URLs du Jour

2022-03-12

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  • Unreported elsewhere, as near as I can tell. According to the CDC, all New Hampshire counties are rated at a "Low" COVID-19 Community Level. The best. The CDC's only recommendations for "Low" counties:

    Specifically, no masking.

    I went to the UNH Library yesterday with no mask, for the first time in what seems like forever. The Portsmouth Public Library, however (as I type):

    Anyone over the age of 6 will be required to wear a face mask to enter the library, and at all times while in the building.

    There is no good reason for this requirement. As I've said before, I suspect the PPL directors get a sick little kick from making arbitrary and unfounded demands of their patrons.


  • Hold on there, CDC. I'm not done with you yet. Jacob Sullum asks: Why Can't the CDC Tell the Truth About Smoking and Vaping by Teenagers?

    The pandemic has given Americans ample reason to be skeptical of pronouncements by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC). A press release the CDC issued today reminds us that the agency's habit of misleading the public began long before anyone had heard of COVID-19.

    According to the latest results from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), the CDC says, "about 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported current (past 30-day) use of a tobacco product in 2021." If you have not been paying attention to the CDC's inveterate dishonesty on this subject, it may surprise you to learn that most of those 2.55 million students did not use products that contained tobacco.

    I've never (using the CDC's language) "used a tobacco product". I don't recommend you do either.

    But someone should ask Rochelle, Rochelle Walensky if it's a good idea for the CDC to squander its credibility like this, when someday that credibility might be important.

    Um, again.


  • I see resignation and a tell-all book in Tony's near future. Jim Geraghty notices that, by credible sources Secretary of State Blinken Gets Overruled a Lot. And usually I do excerpts, but here's Jim's whole post:

    If this Politico report is correct, and President Biden rejected the advice of Secretary of State Antony Blinken to assist in the transfer of Polish jets to Ukraine, it fits a pattern.

    On Sunday, Blinken said Poland had a “green light” to send its MiG-29s, and added, “We’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if, in fact, they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians.”

    Politico reports: “Five U.S. officials said there was general agreement within the administration that Washington should work with Warsaw to support Ukraine. But staffers from the Pentagon and intelligence community opposed the three-way plan.” (If the Pentagon and intelligence community opposed the plan, that leaves the State Department and National Security Council to support it.)

    Early on, Blinken pledged that the administration “will stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur, regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners.” Then Biden watered down the penalties against human-rights abusers.

    Blinken wanted to immediately lift the Trump-era cap on refugee admissions, but Biden overruled him. Blinken pushed for a slower withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Biden chose to go in the other direction.

    You have to wonder how satisfied Antony Blinken is, serving as secretary of state to a president who rarely seems to accept his advice.

    Well, what did you expect? Or: what should you have expected? Check out Peter Wehner in the Atlantic from last August: Biden’s Long Trail of Betrayals. In which Robert Gates (SecDef under Dubya and Obama) is quoted: Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

    Now they tell us. I wonder if Putin read that article?


  • I, personally, am walking on sunshine, whoa-oh. But George F. Will sees us ambling a little differently: How America became a nation of the woke and the wary, walking on eggshells

    Today’s festival of offended sensitivities was prefigured in 1991 at a Penn State University branch, when a female English instructor demanded that a reproduction of Goya’s “Naked Maja” (the original is in Madrid’s Prado), which had been hanging there for years, be removed from her classroom. Her alternative demand was — think about this — that a male nude be placed beside it. To balance the affront?

    A campus executive ordered the picture removed because it could contribute to a “chilly” classroom climate, thus violating sexual harassment law. This harbinger of the era of “microaggressions” occurred while Congress was enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1991, adding to existing law a provision for compensatory and punitive damages — not for lost wages because of harassment, but for emotional distress.

    Law shapes as well as reflects culture, and Gail L. Heriot of the University of San Diego School of Law argues in her essay “The Roots of Wokeness” that those new Title VII damage remedies propelled the nation’s downward spiral into identity politics, speech regulation and an epidemic of irritability. After the change, Heriot reports, there was “a dramatic increase in the number of harassment charges filed” and in the monetary stakes. In the final quarter of 1991, the number of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) harassment charges increased 71 percent over the same period in 1990.

    GFW's observation goes well with his 2014 column that got him banned from (horrors!) the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His sin? Observing that when colleges and universities "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate." (Pun Salad commentary at the time here.)

    [You don't really need me to explain the classical reference in the headline, do you?]


  • A University System Near Here college makes the (bad) news. When your college makes news at Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), it's almost never good. But Here we go again: Newspaper theft rears its ugly head at Keene State as college refuses to intervene

    FIRE is no stranger to newspaper theft and lack of institutional intervention, and it’s happened yet again, this time at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

    As The Equinox reported, copies of the Nov. 18 issue of the student newspaper were stolen from newsstands within 20 minutes of being displayed after the newspaper published an article about the lack of masking at a fraternity’s formal event. Even after Equinox staff caught sorority sisters on video stealing bundles of papers, the college refused to intervene.

    FIRE explains, patiently, this sort of "mob censorship" is still theft even when the newspapers are free. And the KSC administration doesn't want to get involved, which is deplorable.


  • We'll forgive Granite Geek the clickbaity headline. Because his answer actually surprised me. Who requires those big gas-price signs at every station? The answer may surprise you!

    First discovery: It’s not the feds.

    There is no federal law of any kind on this topic, I was surprised to find.

    Second discovery: It’s not the state of New Hampshire.

    New Hampshire, like most states, regulates certain types of gasoline signs to let the public know the price before we start pumping and to ensure that we’re falling for a bait-and-switch.

    Protecting consumers is so important, in fact, that regulators have different requirements on the order of updating gas station signs depending on whether the price is rising or falling, says Cheryl Ayer, director of the Division of Weights and Measures, the folks who regulate this stuff.

    “You don’t want to ever advertise something when the price is actually higher,” she said.

    Despite such specificity, the state law doesn’t actually require those big, in-your-face roadside signs, although they are an option. If they wish, gas stations can legally skip the cost and bother of putting them up and keeping them updated.

    But they never wish that.

    I should not have been surprised. True free market fans will not be: it's the good old Invisble Hand.

    What other products blare their prices to passers-by? Cigarettes, I've noticed in some places.