We're Number… Oh, Dammit, Two

[Economic Freedom of North America 2022]

The above map is from Economic Freedom of North America 2022. You'll note that the Granite State is a lonely isle of blue amidst the more statist remainder of New England. Most of the Northeast in fact. You'd have to go all the way down to Virginia to find another state in the top quartile.

However:

In the United States, the most economically free state was Florida at 7.94, followed by New Hampshire at 7.84, South Dakota at 7.75, and Texas and Tennessee at 7.66. (Note that since the indexes were calculated separately for each country, the numeric scores on the subnational indices are not directly comparable across countries.) The least-free state was again New York at 4.25, following California at 4.59, Hawaii at 4.65, Vermont at 4.70, and Oregon at 4.92. For the first time, we have made a preliminary attempt to include the US territory of Puerto Rico in the US subnational index. It came in with a score of 2.04. The next lowest score was more than twice as high.

Note this data covered 2020, the Year of Covid. Arguably, we were a little less free than Florida that year.

Briefly noted:

  • Eric Boehm thinks The Space Force Is an Expensive Farce. Hey, maybe! He's sharp-eyed enough to note:

    The last successful cavalry charge in military history took place in Poland on March 1, 1945—more than a decade before the first man-made object would exit Earth's atmosphere. So it might come as a surprise to learn that the U.S. Space Force—the sixth and newest branch of the military, created by President Donald Trump in 2019—has a stable of decidedly earthbound "military working horses" at the Vandenberg Space Force Base on California's Pacific Coast.

  • This is a pretty good brief article from David Bernstein on the tawdry, politics-driven origins of Your Federal Government's odious policy of racial pigeonholing: The Sordid Business of Divvying Us Up. If you're not mad/disgusted about that now, you will be after reading Bernstein.

  • That visualization Prof Carroll tweeted was from (sigh) Scientific American, Prof Carroll should have known better than to cite them on anything that has a political or ideological component. Hot Air's David Strom has (yet another) example of Bad "science" in Scientific American.

    The author claims to have discovered "stochastic terrorism": the ability of right-wing/conservative pundits to motivate random acts of violence. Strom has plenty of examples of it working the other direction too.

Smoke

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

This is Joe Ide's fifth novel in his IQ series, featuring intrepid detective Isaiah Quintabe. It made the WSJ's list of the best mysteries of 2021, one of my reading projects. (Which required that I first read IQs 1-4.)

I said "detective" above, but IQ really wants to get out of that business. His past exploits have given him PTSD; worse, many bad people in LA want to kill him. So he takes off to the north, landing in the picturesque town of Coronado Springs, But trouble finds him in the form of Billy, who's busted out of an asylum on a crusade: to save the lovely Ava, his high school crush, from a serial killer.

(One of those odd coincidences: while reading this, I was concurrently reading Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. It's plot also involves its protagonist getting roped into a mystery by the ravings of an unbalanced person also named Billy. At my age, such things can be confusing.)

Meanwhile, back in LA, IQ's retinue try to solve their own problems without his help. Ex-thief, ex-drug dealer Dodson is trying to go legit working as an unpaid intern for an ad agency; he's assigned to a glum has-been who's simply trying to hang on despite his burnout years ago. Deronda, the food truck mogul, is being extorted by a guy with whom she had a one-night stand years back, resulting in a child; IQ's estranged girlfriend Grace helps her out. And a hired killer from a previous series entry is very interested in tracking down IQ, and he sees Grace as a way to do that.

It's certainly a page turner, especially near the end, with a climax full of violence and physical damage to everyone involved. It's also funny in a number of spots, especially when a reluctant tutor tries to shed Dodson of his inner-city ways.

If I had a gripe, it's that Dodson's ad agency odyssey is a little too neat and tidy.