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Gus Van Horn blog

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Gus Van Horn blog last won the day on March 1

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  1. I resent people who view life this way trying tell me what to do. (Image by Edvard Munch, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.) Throughout the pandemic, I have avoided, as much as possible, the ignorant, relentlessly negative, and patronizing news coverage thereof from the media establishment. I have found my own sources of information, and am glad to have armed myself years ago with an advanced degree in bioscience. So I was both better able to integrate knowledge than most journalists anyway, and much more likely to simply yell at the television set if I wasted my time watching it. (My tr
  2. Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner raises a question nobody else seems to have asked regarding the push to raise the federal minimum wage: "Why $15?" Yes, the round figure is easy for cynical politicians to turn into a slogan, but the answer is more interesting and sordid than you might think: Image by Fibonacci Blue, via Wikimedia Commons, license. Unions picked $15 a decade ago because it was a "firm round number" that would help with organizing. The goal was not necessarily for workers to make that much, however, and, at least initially, they even offered a way around it. It worke
  3. Given what I know at this moment and considering the likely quality of any alternatives, I'd probably vote to re-elect Governor Rick DeSantis were the election held today. I would need much more information before I could say one way or the other about whether I would call myself a supporter, however qualified that support would be. And therein lies ... major ... difficulty. Left-wing news media (but I repeat myself) are so bent out of shape by Ron DeSantis that they cannot see straight or contain themselves. The following excerpt from the New Republic, serves as a good example. It came up ne
  4. Four Things 1. Cal Newport leads off a post on "Steinbeck's Productive Inactivity" with the following entertaining real estate note:Good news: if you have $17.9 million available, John Steinbeck's 1.8 acre waterfront retreat is now for sale. It's tucked onto a grassy peninsula in Upper Sag Harbor Cove, and features a pool, a long pier, and two cozy guest cottages. Arguably most important is the hexagonal, 100-square-foot "writer's house" overlooking the water.There's more at the source, including a photograph of the writer's house and a thought-provoking exploration of the languid workstyle
  5. Miss Manners tackles a nice problem we'll all begin facing again as the pandemic subsides: dietary restrictions and strong preferences. Her three examples run the gamut in the dimensions of (a) the reason one is avoiding a particular kind of comestible, (b) the convenience of how one does so, and (c) etiquette, of course. After first describing someone who hates carrots (and pretends to be allergic to them), a recent convert to vegetarianism, and a polite old man who has quietly navigated a (real and life-threatening) shellfish allergy his whole life, she offers advice for each. The first tw
  6. In a recent Human Flourishing podcast, Alex Epstein interviewed Brian Amerige, formerly of Facebook, on the subject of "Overcoming the Problems of Today's Social Media." I will admit that I started listening to this episode with somewhat low expectations: I knew that Epstein was involved with starting something like a social media app. Indeed, within the note file I have automatically generated whenever I save audio from YouTube, I had added, "This could either be very good, or amount to an hour-long sales pitch for that app." This episode is both, with the latter being complimentary: This i
  7. I recently got wind of some advice for would-be book writers from a veteran of the publishing industry. Many of the commenters where I found it (Hacker News) disliked it, finding it to be overly negative. I disagree, and I found the last paragraph particularly worthwhile: Image by REVOLT, via Unsplash, license. If you want to write a book, do it. It's wonderful and horrible and fulfilling and soul-crushing all at the same time. But do it because you want to, not because someone suggested it one time. Be mindful of what it fully entails before you start, so you have reasonable expectations
  8. Rush Limbaugh died of lung cancer last week, leaving behind a mixed legacy. Towards the end of putting the passing of this media giant into perspective, I found commentary by John Tamny of RealClear Markets and Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute particularly helpful. To get the bad part of the mixed legacy out of the way, I'll turn to Tamny's piece, which is worth a full read and is even-handed: Image by Greg Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons, license. Some will say he changed in later years, that with the rise of Donald Trump, Rush was no longer Rush. There's perhaps truth to this. He e
  9. Four Things Or five, if you count the beautiful image I happened upon... 1. You know that bowl near the door or in your kitchen where people leave their phone, keys, and whatnot upon getting home? Or maybe you use a tray or something else entirely. Or you know people who do this, because you have a system in place for your keys, unlike the unwashed masses. In any event, the one you know about probably doesn't have its own web page and social media accounts. But "Shitbowl" does, and its owners would have you know that it's "The algorithmically powered in-home physical caching platform." S
  10. It's a long read -- with a nice, short review here -- but I highly recommend Paul Graham's engrossing contribution to my collection of troubleshooting stories. Troubleshooting? you might ask. The essay, by writer/investor/entrepreneur/Reannaissance man Paul Graham, is titled simply, "What I worked on." Painting, and successfully getting rich in order to be able to paint are among those "things." I regard the story as troubleshooting of the highest order because it helped me make a connection about why I like troubleshooting stories, particularly those about reformed criminals and others who
  11. The headline to a recent New York Post opinion piece, promises to answer the question of "How corporations surrendered to hard-left wokeness," and explains in relevant part: ince when were many shareholders, looking to invest for retirement, so concerned about whether they were holding stock in a company that supports eliminating greenhouse emissions or canceling Columbus Day? Answer: When those shareholders became progressive activists, who learned how to influence money managers to tout politics instead of profits. Proxy advisory firms are hired by big money managers to provide guidance
  12. As even some conservatives predicted, that pen Donald Trump found, left behind in Barack Obama's former office, took little time to explode. The most recent instant erasure of a part of Donald Trump's "legacy" has been the part against some bad housing mandates he didn't like. I still remember the magical thinkers at the New York Post declaring that, "Team Trump Just Called a Halt to the Obama-Era War on American Suburbs." And now, just like that, the "war" is right back on: Image by United States Government, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain. President Biden's flurry of executive orde
  13. Among his many, many, pandemic-related, unforced errors, one of Donald Trump's worst was to sideline the Centers for Disease Control. Last year's voter understandably could have expected better of a Biden Administration. The bar was indeed that low. Recent news to the effect that Biden wants to close schools nationwide despite the fact that they can operate safely during the pandemic has popped up in conservative news and social media. Indeed, Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, is on the record for standing up to an alleged plan by the Biden administration to shutter schools nationwide. I pe
  14. Blog Roundup 1. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Janna Woiceshyn takes a cue from Apocalypse Never, and makes a condensed case for sweatshops. She closes as follows: Image by Remy Gieling, via Unsplash, license. Despite ENGOs' and NGOs' arguments, fashion (and other) brands that source from factories in poor countries (and hold them accountable for worker safety) are not acting unethically, nor are the consumers of such brands. As Michael Schellenberger has shown, producing and consuming fast fashion and other sweatshop products is a win-win scenario for human flourishing: consumers get
  15. At Ask a Manager, Alsion Green answers a letter (Item 1) from a reader concerned that her supervisor is about to be scammed by someone she met through a dating site. As you might imagine, bringing up such a problem would be difficult enough to do politely to begin with, but there's a twist in this situation: The boss has a very defensive and adversarial communications style. Green's regular readers will already know that such a problem can make life difficult at work. And the following will hammer this home, while also indicating that such harm does not always remain confined to just a singl
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