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Gus Van Horn blog

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Everything posted by Gus Van Horn blog

  1. Rich Lowry ably dissects the latest blatantly dishonest left-wing attack on Ron DeSantis, a 60 Minutes hit piece about his plan to work with the state's most popular grocery chain to help distribute Covid vaccines. We do need someone who fights back, but we don't need another strongman. The media won't help us know the difference, because they'll label either as "combative." (Image by Hermes Rivera, via Unsplash, license.) Florida turned to the widely popular Publix chain because, as Florida's emergency management director (a Democrat) explained, other pharmacies weren't ready to start dis
  2. In a recent episode of his show, Yaron Brook commented on an Ezra Klein piece, titled, "Why California Is Making Progressive Democrats Squirm." Brook's consideration of the problem highlighted by the subtitle is worthwhile. The subtitle? "If liberal policies cannot work here, why should the country believe it can work anywhere else?" I finally got around the reading the piece myself a day or so ago, and I see another, related problem, this one highlighted by the fact that Klein nowhere questions his own political views. This is the same problem we see nationwide, particularly in the states
  3. Four Things Since my daughter doodles and draws a lot, I have to watch out for random artwork whenever I declutter the living room. Here's something of hers I found a couple of days ago. 1. I had finally gotten around to putting together my daughter's new bicycle. It did not have training wheels and I figured I'd be spending time teaching her how to ride it. Pumpkin hopped on and started riding it around in short order. She'd already picked it up while playing with friends down the street. 2. Back at Christmas, our son got a magic set and would perform tricks for us from time to time. Al
  4. A recent article by Michael Fumento contains a nearly perfect specimen from the wild of an asinine anti-mask argument I keep hearing made mainly by conservatives: Still, it is important that people are so cowed that they believe they should lie to anonymous pollsters and engage in virtue signaling (whether at Tom Cruise decibel level or lower) and theater. And we know that even now the media and public health community are actually ramping up their efforts, insisting on first two masks and then three masks, then four layers of masks. Which would mean that if both the sender and receiver follo
  5. How can I say 'I don't know' with confidence? Alison Green fields this common workplace question at Inc, and two things about her answer stand out to me. First, here's the essential part of her answer, which is spot-on: Image by Product School, via Pexels, license. In any job, there will be times when you don't know something. Acknowledging that -- and saying you'll find out and circle back, when that's possible -- is far, far better than trying to bluff your way through or risking giving inaccurate information. In fact, one of the things that people who are great at their work and widely
  6. At RealClear Markets, John Tamny makes a clear case that all the "stimulus" packages passed by the federal government basically enabled governors such as Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and Mario Cuomo to lock their states down indefinitely, by apparently sparing them from the financial consequences of doing so: If this is all you think of when you hear the word looting, you aren't paying enough attention. (Image by Gabe Pierce, via Unsplash, license.) [T]t began in the spring of 2020 when President Trump signed a $2.9 trillion emergency spending bill meant to cushion the blow of massive j
  7. "'Something made by an artist' is not a definition of art. A beard and a vacant stare are not the defining characteristics of an artist." -- Ayn Rand *** The above quote immediately came to my mind when I encountered the following headline from the New York Post: "Couple Accidentally Paints Over $500,000 Artwork." Obviously, the couple couldn't tell whatever the hell they'd painted over was "art" or the couple had good reason to believe that there was an open invitation to join the fun. Indeed, one look at the exhibit (at beginning of clip below) indicates that either explanation or both
  8. Notable Commentary "Sometimes the government can best help save lives (and livelihoods) by getting out of the way." -- Paul Hsieh, in "The Case for Relaxing Regulations During a Pandemic" (Forbes) "[W]hen the 'youf' (as they refer to themselves online) realized that establishment conservatives and libertarians lacked the vocabulary, principles, power, and courage to defend them from their Maoist persecutors, they went underground to places like 4chan, 8chan, and various other online discussion boards, where they found a Samizdat community of the oppressed." -- C. Bradley Thompson, in "The
