July 31, 2016
And you know, and I know, do we not, dear children, that he must always choose this last, and the leaden casket, for wisdom in all tales tells us this, and the last sister is always the true choice, is she not? But let us have a moment's true sorrow for the silver blisses the Childe would have preferred, and the sunlit flowery earth which is my own secret preference, and then let us decorously follow as we must, as he takes up the soft hand of the third, as his fate and the will of his father decree, and says, half-musing, "I will come with you."I lack the erudition to review Possession by A. S. Byatt. In proof, I offer: a) that I had to look up on Google® whether the poet Randolph Ash was fictitious, he is; and b) when I asked a knowledgeable friend whether he was familiar with "this guy, A. S. Byatt" he suggested she was a she, and she is.
I'm taking on 0-2. In lieu, I will briefly suggest how magical this book is and tell the story of how I found it, which might be more interesting to ThreeSourcers.
Byatt creates no fewer than four complete worlds and connects them with sufficient verisimilitude that they all seem completely real.Released in 1990, the story is set in the mid 1980s and concerns a handful of academics who study the poet Randolph Henry Ash, a famous but underserved 19th Century British poet. Our plucky protagonist, Roland, finds a couple affectionate letters in an old folio which suggest that the staid imagined homelife of the author might not be exactly as advertised. His wife Helen is sweet and "a suitable marriage partner" but lacks passion and romance one suspects a poet would require.
A little sleuthing suggest the co-paramour to be Christabel LaMotte, a lesser known author, but one gaining acclaim in the burgeoning fields of gender and women's studies. Did the cloistered lesbian have an affair which had escaped everyone's attention?
Roland consults scholars who specialize in LaMotte, and one who has devoted a lifetime to Helen Ash's rather plodding diary. He must play his cards close to the vest to protect his inchoate discovery and especially not alert the two big-name scholars in his field:one his boss and the other a boorish and well-funded American.
His face in the mirror was fine and precise, his silver hair most exquisitely and severely cut, his half-glasses gold-rimmed, his mouth pursed, but pursed in American, more generous than English pursing, ready for broader vowels and less mincing sounds.
This is just one world. Any author could do that, perhaps not too many with her grace or lushness. But as the mystery gains pace (and pace it has) , the world of the objects of study is reified. Ash and LaMotte are brought to life: poets in Victorian society,his wife, her lover, their friends who do or do not sense the depth of their attraction. We discover these lives as the academics do -- and through their eyes.
As the targets are authors, their work must be quoted. And Byatt generates opuses for each. Some entire chapters are Ash's haunting and beautiful poetry, or LaMotte's deep Fairy Tales. But the true unfolding, the true joy, and the lushest creation is the correspondence between the two. As more letters are founded, and other sources corroborated, the story unfolds and is in many ways paralleled by the academics. Byatt's multiple worlds all rhyme.
Who that judges does not know-- that Lear's agony-- and the Duke of Gloucester's pain-- are true-- tho' those men never lived-- or never lived so-- you will tell me that they lived indeed in some sort-- and that he-- W.S.-- sage sorcerer prophet-- brought them again to huge Life-- so much so that no Actor-- could do his part therein, but must leave it to the studium of you and me to flesh it out.
That, gentle readers, was a terrible review of a great book. Five Stars! Go buy it. One of only fiction works that have touched me after my 45th Birthday.
To compensate, I offer a great backstory. I learned of this book in this captivating episode of Conversations with Tyler [Cowen]. Cass Sunstein, whom I associated with Nudge and the Obama Administration's general paternalism, truly won me over with his charm and obviously scary intellectual depth.
He recommends this book, saying "buy it tomorrow if you've not read it" and I did. And he compares it to FA Hayek's book on the letters of JS Mill and Harriet Taylor, which I never knew existed. I am partially through that work and wonder if it is not the template for Byatt. Rhyming, again
Seriously, watch this. Yes it's over an hour, but half of it is about Star Wars:
July 30, 2016
Why do they say "Yes We Can?"
Because without help from others, they can't achieve their goals. Worse yet - they vilify those who can achieve their goals individually, whether it be from superior talent and ambition or merely, different goals. But when one's goal is turning history's greatest republic into a socialist democracy, that's a goal for an "us" rather than a "me."
Slate's William Saletan has drilled down on this distinction - I vs. we; Trump vs. Clinton - and finds Hillary's "togetherness" more to his liking:
The "we" approach suits Clinton's personality. It reflects what she learned from her mother's childhood - that "no one gets through life alone" - and the philosophy of good works Clinton was taught in church. It echoes the message of her book, It Takes a Village, and her collaborations with Republicans on legislation to promote adoption and health insurance. Clinton wants global progress toward controlling climate change. No leader can do that alone.“We” is also the word that socialists use to justify all manner of abuses, principally against earners and producers. It is the way they promote their ideal – equality – at the expense of the American ideal – liberty.
