URLs du Jour


  • In lieu of a reteeet… I'm featuring this Baseball Crank tweet here.

    I'm reminded of that dialog between Sir Thomas More and William Roper in A Man for All Seasons. Substitute appropriately to get to Dan's observation:

    Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

    Of course, you give your hero all the good lines. They never kick themselves later in the day thinking "What I should have said was…"

  • OK, so now I'm hungry. Kevin D. Williamson exposes The Impossibility of the Ham Sandwich. It's a good brush-up on Comparative Advantage, which everyone needs to know about. But skipping down to the (heh) meat of the article:

    You know about the guys who decided to make a ham sandwich? Some locavore enthusiasts in the Netherlands decided to make a batch of croque-monsieur sandwiches truly from scratch: They raised pigs and made ham, made and aged cheese, grew wheat and milled it into flour, etc. This took more than a year and cost almost $50,000 to produce about 350 sandwiches. A croque-monsieur from La Madeleine is about seven bucks. (It’s $25.57 to have one delivered via Seamless at my current location, estimated delivery time 40 minutes or less.) Other people have run similar experiments, and, illuminating as they are, they understate the case: Those Dutch locavores may have ground the wheat they grew into flour, but they didn’t build the mill, and they didn’t mine the iron and refine it into steel to make the tools they needed to harvest that wheat or butcher those pigs. It takes some infrastructure to create cheese. In truth, without the benefits provided by the division of labor in accord with comparative advantage, a ham sandwich wouldn’t be something that cost fifty grand—it would be something that is impossible to create at any price.

    You can, if you want to drive yourself a little bit nuts, do an infinite recursion on that ham sandwich: The guys who built the flour mill used tools and raw materials produced by others, which were themselves produced with tools and raw materials produced by the earlier work of others, which, in turn, etc.: In a sense, we are all benefitting from the all the accumulated production that has been undertaken since the first H. sap. took a break from barking at the moon to stack one rock on top of another and consider the possibilities.

    One of the great failures of the theorists and defenders of capitalism is their emphasis on the competitive nature of free enterprise. But that competition is only a way of helping us to organize what is in reality a massively cooperative enterprise: an effectively species-wide partnership between people of different nations and cultures, working together around the world and across decades and centuries, to produce . . . a ham sandwich. And fish and coconuts.

    It sounds similar to Zeno's Paradox. And you can refute both at the same time by taking a jaunt to your nearest Subway.

  • What would he have to say to get banned by Twitter? J.D. Tuccille notes that water is still wet, and President Biden Is Lying About Guns. Again..

    Government lies aren't new; political fibs have such deep roots in history that you could open a museum of official mendacity and have enough rotating exhibits to keep things fresh. But now, amidst much hysteria over "misinformation," we see a resident of the White House misrepresent facts in pursuit of restrictions on legal ownership of firearms and ignore corrections. President Biden's claim that bullets fired from AR-15's are impossibly speedy is only the latest example of his continuing lies about guns.

    "There's no justification for a weapon of war. None. The speed of that bullet is five times that that comes out of the muzzle of most weapons. It can penetrate your vests," President Biden huffed last week. "What in God's name do you need an assault weapon for?" he added.

    This wasn't the first time the president insisted on the supposed superpowers of so-called "assault weapons" and especially of AR-15s, which are popular among gun owners.

    "Do you realize the bullet out of an AR-15 travels five times as rapidly as a bullet shot out of any other gun, five times—is lighter—and can pierce Kevlar?" he insisted on August 30 while touting his administration's "Safer America Plan," which includes tighter firearms restrictions.

    Really? Well, no.

    As I type, Politifact has nothing to say about this.

  • Well, here's something else for me to worry about. Jonathan Helton explains How a protectionist shipping law could leave New England in the cold.

    Will New England have enough fuel this winter?

    The region’s six governors have their doubts, and in July they wrote U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to ask for relief from a 1920 shipping law that has limited the region’s supply of fuel, particularly oil and natural gas.

    The governors asked the Biden administration to “explore the conditions under which it might be appropriate to suspend the Jones Act for the delivery of LNG [liquid natural gas] for a portion or all of the winter of 2022-2023.”

    I can't imagine Federal agents showing up with guns in Portsmouth Harbor to enforce the Jones Act. But…

  • It's not just New England. The WSJ editorialists note that those ships that might not arrive in New England may not be coming to a different part of the country either: The Jones Act Strands Hurricane Aid in Puerto Rico.

    Thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico are without power after Hurricane Fiona roared through last week. Idling off the island’s coast is a ship that reportedly carries 300,000 barrels of diesel fuel from Texas. Yet unloading that fuel is illegal without a Jones Act waiver, which the Biden Administration hasn’t granted.

    The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is protectionism at its worst. The law says waterborne cargo between U.S. points must be carried by ships that are primarily built, owned and crewed by Americans. This raises shipping prices, while shifting cargo to trucks, which are less efficient and worse for the environment. The law also explains why wintry Boston imports Russian liquefied natural gas.

    The Jones Act is particularly hard on areas like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Pedro Pierluisi, the Democratic Governor of Puerto Rico, has asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to expedite a waiver. The ship carrying diesel was diverted to Puerto Rico at the request of a wholesaler. Its general manager told CBS that, given the damage wrought by the hurricane, the company asked its supplier in good faith “to see if there was a cargo in the vicinity of the island that could come earlier.”

    I keep waiting for sanity to arrive, but it's making like Godot these days.