July 31, 2017

Quote of the Day

It's not Lord Ridley, but it is Ridleyesque:

Consider this: In 1900, 1% of American women giving birth died in labor. Today, the five-year mortality rate for localized breast cancer is 1.2%. Being pregnant 100 years ago was almost as dangerous as having breast cancer is today. -- Morgen Housel



City of Stars

At last -- my lovely bride joins me in the Coffeehouse for a duet!

Justin Hurwitz, Lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul ©2016

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at July 31, 2017 7:35 PM

July 28, 2017

COEXIST! (Unless you think you're more oppressed than me)

What do you get when you award special status to a range of "victim" groups, such as women, racial minorities and religious minorities, and then convey additive special status for the "intersectionality" of multiples of these groups? European social psychologists have studied the situation and their published findings demonstrate something they call "competitive victimhood."

We propose that, in some societal circumstances, this competition bears on the recognition of past sufferings - rather than on their relative severity - fostering negative intergroup attitudes. Three studies are presented. (...) Overall, these studies provide evidence that struggle for victimhood recognition can foster intergroup conflict.

The paper was published in March but this week's Dailywire dot com article about it distills the essence:

The underpinnings of much the modern-day Oppression Olympics comes in the form of intersectionality, which argues that various forms of oppression against minority groups are interconnected. The intention was to create coalitions of people to understand where other people come from and how their experiences and their identity could help defeat The System. This creates various ghost-like figures, such as "The Patriarchy" or "the Zionists," who are responsible for the oppression of others. However, intersectionality has forced people of different backgrounds to compete as to who has been oppressed more and for others to get in line if their identity could possibly result in someone else's poor fortune.

At risk of oversimplification, allow me to try distilling it even further. Demanding special status and treatment, even to the point of actively discriminating against others, fosters resentment amongst others who earnestly play the same game. And what once were natural allies become distrustful and resentful of each other, while competing for the same spoils of alms. It's hard to see how this ends well for the SJWs.

To which I reply, "Intersect away."

Quote of the Day

A former colleague once summed up John McCain's political philosophy: "Duty. Honor. Country. Everything else is negotiable." -- James Freeman

July 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

Now, forgive the interjection, but that one sentence actually features a pleonasm within a pleonasm, which is a truly rare feat of windbaggery. My hearing ears started to bleed at the redundancy of "listening audience," but the whole eight-word phrase from "tell" to "audience" means nothing more than "say." Bravo! -- Don Boudreaux
But johngalt thinks:

In fairness, her writing* means far more than merely the verb "say." It means "say in such a way that they then may believe it to be true, along with any similarly deluded persons within the range of their spoken or written word who choose to actually pay attention to said words."

Now, much as I philosophically reject the premises of Ms. MacLean, I can't sit still while she is accused of prosaic inefficiency when she used a mere 8 words to convey what I then expressed the essence of using thirty-eight.

* The passage at issue is: "tell themselves and those in their listening audience..."

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2017 4:13 PM

July 24, 2017

All Hail Freeman

"Too many Americans are struggling with a rigged economy," Ms. Pelosi wrote on Twitter this morning. But she probably hasn't met too many of them at today's event. If an economist had to pick the one place in America that has benefitted most from a rigged economy, it would probably be Virginia's 10th congressional district. It includes both a significant number of government employees and a heavy concentration of the lobbyists who are paid to influence them. -- James Freeman, "Down Home Democrats
But johngalt thinks:

"Too many Americans are struggling with a rigged economy." Wasn't that an early Trump Tweet?

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2017 6:46 PM
But jk thinks:

FDR's New Deal, Truman's Square Deal, Schumer's Better Deal. They had one idea, and a bad one at that, and they repackage it as needed.

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2017 9:56 AM
But johngalt thinks:

It may be a bad idea, but it has become a part of our governing principles - in the form of FDR's "Second Bill of Rights." While this "Economic" bill of rights was never ratified in any way, but merely the central element of a speech by the then President, it became the moral authority upon which the New Deal was founded and has not been refuted or discredited in a material way to this day.

Last night at Flatirons Liberty on the Rocks we heard passionate and eloquent arguments in favor of privatizing or bringing market competition to all functions of government. But that seems an utter impossibility if we cannot first unseat the misguided notion that every man is entitled to economic support from his neighbors.

Posted by: johngalt at July 25, 2017 12:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, four guys arguing over what kind of government they can't have. At least the beer was good!

Thanks to everybody who showed up!

-- My remarks (as written, any reseblence to what I stammered out is purely coincidental!)

-- Justin's (He's a good and disciplined orator -- this matches my memory pretty well. And, he's got a photo.)

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2017 2:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"My challenge is this: Every time you advocate that government provide a certain good or service, replace the word government in your mind with the word monopoly. Then try to think of economic reasons why a monopoly would provide that particular thing better."

The first and best answer is national defense. A nation's army should be a monopoly. For economic reasons, and much more. First, don't divide your forces. Second, don't have more than one chain of command. Third, don't have more than one commander-in-chief.

