≡ Menu

Some Non-Covid Links

James Bovard celebrates Ambrose Bierce. A slice:

Bierce’s biggest contribution to starkly perceiving political reality was The Devil’s Dictionary, first published in 1911. Mencken said that book contained “some of the most devastating epigrams ever written.” Bierce offered plenty of piercing insights that can be profitably studied by today’s friends of freedom.

Bierce defined “politics” as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” His definition of “politician” was more scathing: “An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared…. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.” He defined “sorcery” as “the ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence.” Similarly, he defined “degradation” as “one of the stages of moral and social progress from private station to political preferment.”

This September 2008 EconTalk podcast – which I just listened to and in which Russ talks with Joseph Ellis about America’s founding – is excellent.

Alberto Mingardi just watched the HBO miniseries Chernobyl and recommends it.

Walter Olson asks if voter-ID statutes matter much.

Nick Gillespie’s recent discussion with Roger Pielke Jr. about the climate is excellent.

David Boaz ponders the “Nixon shock” (of August 1971) and libertarianism.

George Will decries murderous autocrats. A slice:

Perhaps Vitaly Shishov, 26, decided during a morning run this month in Kyiv to hang himself in a park. Authorities, noting his battered face, are doubtful. Shishov was living in Ukrainian exile from Belarus, where he had organized protests against the increasingly repressive Alexander Lukashenko, now in his 27th year wielding illegitimate power. In May, a Belarusian fighter jet forced an airliner flying from Greece to Lithuania to land in Belarus so that a Belarusian dissident could be seized. At the Tokyo Olympics, a Belarusian sprinter narrowly escaped being forcibly flown home to an unpleasant fate after she criticized her coaches, for which Belarusian media branded her a traitor. Lukashenko’s son chairs Belarus’s Olympic Committee.

Matt Ridley writes with his usual insightfulness about an “animal-sentience bill” considered in Britain. A slice:

If you think that government committees are content to remain toothless, you have never studied that sentient creature, the bureaucrat. Its very raison d’etre, as a squirrel gathers nuts and builds a drey in which to rear its young, is to maximise its budget, expand its remit, creep its mission and rear more bureaucrats. C Northcote Parkinson laid it all out in the 1950s, with his famous article that pointed out how the number of admirals in the navy increased in inverse proportion to the number of ships. There is a whole economic theory on the topic of the tendencies of bureaucracies to pursue their own growth, called public choice theory.

John Cochrane busts the myth of “climate financial risk.” Here’s his conclusion:

Climate financial regulation is an answer in search of a question. The point is to impose a specific set of policies that cannot pass via regular democratic lawmaking or regular environmental rulemaking, which requires at least a pretense of cost-benefit analysis.