URLs du Jour

2022-06-22

  • We're gonna need a bigger house. An amusing blurb from the July Reason: Landmark Shark Attack (as seen in our Getty Image du Jour).

    In 1986, Bill Heine installed a sculpture of a 25-foot shark crashing through the roof of his home in Oxford, England, without getting the approval of local planning officials. His son, Magnus Hanson-Heine, said his father didn't believe the government should be able to decide what art people should see. After spending years trying to get it removed, the local council has declared the shark a protected landmark—against the wishes of Hanson-Heine, who now owns the house.

    It's said that statists want to make everything either prohibited or mandatory. That's probably inaccurate, but it's pretty funny how quickly things go from "must go" to "must stay".

    I wonder what the going rate is for roof-shark installation here in Rollinsford?


  • GOSPLAN comes to America. Eric Boehm notes something that might get him sent to the Gulag: The Defense Production Act Has Become a License for Central Planning.

    President Donald Trump was never one with high regard for the limits of his executive authority. Yet when people first floated the idea of using the 1950 Defense Production Act (DPA) to force private sector businesses to prioritize orders from the federal government for masks, ventilators, and other gear, the idea gave Trump a moment's pause.

    "We're a country not based on nationalizing our business," Trump said at a March 2020 press conference. "Call a person over in Venezuela; ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out. Not too well."

    It didn't last, and Trump did eventually sign a declaration invoking the DPA. But if you think it was a stretch to respond to a pandemic with a law designed to ensure the military can access supplies during wartime, wait 'til you find out the ways Trump's successor has been using it.

    The production of vaccines? Check.

    Rare minerals needed for electric car batteries? Check.

    Baby formula? Check—despite the role that his own government played in creating that shortage in the first place.

    Solar panels, heat pumps, and…home insulation? Check, check, and check.

    I note there seems to be an acute shortage of Ocean Spray Cran-Apple sixpacks of 10-ounce bottles. What's up with that, Joe?


  • Just as long as he stays off the bike. Kevin D. Williamson adopts a contrarian stance: Joe Biden Should Take More Vacations.

    Joe Biden makes it too easy for the comedians: Obviously hoping to dispel concerns about his age and his fitness for the presidency, President Biden took a bicycle ride and cruised over to a crowd of gawkers, and then promptly tipped over and fell on his patootie. Biden has long been defensive about fitness — you’ll remember him challenging that random guy in Iowa to a push-up contest. That’s not how you fix your image, and, at Biden’s age, fixing his image is probably a foolish thing to try, anyway.

    Biden’s most bitter critics have a litany: He doesn’t do evening events, he goes home to Delaware every weekend to rest up, etc. Scandalous, I’m sure.

    But those are the things I like about Biden. Almost the only things I like about him.

    Biden’s is a special case, because he is so very old and so very manifestly frail, but criticizing presidents for their leisure time has become part of the ritual of the imperator cult, and younger, more robust men have been criticized for their down time and their recreation. Before there was Biden, there was Donald Trump and his golf and “executive time,” before Trump it was Barack Obama and his vacation days, and before that it was George W. Bush and his vacation days. Trump on the links, Obama at Martha’s Vineyard, Bush at the ranch, and Biden in Delaware. I’ve been to Delaware, and I think I’d rather spend the weekend in Martha’s Vineyard or clearing brush in the hot Texas sun with W. Your preferences may vary.

    Obama had his moment when he fessed up about his "stimulus" bill: "Shovel-Ready Was Not As Shovel-Ready As We Expected." What would be the Biden equivalent: "It turns out Presidents can't really do much about inflation once it's started. Sorry."


  • You have to realize this is really important to race hucksters. David Bernstein has a book coming out on the ways Your Federal Government pigeonholes people by race and ethnicity. He casts a cold eye on the latest news: The Biden Administration Considers Whether Hispanic/Latino Should Be A Racial, Not Ethnic, Classification.