But I'm stuck in past and present thinking. Much of what government does CAN be done competitively. And should. Let's start with health care - Obamacare and Cruzcare should exist side by side, with consumers FREE to CHOOSE between them. May the best plan win.

Posted by: johngalt at July 25, 2017 3:19 PM

July 21, 2017

What We're Up Against

We do not have a world according to Denver Post category without reason. I am going to try and keep this out of the Rant category (which also exists for a reason).

A Senate Obamacare repeal could throw Colorado's individual insurance market "into a death spiral"

The headline is best enjoyed with the accompanying photo:


And the photo best enjoyed with the caption.

Dr. Reyna Ulibarri, a doctorate in sociology, talks about how the Affordable Care Act helped her enroll in Medicaid to get her health back on track during a health care rally at the west steps of the State Capitol on Feb. 7, 2017 in Denver.

A Doctor -- of Sociology -- on the dole (I am one exclamation mark away from rant) addressing the crowd. All of whom made matching signs before arriving at the rally. One might wonder if it was hard to get the time off work, but that could be misconstrued as a rant.

One might also suspect that the ACA itself, with many ill-thought provisions and unintended consequences had started this "death spiral" (those are not air quotes, I am quoting the article) through governmental mismanagement. One would read the article in vain for any such suggestion.

I only wish I subscribed so that I could cancel.

But johngalt thinks:

A far cry from the hand-lettered signs you wrote on the dashboard while driving to the State Capitol in 2008 for that TEA Party rally, eh brother?

As for time off work: Uh, they're on the dole.

My answer to "HEALTHCARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT" is "Get a job." I don't see any crutches or wheel chairs.

And, come to notice it, every single one of the faces in this frame are Caucasian. Which means, telling them to get a job does not make me racist, even by the race-baiters' definition.

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2017 7:41 PM
But jk thinks:

A far cry indeed. The tight composition leads me to suspect that every person there was packed into the frame.

But I think my blog brother is unfair in suggesting that all the attendees are on the dole. Surely, many of the have full time jobs with the Union.

Posted by: jk at July 22, 2017 12:10 PM

July 20, 2017

Otequay of the Ayday

Alyene Singer at the Heritage Foundation estimates that [Obamacare individual mandate] subsidies will cost taxpayers $100 billion a year, up until 2023. In typical big government fashion, the grand barrage of mandates and subsidies and taxes and penalties is fashioned so that only the "smartest people in the room "...left-wing professors from MIT or Harvard or Stanford, can really master all the details of the plan. But if you oppose it, you are not just opposed to healthcare...you're opposing the interests of humanity.

In the end it's the classic case of government robbing Peter to pay Paul…and in this case "Peter" is the millennials. You know... the demographic group responsible for putting Obama into office, both in 2008 and 2012. As an article in Politico notes, "Mitt Romney would have cruised to the White House had he managed to split the youth vote with Barack Obama." In 2012, Obama won this demographic by a whopping 37 points, 67% to 30%.

Why would he turn around and stab them in the back? Particularly when today's youth are often in the stranglehold of massive student loan debt even before they begin to build wealth?

Because he knew he could get away with it.

Millennials are big on style and short on substance. At high schools and college campuses and hipster bars around the country, supporting Barack Obama was seen as the epitome of cool. But ask these young scholars and urban professionals to sum up the provisions of ObamaCare in 60 seconds. The results would likely be disappointing.

Young people want to be seen as progressive and open-minded and tolerant and caring. Precious few are interested in the Constitutional foundation of this country, or in learning about the way that big government socialist collectivists like Barack Obama trample on that foundation.

Obama Stabbed Millennials in the Back with Healthcare
By: David Unsworth

But jk thinks:

Tyler Cowen has produced some amazing work on the morality of time. We are stealing wealth from future Earthlings when we impede growth.

This example is more direct, but one of my favorites was the assertion that climate rules would cost "only" 1% growth of GDP. I don't know what Einstein thought this up, but 1% sounds small. Yet you have stolen half the wealth of the person born in 72 years.

How do you fix this? You need to have these young people thing rationally and methodically. I can see that if they take a class from Tyler Cowen. From Nancy McLean? Not so much.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2017 10:15 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"One percent growth of GDP" does sound small, but since current annual GDP growth is two to three percent, it destroys roughly 50% of GDP growth. Is it just me, or does that sound large?

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2017 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Well, if you're going to use math.....

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2017 1:36 PM

Colorado Republicans Celebrate Freedom

No, not Libertarians... Republicans.

Freedom. Freedom to think independently. Freedom to speak freely. Freedom to associate and gather, roundup. Freedom what makes America great. Freedom Roundup. The keynote speaker for the Inaugural Freedom Roundup Dinner, Jillian Melchior, editor of HEAT STREET and former reporter for Wall Street Journal and National Review, is an investigative reporter who takes head-on the challenges and assault to free speech and individual rights and exposes the hypocrisies to group-think and political correctness. Young. Dynamic. Smart. Courageous. Rising Star, catch her now!

