Author: Eric

The Left’s Slow Shift on COVID

“Idiocy”

The Left’s dogma on COVID is slowly—oh so slowly—changing.

Governor Whitmer last week held a press conference to address Michigan’s surging COVID numbers. She said she wouldn’t impose more restrictions because they’re not working. Here’s her actual quote:

“Michigan still has some of the strongest protocols in place — capacity restrictions, we’ve still got a mask mandate. Other states have dropped all of these things. We still have them in Michigan, and yet, we have high positivity.”

Welcome to the reality, Governor. Tom Woods has been preaching for at least eight months that COVID is going to attack whoever it wants, regardless of restrictions. There’s been zero correlation between restrictions and COVID cases.

And then yesterday, Slate (!) ran an essay by a senior editor that suggested that wearing masks outside isn’t necessary.

When it comes to coronavirus spread, evidence shows that being outdoors is very, very safe. A paper published in Indoor Air looked at 1,245 cases in China and found just one instance of outdoor transmission, which involved people having a conversation, which means they had to be close to one another for some period of time and face to face. According to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, shared earlier this month with the Irish Times, of 232,164 cases in Ireland, just 262 were associated with “locations which are primarily associated with outdoor activities.” That is, about 0.1 percent. A meta-analysis published online in November in the Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests it’s possible the upper bound of cases potentially contracted outdoors is higher; it estimates that the total is less than 10 percent. 

Again, welcome to reality. Rogan has been pointing this out since last summer. My son’s wedding reception was held outdoors. One of my best friends, an extremely COVID-conscious … Read the rest

Cryptocurrency isn’t in a Bubble

It might be terribly overvalued, but it’s not in a bubble

The cryptocurrency market was a lot of fun this week. The Coinbase IPO drove interest and prices to all-time highs. The leader: Dogecoin, which went from six cents to 50 cents in a wild frenzy (it has since settled in the upper 20s).

Dogecoin isn’t sustainable. Its creators have minted over 100 billion coins, they mint millions more every year, and they aren’t committed to capping it. It’s like the Federal Reserve.

Bitcoin, however, is different. It’s capped. Supply will run out. Other than land, it’s the only asset that can claim such a thing.


I hear two vigorous objections to Bitcoin:

1. “Each coin is worth $60,000. How are you supposed to buy a pack of gum with a $60,000 coin?”
2. “Bitcoin is in a bubble.”

Both of these objections, I believe, are bunk. I think there are other valid objections, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bitcoin is extraordinarily overvalued, but those two objections don’t cut it.

1. Look at the edge of your coins. You notice the serrated edges? That’s a holdover from the days when the king had the right to take chunks off coins (or “criminals” did it), in order to create sub-specie that could be used to buy small items (or melted down with others “bits” and recoined). I don’t know of any reason Bitcoin couldn’t be used like that. In fact, right now, I own Bitcoin: about 5% of one Bitcoin. My account breaks it down to the seventh decimal. Call me crazy, but I suspect these newfangled computers could break it down to the 100th decimal, then reconvert the whole thing into a new sub-species currency (“Sub BTC”), like our dollars are broken down into quarters, dimes, nickels, and … Read the rest

The Other Side of Vegas is on This Side of Vegas

Aches in my head, bugs in my bed
Pants so old that they shine
Out on the street, tell the people I meet
Won’ch buy me a bottle of wine

The Fireballs

So, my post yesterday definitely signals that I’m enthusiastic about Las Vegas.

But let me offer a few caveats.

First, the trash. I’ve been reading a lot of Dorothy Day lately, so I realize I shouldn’t refer to “the poor” as “trash,” but I can’t deny that the term repeatedly bopped into my head. There are a lot of bums on the street downtown. It’s not at California levels by any stretch, but it might be on its way. I don’t think I saw any bums during my last trip in November 2019. But this trip? They’re all over the place in the downtown district.

On top of that, no one seems to care. They’re crashed throughout the downtown district, and the attitude seems to be, “What can we do?” One guy was sleeping in one of the Golden Nugget’s outdoor planters on top of the plants with no objection from the Nugget. It’s almost like they’re sacred cows.

Second, the trash. You don’t have to be passed out on the street to qualify as trash. You can just be disturbingly large yet wear revealing clothes, be inconsiderate of everyone around you, and use the “f word” in lieu of all other verbal modifiers. These folks are all over the place in the downtown district, with quite a few on the Strip as well.

I have an old high school friend who lives in Vegas. He told me the Strip started to experience crime during COVID because the casino resorts were offering such cheap room rentals in order to draw somebody, anybody, to stay there and generate revenue. … Read the rest

I Was There When Vegas Came Back

What I Saw in Sin City

I went to Las Vegas last week, spending four nights at the iconic Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. I spent Tuesday evening walking from the Nugget to the Strat, where I surveyed Vegas from 100 stories high for two hours.

The next morning, I covered five miles of downtown Las Vegas on foot, covering huge swaths of area.

