URLs du Jour


  • Just say no. A WSJ story from a couple days ago triggered my snarky tweet:

    Providing a little more context, here's the article opening:

    Microsoft Corp. is rallying other big-name cloud-computing providers such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Oracle Corp. to press the U.S. government into spreading its spending on such services more widely, taking aim at Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in such contracts.

    The software giant has issued talking points to other cloud companies aimed at jointly lobbying Washington to require major government projects to use more than one cloud service, according to people familiar with the effort and a document viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    Wonder what the article means by its assertion that Amazon holds "dominance" in the cloud? Well, later on, this "dominance" turns out to be 39% of the global market, as opposed to Microsoft's 21%. Amazon has only slightly more "dominance" in the government submarket: 47% to Microsoft's 28%.

    This is (and should remain) a competitive market. I'm pretty OK with the "translation" I provided in the tweet.

  • It's green. Don Boudreaux quotes Mencken on envy, but I like his followup comment even better:

    Most of us, alas, are emotionally equipped to experience envy. But while envy, perhaps, occasionally serves a useful purpose, it is, I am sure, overwhelmingly one of the most antisocial and uncivilized emotions that humans in modern society are prone to suffer.

    The decent man or woman works diligently to overcome the natural proneness to envy. And to the extent that success in this noble endeavor is met, that person is indeed rewarded with a greater likelihood of tranquility.

    Unfortunately, we live in an era in which envy is encouraged. The media, politicians, and intellectuals stir it up. Making matters worse, this stirring-up of envy is regarded as enlightened and “progressive,” while resistance to the attempts to stir up envy are treated as the product of a character both benighted and greedy. We are incessantly being told that those individuals who have more material wealth than we have do not deserve what they have. We’re counseled to support redistributive taxation.

    Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren – these and many other “Progressives” are merchants of envy, which is to say that they are merchants of an exceedingly antisocial sentiment, one both childish and destructive.

    Envy is a leftover emotion from the humanity's small-tribe origins. I've seen that plausibly argued, anyway. It's something that has to be jettisoned in order for progress and prosperity to happen.

  • Or maybe drop a flag on the play. Tarren Bragdon notes Biden's effort to take over what Zuckerberg set up in 2020: Biden’s Illegal Election Hail Mary Might Still Be Intercepted.

    Inflation is at a 40-year high, an economic recession may be just around the corner, the president’s approval rating is plummeting, and the 2022 midterm elections are less than four months away. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

    At least, that must be what the Biden administration is thinking. Why else would a U.S. president launch a thinly veiled get-out-the-vote campaign designed to give the Democrats an electoral advantage?

    The president’s plan was outlined in Executive Order 14019, which ultimately directs all federal agencies to do what they can to increase voter registration and turnout, including by working with a select group of third-party organizations “approved” by the White House. Sounds harmless on its face, until you consider the fact that it is being carried out by political appointees whose job security literally depends on Democrats being reelected in 2022 and 2024, and that the person charged with collecting the plans and leading this effort is President Joe Biden’s domestic policy advisor, Susan Rice.

    This debate could use a healthy dose of cynicism. Getting government employees to select populations for get-out-the-vote efforts? What could go wrong there?

  • Good advice… provided by Patrick Hedger, executive director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance: Don't Give U.S. Chipmakers a $76 Billion Government Handout.

    Staying a step ahead of China is a recurring theme in U.S. foreign policy. Yet the most expansive effort on the table right now to keep China in check sadly emulates the communist country's greatest weakness: the blurred line between where the state stops and the market begins. Congress is set to get the government deeply involved in the critical market of semiconductors.

    In a 64-33 vote, the Senate passed the CHIPS Act on Wednesday and it will likely be signed into law by President Biden soon. This law traces its roots back to a 2020 bill to provide $16 billion in research and development (R&D) funding for the semiconductor industry. Government R&D funding is often wasteful, but such an amount for this purpose is not unheard of.

    The current legislation has swelled to a total cost of more than $400 billion. The core of the bill is $76 billion in direct funding for domestic semiconductor manufacturing through a variety of grants and tax credits. The rest of the money, beyond doubling the budget of the notoriously silly spenders at the National Science Foundation, is predictably a billion here and a billion there for vaguely named programs with even more ambiguous purposes. For example, as the Wall Street Journal editorial board pointed out, "The Commerce Department gets $11 billion, most of which it intends to plow into creating 20 new 'regional technology hubs,' which will somehow expand 'U.S. innovation capacity.'"


  • A "Tradeoff" turned into "Ripoff" awfully quick. Jimmy Quinn looks a little deeper into that legislation: The GOP’s CHIPS Tradeoff.

    The debate over Congress’s massive, $280 billion China-focused package is over. With the passage of the Chips and Science Act by both houses this week, it now awaits the president’s signature.

    In the end, Republican lawmakers could have blocked it, but they declined to do so. The legislation received 17 GOP votes in the Senate and 24 votes in the House, delivering the bill for the White House.

    On the one hand, there’s a reasonable case to be made that boosting semiconductor production on U.S. soil is such an imperative that the bill’s deficiencies can be overlooked. Those deficiencies, among other things, include its creation of a “chief diversity officer” for the National Science Foundation, a loophole allowing universities with Confucius Institutes to receive funding, and the removal of previously included provisions to support Taiwan and counter Chinese propaganda.

    In short, it's a demonstration that nobody learned their lessons about central planning, industrial policy, and corporate welfare.

  • Trouble follows him. Greg Lukianoff and Joshua Bleisch tell the Stuart Reges tale: He Made a Joke About Land Acknowledgements. Then the Trouble Began..

    Stuart Reges is no stranger to controversy. In the 1980s, he risked his career as a budding academic by writing about being openly gay. Then, as lecturer at Stanford in the 1990s, he bucked the status quo by protesting the war on drugs. (Bob Martinez, then the national drug czar, wrote a letter to Stanford urging the school to penalize him.) Reges once wrote a piece called “Why Women Don’t Code” for Quillette and you can read a poem on his website titled “Fag Talk.” You get the picture.

    Reges is an now a professor of computer science at the University of Washington’s Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. At the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, the UW published a best practices document encouraging faculty to include an “Indigenous Land Acknowledgment Statement” on their syllabi. The statement, which has been more prevalent in left-leaning institutions in recent years, is meant to acknowledge the historic presence of indigenous people on the land where the university sits.

    Professor Reges doesn’t think highly of these statements. “Land acknowledgments are performative acts of conformity that should be resisted,” he said.

    So last school year, instead of reprinting the university-approved language—“The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suqaumish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations”—Reges constructed his own disclaimer. He wrote: “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.” This appeared on his syllabus for a computer programming course he was teaching.

    The authors detail UW's efforts to thwart Reges, and their efforts (on behalf of FIRE) to deal with that thwarting effort.

Last Modified 2022-07-30 11:05 AM EDT