The fundraising dinner is this Saturday night and yours truly has bought a table of eight. PM me if you'd like to join us!


July 19, 2017

Supporting jg's Equanimity


Cannot say the investment community is all that bent about GOP failures.

Not sure that's gonna work...


But johngalt thinks:

Joe Kennedy III. He's the one who crashed his car while driving drugged, right? Just checking. "I can't remember how long the President has been saying he won't stop beating his wife."

Trump is deflecting this attack saying, "I'm ready to sign it. Put the bill on my desk. Don't leave town until it's done."

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2017 11:24 AM

Life is not ThreeSources

I misuse the blog franchise/meme just a bit. A more specific headline would be "WSJ Ed Page not heeding Brother jg's call for calm:"

Senate Republicans killed their own health-care bill on Monday evening, and some are quietly expressing relief: The nightmare of a hard decision is finally over, and now on to supposedly more crowd-pleasing items like tax reform. But this self-inflicted fiasco is one of the great political failures in recent U.S. history, and the damage will echo for years.

The proximate cause of death was Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas linking arms and becoming the third and fourth public opponents. The previous two public holdouts were Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could lose only two GOP Senators. But this defeat had many authors, some of whom are pictured nearby and all of whom hope to evade accountability for preserving the ObamaCare status quo.

But this wasn't the inevitable result of some tide of progressive history. These were choices made by individuals to put their narrow political and ideological preferences ahead of practical legislative progress. The GOP's liabilities now include a broken promise to voters; wasting seven months of a new Administration in order to not solve manifest health-care problems; less of a claim to be a governing party; and the harm that these abdications will wreak on the rest of the Republican agenda and maybe their hold on Congress.

And, again, what an odd coalition: Sens. Susan Collins, Rob Portman, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran... do these people have anything in common?

But johngalt thinks:

Investors' Ed page, however, does find common ground:

As economist Herbert Stein once put it, if something can't go on forever, it won't.

That's the reality facing ObamaCare. And it's one Democrats have so far been able to avoid by focusing the public's ire on the fumbling GOP efforts to come up with a replacement plan.

But with repeal-and-replace now off the table, all we have left is the self-destructing ObamaCare. Don't be surprised if ObamaCare's popularity suddenly nose-dives again.

Calling Collins, Portman, Paul and Lee a "coalition" is like saying "right" and "wrong" are conspiring to defeat the evil "middle." Each does it for her own reason, but the reasons are as different as night and day. Fortunately for us, though, they've saved us from that evil "middle" that looks far more like "wrong" than "right."

Boulder Refugee and I happened to talk about this last weekend. He thought Rand Paul was singlehandedly bringing down the compromise bill, and was a bit chapped. At the time I defended Senator Paul, saying it could be a Trumpian plot to make the measure look "too liberal" and keep the RINOs on board for a vote, and Paul might switch his vote at the last minute. Alas it seems the measure really was too liberal - and by liberal I mean massive wealth redistribution and massive market distortion. You'll note that I'm still defending Senator Paul.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2017 2:38 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm with The Refugee on this one. I b'lieve we share a pragmatic streak.

I went looking for the "Like" and "HaHa" buttons after reading your penultimate paragraph. It's witty, but I suggest the darker definition of coalition implied by "Bootleggers and Baptists." Sens. Paul and Lee may be consorting with angels but they are delivering a lifetime extension of the ACA.

It's failures? Why those are because the eeeevil Republicans have "starved" it and wished it to fail (because its eponymous namesake is brown according to one Facebook friend just this morning).

Libertarians gave us ObamaCare when they ran a principled candidate against mushy middle Sen. Max Baucus (Mushy Middle - MT) in 2006, sending Jon Tester to supply vote #60. Now they perpetuate it because they cannot bear to appease the Rob Portmans.

I still suspect Sen. Cory Gardner is dancing today. I am not -- and it's not just the MS.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2017 2:53 PM

July 18, 2017

Bloody RINOs!!!!

And yet...

I was partially wrong to blame "libertarian" GOP senators for the demise of Obamacare Repeal and Replace. The breaking straw as it were was a RINO from Kansas.

"I am a product of rural Kansas," [Sen. Jerry] Moran said July 6 to an overflow crowd in Palco, a small town north of Hays. "I understand the value of a hospital in your community, of a physician in your town, of a pharmacy on Main Street."

Without the ACA, how would Kansans possibly have such luxuries?

Bloody Libertarians!!!!

My favorite Senators are all in a cabal to ensure eternal government control of healthcare. As the great healthcare economist Peter Green would say, "Oh well."

Golly, I love liberty. And principle. And all that shit (uh-oh, it's now "a rant.") But I also live in Colorado and have seen 36,471 AARP commercials about the vicissitudes of "the Republican Health Care Bill." And I watched breathless coverage of the brave and true (albeit paid) disabled protesters in Sen. Cory Gardner's office. Sens. Paul, Lee, and Johnson "cannot vote for" a bill they don't like. Gardner -- and I suspect many heaving sighs today -- is out of work if he votes for a bill Paul likes.