  9. Over at his Study Hacks blog, Cal Newport introduces the idea of the reverse meeting as a means of countering the proliferation of meetings many remote workers have experienced during the pandemic -- meetings that, as the meme says, could have been emails. The idea basically boils down to adapting the academic practice of holding office hours as a means of taking care of small issues that do not really require full-blown meetings to resolve. Incidentally, Newport champions this same tactic as a part of a larger strategy that would also obviate the need for much work-related email and eliminat
  10. Over at The American Spectator is commentary on how Florida is doing relative to other states in the pandemic. As a Floridian, I would have to say that it is pretty accurate regarding things "on the ground" as they like to say: Image by Denys Kostyuchenko, via Unsplash, license. Recently I did something in a medium-sized Central Florida city that remains illegal in the cultural meccas of Los Angeles and New York City. I attended a concert by a Bee Gees tribute band, albeit with a somewhat masked-up audience and socially distanced seating. If it had been up to the "follow-the-science" types
  11. I wasn't expecting to write about the waning impact of the pandemic on our social lives two days in a row, but here we are: NBC's Maggie Mulqueen, who strikes me as well-meaning, but extroverted, writes about those whom she believes aren't exactly looking forward to the resumption of more typical societal routines: Image by R.R. Abrot, via Unsplash, license. Nudging reluctant people who've grown accustomed to, and even prefer, living in quarantine [sic] back into society requires understanding. Respecting a wide array of lifestyles is one way to show our support. Simple changes such as ask
  12. With the end of the pandemic in sight, I've been running across a new theme in the press, of which the latest example appears in USA Today under the title, "Why Going to Church During Holy Week (And Beyond) Is Good for Your Mental Health." Spoiler alert: Nowhere in the article will you get the answer to that question. The closest it comes is to list a few benefits or alleged benefits that people get from being part of a religious congregation: Many perks accompany engaging with members of a congregation. They include better support systems, personal encouragement, group prayer, access to fin
  13. Four Things From My Watch list One of my Pinboard bookmark tags is watch, for things I might want to keep in mind as possibly useful or keeping tabs on (sorry!) or worth revisiting for some reason. Here are four. 1. Ever since I had to spend time finding a web browser to suit my needs, I've kept an antenna up for replacements in the event something even better turns up or development on mine stops or takes a stupid turn. One browser in the former category is the Nyxt browser. Its FAQ explains:Nyxt is a keyboard-oriented, infinitely extensible web browser designed for power users. Conceptu
  14. I have recently come across commentary about artificial intelligence from three very different sources. Of the three, the first one, chronologically, offers us the following still-valid summary. Mathematician Richard Hamming, lecturing at Naval Postgraduate School noted: [T]ake artificial intelligence. The predictions made by almost all the experts 10, 20, 30 years ago have not been realized.This he said in 1995. Perhaps some of the predictions he was thinking of have come to pass by now, but Hamming's point was that attempting to predict the future state of one's field can be extremely diffi
  15. Writing for Breitbart, John Nolte discusses one of many climate alarmist predictions that ... failed to materialize: "[M]ost of the beaches on the East Coast of the United States would be gone in 25 years," the fake New York Times told the world 25 years ago, all the way back in 1995. Fact check: It's 2021 and America's East Coast beaches are doing just fine!Fair enough. We now know of many highly publicized predictions of environmental catastrophe that any thoughtful person could question. And it's not too hard to find evidence that individuals with an agenda will stoop quite low to put wor
  16. Writing at STAT, pulmonary and critical care specialist Adam Gaffney comments on a need for a more careful and critical discussion by reporters of so-called "long Covid," for which there is "no universal definition." Perhaps most interesting are three paragraphs that note the similarities between the lingering problems some patients appear to suffer, and clinical depression: Image by Hassan Vakil, via Unsplash, license. Still, even if these ailments are sometimes acknowledged in media reports of long Covid, most narratives evoke something entirely different: a debilitating syndrome seemin
  17. An article in The Hill asserts that the GOP could "get its mojo back" by standing up to the "teachers" unions -- who necessitate scare quotes around teachers because they haven't been for a year and counting in some places. Image by Hydrargyrum, via Wikimedia Commons, license. Can challenging the teacher unions and fighting to give parents more choices in how they spend their education dollars win elections? Yes. Allowing parents to choose where their kids go to school is wildly popular, with 69 percent of voters approving of the concept. A proposed federal tax credit that would support s
