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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. Four Things 1. Here's an amusing coincidence: The day I forgot to bring a mask with me into three businesses that require them in a row, the CDC changed its mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated adults to stop using masks in most situations. I'm vaccinated, but there are a few things I still won't do, on the off-chance my vaccine isn't effective, but I am sometimes surprised at how much head space I have gotten back since then. 2. My cell phone's SIM card sensor died last week, naturally during a two-day period when I needed cell phone service more than I normally would over two week
  2. A favorite mantra of mine that I owe Jennifer Peepas, aka Captain Awkward, is "Return awkward to sender." Although she probably wouldn't put it this way, it can be a handy way to remember who is being polite and who is being rude when an altruist shows up and starts demanding favors. This is especially important, because in our culture, practically anyone who isn't an altruist is undergoing the processes of re-thinking morality, integrating that understanding into one's daily life, waiting for their emotional responses to catch up with their principles, and -- often -- recovering psychologica
  3. Good News: John McWhorter's penetrating insights into wokeism keep getting media attention: This week, it's a substack piece of his titled, "Can We Please Ditch the Term 'Systemic Racism'?" which `delves into the many problems that this idea is causing regarding inequalities between black and white Americans, specifically regarding education. Two excerpts will give you an idea. First, insofar as racism was responsible in the past for many of these disparities, it can't be undone and it isn't the only reason for them now: Image by the CDC, via Unsplash, license. [Clifton] Casteel's study p
  4. The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal... -- Ayn Rand, in "The Fascist New Frontier" *** Not too long ago, I noted that Ron DeSantis would likely make a viable presidential candidate. Accordingly, I stated, "Advocates of freedom should be aware of what we might get, and so we should pay clo
  5. Although I am not sure exactly where the economist Alex Tabarrok stands on patents, I must thank him for saying the following with regard to the Biden Administration's support for a waiver of intellectual property rights protection for the scientists and businessmen who invented -- and are working nonstop to provide -- vaccines against Covid: He can't make it and doesn't care how it's done, but he'll try to steal it... (Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons, license.) You may have gathered that I am angry. I am indeed angry that the people in power think they can solve real problem
  6. Four Wins, of Various Sizes The below are gleaned from a recent review of my daily "wins log." 1. I got my second Pfizer/BioNTech shot about a month ago. Thank you, Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci!In the past, they focussed on developing cancer therapies, essentially by programming cells to produce therapeutic proteins. For a decade, their company had never brought a product to market. During a 2018 conference of infectious disease experts in Berlin, Prof. Sahin made a bold statement: that his company might be able to use its "messenger RNA technology" to rapidly develop a vaccine in the event
  7. I think the following paragraph -- from an account of a successful derailment of a character assassination and takeover attempt of a charity by woke "activists" -- captures the essence of the events: Don't apologize or defend yourself against vague accusations of "harm." An apology when you've done nothing wrong is a lie. It will only further convince your accusers their delusions are reality. They don't want dialogue; they want compliance. Nor will you defeat them in logical debate: Theory rejects objective truth.It strikes me that such events, which appear to be sprouting like weeds, are r
  8. Over at the conservative Hot Air blog is a John Sexton post discussing John McWhorter's thoughts on "Wokeism," which he is hammering out on a substack blog and will eventually transform into a book titled The Elect. (This is also the term he is using to describe the "woke," and reminds me of Thomas Sowell's analogous term, the annointed.) The following passage also just as much reminded me of Objectivist analysis of global warming catastrophism as resembling a religion as I found it thought-provoking: Image by Nsey Benajah, via Unsplash, license. [T]he elect don't feel the need to make co
  9. An article at Reason nicely sums up the purpose and PR genius of the term equity. This term, at least as it is now being misused, may now be all the rage on the left, but most of us had never even heard of it a year or so ago: Image by John Apps, via Unsplash, license. For decades, these two divergent philosophical and public policy concepts were represented by a battle over adjectival phrases. Should we strive for equality of opportunity, or equality of outcome? Though intellectual and political enthusiasm for the outcomes-based approach did have some high-water moments in the 1970s, the
  10. Writing at City Journal, John Tierney considers the cost of the lockdown policies adopted in response to the coronavirus in terms of excess deaths, that is, death statistics exceeding usual values. While I don't agree with every aspect of his analysis, I do agree with his concluding paragraph: Image by Kuma Kum, via Unplash, license. If a corporation behaved this way, continuing knowingly to sell an unproven drug or medical treatment with fatal side effects, its executives would be facing lawsuits, bankruptcy, and criminal charges. But the lockdown proponents are recklessly staying the cours
  11. Four Things 1. If you aren't a member of the ASMR club, perhaps you are a member of another portion of the population with interesting sensory responses. Visually-Evoked Auditory Response (aka VEAR or visual ear) is a synesthesia-like phenomenon, with around a fifth of the population reporting such experiences: Certain kinds of animated images evoke the perception of sound. You can learn more about this and view several images that such individuals can "hear" at the UK Guardian. (These made the rounds at Twitter under the NoisyGIFs hashtag a few years ago.) No ASMR or VEAR for me, but I do
  12. Responding to a pair of letters from couples with marital problems, Captain Awkward comes very close to essentializing a problem-solving strategy I have seen on her blog a few times before, and it stands out to me because I have noticed that acquaintances I deem to be worry-warts frequently share two characteristics: (1) They are fixated on some real or imagined catastrophe; and (2) They are remarkably ignorant about the nature of said catastrophe and realistic options for dealing with it, or at least mitigating the damage. The following two paragraphs fairly well encapsulate the solution:
  13. As President Biden continues his attempts to ramrod a far-left agenda down American throats despite zero evidence of a mandate, the PRO Act is gaining attention: In particular, I found Maxford Nelson's RealClear Policy piece about the dishonestly-named "Protecting the Right to Organize Act" quite helpful. (For starters, Nelson reminds us that we already have a right to organize, and that government already -- improperly I would add -- places its thumb on the union side of the scale.) Briefly, the PRO Act is a national version of AB-5, a California law so destructive it got trounced in a refer
  14. Whatever one might think of Caitlyn Jenner's decision to enter California's gubernatorial recall election, it would be a struggle to find a more ridiculous reason to complain than the one below, offered by the Sacramento Bee (alternate link): Obligatory photo of Wheaties, contra baseless claims that Jenner has no experience representing flakes. (Image by Famartin, via Wikimedia, license.) For starters, she has shown little interest in one of the most basic duties of democracy -- voting. Politico's Carla Marinucci broke a story this past week about how Jenner sat out two-thirds of the el
  15. After Donald Trump blew a fantastic opportunity to make a big dent in the momentum of the anti-fossil fuel climate change movement, conservatives are finally doing what they failed to do for nearly the entire time he was in office: Offer serious arguments against the Democrats' Luddite "climate change" agenda. These arguments aren't perfect, but at least they are coming, now that Donald Trump isn't there to help everyone pretend that a few executive orders and calling it all a "hoax" will be enough to defeat the existential threat this agenda poses to our economy and our national security. T
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