The fact is. freedom is off the menu. The genius, if you wish to call it, of Obamacare was providing the benefits "with stroke of a pen" and deferring the casts and ramifications for future administrations and Congresses. The "right" to keep your layabout 25-year old on your insurance in case he sprains his thumb playing World of Warcraft is embedded in our hearts and statute. All moves toward liberty will be met with pain.

Jim Geraghty puts it better than I:

The problem is that "starting fresh" doesn't change any of the dynamics in place. Republicans (and, by extension, much of the country) want contradictory changes, changes that Moran lists as his requirements. Americans want lower premiums, but they also want insurance companies to keep covering preexisting conditions. They want to see the cost of Medicaid go down, or at least rise slower, but they also don't want to throw anyone off of Medicaid. They want the number of uninsured to go down, and they want the mandate repealed.

And we want property rights, privacy, and liberty. Get on it, Republicans -- time's a wastin'...

But jk thinks:

...and chocolate sprinkles on top.

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2017 1:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Now we know how the Roman Empire came to an end.

Seriously though, things that can't go on forever, won't. Nobody can say with certainty how this will turn out but something has to give. And it can get pretty bad before that has to happen. c.f. Venezuela.

Even more seriously, I think we all need to relax. The main reason nothing is happening on this in Washington is because there's no consensus over what to do amongst voters, who need to get it "good and hard" for a while longer.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2017 5:26 PM
But jk thinks:

You're clearly right on the consensus. My concern on the reaction to "Menkenian Democracy" is that the worse things get, the more people look to the State for solutions.

I'm pretty relaxed. But my buddies on the Dem-loving left and RINO-hating right have a frighteningly good point: "You guys have been planning this for seven years, and when you get the opportunity, we get this?"

Just as ObamaCare's flaws were obvious to people not named Pelosi before the bill was passed, all the challenges to Repeal and Replace were apparent since it was. No plan. No ideas. That is a disappointment.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2017 11:24 AM
But johngalt thinks:

To the contrary, mon frer, the problem was too many plans, and too many ideas, such that none could be agreed upon.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2017 2:27 PM

July 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

"But to be always worrying about the gap between me and someone else, I think it's the road to unhappiness at the individual level and the road to tyranny at the national level." -- Russ Roberts [~36:50]

July 16, 2017

Review Corner

During this same period of nine years, from my nineteenth to my twenty-eighth year, our life was one of being seduced and seducing, being deceived and deceiving (2 Tim. 3: 13), in a variety of desires. -- St. Augustine, The Confessions.
Two thinkers I admire have implicitly done me a disservice.

Both Ayn Rand and Karl Popper divide philosophers into a type of red-team vs. blue-team. I'll let those who know Rand better than I correct me if I am wrong, but my Überhoss Popper divided his "Open Society and its Enemies" into a good guy volume and a bad guy volume. Both would start with Platonists vs. Aristotelians. Apollonians vs. Dionysians, then descend the historical ladder, placing Kant and Wittgenstein et al into buckets.

Along the way, one cleaves an interstice between St, Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas: "Aquinas baptized Aristotle" in Chesterton's pithy bon mot.

The Confessions is week eight in the Hillsdale Great Books 101 MOOC I am taking. I am taking longer than 12 weeks, but I am reading the entire work for each and not the provided selections.

It is right, fitting, and proper to categorize Augustine (the lecturer pronounces it og-GUS-tin, I've said og-gus-STEEN my whole life) as a Platonist. My shame is that I've avoided him. Pari-passu with grey hairs, I'm trying to expand my thought. Three consecutive lessons from the Bible and St. Augustine are both my penance and proof.

I refused sacrifice to daemons on my behalf; yet by adherence to that superstition I sacrificed myself to them. What is it to 'feed the winds' if not to feed the spirits, that is, by one's errors to become an object of delight and derision to them?

The Confessions is enjoyable for its antiquity (~397 AD) but also for its honesty and intellect. As a youth and young adult, the author is lost to earthly pleasures and, more seriously, the cultish philosophy of Manichaeism. I appreciate that he uses rational thought and good philosophy to escape the misguided beliefs of the Manichees.
Since I had done much reading in the philosophers and retained this in my memory, I compared some of their teachings with the lengthy fables of the Manichees. The philosophers' teachings seemed to be more probable than what the Manichees said. The philosophers 'were able to judge the world with understanding' even though 'they did not find its Lord' (Wisd. 13: 9).

Aquinas gets all the props for reconciling the Church with science, but Augustine is no Torquemada. The predictive powers of even the ancient cosmology guides him to question Manichean dogma.
Many years beforehand they have predicted eclipses of sun and moon, foretelling the day, the hour, and whether total or partial. And their calculation has not been wrong. It has turned out just as they predicted. They have put the rules which they discovered into books which are read to this day. On this basis prediction can be made of the year, the month of the year, the day of the month, the hour of the day, and what proportion of light will be eclipsed in the case of either sun or moon; and it happens exactly as predicted. People who have no understanding of these things are amazed and stupefied.

