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In Defense of Scrooge, Whose Thrift Blessed the World

Poe’s Law is harsh but fair:

In Defense of Scrooge, Whose Thrift Blessed the World
In the 1840s, Dickens didn’t see how businessmen like his hero were already lifting mankind from poverty.

No Christmas story except the biblical account of Jesus’ birth has been more often retold or more cherished than Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” published in 1843. The reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge has brought joy and hope to hundreds of millions of people across three centuries. “Scrooge” has become an eponym for stingy or miserly. We write in defense of this Ebenezer Scrooge, not the redeemed one.

Scrooge is a distilled caricature of a businessman in the Victorian era: a rich, obsessive wealth hoarder. Working in “his moldy old office,” living in “his dusty chambers” in a building so old and dreary that “nobody lived in it but Scrooge,” he was “a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone.” He strove from dawn till dusk to “understand his own business,” and “with his banker’s-book” he trudged home in the dark “to take his gruel” alone by a dying fire.

We meet Scrooge on Christmas Eve, when he is visited in his cold, dingy “counting-house” by his nephew, who urges him to stop working: “You’re rich enough.” The young man begs his uncle to join him in making merry on Christmas Day. Concerned about finding himself “a year older, but not an hour richer,” Scrooge answers that he will keep Christmas in his own way, by working.

It should be understood there is nothing unethical about Ebenezer Scrooge. In his view business “is the even-handed dealing of the world,” and “there is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty.” His great failing, in the words of his former fiancée, whom he gave up to marry his business, was that he had become a prisoner of “the master-passion, Gain.”

Marley tells Scrooge that the three spirits will visit him this Christmas Eve to begin his salvation. Here we begin our defense of history’s most notorious wealth accumulator. It does not appear that Dickens seriously considered the possibility that Scrooge and Marley’s business contributed to the common welfare of mankind. Like Scrooge, Marley created and accumulated wealth, leaving it to Scrooge, who continued to invest and accumulate. When Dickens has Scrooge’s nephew say his uncle’s wealth “is of no use to him” because he doesn’t spend it, it is made clear that Dickens never considered who Scrooge’s wealth was useful to.

And so on…

Absolutely Sweet Marie Callender’s Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie

Universal Music Publishing Group has acquired Bob Dylan’s entire song catalog, the company announced Monday, in a blockbuster deal that includes more than 600 songs spanning six decades.

Universal now owns the rights to Dylan’s whole songwriting roster, from 1962′s self-titled debut to this year’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways.” Up until now, the rock icon and Nobel laureate had retained the rights to his own work.

The terms of the deal were not made public, but Variety reported that it was worth “at least nine figures.”

Wanna Learn About How the C19 Vaccines Came About?

You, know, for when the next clown tells you this was all thanks to the munificence of the blessed Free Market™.

If the first vaccines against Covid-19 really do start coming online in a couple of weeks, that’ll be a blazingly fast scientific achievement—from new virus to new vaccine in just about 12 months, faster than ever before, and using a new vaccine technology, too. Amazing! And also only sort of true, because the path of the two vaccines likeliest to become available first, one from the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech and one from Moderna, began long before people started getting sick in Wuhan in December 2019.

Like all scientific discoveries, that path has many trailheads. One of them is the lab of John Mascola, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He didn’t come up with the idea of using genetic material to make vaccines, but he and collaborators around the US spent years trying to direct those efforts against coronaviruses, the family that includes SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19. Most vaccines against the disease clue the immune system into seeing a specific protein on the surface of the virus; it was Mascola’s VRC that brought the mRNA for that “spike protein” to Moderna.

How did the VRC’s work on mRNA and the spike protein end up being developed by Moderna, a relatively small and inexperienced pharmaceutical company?

Our partnership started probably with working on the disease Zika in 2017, or maybe even before. We looked at a number of companies who were doing RNA vaccines, and we came to have a good working relationship with Moderna because we had a strong mutual interest in infectious disease vaccines. So it was a very good fit, and we were pretty convinced that they had a very robust, strong scientific capability to make RNA vaccines. Moderna was interested in working on Zika, they had some funding from Barda—the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority —and they wanted a scientific partnership to work on the design of the vaccine. So we had a collaboration going back to Zika, and then after that passed, we talked to them about other areas of mutual interest. We proposed that coronaviruses would be a fruitful area for both of us.

Note the “.gov” in the URLs of the links I embedded in there.

Strong Songs

If you listen to podcasts and you’re interested in how good songs are put together – how the melodies and rhythms and lyrics and structures and all the little details work to make a strong song strong – and are up for some very mild music theory, and a lot of enthusiasm, check out Strong Songs.

It’s very very good.

Section 230? WTF is that?

Trump is threatening to LITERALLY DEFUND THE MILITARY if he can’t get ‘Section 230’ repealed. What is it?

Ken White says:

Very simply put, Section 230 is the law that says that, if I post something defamatory on Twitter, the victim can sue me, but not Twitter. It also says, again put simply, that Twitter has the right to moderate stuff on its site as it sees fit.

Also, Section 230 Is The Subject of The Most Effective Legal Propaganda He’s Ever Seen.