On Thursday, I walked the length of the Strip, clocking in over 32,000 steps.

I took a two-hour bus tour and talked with the guide. I talked with Uber drivers. I chatted with all sorts of workers, from a farmers market vendor a half-mile north of Fremont Street to bartenders who make those frozen concoctions along the Strip.

I made notes. I came home and surfed the web. I bounced observations off my traveling companion (wife).

I then put all this into a giant blender and poured out these observations.


Primary Observation: Vegas is Back

Vegas, economists say, got hit the hardest among major cities. Nevada casinos alone saw revenues drop $6 billion in 2020. Vegas’ lucrative convention business was shut down. The reverberation through everything—other tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants—has been devastating.

I could see it Tuesday evening when Marie and I walked 2.1 miles from the Golden Nugget to the Stratosphere. We marveled at the ghost town feeling. After we left the Fremont Street area (which had plenty of people, but not crowds), we didn’t come across a single pedestrian until we got a few blocks from the Strat. The uber-cool Art District was empty . . . I mean, zero people. (The Art District isn’t terribly popular, but to see no customers or tourists over the course of about 20 minutes of walking?)

Once we got to the Strat, there were … Read the rest

How to be a Holy Drunk

A few notes on Sebastian Flyte

The early pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited describe the drunken antics of students Lord Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder (the narrator). Ryder makes the later observation that he “got drunk often, but through an excess of high spirits, in the love of the moment, and the wish to prolong and enhance it; Sebastian drank to escape.”

This difference is the same difference G.K. Chesterton touched on in his early book Heretics: “If a man drinks wine in order to obtain pleasure, he is trying to obtain something exceptional, something he does not expect every hour of the day, something which, unless he is a little insane, he will not try to get every hour of the day.”… Read the rest

The Peasant Sentiment

The Greatest Game Ever Played is a true story about an unaccomplished young golfer, Francis Ouimet, at the turn of the century and how he beat the world’s top two golfers in an 18-hole playoff at the 1913 U.S. Open.

Francis’s goal to be a great golfer is juxtaposed against his father’s more mundane ideas. Mr. Ouimet is a hard-working immigrant from the old school. His attitude toward Francis’s ambitions is summed up by his words: “Being a man means knowing one’s place in the world and making peace with it” (quote isn’t exact). Although the movie is somewhat sympathetic to Mr. Ouimet, overall his thinking is portrayed as peasant-like: backward, old world, and as un-American as his foreign accent.

The movie portrays Francis’s struggle and eventual championship at the U.S. Open as the American way. His battle celebrates initiative (trying to be the best), democratic social leveling (crashing through barriers that surrounded the game at the turn of the century), and individualism (doing what he wants, even against his father’s wishes).… Read the rest

The Chicken Heart that Sucks Out Our Souls

Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash

The great Stoic Epictetus pointed out that education is the means to freedom.

Unfortunately, education today frequently becomes the means of slavery.

Everyone knows that the cost of higher education keeps escalating. Even the excellent tax advantages of educational IRAs and 529 plans haven’t made it easier to pay for college because education inflation outstrips the plans’ benefits.

A handful of families can afford to pay for their children’s education, but most cannot. So what do those families do?

The children get student loans.

The result? The loans often hound the children into their forties, forcing them to work intensely to pay the principal and interest. Does a man with a snootful of office life and savage commutes dream of what so many great men, from Epictetus to Russell Kirk, lauded: a leisure tinged with slight poverty, a small amount of money but a large assortment of books, a meager stock portfolio but a blooming garden, a mediocre car but lots of time with his children?

Tough.… Read the rest

Dostoyevsky’s Possessed in Modern Day America

“Peter Verkhovensky meet John Styn. John, Peter is the descendant of godless liberal enlightenment thinkers who now wants violence and revolution. Peter, John is the descendant of an ex-Baptist minister who likes to hug a lot.”

That’s what went through years ago when I clicked on a Yahoo feature story about a website called “Hug Nation” that promotes actual and cyber hugging. Hugs, hugs, hugs; it’s all about hugs. Young John Styn started it with his elderly grandfather, Caleb Shikles.

Relevant excerpts: “Hug Nation was the brainchild of Caleb’s grandson, John Styn, a Burning Man disciple, artist and Internet pioneer with pierced nipples, washboard abs, shocking pink hair and a dizzying creative energy. . . [Caleb] went to college, got married and became a Baptist preacher. A civil rights and anti-war activist, he worked with Martin Luther King for a week during a trip to Denver.”

A few things stand out about Caleb. He’s an ex Baptist minister, though he apparently didn’t lose his faith entirely (his funeral was held at a United Church of Christ church). He lived in California. He was part of the civil rights movement and an anti-war activist. Based on the foregoing and a few other things I read about the man online, I’m reasonably certain he had a strong leftward bent. I think it’s safe to say his faith was probably the watered-down version that’ is more interested in what faith can do for the world rather than how the world can bring us to faith.… Read the rest