[On a side note, is it not amazing that this capacity existed for thousands of years without engendering an acceptance of a non-heliocentric universe?]
I compared these with the sayings of Mani who wrote much on these matters very copiously and foolishly. I did not notice any rational account of solstices and equinoxes or eclipses of luminaries nor anything resembling what I had learnt in the books of secular wisdom. Yet I was ordered to believe Mani. But he was not in agreement with the rational explanations which I had verified by calculation and had observed with my own eyes. His account was very different.

I have a confession of my own. The first ten of 13 books are autobiographical and relate his philosophical and spiritual journey. The last three espouse the spiritual truths he has attained after conversion. I found the last three unfulfilling and bordering on tiresome. The recent convert goes on at length about his transformation. Haven't we all invented an excuse to escape such a speech in our daily lives? That's cool Jim, hey I think I hear my wife calling...

But all in all, it is a focused look at an exceedingly bright mind of antiquity. I don't think I'll apportion stars, but I would recommend it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Ah yes, Augustine. Volume 18 of the Great Books of the Western World.

No I haven't read it, but you are contributing to a rekindling of my interest in that collection.

Posted by: johngalt at July 17, 2017 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

$0.99 on Kindle!

Stars seem inappropriate, but I might do a cheesy ranking at the end. The Confessions will be in the bottom half.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2017 3:26 PM

July 13, 2017

CNN Meme Fallout

Shared by a friend:

There are dozens of these.
Here's why.

But jk thinks:

I was not going to click . . . but I did. That was pretty funny.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2017 6:50 PM

The Ultimate Voter Fraud

Bill Whittle explains how the USA would naturally vote, without one particular form of institutionalized election rigging. [2 minute video]

Did Someone Say "Government Boondoggle?"

Not our government this time, but that of South Australia (which should be thought of as "like Canada" because down under it gets colder as you go south, not warmer, and because they have a higher than average propensity for telling people what to do, and going along with what they're told.)

Elon Musk's Tesla has contracted to provide the "world's largest battery storage facility" for connection to South Australia's electrical grid. The 100 Megawatt, 129 Megawatt-hour array of thermally-managed rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs "will be able to power around 30,000 homes at max capacity, which Tesla says is equivalent to how many were without power during a storm that caused a state-wide blackout in South Australia in 2016. The real goal, however, is to help stabilize the South Australian electric power grid, by controlling power delivery according to peak demand."

Nevermind that the storm lasted for days, and the battery can power all of those homes for just a little more than an hour, the real necessity is grid stabilization. Not because loads fluctuate any more than they ever have, but because generation by wind is inherently variable and unreliable. And if wind speeds are either too low, or too high, for more than that hour-plus, the same problem would occur.

But why is SA in this situation?

South Australia needs this project because of decisions by its political leaders:

Over the last three years, South Australia has decided to shut down its coal-fired power stations and instead rely on wind, solar and gas.

I won't debate the merits of such policy here except to wonder whether building additional gas-fired electrical generation would be a far less costly and more reliable solution than relying on wind and batteries.

Fear not - they're doing that too:

The system will not solve South Australia's grid woes by itself.

The response plan also includes a new government funded, A$360 million, 250 MWe fast reacting gas turbine power plant, a bulk electricity purchase contract designed to encourage construction of a new privately owned power plant, a taxpayer financed exploration fund for additional natural gas supplies, special powers granted to the SA energy minister to order plants to operate, and a requirement for electricity retailers to purchase a fixed portion of their power from SA generators.

Headline of the Day

"Media gets high on Antarctic Crack"

Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That hits a favorite refrain of mine. There is insufficient appreciation among scientists and zero for journalists about the proportion of the Earth's duration which we have witnessed or recorded. He responds to "the biggest iceberg scientists have seen:"

So what? There weren't any "Arctic or Antarctic scientists" a mere half-decade ago, and bases weren't even established until World War II followed by a hectic post-war expansion:

My version of this story is that moths only live one day, so I always picture the VP Al Gore moth panicking as the skies get dark, "Oh my, what have we done? This has never happened before." It's a goofy story, but we are moths to geology.

July 12, 2017


George Ip has a great article in the WSJ today. It is even in the "Economy" section, not those wingnutty Ed pages.

He makes a superb point about Electric Cars. But starts with a pedestrian point, near and dear to ThreeSourcers' icy, lithium hearts:

Nonetheless, that means a 75 kwh battery (about what you need for 250 miles of range) still adds about $20,000 to a car's cost. So how do the cars sell? Public largess helps a lot.

The federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 each for the first 200,000 electric or plug-in hybrid cars a manufacturer sells. Throw in state tax credits, subsidies for recharging infrastructure, relief from gasoline taxes, preferential lanes and parking spots and government fleet purchases, and taxpayers help pay for every electric car on the road.

What happens when the credits go away? When Hong Kong slashed a tax break worth roughly $55,000 for a Tesla in April, its sales ground to a halt. In Georgia, electric vehicle sales plummeted 80% the month after a $5,000 tax credit was repealed.