  18. Four Things 1. From a Tax Protester FAQ comes the following good analogy regarding words like frivolous when coming from a judge:Imagine a group of professional scientists who have met to discuss important issues of physics and chemistry, and then someone comes into their meeting and challenges them to prove that the earth revolves around the sun. At first, they might be unable to believe that the challenger is serious. Eventually, they might be polite enough to explain the observations and calculations which lead inevitably to the conclusion that the earth does indeed revolve around the sun
  19. Thomas Chatterton Williams, who describes himself at one point as, "an anti-tribal thinker, and sometime contrarian, working firmly within a left-of-center black tradition," has written an essay titled, "Encountering Thomas Sowell," and which appears at Law & Liberty. There are many things I like about the essay, but three things stand out: Williams (1) gives Sowell a fair hearing; (2) helps the reader see how well Sowell understood current events (while at the same time remaining unknown to so many on the left); and (3) provides concrete examples of how ideas spread within the culture a
  20. A recent piece in USA Today reports an educational story that has unfolded over the year (so far) that started with school closures and "fifteen days to flatten the curve" -- and is still going on anywhere the public sector unions run everything: Catholic schools have been operating safely while public schools have been effectively closed. The article is far from perfect: It frames the outcome in leftist "educational inequality" terms and doesn't even raise the issue of privatizing government schools. And it lumps together education with various welfare programs the government delivers throug
  21. California has issued a press release claiming that it can reach its goal of "100 Percent Clean Electricity" by 2045. Anyone who has read Michael Shellenberger's excellent Apocalypse Never will be nonplussed. Why? If by clean, one takes the powers that be there to mean carbon-neutral, such a reader might recall that California could have achieved that goal already: Between 1976 and 1979, [Governor Jerry] Brown and his allies killed so many nuclear power plants that, had they been built, California would today be generating almost all of its electricity from zero-pollution power plants. (lo
  22. Forbes warns, "This article is more than 7 years old." Is this because they think principles have an expiration date -- or because this piece has crossed some kind of line after which conservative pundits start proclaiming something "prophetic?" Either question would be understandable from anyone who runs into the piece, "Don't Be Silly, the Entitlement State Won't Allow Bitcoin," once news that India is banning bitcoin spreads enough. Binswanger's column focuses on actions by government in the United States, but his analysis is spot-on and applies everywhere and anytime: Don't be blind
  23. Four Things A few coincidences from over the years... 1. Three times, I have unexpectedly met people I knew far from the time and place I made their acquaintances: In my submarine days, my boat was pulling into the same port as another, which was the one a college suite-mate of mine who had entered the same program was assigned to. Our duties had us both topside during the brief time when both boats were at the pier, so we had a quick chat before parting ways again. In grad school, I tended bar during a lunch shift with another student for a time. A couple of years later, I was walking thro
  24. At Ask a Manager a while back, I came across a very good and thought-provoking answer to a question from someone whose employee had wanted to fire someone who offered to resign. Perhaps the most interesting point Alison Green makes comes early on: Priorities... (Image by Devin Avery, via Unpslash, license.) His instinct that the person needed to face "consequences" is troubling. First and foremost, that's not what management is about. You're not a parent, and you're not there to teach anyone a lesson. You're just there to get work done effectively. Sometimes that does mean imposing conseq
  25. An article in the Federalist warns of "15 Insane Things" in HR-1, the bill the Democrats say will protect voting rights, but which, predictably, is actually an attempted power grab. Perhaps the most alarming is Item 8, which the ACLU has written against in letters to Congress: A glass house for every non-profit and a mob for every donor? (Image by Gunnar Ridderström, via Unsplash, license.) If passed, the bill would require that political speakers and nonprofit organizations publish the identities of their donors. This would create blacklists for leftist activists to target to prevent the
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