    The AP reports that the Biden administration is considering changes to official OMB racial and ethnic classifications. The most prominent proposals are to change the Hispanic/Latino category from an ethnic to a racial category, and to add a new MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) category. […]

    As discussed in my forthcoming book, when the federal Office of Management and Budget invented the Hispanic category-- Latino was not added until twenty years later--in the late 1970s, it was subject to several controversies. First, there was the question of what to name this novel classification--previously, what we now call "Hispanics" were generally either considered generically white by the federal government, or listed separately as Mexican, Puerto Rican, and sometimes Cuban. In the early 1970s, the government started to use classifications like "Spanish-speaking" or "Spanish-surnamed," but these were ultimately deemed inadequate and imprecise for rather obvious reasons. Hispanic was chosen even though at the time few people thought of themselvse as "Hispanic."

    Second, there was controversy over how to define the category. Should it include white people of Spanish descent? (Yes!) Should the American Indian category instead be "Original Peoples of the Western Hemisphere" to include Latinos of indigenous origin? (No!) Should the Hispanic classification be considered a race or an ethnicity? (Ethnicity!) And should forms asking about race and ethnicity include "Hispanic" as an alternative to white, black, Asian, or American Indian, or should Hispanic identity be asked about separately from the racial classifications? (At first, institutions were given the option of doing either, but in 1997 they were ordered to ask about Hispanic ethnicity separately; it took the Department of Education and the EEOC another decade to comply. The SBA's guidance on disadvantaged business enterprises still depicts Hispanic as a racial category.)

    It's an odious practice that (nevertheless) means political power and preferential treatment. Part of the problem were "white Hispanics"; with the onus that attaches to whiteness these days, who needs that?


  • Good luck with the Rona, Tony. Jon Miltimore tells us: Why It Matters That Fauci Got Covid-19.

    Writing at the Brownstone Institute, Jeffrey Tucker points to an August 2020 Cell article written by Fauci wherein the doctor explains his ideological vision, which rings of Rousseauian idealism.

    “Living in greater harmony with nature will require changes in human behavior as well as other radical changes that may take decades to achieve: rebuilding the infrastructures of human existence, from cities to homes to workplaces, to water and sewer systems, to recreational and gatherings venues.

    In such a transformation we will need to prioritize changes in those human behaviors that constitute risks for the emergence of infectious diseases. Chief among them are reducing crowding at home, work, and in public places as well as minimizing environmental perturbations such as deforestation, intense urbanization, and intensive animal farming.”

    The article, Tucker points out, makes it clear Fauci’s pandemic response was not just about Covid, but a larger technocratic revolution that was hard to define—and one Americans had not signed up for.

    Reference is made to Hayek's The Fatal Conceit. Fauci has conceit out the wazoo, but I hope it's not literally fatal.

The Word is Murder

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

In violation of my normal reading rules, I checked out Anthony Horowitz's second book in this series, The Sentence is Death, back in 2020. It was good! So when I noticed that he'd put a third book out in the series, I… decided to go back and read this first one, from back in 2018. And it is also good.

It's very British, putting me in mind of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie: an unlikely plot, a raft of suspects, red herrings galore. But the series gimmick is (surprisingly) effective: the narrator is named "Anthony Horowitz", writer and creator of TV shows, juvenile fantasy books, some Sherlock Holmes and James Bond novels. (He's prolific.) In other words, it's a deliberate blur between actual author Anthony and fictional narrator Anthony.

In this first book, Anthony meets ex-cop Hawthorne, an unpleasant but gifted investigator. They make an uneasy deal: Hawthorne investigates a murder, Anthony writes a book about it, they split the proceeds 50-50. Sort of a Watson/Holmes relationship.

And their first murder is a doozy: an aging wealthy widow visits an undertaker to make arrangements for her funeral. Then later that very day, she's strangled in her own home. Whodunit? Well, as noted, suspects are legion. (I usually despise this, because my aging brain can't keep all those characters straight. But Horowitz does an excellent job of introducing and distinguishing them relatively slowly.) The investigation proceeds with ongoing friction between Horowitz and Hawthorne, and eventually builds to a thrilling and surprising climax, and a satisfying ending.

Mrs. Salad and I are currently working through the episodes of Horowitz's Foyle's War on Britbox. Foyle is a police detective investigating English crimes during WWII. We like it a lot. The narrator-Anthony in this book recounts an anecdote about the actor playing Foyle, Michael Kitchen, involving his demand about Foyle's interrogation technique. Without spoilers, I read it to my wife, and it's something neither one of us had noticed, we're not sure it's true, but we'll be paying more attention as we watch our next episodes.