The even better point is that -- in the estimated eight years required for them to become price competitive -- the energy industry and developers of traditional vehicles will see incredible advances and innovation.

The parity estimations fail to take this in to account. The 2026 Volvo Gëfüülstenschteerën will not be compared to the 2017 Chevy.

But johngalt thinks:

Lessee, $7,500 times two-hundred-thousand adds up to, fifteen with eight trailing zeroes... $1.5 ba-ba-billion. Per automobile manufacturer. A car company would have to be nuts not to make some to collect their share of OPM*.

That said, I'm warming to the gasoline-hybrid tech. Electric motors can't be beat for torque, efficiency, quietness, simplicity and longevity. It's the electricity storage and replentishment that falls short - along with ability to create heat as needed. Both of these problems are easily solved with a petrol-powered generator. Clever folks have found a way to share this petrol power between charging and wheel turning. And at least one of government's declared intentions with this multi-billion dollar bonanza is coming true: Higher volumes of hybrid systems are bringing costs down and quality up.

Pure electric still has obstacles galore, but I'm convinced that hybrid will soon be as ubiquitous as unleaded gasoline, which was unimaginable in the days of "ethyl" gas. I hope I'm wrong, 'cause if I buy one I'll really enjoy being "better" than all the other single-occupant drivers who can't use the express lane and the front row parking.

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2017 2:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I think we all agree with whatever tech that could win out in a non-subsidized field.

The manufacturers certainly share your enthusiasm for hybrid. I confess to two concerns, either or both might be unfounded:

-- Thanks to Penn & Teller's show on Hybrids, every tine we spot one the lovely bride and I yell "It's like having two extra lesbians in the trunk!" If you don't get the allusion, you should look up the program ("Nukes, Hybrids & Lesbians"), but the theory is that two engines and mechanisms to switch between them add quite a bit of weight. (At least ten years old, your reports of innovation might have obviated this -- though it is still funny.)

-- How much are the manufacturers counting on government back-pats and consumer halo effect? I see the (I am not a Lexus guy, but outrageously sexy) Lexus L500C advertised. in a conventional or hybrid. I'd love Clarkson, May and Hammond when he gets out of the hospital to evaluate them side by side and honestly.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2017 6:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't get the allusion. I did look up the program. It's on Prime! Now I'm almost guaranteed to watch all eight seasons, not needing a Showtime subscription or having to watch on my PC.

One of the points they made about "nuclear" is that you can say it without the word "bomb." Accordingly, you can say the word "hybrid" without the word "Prius."

P&T accurately concluded that the ugly Prius with non-remarkable fuel economy is "no good for a family of four." Yours truly is ogling a hybrid that is perfect for a family of six. It is the first ever hybrid minivan, and is also a plug-in hybrid. It gets 33 mpg instead of 22, and that's without plugging in. Charging at home regularly gives fuel economy equal to the Prius. Or better. (Mfr claims MPGe of 84.) And to top it off, it's Italian! Or maybe it's a Mopar. It's hard to tell these days but either way is fine by me.

Do I have concerns about the battery life? Yes. The fly-by-wire hardware and firmware? Naturally. But I also trust in Moore's law to bring battery costs down before the 100,000 mile (or 10 years, but mine will never take that long) warranty expires. To buy a replacement battery today is priced at $13k, but I'm told that is a "placeholder" price that will come down by the time they're actually available.

I've driven one of these and I liken it to driving a spaceship. It's so quiet that all you can hear is a fan sound from the engine compartment. But only from outside the car. Inside it's virtually noiseless.

On top of all this there is the significant fact that Chrysler is still a tax credit eligible manufacturer, so between Federal and State "hippie credits" it costs $12,500 less than the dealer price by the time I prepare my tax returns. Pass the patchouli bro!

But now I gotta go 'cause it's time for pre-race coverage of the New York ePrix, all electric Gran Prix race. (11:00 MDT today on Fox) Right on, dude!

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2017 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm going to cede to your "authoriteh." Any biases you might bring to the evaluation would run the other way. Ergo, if you have been won over with the technology, I am convinced.

Though I'd still like to see the subsidies disappear...

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2017 11:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

As would I. It irks me to see, as Jon Caldera describes it, "government subsidizing rich, white guys buying their vanity cars." But it exists whether I participate or not so, as long as it's there...

As Penn explained, its not about the "hybrid" (or the "nookulur") it's about what you do with the technology. Since it was born from the urge to be more efficient in the name of conservation, emissions reduction and all-around minimalism, it was natural that its first incarnations were the hair-shirts of the automotive specie. But eventually, some human or another will use it to create "bloody hell fire.

The world's first hybrid minivan is somewhere in between.

Posted by: johngalt at July 17, 2017 2:59 PM

Quote of the Day

I do think that something should have been done. But not this something. What we should have done is created a system that focused on protecting people from the risk we know they face -- catastrophic medical bills -- and that sought to preserve the best of the American system rather than the worst -- that is, to preserve our endless talent for innovation through markets rather than our decidedly lesser talent for creating and managing massive regulatory bureaucracies. -- Megan McArdle
Channeling Remy: "What would you do, just let people die?"

