URLs du Jour

2022-01-02

  • There's a simple explanation here. The entire dextrosphere is amused by a recent tweet. Rich Lowry's NR headline is AOC: Conservatives Hate Me Because They’re So Sexually Frustrated. The tweet being:

    Hm. OK, I admit I've always thought she's kind of hot. But she seems to be kind of a mean drunk, so no thanks on the date.


  • Mistake made. In my Sunday morning paper, a 500-word op-ed screed appears, written by John Broderick ("former dean of UNH Law and the founder of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy"). Headline: Make no mistake. America is broken. As far as incoherent hate-filled rants go, it's pretty impressive. First paragraph:

    Make no mistake. America is broken. The entire idea behind democratic rule is subverted every day by a minority of our population who distrust any government they don’t control, ignore science they don’t understand yet don’t like while callously putting others at risk, disparage and restrict voters of a color different than their own and despise immigrants striving to be free. Their view of our Constitution is most often fanciful, contradictory and uninformed and their idea of freedom is twisted and self-absorbed. They live in a self-interested, imaginary world with no social compact and no reciprocal responsibilities. They disgrace the service and sacrifice of so many Americans who unselfishly gave so much to protect rights they neither understand nor honor. They support the Big Lie with zero proof; a Lie that any rational American would reject. Every federal judge found no evidence because there was none. It is the same Big Lie that even President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr disowned. Incredibly, according to some recent polls, sixty percent of Republicans still believe that the election was stolen, too. They have zero proof as well. Do facts matter anymore? Is truth too inconvenient to be honored? For an increasing number of Americans, facts don’t exist or at least facts that don’t serve their ends.

    Uh huh. Certainly an airing of grievances there. Lesson taken from both Broderick and AOC above: neither tweet nor write for publication while drunk or high. (At least Broderick didn't speculate on the imagined sexual frustrations of his targets.)


  • Another pretty good performance. TaxProf discusses the TaxFoundation's recent study: New State Business Tax Climate Index: Blue States Are Worst, Red States Are Best.

    Following up on Thursday's post, New U.S. Census Data: Major Migration From Blue States To Red States, which noted that 9 of the 10 states with the largest population losses voted for Joe Biden in 2020, and 8 of the 10 states with the largest population gains voted for Donald Trump: Tax Foundation, 2022 State Business Tax Climate Index (interactive map tool):

    New Hampshire, in the number 6 spot, is a lonely outlier in the Northeast; the closest top-ten states to NH are Indiana (#9), Tennessee (#8), and Florida (#4). Other New England states are dismal: Connecticut is #47, Maine #33, Massachusetts #34, Rhode Island #40, and Vermont #43.


  • Just one more retrospective, mmmmkay? Well, actually a linked pair. AEI's Marc A. Thiessen helpfully lists The 10 best things Biden did in 2021 and The 10 worst things Biden did in 2021. We'll take number one on each list. The best?

    1. He signed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. Biden campaigned on a promise to usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation. Sadly, this was the only major piece of legislation to deliver on that promise. It will provide non-inflationary, long-term investments in roads, bridges, ports and waterways. Its passage also saved the filibuster, by delivering for Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) — the two lonely Democrats standing in the way of filibuster elimination — and vindicating their effort to reach across the aisle.

    Gee, I don't think that was good at all. But (I assume) Thiessen is making the best possible case for it. How about worst?

    1. His withdrawal from Afghanistan was the most shameful foreign policy calamity in my lifetime. Biden left hundreds of US citizens and as many as 62,000 of our Afghan allies behind enemy lines, and forced NATO allies to abandon their citizens and allies as well. He put the safety of US service members at the Kabul airport in the hands of the Taliban and Haqqani network, a decision that led to the deaths of 13 Americans in a suicide attack. His “over the horizon” drone strike killed no terrorists but took the lives of 10 innocent people. And he repeatedly lied about the unfolding disaster — declaring that al-Qaeda was “gone” from Afghanistan; that no Americans were having trouble getting to the airport; that no allies were questioning the United States’ credibility; that none of his military advisers had recommended leaving a residual force; and that his Afghan debacle was an “extraordinary success.”

    Oh, right. The other nine items on Thiessen's "worst" list are also pretty bad, and he admits it's "shameful" and "only scratches the surface."

    Keystone XL cancellation doesn't appear on either list.


  • And we would have gotten away with it, too, if not for… Abigail Shrier discusses reaction to her Substack reporting in the SF Chronicle: The Chronicle Cries for Activist Teachers.

    When confronted with the shady tactics of activist teachers, the mainstream press typically tacks between silence and damage control. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle opted for the latter in a Twitter-trending piece entitled: “Two California teachers were secretly recorded speaking about LGBTQ outreach. Now they’re fighting for their jobs.

