Wednesday Linkorama

  • Trillions of dollars in debt. But the Obama cabinet has come through with … $200 million in spending cuts. Woo-hoo.
  • Congress wants to ban drug ads. I can understand it, but this reeks of unintended consequences. As the NYT notes, many people seek out needed drugs because of these ads.
  • What qualifies as a job? A lot less than you’d think.
  • Good for Jeff Flake. As the GOP falls apart, a few lights remain.
  • Hitch has a great take on the Gates business.
  • Post of the day — does health insurance make you fat?
  • A great interview about the War on Fat. I don’t happen to agree with everything Campos says about the issue of weight. But I do agree that the focus on weight (and BMI in particular) has drawn emphasis away from where it should be — healthy living.
  • Cables

    James Randi challenges the audiophiles on the supposedly great speaker cables that retail at … holy shit … $7250?!?!

    I fought the cable battle myself. When I bought my blu-ray player, Best Buy tried to sell me $100 HDMI cables. I went to Amazon and bought one for thirty cents. It works great. And if it breaks, I can use the money I saved to buy 300 replacements.

    More Than Gates

    I blogged about the Henry Louis Gates business at the other site. But there’s something worth noting:

    Isn’t it notable that six months into his presidency, the most prominent advocacy President Obama has done on behalf of minorities mistreated by police is to stand up for his Ivy League buddy? Somehow I imagine that Professor Gates would’ve fared just fine absent help from Harvard’s most prominent alumnus.

    Whereas if President Obama spoke up at a press conference on behalf of people wrongly imprisoned due to “testimony” by police dogs, or advocated for those sexually assaulted by an officer, or spoke against prosecutors who block access to DNA testing, or called out the officer who choked a paramedic, or objected to the practice of police killing family pets, or asked the Innocence Project for a clear cut case of injustice to publicize…

    I understand, of course, that Pres. Obama was asked about Henry Louis Gates, which is also part of the problem. Wrongly arrest a black men who happens to be a Harvard professor, release him without filing charges, and the national press corps asks the president to comment. Wrongly imprison for years on end a black man who happens to be working class and without celebrity, and the national press corps continues to utterly ignore a criminal justice system that routinely convicts innocent people. Apportioning blame for this sorry state of affairs isn’t as important as recognizing that the news we get on these matters reflects a value system that is seriously flawed, and that news consumers bear blame for too.

    Radley Balko’s blog has become a one-stop shop for cataloging law enforcement abuses, including the recent rash of exonerations in Dallas for men who have been in prison for decades. Combined, these guys aren’t getting a fraction of the ink Gates — who was, at worst, humiliated — has been getting. Compare and contrast: Henry Louis Gates and Shem Walker.

    Everything’s Fine — Everybody Panic!

    Come on. You knew this was going to happen. The data are showing obesity leveling off in many western countries. And the reaction of the food police? Disappointment.

    The disappointment among professional fat alarmists about recent weight data, which suggest the obesity rate has leveled off for American adults as well as children, is palpable. Bialik reports that William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was “surprised” by the failure of Americans to continue getting fatter, inasmuch as “prominent anti-obesity-awareness campaigns have only been around for a few years.” Note the implication that government intervention is the only plausible explanation for changes in human behavior. “What I worry about is that people will read these numbers and think we’ve got this solved,” says Dietz. “I’m encouraged by the results, but this is no time for complacency.” Or for budget cutting. Such anxieties underlie press releases with headlines like “New CDC Study Finds No Increase in Obesity Among Adults; But Levels Still High,” which are reminiscent of statements from the Office of National Drug Control Policy about the latest drug use survey data.

    Sullum also notes the increasing scientific evidence that the “ideal weight” is far from ideal and the longest lifespan goes to those who are about 10 lbs overweight. I’m wondering if we have a “wisdom of crowds” thing going on. There’s always going to be a distribution of weight, from anorexic to morbidly obese. Have countries shifted so that the modal weight is near ideal? I have no idea. But that idea is just as scientific and evidence-based as the stupid BMI crap.

    Wednesday Linkorama

  • Yet more data showing that immigration is not a problem for the US and appears to making the place better. As someone married to an immigrant, I’d probably have to agree.
  • Parents in NYC are putting up their own money to hire teachers’ aides for classrooms. This informal program is working very well. So naturally, the union wants it killed. Can’t have non-union employees mucking things up. Why, they come without a whole slew of administrators! Worthless “independent” Mike Bloomberg instantly caved.
  • We’re sending the DEA to Afghanistan. Yeah, that’s going to go well.
  • Remember how much Obama hated Bush’s signing statements? Well, that’s OK. Neither does he.
  • Experts are puzzled that crime is plunging during a recession. Maybe … just maybe … that’s because crime isn’t caused by poverty.
  • Quantum

    Quantum of Solace is a decent movie, but there two things that drove me nuts:

    1) If you’re going to spend millions of dollars on stunts; if you’re going to put your actors through grueling physical training and rehearsal; if you’re going to pull out the stops for your actions scenes … could you please pull back the camera, hold a shot for more than 0.1 seconds and let the audience see what’s going on? This ADD style of directing is ruining a generation of film-viewers who may grow up never seeing what a well-shot action scene looks like.

    2) The movie’s understanding of South American politics is about 20 years out of date. The day when South American governments changed hands “every week” are long long past. Even if we count the Honduras business as a coup, that’s the first this decade.


    The AMA has fucked us again. The AMA has to be the most worthless lobbying organization in America. Every bad idea in healthcare for the last thirty years has come with the whole-hearted endorsement of the AMA. My dad quit them 15 years ago after they completely sold doctors out to get a few pats on the head from politicians.

    Look at the lineup supporting healthcare reform: the AMA, Walmart, politicians, some insurance companies. Does this alliance not seem unholy to you? If they were endorsing some Bush policy, would you not run in terror?

    Update: Michael Cannon has more on the back-door dealings that are getting industry to embrace Obama’s healthcare plan. Read and weep. Again — remember when government and industry going into cahoots was a bad thing?