URLs du Jour


  • If you need it, you know who you are. Arthur C. Brooks has some pretty good advice: How to Stop Freaking Out. Fun fact: the shrinks call that "emotional flooding", replacing a perfectly good phrase with an anodyne one.

    Brooks proposes three tactics. Here's number one:

    1. Count to 30 (and imagine the consequences).

    “When angry, count ten, before you speak,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. “If very angry, an hundred.” Research has shown that this strategy works well under certain circumstances; for example, people with low self-control responded more quickly and aggressively to an insult than those with higher self-control. Imposing a 30-second response delay on everyone reduced their aggression significantly, but only when there were negative consequences (having to perform a task) to being aggressive.

    Say you receive an insulting email from a client at work, and want to fire back an indignant response. Don’t write back yet. Instead, slowly count to 30; imagine your boss reading the exchange (which she might); then imagine seeing the person face-to-face after he reads your response. Your response will be better.

    Science says thirty seconds should be enough, but I'd think some people might need more.

  • "Live Free or Die", unless you're a "Large NH project". Here's the online version of a story I watched on WMUR yesterday: Bill would require American-made steel in large NH projects. Oh no…

    "Buy American" could soon be the law when it comes to steel used in large-scale construction projects in New Hampshire.

    The steel fabricated at Novel Iron Works in Greenland goes to construction projects across New Hampshire and New England.

    "We buy raw material from the mills, and we punch it, drill it and send it out to the worksites and erect it," said Hollie Noveletsky, owner and CEO of Novel Iron Works.

    But in the global market, Novel is competing against government-subsidized foreign steel.

    Oh, good golly Miss Molly.

    Thanks to Presidents Orange and Wheezy, we currently place a 25% tariff on "foreign steel" from all but four countries (Canada. Mexico, Australia, and Argentina). And our local companies still can't compete?

    The WMUR report went on to trot out more standard protectionist arguments. National security! Local economy!

    Nobody's read Bastiat at WMUR, I'm pretty sure. Lip service was given to the opposition. Specifically, 15 words:

    Opponents of the bill contend it will increase costs by blocking out cheaper foreign steel.

    Well, sure. Duh. But you know what else happens when you increase costs of building stuff? Less stuff gets built. Fewer builders get jobs. (More arguments against steel protectionism here if you need them.)

    But thanks to New Hampshire legislators, there will probably be nicer cars in the Novel Iron Works parking lot.

  • Well, never mind then. Jacob Sullum notes a study, specifically: A CDC Study Suggests Three-Fifths of Americans Have Been Infected by the Coronavirus.

    Nearly three-fifths of Americans had been infected by the COVID-19 virus at least once as of February, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The results, which are based on seroprevalence research involving blood samples from all 50 states, indicate that infection prevalence varied widely across age groups: It was about 75 percent for children 11 and younger, 74 percent for 12-to-17-year-olds, 64 percent for 18-to-49-year-olds, 50 percent for 50-to-64-year-olds, and 33 percent for Americans 65 or older.

    I'm firmly in that last category. I don't think I've been infected, but if I was, it was symptom-free as near as I can tell.

    But if you're interested, Jacob has caveats. And math. And speculation about that math. I found this bit about the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) most interesting. (Becuase I'm old.)

    Although it has long been clear that COVID-19 fatality rates are strongly correlated with age, the magnitude of the differences remains astonishing. According to the CDC's "best estimate," the IFR for people 65 or older is 9 percent, 4,500 times the IFR for children and teenagers (0.002 percent). A Lancet analysis published this month found that "age-specific IFR estimates form a J shape, with the lowest IFR [0.002 percent] occurring at age 7 years." The estimated IFR "increas[es] exponentially" with age: from about 0.06 percent for a 30-year-old to 1 percent for a 60-year-old and 20 percent for a 90-year-old.

    Did I mention that today's my birthday? The Lancet paper pegs my IFR between 2.2069% and 5.0532%.

    Yesterday, it was between 1.9893% and 4.5519%.

    Thanks, science! That will cause me to … make no changes to my life whatsoever.

  • April 26, 2022. As Ben Lieberman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes, that was A Bad Day for Incandescent Light Bulbs.

    Consumers are better off with choices, and worse off when federal regulators step in and take them away. That’s the best way to view today’s Department of Energy (DOE) Final Rule that will likely spell the end of the road for incandescent light bulbs.

    DOE asserts that it is required by law to create a 45-lumens-per-watt (LPW) minimum efficiency level for all light bulbs, which incandescent bulbs cannot meet without prohibitively expensive modifications. But as CEI and 14 other free market organizations argued in our comments to the agency last January, the applicable statutory provisions do not compel the agency to do so. We also argued that the 45 LPW standard would violate the consumer protections in the law that forbid the agency from setting efficiency standards that have the effect of reducing available choices.

    "Never mind, we're in power, so…"

    Not for the first, or last, time, quoting the WSJ editorialists:

    Why do progressives think any idea they come up with has to be imposed by political coercion? You know the answer. Because they believe in their superior moral virtue, and they like to order other people around.

  • Slaying the sacred cow. Richelle Wagner diagnoses the social pathology: The Problem Isn't With Social Media; It's With Democracy.

    Jonathan Haidt, in his article “Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid,” is nostalgic for the past before social media allowed us plebs to freely communicate with each other on social media. Our propensity to form mobs of like-minded political communities, share news stories that outrage us, and, shockingly, affect the outcome of elections. How dare we? Who do we think we are? We are obviously too stupid to be allowed such power. After all, we even share dangerous information about vaccines, not that the information is inaccurate, but that it leads us to behave in ways the ruling elite don’t approve of. 

    According to Haidt, we need the government to regulate social media to…save democracy. What does that even mean? What is democracy, and why does it need saving, and why should we save it? Democracy is the principle that the population should be allowed to vote for things, sometimes referendums, but usually for lying politicians. In order to “save democracy” our beliefs need to be carefully controlled by manicured media so that we don’t make the wrong decision in the voting booth, aka voting for Donald Trump. 

    If we are actually talking about democracy, nothing needs to save it, as long as we continue to have the right to vote. Unfortunately, hardly anyone is suggesting we do away with democracy. So what does he really mean? Well, he means the old order needs to be saved, and the establishment elite needs to be protected from the whims of the unwashed masses. After all, people are stupid, too stupid to think about the long-term consequences of their political decisions, and far too foolish to discern fake news. We need to stick to the tried and true way of sitting quietly all facing the front while a teacher/professor/news anchor/etc tells us what the truth is. Unapproved facts may lie in large tomes collecting dust on bookshelves, but the masses can’t be permitted to put those heretical notions into easy-to-consume soundbites and share them with each other. That would be dangerous.

    The ruling elite has had this problem before. They used to deal with Tavern culture, where men got together and drank and debated politics. And during the day intellectuals got together in coffee shops to do the same. The invention of the printing press allowed anyone, regardless of credentials, to write a pamphlet and it could be printed and reprinted by any unregulated printing press. The pamphlet “Common Sense” was published anonymously and went viral, leading to the revolutionary war. The Monarchy needed saving from the press. 

    Ms. Wagner goes on to propose a "national divorce", breaking up the US into "two, or 50, or thousands of separate, self-governing communities." I see drawbacks, but (as always) see what you think.

Last Modified 2022-05-01 5:42 AM EDT