process, well….

Francis Spufford's prose is (at times) beautifully ornate, deserving of slow and thoughtful reading. And a lot of Britishisms, many of which I got, others… oh, well. All main characters are drawn with complexity and sympathy.