Apple is a case study in the danger of cultish consumerism.

A scorecard of tech giants would take some work to develop, but Apple is a shameful enterprise, whether it’s better or worse than its alternatives: Tucker Carlson blasts Apple after the company limited the AirDrop feature in China: “Apple is now an active collaborator with China’s murderous police state. When tanks roll into a Chinese…

A disintegrating apple in a child's hand
Gratuitous detail and the human touch are the keys to great architecture.

Ed Driscoll points to a great post by Scott Alexander that investigates the aesthetic gap between the classic and the modern.  Alexander starts with architecture and a “conspiracy theory”: Imagine a postapocalyptic world. Beside the ruined buildings of our own civilization – St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal, those really great Art Deco skyscrapers –…

Framing for a circular window
RI must take the lesson of emergency room woes.

The timing could be better, with Rhode Islanders having no opportunity to change direction via the ballot box for two years, but we really need to learn the lesson of overcrowding in our emergency rooms. Namely, among all the various causes, the most significant is socialized medicine: “We are seeing long visit waits at the…

A nurse sitting in a doorway
Judge Wisely Disregards Maliciously Misinformed Mob in Jeann Lugo Ruling

Judge Joseph Terence Houlihan yesterday acquitted then-police officer Jeann Lugo of simple assault at the June 24 melee at the State House, finding that Lugo was trying to break free from Rourke who was restraining him from entering the “melee” that occurred at the rally. Kudos to Judge Houlihan for issuing this wise and thoughtful…

The odds in the Congressional tallies are… curious.

In the long days since most Congressional districts in the United States managed to provide sufficient vote counts for victors to be named, Republicans have only needed approximately one-quarter of all remaining districts to claim a majority.  Thus far, the Democrats have beaten the odds, and the GOP is still eight seats away, which is…

Mail ballot envelope
CD2 is putting the lie to a National Popular Vote talking point.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which Rhode Island has ill-advisedly joined, requires that, whenever enough states have joined to control the Electoral College outcome for the President of the United States, all participating states must give their Electoral College votes to whichever candidate won the most individual votes nationally, no matter what their own…

"I Voted" sticker in a pile of leaves
A careful look at gun-control rhetoric shows where it’s going.

Here’s a noteworthy WPRI headline: “‘Speechless:’ 7-year-old child brings gun to Boston school.” Must be all those Republicans who control the city! Out of curiosity, I went in search of information about how strict Massachusetts’s gun-control laws are and found myself reminded of that old Weezer song about unraveling a sweater:  “If you want to…

Thomas Eakins Cowboys in the Badlands
The damage Biden does with his self-congratulatory rhetoric is even more than it seems.

Many in Rhode Island are too steeped in the mainstream narrative to even consider such a thing, but Joe Biden is, in his way, nastier, more divisive, and more destructive of our civic norms than what Democrats claim of President Trump.  In fairness to Biden, however, his is just an exaggerated and less competently executed…

Joe Biden's smile.
Something’s puzzling about Rhode Island’s SAT scores.

Why are Rhode Island parents so lackadaisical about the poor value they’re getting from the state’s government schools?  As Dan McGowan reports, SAT scores are down from where they were before the pandemic, and they were already low compared with those of neighboring states: Math (minimum score of 530 out of 800): 25.3 percent English…

A toy school bus
Natural gas price increases show what happens when we’re prevented from coordinating.

A recently released book by Gale Pooley and Marian Tupy, Superabundance, explores the amazing fact that the prosperity and the availability of scarce resources is proving only to increase as the population grows.  Their most fundamental argument is that people have value.  Every child added to the world increases the wealth of all of us. The authors…

A pipe winds along a landcape
Bartholomew’s cat-trans stance is typical of backwards progressives.

Clearing out the links I’ve put aside, I came across a tweet that Bill Bartholomew sent out with a clip of himself on A Lively Experiment in early September, and he makes a point that’s still worth considering, related to stories around that time that schools were accommodating students who’d declared themselves to identify as cats:…

A cat man plays accordion
Please, Rhode Islanders, start paying attention to the evidence.

If you’re thigh deep in the muck of Rhode Island politics, as I am, you may find something about the local society inexplicable.  The game is so locked up, in Rhode Island, that it isn’t clear whether anything can shake the stranglehold of insiders and special interests.  Consider two recent stories. On the National Education…

Whistling past the graveyard
Rhode Island is doing especially badly with boys’ education.