But readers of Ayn Rand’s ‘Anthem’ know that nothing happens without the individual. And one individual meets other individuals. They cooperate. They trade. They fall in love. They say “I love you” not “we love the unspecified.” They enter into trade agreements. And when those agreements are no longer beneficial to them, they are free to withdraw from them and enter new ones. Who ever said NAFTA must be immortal?
I agree with Saleton that “The fundamental choice in this election is between Trump’s “I” and Hillary’s “We.” Saletan says “She’s with us.” Trump says, “I am your voice.” He chooses her, and I choose to have a leader speak for me, not tell me what’s best for me. “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."
July 29, 2016
And, an All Hail Harsanyi
Because he captures what I thought. I did not see a lot of the DNC Convention, but I saw Sec. Clinton's speech. And, pacé Harsanyi, I was shocked how the GOP handed them optimism and patriotism on a silver platter.
The Democrats put on a pretty solid convention, with memorable moments from both big names and average citizens. There were cops, moms, soldiers, and business people praising traditional American institutions like they’re rock-ribbed Republicans. But think about this: At a convention where an old-school socialist was celebrated in nearly every speech, the hard-left ideas of the Progressive Movement were wrapped in Reaganesque rhetorical flourishes and sold as American idealism. Don’t get me wrong, these people can still fearmonger with the best of them on guns, global warming, etc. -- but Trump's austere worldview and pessimism gave Democrats ownership of ideas about exceptionalism, meritocracy, and national optimism..
All Hail Jonah!
Barack Obama was a blank slate for most Americans, so his status as the first black nominee and president was inextricably part of his identity. Hillary Clinton is a known quantity. She's Nixon in a pantsuit. She’s been a tedious, grating, cynical, corrupt presence in our lives for nearly three decades.-- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]And a man -- if I may continue teh blog tit-for-tat -- still very much not on the Trump Train.
Could've had this guy.
Only losers weep at elections lost. Okay, pass me my Scarlet 'L;' Gov. Rick Perry gets it.
As my Blog Brother and Randy Barnett said: maybe the Republican Party should unite around the theory of "Republicanism."
There has been...and will continue to be...an important and legitimate role for the federal government in enforcing civil rights.
The whole piece is joyous.
July 28, 2016
Otequay of the Ayday
For Americans to think that it is progress to move from the Founders' revolutionary achievement - a nation of free citizens, endowed with natural rights, living under laws that they themselves have made, pursuing their own vision of happiness in their own way and free to develop as fully as they can whatever talent or genius lies within them - to a regime in which individuals derive such rights as they have from a government superior to them is contemptible. How is a return to subjection an advance on freedom?
It's the Eponomy, Stupid!
I borrow the franchise from James Taranto.
I read a clever piece on the Cato blog about the futility of "common sense gun regulation."
But that doesn't mean we need new laws to limit firearm ownership. In an interview with ProPublica, Jeffrey Swanson of Duke University School of Medicine suggested that mental health professionals "can do a lot without invoking law, by talking to people about harm reduction and locking up guns." Other programs such as voluntary buybacks may reduce the number of household firearms.
Hear, hear. The author of that piece? Jonathan Blanks.
July 27, 2016
All Hail Shlaes!
If I believed in coercion, Amity Shlaes's "The Forgotten Man" [Review Corner] is one of the first books I'd force on the American electorate.
And they'd thank me, dammit! It's entertaining and interesting. But its main function is to contradict the nonsense everyone is taught in school about how FDR "fixed": the Great Depression.
Shlaes reprises the riff in the WSJ Ed Page today to make it relevant for the 2016 election.
Sumner, a classical liberal, believed that strong commerce helped the poor better than the best government benefit. "If you do anything for the Forgotten Man, you must secure him his earnings and savings, that is, you legislate for the security of capital and for its free employment," Sumner wrote.
Shlaes does not take sides in the election but rather suggests a point for clarification:
Here's an opening question for the first Trump-Clinton debate: "Who is the forgotten man?"
July 26, 2016
Review Corner - City Journal
It's hard for me to judge this article (and forgive my usurpation of the TS style guide by posting an article), as it hits too close to home... and also is damn near a novella that this single-dad-with-long-commute has still failed to finish! Like so many sparkling articles in the past, Myron Magnet's offering on the growth of the administrative state (or what I've long called "the unelected government"), interestingly titled "Why are Voters so Angry?" is a tome.
He blames the birth on Wilson, the growth model on FDR, and the current expansion on the spinlessness of the USSC. It ranges articulately from Lois Lerner's transgressions (and John Koskinen's intransigence) to gritty analogies like
a new kind of government has grown up inside the old structure, like those parasites hatched in another organism that grow by eating up their host from within, until the adult creature bursts out of the host’s carcass. This transformation is not an evolution but a usurpation.
