Monday, October 27, 2014

The Most Stunning News Story of 2014 | Power Line

The Most Stunning News Story of 2014 | Power Line: "If the Obama administration hacked into a reporter’s computers, used them to spy on her, and even prepared to frame her for a potential criminal prosecution by planting classified documents, aren’t we looking at the biggest scandal in American history? Perhaps I’m forgetting something, but I can’t come up with anything to equal the stunning lawlessness on display here–if what Attkisson says is true (which I don’t doubt), and if the administration is the guilty party."

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Removal From Polite Company: Diversity Edition «

Removal From Polite Company: Diversity Edition «: "Finally, while we are on this topic, I’d like to see the crowd of folks who consistently tell us to “celebrate diversity” to put out an ad-campaign (preferably pasted in colorful posters on the inside of toilet stalls, which seems to be a favorite way of propogandizing on college campuses these days) that contains the message, “Celebrate Republican Ideas!” or “Celebrate Coal and Oil and the Amazing People Who Deliver that to You!” Surely, if we want to celebrate “diversity” these would be minority affiliations and surely there are useful and valuable human beings in those groups, right?"

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The Stubborn Facts in Ferguson | National Review Online

The Stubborn Facts in Ferguson | National Review Online: "This should not come as a surprise to anyone who followed the antecedents to Michael Brown’s case: the matter of Travon Martin and George Zimmerman, and that of the Duke lacrosse team and their ill-fated run-in with a “dancer.” In each of these, the initial story, so arduously peddled by the media, was one of an unfortunate, law-abiding black person suffering at the hands of racist whites. But, as the saying goes, facts are stubborn things, and in each of these cases the facts refused to buttress the preferred storyline. Trayvon Martin was proved to be the aggressor in his fatal encounter with George Zimmerman; and Crystal Mangum, the woman at the center of the Duke lacrosse case, was proved to be a liar. And while the Duke case occupied so much of the media’s attention in 2006 and 2007, how many people know that today Mangum sits in a North Carolina prison after being convicted last year of second-degree murder?"

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Friday, October 24, 2014

I'm 90 Percent American and 10 Percent Canadian, David Henderson | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

I'm 90 Percent American and 10 Percent Canadian, David Henderson | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "I know that among many of my libertarian friends, it's not "cool" to have any nationalism or even any patriotism in you. But one of the hardest lessons I learned early in life was not to disown my feelings. Under the influence of Ayn Rand's weird ideas about love, I told my brother that I didn't love him, in the last real conversation I had with him before he committed suicide. Of course, I did love him, but I had adopted Rand's and Nathaniel Branden's idea that you couldn't love someone who didn't share your philosophical views. And, boy, did my brother ever not share my philosophical views.

 So, even if it's not cool and even if get criticized for, gasp, celebrating as a hero a government worker who was, gasp, protecting other government workers, I won't disown that feeling."

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2014 Supreme Court Roundup by Michael Stokes Paulsen | Articles | First Things

2014 Supreme Court Roundup by Michael Stokes Paulsen | Articles | First Things: "It is a parlous state of affairs when we must depend on the Supreme Court as the bulwark of our most vital natural rights and civil liberties—freedom of religion, freedom of expression and group association, freedom of conscience, the rights to live, to work, and to raise a family. The Court has not always, or even very often, done well on this score. With distressing frequency, it has performed poorly, shortchanging rights plainly written in the Constitution and inventing illegitimate ones nowhere to be found in the text. The Court tends to bow to political pressure and blow with prevailing cultural and popular winds."

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NYT Editorial Board Shakes Fist at the Heavens | National Review Online

NYT Editorial Board Shakes Fist at the Heavens | National Review Online: "Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. Not a word of it is spoken on the campaign trail, where little credit is also given to the White House for months of promising economic news."

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Love this. "FACT: the economy is great right now because of the stimulus."

California Orders Churches to Fund Abortion | National Review Online

California Orders Churches to Fund Abortion | National Review Online: "For those who don’t yet recognize that the progressive ideology is fundamentally hostile to religious liberty (and will tolerate religious liberty only insofar as it serves progressive goals), consider the news that California, through regulatory fiat, is now requiring churches to provide insurance coverage for elective surgical abortions. "

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Gay marriage vs. religious freedom, the latest installment | Power Line

Gay marriage vs. religious freedom, the latest installment | Power Line: "The ministers operate a chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The city has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, in public accommodations. Recently, the ministers turned down a gay couple’s request to perform their marriage ceremony. They now face legal jeopardy.