From time to time, I get in a little spat with some well-meaning progressive on social media that reminds me of something I figured out decades ago but periodically forget:  In the belief system of many (most?) progressives, no machinery is required between intent and achievement.  Wanting to help people means making it a law…

Boy in a library
COVID propaganda could be a great communications lesson (but probably won’t be at URI).

Professor Renee Hobbs specializes in media literacy education for the University of Rhode Island Harrington School of Communication and Media.  This tweet of hers therefore struck me as indicative of misplaced focus: An important note of specificity is needed:  Paxlovid skepticism is only a communication failure for those who wish to promote it (for profit,…

A scale
Ripples
The difference between for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations isn’t as big as many think.

Soccer player Tesho Akindele tweeted this curious thought earlier today:

Public transportation doesn’t need to be profitable

Nobody demands that public schools, libraries, or fire departments are profitable

We understand that these things are an investment in the well-being of our society

Public transportation is an investment, not a cost

This phrasing is common, but the language is implicitly spun.  No organization operates for long if it is not “profitable.”  The questions are only who profits and in what way.

Like businesses, government agencies and nonprofits have employees and managers, who are often very well compensated.  The differences come with customers and stockholders.  Unlike most business activities, the customers of government and nonprofits often are distinct from the people paying for the products and services.

The other difference is that government and nonprofits aren’t expected to generate money as their residual value (that is, payments to stockholders).  They are, however, expected produce some beneficial effect on behalf of taxpayers and voters.

A lack of clarity on these points often leads us to build incentives around and manage government and nonprofit institutions poorly.  It also makes it too easy for those who do profit financially (those employees, managers, and non-paying customers) to obscure the need to provide social value.

Don’t miss the significance of the amoxicillin shortage.

Such efforts are easy to dismiss as blame-laying, but it’s important for us to take careful stock of recent decisions, and the more gargantuan the effect, the more attention we should pay.  So, put this on the list:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reported a shortage of liquid amoxicillin, which is typically prescribed to children.

The FDA listed an increased demand for the antibiotic as the primary reason for the shortage. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists amoxicillin as a “first-line” therapy for most pediatric bacterial infections, there are alternatives that can be used instead.

We kept children isolated and then masked for more than a year.  We shut down large parts of the economy.  Both shortages of supplies and reduced natural immune responses were predictable consequences of that action.

An ideological contrast provides today’s lesson in MSM bias.

We may (or may not) be past having to prove media bias, these days, but an Amanda Milkovits headline in the Boston Globe still seems worth a short note:

Voters largely reject candidates affiliated with conservative group Parents United RI

Contrast with this Boston Globe headline on an Edward Fitzpatrick article from September:

Top R.I. legislative leaders withstand challenges from progressives

Conservatives are “rejected.”  Progressives are “withstood.”

The Globe is obviously not alone in this, but readers must remember that all of its reportage must be adjusted to account for its ideological mission.

A Trump short story is waiting to be written.

Story pitch:  Behind the scenes, secretly and heroically, a selfless former President leans into his own clichés to create space for his political party to disengage from him.  Sacrificing his own aspirations, he masterfully appears to stumble over his reputed faults because he realizes it is the only way to hand off the torch of his influence and save his country.

Just a thought for those who generally share my views…

Yeah, I know the election results are still in the air, so the coin hasn’t stopped spinning on the ground, yet, but let’s make this Day 1 of talking about how the world can be better, rather than how others are making it worse and, more importantly, start doing things to make it so.

Sorry to be mushy, but not only is that how I feel, but it’s increasingly obvious that it’s the only practical solution.

The red wave came up against the winds of mail ballots.

First a note to those who might be newly engaged in politics or have forgotten:  It isn’t at all unusually for the media narrative to switch after the votes are in.  Thus, whereas before, commentators would say that it might be such a big “red wave” that the Republicans would take the Senate, indicating that there could be a wave even if that did not happen, afterwards, that switches to insisting that there was no wave at all because the Republicans didn’t win the Senate by several seats (or, at this point, might not win it at all).