He provides no data I found that the voters' agree with his premise, and I'm too busy cheering him on to see if there are signals cited, but he has many examples
Unease over illegal immigration also has stoked today’s fear that the government no longer belongs to the people, and it’s important to understand the separate but mutually reinforcing ways that it has done so.
submitted for your persual; 4 stars.
July 25, 2016
Voters Who Know Better
Who'd've feared that constituency? Mary Anastasia O'Grady suggests Donald Trump.
Beating Nafta like a piñata worked in the Republican primary. But it is likely to hurt Mr. Trump and GOP candidates further down the ticket in the general election. Mexico is, after all, the U.S.’s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export market.
I find his comments on China just as disturbing. But there is some ambiguity about China. They are lax with intellectual property and autocratic -- a reasonable person might ask if they are perhaps currency manipulators or perhaps wish to extend the DH to the National League.
I disagree but that is at least getting into the arcane. "Fair trade!' "Level playing field!' "Guys with funky hair dating really hot chicks!" they say, and who can argue? But Nafta gives up the game. Nafta has been a gift to the world and it is demagoguery to suggest otherwise.
July 23, 2016
Is Trump a "Right-Liberal?"
And if so, why don't jk and dagny admire him?
I'm so perplexed by my relative willingness to rally on the "Trump Train" and so many of my friends and relatives unwillingness, I went back to the Political Coordinates Test for possible clues.
I don't know where Donald Trump would fall on the Political Coordinates graph but I would expect it to be "right-liberal." Not as right, and perhaps more liberal, than the ThreeSourcers in that quadrant, but this is admittedly a guess. Interestingly, Trump is positioning as the "law and order candidate." That is a strongly communitarian sentiment, but I doubt that is what turns off jk or dagny, or cements his appeal to jg's dad. It does appeal to moi, jg, however, despite my scoring as a "liberal" and not a communitarian.
I'll not overreach here and attempt too many conclusions. I just thought this line of examination might help explain some things. But I need some help getting there.
UPDATE (jk): I thought I'd try taking the test as I understand Donald Trump's positions.(It might be expanded into some original reporting with snippets of speeches or policy positions to back it up.) But the first question made me laugh so hard, I'm not certain I can continue:
UPDATE II (Still jk): Pfffft!
"Strongman" or LEO-in-Chief?
Democrat pollster Doug Schoen on Trump's nomination speech:
No, not a dark and authoritarian direction. A safe and secure and prosperous one. A different course than the one Hillary and her former boss have steered for nigh on eight years.
But she’s got another challenge, and one that is perhaps larger than what she expected. She needs to address the issues of law and order, safety, and security, as well as terrorism, in the way that Trump presented them given the challenges that we are all facing as Americans.
And what is really wrong with putting America's oxygen mask on first, before setting out to rescue the world from its problems?
And then there's the CNN polling on the speech.
July 22, 2016
All Hail Charles Koch!
Half the Koch Brothers have a superb guest editorial in the WSJ today, citing "dangerous signs that the U.S. is turning its back on the principles of a free and open society that fostered the nation's rise."
Despite our enormous potential for further progress, a clear majority of Americans see a darker future. Some 56% believe their children's lives will be worse off than their own, according to a January CNN poll. A Rasmussen poll released the following month found that 46% believe America's best days are behind it. Little more than a third believe better days lie ahead.
Much worth a read in full.
To be fair, I have frequently chastised Reason magazine for "doth protesting too much" at Republican nominees. I feel liberty would have been better served had Gov. Romney or even Sen. McCain beaten our current president. I don't expect them to get into line, but I've thought them too harsh.
This is a new year, baby. This is a new era. Peter Suderman nails my thoughts:
Trump's entire speech was packed with threats and power grabs, details be damned. It was a speech about how government should be made bigger and stronger and given more authority over every part of American life, and government, in most cases, simply meant Donald Trump himself. It was an argument for unlimited government under a single man, for rule by Trump's whim. He sounded less like he was running for president and more like he was campaigning to be an American despot.
Dark days. Hat-tip to his lovely bride, Megan McArdle on Facebook
July 19, 2016
The two faces of Trump
I keep asking Trump detractors, "What is so bad about him that you would not do everything in your power to defeat Hillary?" The common theme is his character - rude and crude, sexist, speaks without thinking, etc.
In a column for which I otherwise have no use, Robert J. Samuelson is more specific in his criticism. And in that criticism I am prone to criticize the critic.
Trump's serious deficiencies are of character, not intellect. He is a salesman whose favorite product is himself. His moral code is defined by what works. What works to build his popularity is legitimate, even if it's untrue, tasteless, personally cruel or inconsistent with what he's said before. What doesn't work is useless, even if it involves incontrovertible truths, important policies or common courtesies.