July 10, 2017

Quote of the Day

The strange fact is that if an economist (or anyone else) ever insisted that the imperfect realities of actual government operations be compared only with imagined ideal markets -- and then policy decisions be made on the basis of the outcomes of these comparisons -- that person would correctly be ridiculed as an unscientific ideologue. And yet when the comparisons are reversed -- when the imperfect realities of actual markets are compared to imagined ideal government operations -- few people outside of the public-choice school blink an eye. And then when public-choice scholars blink their eyes at such misleading comparisons, they are accused of being ideological hacks! Quite stunning, really. -- Don Boudreaux
But johngalt thinks:

There must be a stronger word that also means "hypocrisy."

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2017 3:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. There are many it turns out. But the most appropriate one in this case is, I think, "phoniness."

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2017 3:34 PM



Walkin' in Memphis

Marc Cohn ©1991

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


July 9, 2017

Quote of the Day

Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains is a piñata of sloppiness and deceit: every time you whack it, more mangled quotes, factual errors, and misrepresented sources spill out. -- Daniel Bier c/o Don Boudreaux

UPDATE: Great Catp Podcast with Duke's Michael Munger:

July 7, 2017

"Repeal and Replace" Climate Change

Federalist contributor Julie Kelly has a concise analysis of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's planned "Red Team - Blue Team" fact-based public inquiry into the complete state of scientific understanding of Climate Change. It will come as a surprise to many, although not ThreeSourcers, that "Team Science" isn't amused.

Now you would think the scientific establishment would embrace an opportunity to present their case to a wary, if disinterested, public. You would think the 97 percent of scientists who supposedly all agree human activity is causing climate change would eagerly line up to vanquish climate deniers, especially those in the Trump administration. You would think the same folks who fear a science-averse President Trump would be relieved his administration is encouraging a rigorous, forensic inquiry into the most consequential scientific issue of our time that has wide-ranging economic, social, and political ramifications around the world.

You would think.

I won't excerpt the real reason she suggests they fear such an inquiry. Like I said, the linked article is concise. But I will give a spoiler alert: Politics.

But johngalt thinks:

"The science has been so settled, for so long, that we can't explain why."

You've probably forgotten all of the evidence and reason, haven't you?

"Umm, forgotten. Yeah, that's it! We forgot!"

Posted by: johngalt at July 7, 2017 8:05 PM

July 5, 2017

Why I can't coexist with a robotic driver

Having just read Vox's latest article on self-driving cars, I'm more convinced than ever that I don't want one. You see, there are two different approaches - driver assistance or complete autonomy.

In the first approach, the car monitors the road and, just as importantly, the driver, and the most common autonomous action it will take is to nag the driver to "keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road." Think of it as a back-seat driver that never backs off.

Tesla's approach to self-driving -- one the company has doubled down on since Brown's death -- is for cars with partial self-driving capabilities to pester drivers to pay attention to the road.

Waymo is unique in that it has decided human drivers (read: "owner" or "passenger" or "reason for the device's very existence") can't be trusted to take control in the rare (and growing rarer) instances when HAL doesn't know what to do. So they omit all of the driver controls and work tirelessly toward a 100-percent bug-free machine (while interacting with a less than 100-percent bug free environment.)

That works out to one disengagement every 5,000 miles, a four-fold improvement over 2015, and by far the best showing of any company testing on California roads. At that rate of progress, it'll take a few more years for Waymo to surpass human levels of driving safety.

I do appreciate driver assistance tech, but if it becomes a real-world manifestation of Harcourt Fenton Mudd's 'Stella' largely, I might imagine, because of corporate liability attorneys, then I'm not buying without a mandatory "Shut. Up." feature.

But jk thinks:

I'd like to open a new line of inquiry. It strikes me that opponents of automation are "good drivers" (at least by their own estimation).

I'd suggest that we all consider not so much replacing ourselves with robots, but the gooberload of less skilled, less-attentive, overaggressive drivers we encounter in our daily travels. The true "less than 100-percent bug free environment" is created by unexpected actions of other drivers.

Driver assistance offers some safety advantages, I suppose and I take your concerns at face value. Complete automation is my Holy Grail. I've bored you with my productivity dream, but let me add efficient use of roadway.

Regularized speeds and reduced lane changes enable higher densities, thereby requiring less construction. Just as GMOs optimize land use for agriculture, automated transport would optimized land and resources required for roads.

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2017 10:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You paint quite a rosy picture of automated transport. What's not to like? Well, there's the human element. This utopian vision takes my mind to a slightly less rosy place. Miranda.

Once thought only to be fictional, Miranda in fact was an experimental colony where the Alliance tried to chemically modify its populace to be peaceful. This worked too well; it eliminated violence, but in the process it had a fatal side effect. The inhabitants lost all ambition; they stopped doing any work, stopped talking to each other, stopped reproducing and eventually stopped even feeding. For 0.1% of the population it had the opposite effect and caused extremely violent behavior, beyond mere psychosis but animalism. The "survivors" of Miranda were the Reavers who started to menace the Rim planets.