    The article is a follow-up to my reporting on an October conference of California’s largest teacher’s union, California Teachers Association (CTA). At that conference, two middle school teachers from Spreckels, California instructed educators statewide on how to establish middle school LGBTQ clubs, recruit students, and hold meetings, all while concealing these clubs and their membership from the students’ parents. The teachers even told their audience that they had monitored students’ Google searches and chat histories to determine which students might be receptive to in-person invitations to join their LGBTQ clubs.

    Yes, "Spreckels" is an actual place in California.

    Ms. Shrier notes the loaded language: "secretly recorded" intimates that there was some expectation of privacy in what was actually a presentation attended by dozens at a state-wide conference. The real outrage is how surreptitious the Spreckels teachers were, and the plausible suspicion that this was only brought to light because they were careless. How is this behavior duplicated throughout the school system in California and elsewhere?


  • I'll be turning the blog over to GPT-3 later this week. A WaPo story at MSN on the artificial intelligence utopica: Maybe 2022 should be the year we turn over decision-making to the AI.

    This time of year always brings thoughts of how badly we messed up the past 12 months and how much better we’ll definitely make the next dozen.

    For the many of us who have not spent 2021 at the gym calling our mothers while planning our weekly soup-kitchen volunteer schedule, we know the insectoid life span such New Year’s resolutions can have.

    So the Smithsonian has another idea for 2022: What if instead of relying on our own resolutions we asked an AI what it thinks we should do? Starting this weekend, the “Futures” exhibit both online and at its Arts and Industries Building offers a “Resolutions Generator,” an AI that makes suggestions on what commitments we should undertake for 2022. (Enforcement is...loose.)

    Amusement at the link. My generated resolution at the Smithsonian site: "I will plant one seed every day for a month." OK!

The Man Who Died Twice

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

This book got picked by both the WSJ and the NYT reviewers for their "best of 2021" lists. And I read Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club last year and loved it. Loved this too.

Recommendations: (1) Read The Thursday Murder Club before you read this one. (2) Keep in mind the character introduced at this book's very beginning, as the book's final chapter may not make sense otherwise.

The "club" members at the elderly care facility of Coopers Chase are Joyce, Rob, Ibrahim, and Elizabeth, and they're almost back to normal operations after their previous adventure. But an unexpected guest appears from Elizabeth's black-ops past appears, introduced by a cryptic letter slipped under her door.

But that's not all: a group of young thugs viciously attack Ibrahim, leaving him with injuries both physical and mental. Donna and Chris, the oft-befuddled cops from the previous book are here trying to take down Connie, a nasty local drug kingpin. And a grand-living international criminal with the misfortune to have been in the care of diamonds worth £20,000,000; technically belonging to the American mafia. Now missing.

And it somehow gets tied together at the end.

Osman writes with a great blend of humor, sympathy, and suspense. If you think that a book revolving around four British elderly people might be too cozy for your taste, worry not: Philip Marlowe would give an admiring, albeit cynical, thumbs up to this crew.


Last Modified 2022-01-02 10:48 AM EDT

Don't Look Up

[3 stars] [IMDB Link] [Don't Look Up]

The first movie of 2022, a free-to-me Netflix streamer. I decided to watch after reading Kevin D. Williamson's (positive) take at the NR blog, which was a response to Kyle Smith's NRPlus (very negative) review. Hey, I'll split the difference; they both make good points.

Michigan State astronomy grad student Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers an incoming comet on her photos of distant stars. She dutifully reports her discovery to her advisor Randall (Leonardo DiCaprio), who does some orbital calculations, and… oh, oh, it's on a direct collision course with our lovely planet in a few months.

So they report this to NASA, which cobbles up a heroic mission to divert the comet at the last minute, and…

Nah. What actually happens is that they get plunked into the dysfunctional (that's gonna be my go-to word for 2022, and perhaps beyond) operations of the US government (personified by President Meryl Streep), hubristic Big Tech (personified by creepy Mark Rylance), air-headed/amoral newscasters (Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett), and American society (portrayed by nearly everyone else). Honest, earnest Kate is quickly chewed up and spit out by this powerful coalition of corruption, stupidity, and greed. Randall goes along to "work within the system" and is soon seduced (figuratively and literally) by it all.

Will humanity triumph and save our planet? Well…

It's way too long, and (as Kyle Smith points out) the writer/director Adam McKay "could not be more ham-fisted if he got 'Hormel' tattooed across his knuckles." But the acting is decent (look at all those Oscar winners and nominees), the special effects are impressive, and the occasional dumb joke got me to laugh.