If his moral code really is "defined by what works" then he is a realist. Meaning, he does not seek to evade reality, he embraces it. Samuelson sees this as a fault, but the stated reasons are "even if it's untrue, tasteless, personally cruel or inconsistent with what he's said before." Let's examine these individually:
Untrue - How can something work if it is untrue? I think he means lying to achieve an end (c.f. Hillary Clinton) but epistemologically speaking, "true" equates with "works" so I can only conclude that Samuelson is referring to subjective truth, i.e. partisan opinion.
Then there are Samuelson's critiques of "what doesn't work." Yes, what doesn't work is useless. I agree. If they really were "incontrovertible truths" then they would work so, again, incontrovertible only subjectively, in the opinion of Samuelson and his fellow relativists. Important policies? Important to whom. For what. At what cost. Common courtesies? A replacement term for the now discredited self-censorship of "Political Correctness."
I submit that Trump is not a man of poor character or a populist weathervane. Instead he is an experimentalist. He tests ideas in practice and can afford to lose the investment he makes in ideas that fail. It has worked for him in business, so now he's trying it in politics. And if his approach proves to be a spectacular failure, it will be no greater defeat than that of Messr's McCain and Romney before him. In contrast to those men though, his movement of supporters believe, at least Trump will give every effort and not neuter or censor himself in the contest - in the name of "good taste."
So go ahead, Donny, swear a little. I'm with the lot who have had it up to here with the bullshit we've seen for the last 30 years. And even Samuelson admits, Trump's deficiencies are not of intellect.
Larry Kudlow, Omnihawk
My impression of Mr. Kudlow has always been that he is a man of the eastern metropolises - a polite way of calling him erudite, elitist, and dismissive of "cowboy" wisdom. That's not the way his editorial reads to me today.
So when Donald Trump made it clear that this, in fact, "is war," deserving of a declaration of war, he distinguished himself. No one else has done it. Not Congress. Not Obama. Certainly not Clinton.
Jobs Hawk, Prosperity Hawk and Pence Hawk-
In Indiana, which has been hard hit by manufacturing losses, job declines and shrinking wages, Governor Pence combined tax cuts with spending restraint to spur the Hoosier economy. In this important respect he would be an excellent spokesman within the industrial Rust Belt, which includes Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These states have all suffered similarly, but they're states where polling suggests Trump could carry the day in November. Pence helps get him there.
Contributing to GOP unity, Pence is a churchgoing evangelical family man. He believes that "the sanctity of human life is the central axiom of Western civilization." In this respect he will be an important bridge to social conservatives. And he might just soften the opposition of the Never Trump movement.
And finally, if not "Trump Hawk," most definitely Trump-Pence Hawk-
So this was a week where we learned a Trump-Pence ticket will seek to declare and wage war to destroy ISIS. We learned that the GOP ticket is pro-growth, ready for tax cuts and deregulation. And we learned that the ticket will be allied with traditional and social conservatives. With these credentials, Trump-Pence is in position to carry states in November that no Republican has won in decades.
July 18, 2016
Must See Tee Vee
Colorado GOP Senate nominee Darryl Glenn is scheduled to address the GOP Convention in Cleveland during prime time tonight - Monday, July 18 at 7:30 pm MDT (6:30 pm Pacific)
Here is the speech.
The "Four-Cs" of Trump
There are the "Four Cs of Education" and the "Four Cs of Credit." Today Stephen Moore, who with Larry Kudlow and Art Laffer comprise Donald Trump's senior economic team, recited the Four C's of Trump:
HC - Hillary Clinton must be defeated
All well and good, I suppose, as far as it goes. Too bad the man is such a vulgar, bigoted, male-chauvinist, ignorant bully who has, at various times in his pre-political life, taken positions on issues that offend our principles. Guess our country would be better off with career-politician Hillary, who has consistently been a corrupt, statist redistributionist and foreign policy surrender monkey. Because, Principles!
July 14, 2016
No, not for my brilliant, "blood-on-the-streets" investment. But in Forbes none the less:
Nathan Thompson, CEO of Spectra Logic, with co-authors Bob Cone and John Kranz have published a book called "Society's Genome: Genetic Diversity's Role in Digital Preservation" that explores this concept. The authors this book is a guide to understanding greater trends in information storage and data preservation. The book details how vital it is to store our information, and the astounding statistics around society's digital data growth and utilization.
July 13, 2016
All Hail Taranto!
The big question is how many supporters Sanders will bring along with his ho-hum endorsement. Obviously many primary voters are loyal partisans who will support the nominee even if she was their second, third or nth choice. But Sanders, like Trump, had an outsider appeal that may not be transferrable to someone so far inside that she has a vitamin D deficiency. -- James Taranto
Blood in the Streets
I made the first good financial decision of my life -- well, if you don't count the occasional purchase of a cool guitar.