That said, declarations that the red wave did not emerge, compared with other midterm elections are tending to ignore that this is the first midterm in the new world of post-COVID mail balloting.  In economic terms, mail balloting moved the supply of ballots down and to the right, meaning that more could be had for a lower price, and given their constituencies and organizational structure, Democrats benefit more from that.

That’s part of the current political reality, and Republicans have to solve the puzzle.

No matter what happens…

… no matter how much you lose (or is taken from you) … you will always be able to find moments like this, because they are your relationship with God, and that relationship is eternal.

Morning sun in Autumn

And in Georgia, too.

News out of Georgia adds to the impression that no society that treated the right to vote as sacred would allow no-reason early and mail-in voting:

A Cobb County judge extended the deadline for 1,036 absentee ballots because Cobb Elections officials did not send them out to the recipients.

The ballots have to be postmarked by Election Day, which is tomorrow.

What’s going on in Pennsylvania?

Am I crazy to think it’s just too coincidental that one of the key battleground states for control of Congress is having this sort of unbelievable electoral complication?

Some of Pennsylvania’s largest counties were among those working Monday to help voters fix mail-in ballots that have fatal flaws such as incorrect dates or missing signatures on the envelopes used to send them in. …

Elections officials in Philadelphia and Allegheny, which includes Pittsburgh, announced measures they were taking in response to state Supreme Court orders in recent days that said mail-in ballots may not be counted if they lack accurate handwritten dates on the exterior envelopes.

No-reason early and mail voting are invitations to fraud and corruption and will be the end of democracy in America.

Our political impressions of violence might be a lot like pockets of traffic.

I just saw a formerly conservative pundit agreeing with an always ridiculous advocate for rule by “experts” that the right is more prone toward and tolerant of violence. I honestly cannot understand how anybody could believe such a thing.

I mean, we could maybe have an interesting conversation about tendencies toward what we might call “masculine” and “feminine” violence, with the former being of the beat-you-up or shoot-you kind and the latter being of the lock-you-out-of-the-shelter or euthanize-you kind.  Still, if I had to rank the two sides, I’d say the left is more dehumanizing and violent, but to state that the right is obviously more tolerant of violence seems blind.

But it occurs to me that maybe our impressions are like traffic.  Have you ever arrived at work and complained about the traffic to somebody who arrived from the same general direction five minutes after you only for that person to claim that traffic had been unusually light?  For whatever reason, you just happened to land in a pocket of traffic.

Maybe that explains some of this differing perspective.

Watching both sides run with their narratives of the Paul Pelosi attack is amazing and disturbing.

One despairs of our ever coming together if we live in two separate realities.  Many details of the attack don’t make sense, starting with the fact that the Pelosi’s home is apparently so vulnerable and the fact that calling somebody a “friend” to 911 is apparently a code that we’re all supposed to know, let alone that Pelosi reportedly managed to get to the bathroom for a phone call but didn’t lock himself in there.

On the other side, some of the details being promoted may be the fog of early reports.  For example, regarding the fact that somebody let the police in, it’s entirely possible that Pelosi got to the door to open it and that act initiated the struggle the police witnessed when they entered.

Of course, if the incident was a collision of a crazy person with an inebriated person in the middle of the night, we have to leave allowances for a lot of strangeness. There’s a whole lot of space for this story between a hammer-armed nudist MAGA assassin and a gay tryst gone wrong.

That’s why the most disturbing aspect may be Democrats’ immediate rush to make it a political hit against their enemies.  We can’t possibly function as a society when every incident is immediately leveraged to split us into competing realities.

Here’s one thing that’s feeling very familiar about the Paul Pelosi story.

As with myriad issues, many of them related to COVID-19, we’re seeing an instant demand that we accept the approved narrative so zealously that confounding details cannot be considered, with disagreement, or even doubt, being framed in entirely partisan terms.  This doesn’t necessarily mean the 180-degree opposite narrative is correct, but it does mean we can’t trust what we’re being told.

I’m seeing a lot of RI Democrats insisting that GOP rhetoric is causing violence.

I’m also seeing RI Democrats attempting to raise money with emails saying things like:

Ashley Kalus is no imaginary monster …

We have to stop her from gaining any power in Rhode Island and trying to drag us back into a terrifying past with less freedom.

Remember that the people who write these messages probably aren’t unable to see what they’re doing, which means they think you are.

Just a few months ago, a progressive group was paying people to stalk Supreme Court justices.