It’s an indictment of the gay rights movement that these sorts of dispute arise at all. Who in his right mind would want to have his marriage ceremony presided over by someone who thinks the union is sinful? A wedding is supposed to be a joyful occasion, not an opportunity to punish one’s ideological opponents.

 The Jewish community faces essentially the same pseudo-civil rights issue all the time. Many rabbis won’t preside over a ceremony that weds a Jew to a non-Jew. How do Jews respond? Not through legal proceedings. They respond the same way my daughter did when she married a non-Jew — by finding a rabbi who will perform the ceremony."

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Science, Science, SCIENCE!

In this country, we don't get that all decisions present trade-offs, and we especially don't get it when it comes to decisions about raising children. If there's something you can do that will give your child even a slight better chance of being safe or successful, you're supposed to do it, no matter the cost.

Our obsession with child seats is one example. When I was growing up, I'm pretty sure it was still okay for kids to ride in the back of a pickup truck. Now It's absolutely unacceptable to take your kids in the car without the exact right weight-rated seat for your child, installed by a certified expert.  A few years ago, I scandalized my co-workers by telling them I took my then 5-year old to school buckled in, but without a booster seat. This was wildly dangerous. Never mind, that the school was less than a mile away and the speed limit was never more than 35 mph. Am I really supposed to believe that I'm being reckless by taking this tiny risk? Am I supposed to believe that my kid is really in significantly more peril if he gets into a 25 mph crash with no booster seat than he would be in  a 70 mph crash with a booster seat?

Our cult-like belief that good mothers must breastfeeding in particular bad in this regard.  My wife felt particularly guilty for not being able to breastfeed our kids without supplementing them with formula. Then we had twins. After a couple of sleepless days because our crying babies were not getting enough food, she broke down in tears in the lactation nurse's office. (Yes, we have nurses who specialize in teaching breastfeeding to a mother of four, in Oregon anyway.) To preserve our sanity, we started supplementing their diets with formula almost immediately, and really it got to the point before too long where they just refused breast milk so we gave up.

As I said she felt guilty about it, but I didn't because I was pretty sure it didn't matter. Yes I know there are studies that show breastfeeding leads to better outcomes for children. And you know what? I haven't even bothered to read any of the studies! So I must be anti-science. I just figured, it was pretty unlikely that my otherwise healthy, well-fed children with a fixed set of DNA and the same environment they would otherwise have, were really going to turn out much different based upon whether they were breastfed. And it also just seemed to me that breastfeeding is probably highly correlated with a number of other factors that could be driving the result, unrelated to whether the children were actually getting better nutrition from breastfeeding. Whether a mom stays at home, the father's ability to earn an income that allows the mother to stay at home, and the physical health of the mother to be able to breastfeed are all variables that could be driving this correlation. It just seems to me that is was very unlikely those studies had actually isolated the effect of breast milk.

On top of all that, I'm generally pretty skeptical of our ability to suss out the effect of one variable on outcomes that are the result of multiple causes, especially when we are not performing controlled experiments, but instead performing regression analysis. Who knows what "outliers" were thrown away, or how many regressions were performed before the "scientist" got the results that showed statistical significance.

So I was glad to see this article confirms some of the skepticism I've long had about the benefits of breastfeeding. Turn out when you do the study comparing kids from the same families, there is no difference between kids that are breastfed and those that weren't, other than the ones that are breastfed seem to have a higher rate of asthma. Take that, you uppity soccer moms who claim the mantle of science because your friend read some Yahoo! article saying breastfeeding is better than formula. Science is on my side now!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network:

"“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’

I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’

They said, ‘What’s in the box?’

I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.

So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’

I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh.

Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’

Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”"

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Monday, October 6, 2014

A Plague of Memoirs | National Review Online

A Plague of Memoirs | National Review Online: "The lowest forms of literature are, in descending order: pornography, the staff recommendations at the Tribeca Barnes & Noble, diet/fitness books, celebrity cookbooks, books of poetry written by pop stars, and, at the bottom of this unsavory slag heap, political memoirs, which have all of the narrative sophistication of pornography with none of the enjoyable bits."

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Perils of Being Neil deGrasse Tyson | National Review Online

The Perils of Being Neil deGrasse Tyson | National Review Online: "That the final suggestion was illustrated with a link to a fan post on Reddit is almost too perfect for words. As for “taking notes for my next book with quill and fountain pens by candlelight,” this strikes me as a level of self-indulgence that even Ron Burgundy would have considered unseemly."

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Neil deGrasse Tyson's flaw is a self-indulgence, perfect for lampooning. My flaw is enjoying the spectacle a little too much.