As the market tumbled after Brexit, I thought of the old stock market adage "Buy when there'e blood in the streets." I had a bunch of cash that I moved into IRAs to make the deadline. I went full into equities and REITs (though old-lady ETFs of course).
They went down a little more the next day and the next, but I remained confident.
Record highs yesterday, up today.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 121 points Tuesday, vaulting the 30-stock measure to its first record close since May 2015, joining the S&P 500, which notched its second record close in two days.
Like I say, I would not boast if things always went well. But I put all that Kudlow waching to use this year. Bought when there was blood in the streets.
UPDATE: It turns south, of course, as soon as I post! Clearly we'll lose a thousand off the DJIA today.
July 12, 2016
Headline of the . . . Eternity
"Jeb Bush blames Pope Francis for rise of Trump" -- Christian Today
Hat-tip: James Taranto
July 11, 2016
A couple of lads from Alabama, whose mug-shots do little to dispel stereotypes of my Father's birthplace, were -- it seems -- extremely careless with their campfire. And this being Colorado in July:
We must someday open the topic of mens rea. Harvey Silverglate and I are quite concerned that we now commit "Three Felonies a Day" [Review Corner], not only without criminal intent, but without knowledge. Gibson guitars had no criminal intent in importing half-finished fretboards from India, yet they faced the cold steel of the Fish & Game SWAT Team (I wince every time I type that). Because they violated "The Lacy Act."
Stossel and Reason have shown numerous egregious examples. One guy goes to prison for importing lobsters in plastic instead of cardboard. Prison -- for something he had done as a business for may years. The answer is mens rea reform: no jail for some stupid law you had no idea existed.
Yet, there must be exceptions. The two lads from Alabama are in the clink. They face not only my specious ridicule, but severe charges -- especially if life is lost in the blaze. I'm not sure I agree with that. I'd offer them mens non rea leniency.
But they were "Extremely Careless." And even the bad kids in the back know where I am heading. Sec. Clinton was negligent in an area that was her job to understand. I don't know about the Alabama Arson Squad, but her malfeasance included the desire to shield or conceal public information.
Lock up the stupid campers if you must, but not if Sec. Clinton skates.
July 10, 2016
Although a feeling of awe at the capability of humans is clearly justified, there is a large difference between a deep sense of admiration and the assumption that our reasoning abilities are perfect. In fact, this book is about human irrationality-- about our distance from perfection. I believe that recognizing where we depart from the ideal is an important part of the quest to truly understand ourselves, and one that promises many practical benefits. Understanding irrationality is important for our everyday actions and decisions, and for understanding how we design our environment and the choices it presents to us.There's the book. Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. The good, the bad, and the ugly captured in one quote.
I forget how I ended up with this book. I bought the Kindle edition on the Fourth of July. It sounds up my street. And, while I would not dissuade anyone from reading it, brace yourself for an uncharacteristically harsh Review Corner (where four stars qualifies as a "pan.")
Have to do the good before the bad and the ugly. And I enjoyed the book. Ariely has a clever style, wit, and the information is truly interesting. Born in Israel, Ariely has had an impressive academic career and is currently "the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University." His years of research have been heavily devoted to conducting experiments. Each chapter includes descriptions of one or two experiments -- generally performed on university students at MIT, Harvard and Duke. And they are very interesting.
I've no doubt I'll be boring my companions with these experiments for years to come. This guy sold expensive truffles for a quarter and Hershey's Kisses for a penny and everyone bought the truffles. But when the Kisses were free and the Truffles 20 cents, everyone took the free one."
And since nothing had changed in relative terms, the response to the price reduction should have been exactly the same. A passing economist, twirling his cane and espousing conventional economic theory, in fact, would have said that since everything in the situation was the same, our customers should have chosen the truffles by the same margin of preference.*
Interesting, is it not? Many of them are surprising, all are enjoyable. I muffed the numbers as I will surely do telling this story at a later date.
Another "good" is a great riff on "social norms versus market norms." You don't pull out a wad of twenties to thank your Mother-in-law for Thanksgiving dinner, and you don't expect a free cappuccino at Starbucks because you're a swell guy.
If companies want to benefit from the advantages of social norms, they need to do a better job of cultivating those norms. Medical benefits, and in particular comprehensive medical coverage, are among the best ways a company can express its side of the social exchange. But what are many companies doing? They are demanding high deductibles in their insurance plans, and at the same time are reducing the scope of benefits. Simply put, they are undermining the social contract between the company and the employees and replacing it with market norms.