One person was seeking Justice Kavanaugh with a gun.  It is perfectly reasonable to ask, “what about,” now, as progressives and Democrats behave as if an attack on the Speaker of the House’s husband is not only the most outrageous event in recent memory, but also a direct consequence of “MAGA Republican” rhetoric.

Think about Democrats’ election rhetoric.

They spent all of Republican President George W. Bush’s two terms talking about how he was “selected, not elected.”  They spent all of Republican President Donald Trump’s term claiming he’d won because of Russian interference.

Now they’re claiming that if their party doesn’t win majorities during the election in a few weeks, it will be the end of democracy in America.  Why?  Because some Republicans have doubts about the outcome of the last election.

So, a party that has made a recurring theme of challenging the legitimacy of every Republican President this century is claiming that all elections going forward will be illegitimate because a portion of the other party is taking the view they, the Democrats, have promoted ceaselessly.  Why do their voters never stop and question this stuff?

Basically, McKee thinks Rhode Islanders are the rednecks of New England.

Whatever your political affiliation, you should recognize that Democrat Governor Dan McKee’s “you’re not from here” attack ad on Republican Ashley Kalus is dark and disgusting:

Even if we ignore that it is 100% ad hominem, the ad is demeaning to Rhode Islanders, as if we’re a bunch of hicks who don’t care about reason and policy, but really just care whether you’re in our clique.  Of course, McKee is running ads like this because, along with most Rhode Island Democrats, he wants voters not to judge him based on reason, policy, and proven records.

I’ve seen a lot that bothers me about Rhode Island politics in the last 25 years, but this ad actually physically nauseates me.

What to make of a union-led pro-McKee rally outside of a television studio?

Looks mainly like an attempt to intimidate his political opposition to me.

As the election draws nearer…

I’m noticing an increase in the rank dishonesty of progressive Democrats with an understanding of how things actually work and lunacy among those who don’t.

Democrats argue with themselves on social media (without realizing it).

I’m seeing two conflicting talking points permeate my social media feeds.  Out one side of their mouths, they insist that people must vote against Allan Fung no matter who he is, what he’s done, or what he believes, because he’s simply a vote for a Republican Congress.  Out the other side of their mouths, they insist that any Republican voting for Herschel Walker must agree with everything he’s ever done and cannot possibly believe in the principles they espouse.

When convenient, their principles are “vote the party,” and when elsewise convenient, they’re “vote the person”… as long as you’re always voting to give Democrats power.

I wish I didn’t have to be partisan on this, but over the past 10-15 years, it’s become increasingly difficult to find any principle other than “we must be in power” among Democrats.

The declassification saga illustrates one of Trump’s most intriguing qualities.

Namely, he uses the methods of the Left, and the Left hates him for it.  Read CBS News’s explainer on the issue at hand:

Presidents do have sweeping authority to declassify records, but there is a process that is normally followed.

Generally, a president’s instructions to declassify documents are first written down in a memo, typically drafted by White House lawyers, which the president would then sign. Relevant agencies are usually then consulted and when a final decision is made, the document would be marked, with its old classification level crossed out, and stamped, “Declassified on X date” by the agency in question.

“Generally,” there is a process “that is normally followed,” but legions of hostile journalists and talking-head lawyers cannot point to documentation of that rule.  (Presumably it exists even if they think it does!)

Should Trump have followed the traditional process?  Certainly, but progressives do this sort of thing all the time:  When it is convenient, they throw away the process that everybody had previously agreed existed in order to do what they want.

As much as I’d prefer adherence to expectations, the overarching principle that the rules have to apply equally is true on the higher plane, as well.

The thing I’m not getting about the climate protesters in Boston…

… is how true believers come to the conclusion that the way to advocate for the environment is to cause an event that leads to thousands of people sitting in idling cars.

Richard August and John Carlevale

State of the State: 2022 Midterm Election Retrospective

John Carlevale and Richard August discuss the midterm elections.


Sunset pictures of two biplanes

Mysteries of the Sky

Richard Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR.org, speaks with John about Amelia Earhart and other aircraft mysteries.

A dark cloud and a dark wave

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Dark Clouds Coming

John DePetro and Justin Katz take stock of Rhode Island in the aftermath of the election.