The Alliance managed to cover up their mess fairly well, erasing all official records of the planet. Those who had heard talk of Miranda heard false tales that terraforming was attempted but ultimately failed, and that the planet was an uninhabitable Blackrock. Of course, being in the heart of what was to become Reaver space, not many people made the trip to see if it was true or not.

And the money line:

When the Alliance recording was discovered, it became the perfect example of what would happen if the Alliance sought to interfere with self-determination.

I too would like to open a new line of inquiry. How is a world of automated transport different from state-sponsored mass transit? The similarities outweigh the differences, and those differences serve primarily to make it enticing enough for us to play along.

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2017 1:20 PM
But jk thinks:

It is a tool. We automated bank tellers and got ATMs because some "pained a rosy picture of banking on evenings and weekends," we released elevator operators to more productive endeavors. I'll see your Joss Whedon and raise you a Hans Rosling.

Curiously, we assimilated all those productivity innovations without inaugurating dystopia.

Posted by: jk at July 9, 2017 6:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I still maintain that "mass transit" is a unique case. It's productivity (and other) enhancement is in the eye of the beholder.

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2017 3:42 PM

July 3, 2017



WIllow Weep for Me

Ann Ronnel ©1932

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


July 2, 2017

Review Corner

  But Aeneas
is driven by duty now. Strongly as he longs
to ease and allay her sorrow, speak to her,
turn away her anguish with reassurance, still,
moaning deeply, heart shattered by his great love,
in spite of all he obeys the gods' commands
and back he goes to his ships.
Virgil adds romance to the Homeric epic. I suggest that this cements The Aeneid as the foundation of Western literature. Even though Virgil draws heavily on Homer, The Aeneid, we are told, becomes true literature by its being written and not spoken. Fair point, but the Dido story at the beginning represents one plotline unimaginable in Homer.

All the good bloodthirsty and grizzly war scenes and all the Gods' interference seem equally at home in Iliad, Odyssey, or Aeneid. But the Aeneas-Dido story is only Virgil, only Latin, and its reverberations set Virgil's epic apart. We open with a great storm as some God has chosen to doink with the Trojan Fleet and scatter the last of her sons. But they land in Carthage and are welcomed. Queen Dido sends ships to rescue them and welcomes all as heroes with a great feast.

Dido importunes Aeneas to tell the story, no matter how painful, of the fall of Troy and their circuitous journey to Libyan shores. And the next staple of Western Literature is born: the expository section. In Book Two, we are all brought up to date on the last days of Troy, the fames wooden horse, and the trials of escaping the sack and trying to bring wife Andromache, father Anchises, and son Iulus.

Homer has characters tell stories so that plotlines are not completely linear, but Book Two has a Hollywood flashback quality -- the reader is brought current in a short time with a sizable amount of important information. I daresay Homer would have needed a couple hundred pages, or in his case, an extra performance evening to pull it off.

Dido and Aeneas become, just as surely, the Hollywood romance. Both have divine blood in their lines, Venus' son being naturally quite the looker. Aeneas and the lads need a home and Carthage needs men. The End. They all lived happily ever after, right?

Aeneas is fated to found what will be the Roman Empire. ("Bring his Gods to Latium, the source of the Latin people, the Alban lords and the high walls of Rome") and cannot be lazing about the beach in Carthage with some demigoddess bimbo, So he leaves in the dead of night. Buffy fans: this is the Riley Story, though thankfully the slayer just mopes a bit. Dido throws herself on the funeral pyre so that the Trojans can see it as they sail out.

All the while Aeneas, steeled tot a mid-sea passage,
held the fleet on course. well on their way now,
plowing the waves blown dark by a Northwind
as he glanced back at thewalls of Carthage
set aglow by the fires of tragic Dido's pyre.
What could light such a conflagration? mystery --
but the Trojans know the pains of a great love
defiled, and the lengths a woman driven mad can go,
and it leads their hearts down ways of grim foreboding.

When this tale is told, we get back to Homeric action: ten more books of hopeless deity interventions and guys chopping each other up with swords.

I'm not sure the academic world would accept my innovation. True, Odysseus loved Penelope, and there might be some love/loss in the Calypso tale, though I read that as more captivity than seduction. I am taken by Aeneas-Dido story because the rest of the story becomes optional. Ten more books of "blows on land and sea from the Gods above" could have been avoided had Aeneas said "no thanks, Mercury, tell old Zeussy-boy I am rather happy in Carthage."

No war with the Italians, no Rome -- but no Punic Wars. Nobody ever says it out load, but I think it carries under the rest of the epic. And makes it the foundation of Western literature, underpinning the next two books in the course: St. Augustine's "Confessions" and Dante's "Inferno."

And Buffy, Seasons Four & Five.

Again, get the Robert Fagles translation. It is like reading it for the first time. Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:05 AM | What do you think? [0]

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