We balance both these norms. After this chapter, a lawsuit was threatened against our HOA (it must be a day that ends with "y"). I proposed offering a compromise to the resident to try and preserve the "social norm" relationship.
Wow, this book is interesting and you've applied it to your daily life! Must be headed for five stars, eh? Umm, no. I has substantive philosophical flaws. Based on experiments with college students at prestigious institutions, generally on trivial matters like ten cents for each correct answer or dimes' worth of candy, Ariely wants to regulate society and discount the entire field of economics.
This is especially the case with society's essentials, such as health care, medicine, water, electricity, education, and other critical resources. If you accept the premise that market forces and free markets will not always regulate the market for the best, then you may find yourself among those who believe that the government (we hope a reasonable and thoughtful government) must play a larger role in regulating some market activities, even if this limits free enterprise. Yes, a free market based on supply, demand, and no friction would be the ideal if we were truly rational. Yet when we are not rational but irrational, policies should take this important factor into account.
They took the free candy! The truffles were a better deal! It's Obamacare for them!!!!
Yes, Doctor Ariely, people can act emotionally. And nobody said all decisions are great. A Facebook friend just got food poisoning from gas station sushi. Her normally sympathetic friends are all reproaching her: "gas station sushi? Really?"
Because college students in a state of extreme sexual arousal (by far the best experiment in the book! Wow, I should share salacious detail!) do not make the most intelligent decisions, surely he has proven that we all need nannies. (Or maybe French Maids in fishnet stockin-- let it go, jk!)
The author is certain that the passing economist "twirling his cane and espousing conventional economic theory" lacks his heightened understanding, but it is Ariely who misreads utility. When he was young, he took a web quiz to see "what kind of car to buy" as he gave up his beloved motorcycle. When the page suggested a Ford Focus, he rebelled and bought a roadster to better approximate the missing freedom of his bike. The only irrationality I see is assuming that some web page is truly the Oracle of Transportation.
How are we going to save enough money?
Europeans do a lot better-- they save an average of 20 percent. Japan’s rate is 25 percent. China's is 50 percent. So what's up with America? I suppose one answer is that Americans have succumbed to rampant consumerism. Go back to a home built before we had to have everything, for instance, and check out the size of the closets. Our house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example, was built in 1890. It has no closets whatsoever. Houses in the 1940s had closets barely big enough to stand in. The closet of the 1970s was a bit larger, perhaps deep enough for a fondue pot, a box of eight-track tapes, and a few disco dresses. But the closet of today is a different breed.
Yes, and that indoor plumbing, telephones, and televisions.
Ariely is a nice guy, and a reasonable man. I'd be happy to know my nieces and nephews were in one of his classes (take the truffle, Janice!) But he is a stock academic. "Rational" is agreeing with the faculty lounge and the NY Times. Everybody else, well they need some direction. So's they can be rational, too.
In society, no doubt, we would all be healthier if the health police arrived in a van and took procrastinators to the ministry of cholesterol control for blood tests. This may seem extreme, but think of the other dictates that society imposes on us for our own good. We may receive tickets for jaywalking, and for having our seat belts unsecured. No one thought 20 years ago that smoking would be banned in most public buildings across America, as well as in restaurants and bars, but today it is-- with a hefty fine incurred for lighting up. And now we have the movement against trans fats. Should people be deprived of heart-clogging french fries? Sometimes we strongly support regulations that restrain our self-destructive behaviors, and at other times we have equally strong feelings about our personal freedom.
With all due respect, Sir, I have strong feelings about my personal liberty all the time. Your work is fascinating, but you are mistaken to extrapolate the behaviour of privileged college students in inconsequential matters to dictate policy to the public at large.
Two stars for you. Add if you don't go away, I will taunt you another time.
July 8, 2016
All Hail Jonah!
"There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton," President Obama declared this week. Take that Jefferson! Sit your mansplaining ass down, Ike ! Hillary's here.
July 7, 2016
Quote of the Day
Why do we stand for this?
July 6, 2016
Quote of the Day
Most distressing is what this episode augurs for another Clinton Administration. Mrs. Clinton deliberately sought to evade the Federal Records Act, recklessly flouted laws on handling classified information, spent a year lying about it, and will now have escaped accountability. This will confirm the Clinton family habit, learned so painfully in the 1990s, that they can get away with anything if they deny it long enough and are protected by a friendly media and political class. -- WSJ Ed Page
July 5, 2016
Self demolishing Tesla
I can't find the thread where self-driving cars was discussed, but this article from a Tech pub is a very good summary of the FL fatal accident in early May while a man's Tesla was operating on Autopilot.
The comments are quite good as well (all geeks, no activists get this far).
Happy July Fifth!