Mike Stenhouse, Darlene D'Arezzo, and John Carlevale on State of the State

State of the State: 2022 Midterm Election Review

John Carlevale reviews the midterm election results with Mike Stenhouse and Darlene D’Arezzo.

Fail box checked

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Awash in Failure

John DePetro and Justin Katz review varied ways in which Rhode Island’s establishment is failing the state.

One-Party States

John Fund documented in yesterday’s Opinionjournal, that more and more states are tending towards one-party rule at the state level. This is an intersting trend. If you believe what people…

International Troops Enter Iraq

It’s entirely possible that my media-cynicism adjuster is tuned too high, but whether rightly or wrongly, the following caption for the photo currently on the Providence Journal‘s home page surprised…

Out with the Old, in with the New

I’d been considering republishing a June entry from my own blog here, mostly so that it would be in the archives for future reference, and Marc’s latest post makes the…

Quantifying the Anchor’s Weight

Turning to local politics, it seems that one of the first things to be done is to concisely show the size of the task we conservatives/Republicans face. With the latest…

Goading the Opposition

It has become a commonplace among right-leaning pundits that Democrats’ greatest problem is their reluctance to objectively assess the causes of their defeat and, more importantly, to reconsider their positions…

Our Little Blue Corner of the Nation

Now for my first self-promotional plug. My most recent post at my personal blog, The Ocean State Blogger, deals with Blue New England’s place in a Red Nation and in…

Ripples
The difference between for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations isn’t as big as many think.

Soccer player Tesho Akindele tweeted this curious thought earlier today:

Public transportation doesn’t need to be profitable

Nobody demands that public schools, libraries, or fire departments are profitable

We understand that these things are an investment in the well-being of our society

Public transportation is an investment, not a cost

This phrasing is common, but the language is implicitly spun.  No organization operates for long if it is not “profitable.”  The questions are only who profits and in what way.

Like businesses, government agencies and nonprofits have employees and managers, who are often very well compensated.  The differences come with customers and stockholders.  Unlike most business activities, the customers of government and nonprofits often are distinct from the people paying for the products and services.

The other difference is that government and nonprofits aren’t expected to generate money as their residual value (that is, payments to stockholders).  They are, however, expected produce some beneficial effect on behalf of taxpayers and voters.

A lack of clarity on these points often leads us to build incentives around and manage government and nonprofit institutions poorly.  It also makes it too easy for those who do profit financially (those employees, managers, and non-paying customers) to obscure the need to provide social value.

Don’t miss the significance of the amoxicillin shortage.

Such efforts are easy to dismiss as blame-laying, but it’s important for us to take careful stock of recent decisions, and the more gargantuan the effect, the more attention we should pay.  So, put this on the list:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reported a shortage of liquid amoxicillin, which is typically prescribed to children.

The FDA listed an increased demand for the antibiotic as the primary reason for the shortage. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists amoxicillin as a “first-line” therapy for most pediatric bacterial infections, there are alternatives that can be used instead.

We kept children isolated and then masked for more than a year.  We shut down large parts of the economy.  Both shortages of supplies and reduced natural immune responses were predictable consequences of that action.

An ideological contrast provides today’s lesson in MSM bias.

We may (or may not) be past having to prove media bias, these days, but an Amanda Milkovits headline in the Boston Globe still seems worth a short note:

Voters largely reject candidates affiliated with conservative group Parents United RI

Contrast with this Boston Globe headline on an Edward Fitzpatrick article from September:

Top R.I. legislative leaders withstand challenges from progressives

Conservatives are “rejected.”  Progressives are “withstood.”

The Globe is obviously not alone in this, but readers must remember that all of its reportage must be adjusted to account for its ideological mission.

A Trump short story is waiting to be written.

Story pitch:  Behind the scenes, secretly and heroically, a selfless former President leans into his own clichés to create space for his political party to disengage from him.  Sacrificing his own aspirations, he masterfully appears to stumble over his reputed faults because he realizes it is the only way to hand off the torch of his influence and save his country.

Just a thought for those who generally share my views…

Yeah, I know the election results are still in the air, so the coin hasn’t stopped spinning on the ground, yet, but let’s make this Day 1 of talking about how the world can be better, rather than how others are making it worse and, more importantly, start doing things to make it so.

Sorry to be mushy, but not only is that how I feel, but it’s increasingly obvious that it’s the only practical solution.