Propsworthiness from Helen Raleigh [Review Corner]
When asked for a reaction about FBI Director Comey's report, Secretary Clinton said
"Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh.Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh.Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh.Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh.Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh.Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh.Kheh Hehh heeh. Heh kheh hehhn! Kyeh kheh heh heh! Heh khyeh heh"
Photo credit Associated Press c/o WSJ.
All Hail Taranto!
Yesterday the Times reported that "Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say [that if elected] she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation's first black woman to be attorney general, who took office in April 2015." Some might call that a conflict of interest, but in Clintonworld it's known as "a win-win."
A Sad Day for the Rule of Law
Dust off your pith helmet and read some Kipling, we're hunting RINOs!
As has been shared, I have a rather different threshold for RINOism than most of my Tea Party peers. The attacks on leadership seem tautologically incorrect. If the people elected by the people your party elected do not in any way represent "your party," then you have some other things going on.
It's fine -- commendable -- to be disappointed in leadership. I'm fine with "those buffoons don't know their asses from their elbows!" or "My grandma could Whip a vote better than those losers and she's blind and deaf!" One needn't worship them, but suggesting that the Speaker of the House and previous VP Nominee is not a Republican seems a bridge too far.
The WSJ Ed Page is somewhat establishment, but they have kept the economic, prosperitarian lamp lit in the GOP for some time. Today, they suggest that a Trump Presidency would elevate the House GOP to a position of thought leadership. And that that might not be so bad.
Donald Trump is running for President by stressing opposition to trade and immigration. That limited-we'd say crabbed--agenda means that if the presumptive GOP nominee does by some chance win in November, the proposals to watch are coming out of the Republican House majority. Mr. Trump will need their ideas to have any hope of governing.
Indeed. To be fair, most of the article's props redound to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), but the house leadership as a group deserves better philosophical marks than it gets.
July 4, 2016
(From my neighborhood Facebook group:) The Internet: allowing the insufferable to connect since 1997:
July 3, 2016
A good question may be the last job a machine will learn to do.
Kevin Kelly is not afraid of AI. To be fair, Kevin Kelly is not afraid of much. The Review Corner Style Guide dictates that all reviews begin with a quote, but I was tempted to open with my own bon mot: Kevin Kelly makes Matt Ridley look like Parson Thomas Malthus.
In his The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, he concedes -- once and perfunctorily -- that there will be flaws and setbacks and problems with the new technology he embraces. But, contra Malthus (and quite a few moderns), he trusts humans to make it work out.
Nor does he claim to predict the future. But he does provide several rosy scenarios describing what could be in the 12 inevitable trends he describes are indeed inevitable. Adding intelligence to things will make them better. Kelly looks askance at people who sit around complaining that they missed the dot com boom. There is just as much low-hanging fruit today; for starters taxe X and add AI to it; repeat for multiple values of X.
All these miraculous inventions are waiting for that crazy, no-one-told-me-it-was-impossible visionary to start grabbing the low-hanging fruit-- the equivalent of the dot-com names of 1984. Because here is the other thing the graybeards in 2050 will tell you: Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an innovator in 2016? It was a wide-open frontier!
ThreeSourcers, with their love of language and of technology, will enjoy the book -- and will also enjoy his foundational riff that nouns are becoming verbs. You car (that's a noun to you kids in the back) is being replaced by Uber and autonomous sharing, riding, transporting.
Upon this relentless change all the disruptions of modernity ride. I’ve waded through the myriad technological forces erupting into the present and I’ve sorted their change into 12 verbs, such as accessing, tracking, and sharing. To be more accurate, these are not just verbs, but present participles, the grammatical form that conveys continuous action. These forces are accelerating actions.
I am bravely (quixotically?) holding on to the noun of "music collection." It started with crates of 12" LPs, moved to CD's, then mp3s and now it mostly lives in the cloud. But it seems arcane to my Spotified nieces and nephews. My nephew's new album was just released. It wasn't real to his sisters and cousins until it was available on Spotify. (Dude -- I bought it. You get a dollar from me and fractions of pennies from your sisters.)
That is one of his verbs and I do not doubt for a moment that he is right. My enjoyment of music necessitates a more active and intimate role. Blog Brother Bryan once spoke of enjoying "having ownership in a book." I dig out an old album and feel the same. But we are anachronisms.
You get a better telephone every few months because a flow of new operating systems install themselves on your smartphone, adding new features and new benefits that in the past would have required new hardware. Then, when you do get new hardware, the service maintains the familiar operating system you had, flowing your personalization onto the new device. This total sequence of perpetual upgrades is continuous. It's a dream come true for our insatiable human appetite: rivers of uninterrupted betterment.
It is technological and spectacularist in nature (those are two compliments), but he is not at all immune to philosophy, to application and meaning.
People of the Book favor solutions by laws, while People of the Screen favor technology as a solution to all problems. Truth is, we are in transition, and the clash between the cultures of books and screens occurs within us as individuals as well. If you are an educated modern person, you are conflicted by these two modes.
Kelly was at Wired magazine for the first boom. It was becoming obvious that there were going to be 500 TV stations. What nobody could figure out was : who will create all this content? Instead there are millions of virtual stations and no shortage of content creation. For generations who supposedly stopped reading and writing, we are writing far more than previous generations. Facebook posts, blogging, fan fiction, Wikipedia entries, &c.
We live in a golden age now. The volume of creative work in the next decade will dwarf the volume of the last 50 years. More artists, authors, and musicians are working than ever before, and they are creating significantly more books, songs, films, documentaries, photographs, artworks, operas, and albums every year. Books have never been cheaper, and more available, than today. Ditto for music, movies, games, and every kind of creative content that can be digitally copied. The volume and variety of creative works available have skyrocketed. More and more of civilization's past works-- in all languages-- are no longer hidden in rare-book rooms or locked up in archives, but are available a click away no matter where you live.
Oh to be alive in that glorious year of 2016!
Five stars -- easily five.
July 1, 2016
Trotsky? Never heard of Comrade Trotsky
The Clinton malfeasance described in Kim Strassel's column comes in waves. You just start to recover from one, and then in comes another. Most are truly evil. Yet, the difference between tke first President Clinton and the second is that #45 lies when she doesn't have to.
After her moneybags friend was removed from the International Security Advisory Board, where "Mr. Fernando had no background that would have qualified him to sit on the ISAB," she spiked his appointment, then amusingly airbrushed it away:
Meantime, we have yet more evidence of a politicized State Department flacking for Hillary’s misdeeds. It continues to stonewall demands for documents. It issued a statement after the Citizens United emails came out, defending the Fernando appointment on grounds that the ISAB's charter calls for "a balance of backgrounds and points of view"--thereby giving the Clinton campaign cover.
Next week, on 60 Minutes, I'm expecting "ISAB? There's no organization by that name..."
"Good Guys" with Guns
I post these as a bookmark as much as a sermon to the choir.
My lefty facebook friends (I don't know whether I have ever mentioned it before, but yes, some of my feed skews left) have posted several versions of memes asserting that it has NEVER happened that a civilian, carry-permit holder has stopped a shooting.
Never? I remember a couple in Colorado off the top of my head, and hear of them from time to time. Eugene Volokh publishes a better list
A while back I posted about a few examples, but since then there have been some more, so I thought I'd note them. Naturally, such examples will be rare. Even in states which allow concealed carry, there often aren't people near a shooting who have a gun on them at the time. Many mass shootings happen in supposedly "gun-free" zones (such as schools, universities, bars, or private property posted with a no-guns sign), in which gun carrying isn't allowed in many states. And there is no central database of such examples, many of which don’t hit the national media, especially if a gunman is stopped before he shoots many victims. Moreover, at least some examples are ambiguous, because it might be unclear -- as you’ll see below -- whether the shooter had been planning to kill more people when he was stopped.
I like that he is deliberately cautious. The Swift-boat phenomenon dictates that if your most outlandish claim is discredited -- all your claims are thusly falsified. His list is careful and well documented.
Jackbooted Thugs from the CDC
A neighbor posts this on a Facebook page for the neighborhood.
As I'm relaxing on my sofa last night alone at home , my doorbell rings. As most people do, we occasionally just don't want to answer the door after a long day of work. Typically it's a salesman anyway. So it rang once, then twice..then a hard knock on my door. I look over and then see the guy peering thru my window next to my front door. He finally leaves. So out of curiosity, I go out the door and stand next to my brick wall and here him talking to my neighbor. He clearly asked them where we were tonight. I see his car parked in front of our neighbors house. Figuring then that he has probably given up. I go back in my house. A minute later he is ringing and banging on my door again.
Another group member finds this page on the CDC site: "Welcome NHIS Participants" Umm yeah, right.
Several thoughts well in my head. One, they don't have the money to fight the Zika virus unless the mean ol' Republicans up their budget. Could we perhaps divert some resources from the CDC SS? Two, I hope you may have read Jonah's or Kevin Williamson's great pieces on "Rationalia." (A better blogger would have linked yesterday, but we do our best with a low budget. Kinda like the CDC...)
Rationalia suggests that we don't need deliberative legislators. His Eminence Neil deGrasse Tyson says that "Science" and data will always provide the right answer.
Professor Tyson, who may be the dumbest smart person on Twitter, yesterday wrote that what the world really needs is a new kind of virtual state -- he wants to call it "Rationalia" -- with a one-sentence constitution: "All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence."
Williamson & Goldberg (they opened for the Stones at Altamont) make trenchant philosophical cases. I'll add the step down into Brave New World required by the data collection.