Sunday, September 6, 2015

20 Jewish families displaced by Russia's war against Ukraine find new homes near Kyiv

20 Jewish families displaced by Russia's war against Ukraine find new homes near Kyiv: "On Sept. 1 in Anatevka near Kyiv, an opening ceremony took place for a special village made up of Jewish people from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. They escaped the fighting between Russian-separatist forces and Ukrainian forces."

'via Blog this'

I didn't think Anatevka was a real place. (see here for context.)

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Corner | National Review Online

The Corner | National Review Online: "6) The thing about Trump supporters: You can’t shake them. You can’t move them from their man. You can’t introduce a sliver of doubt.

 They don’t care where Trump has been on abortion, Kelo, D.C. statehood, health care, etc. (Single payer!) They don’t care whether he has given the Clintons $8 trillion. They don’t care whether he approves of Miley Cyrus at her twerkiest. I guess she’s the “conservative” poster girl now. The symbol of wholesome living!

 The Donald could ax-murder four nuns in church, and his peeps would say the old biddies had it comin’.

All they care about is that he is opposing something called “the establishment”: the RNC, NR, and those other oppressors of men."

'via Blog this'

Monday, August 17, 2015

Glenn Reynolds: Fast moving bad news builds prosperity

Glenn Reynolds: Fast moving bad news builds prosperity: "As Megan McArdle has observed, journalists particularly suffer from this problem: “Everyone you write about makes more than you. Most of the people you know make more than you. ... Your house is small, your furniture is shabby and you can't even really afford to shop at Whole Foods. Yet you're at the top of your field, working for one of the world's top media outlets. This can't be so.” Suddenly, systems that reward people through political influence look better."

'via Blog this'

That's one explanation for why journalists are hostile to free markets.

My theory is that the people who go into journalism are self-selecting liberals. Journalism students know they are unlikely to make much money. They go into journalism because they view it romantically. They imagine themselves as Woodward and Bernstein bringing down the powerful with the truth of their investigative reporting. They imagine themselves as agents of social change.

Conservatives, on the other hand, typically revile the media. They have no motivation for getting into the profession other than having a good career, and so generally opt out. They view good journalism as not having an agenda, and so mostly would not go into journalism to effect social change.

This is why I think journalists are anti-market, pro-government: they were that way before long they ever got into the profession.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Way News - Pentagon announces plan aimed at lifting transgender ban

My Way News - Pentagon announces plan aimed at lifting transgender ban: "WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon's current regulations banning transgender individuals from serving in the military are outdated, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday, ordering a six-month study aimed at formally ending one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service."

'via Blog this'

I thought scientists were supposed to do the study before knowing the results.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Insufficiently Independent to Hold an Independence Day Parade :: SteynOnline

Insufficiently Independent to Hold an Independence Day Parade :: SteynOnline: "As readers may know, the Steyn worldwide corporate headquarters is located in Woodsville, which is part of the township of Haverhill, New Hampshire. Actually, the only reason readers would have any cause to know it at all is that an hilariously inept attack poodle called Bernie Quigley wrote in The Hill that I had no idea what the real, authentic America was like and to demonstrate the point plucked three real, authentic, entirely random American places off the map (well, two off the map and one off his LP collection) and said that Steyn would "would get a rash in real places like Tobaccoville, N.C., Haverhill, N.H. or Luckenbach, Texas"."

'via Blog this'

That's pretty funny.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

King v. Burwell Decision -- the Anticonstitutional Consequences of John Roberts's Doctrine | National Review Online

King v. Burwell Decision -- the Anticonstitutional Consequences of John Roberts's Doctrine | National Review Online: "onservatives are dismayed about the Supreme Court’s complicity in rewriting the Affordable Care Act — its ratification of the IRS’s disregard of the statute’s plain and purposeful language. But they have contributed to this outcome. Their decades of populist praise of judicial deference to the political branches has borne this sour fruit."

'via Blog this'

Will could not have it more backwards. Deference to political branches in this case would have meant applying the law the way the political branches wrote it.  Deference means interpreting "an exchange established by the state" to mean "an exchange established by the state" instead of meaning "an exchange, regardless of who establishes it."

Even Will admits the Supreme Court rewrote the law. Rewriting the law is not deference.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter - Rich Lowry - POLITICO Magazine

#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter - Rich Lowry - POLITICO Magazine: "Let’s be honest: Some black lives really don’t matter. If you are a young black man shot in the head by another young black man, almost certainly no one will know your name. Al Sharpton won’t come rushing to your family’s side with cameras in tow. MSNBC won’t discuss the significance of your death. No one will protest, or even riot, for you. You are a statistic, not a cause. Just another dead black kid in some city somewhere, politically useless to progressives and the media, therefore all but invisible."

'via Blog this'

Friday, May 22, 2015

My GolfNow Complaint

GolfNow's customer service is horrible, but at least it represents the company accurately. I booked a tee time for the wrong date because of the way the golf course's website refreshes to a different date than the one I initially selected. I attempted to reschedule the tee time or get some sort of credit for a later date. The course had no problem with it, but referred me to GolfNow, as that particular tee time was booked through you.

Your people it seems, are trained to be as unhelpful as possible. They said there was nothing they could do, as it is GolfNow's policy not to refund missed tee times. The problem is I never could have made that tee time, I never intended to book that tee time, and I was never told the booking was non-refundable. Even the boilerplate terms of service on the Chehalem Glenn website do not say there is a no-refund or no-rescheduling policy. I don't care what GolfNow's internal policies are with regards to refunds. They aren't posted on the website where I booked, and I didn't agree to them.

What you are doing is dishonest. If you are booking totally nonrefundable, nontransferable tee times, it needs to say so explicitly before the tee time is booked. It does not. Springing these term after the fact on a phone call is bushleague and dishonest.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What Is Your Purpose? -

What Is Your Purpose? - "Public debate is now undermoralized and overpoliticized. We have many shows where people argue about fiscal policy but not so many on how to find a vocation or how to measure the worth of your life. In fact, we now hash out our moral disagreement indirectly, under the pretense that we’re talking about politics, which is why arguments about things like tax policy come to resemble holy wars."

'via Blog this'

I'm not sure whether the arguments are getting more intense. I do think that we are fighting our our moral philosophies under the guise of public policy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

PunditFact: A Case Study In Fact-Free Hackery

PunditFact: A Case Study In Fact-Free Hackery: "The problem here is not one of facts or accuracy, but ideology. Jacobson simply doesn’t like the implications of the fact that the Clinton Foundation spent less than 10 percent of its budgets on charitable grants in 2013. He doesn’t like the fact that the two single largest “charitable” initiatives of the Clinton Foundation — by its own admission — are the Clinton Presidential Library, which exists solely to put a positive spin on the 42nd president’s term in office, and the Clinton Global Initiative, which the New York Times characterized as a “glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state, and celebrities.” If hanging out with celebrities at glitzy dinners is the height of charity, then it’s time to beatify the Kardashian sisters."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Mirth Day «

Happy Mirth Day «: "On this Earth Day I share with you one of my favorite illustrations of the mirthiness that an uncritical and political assessment of environmental economic conditions has become. It’s from a few years ago but it ages well. Here the Mackinac Center finds, by simply adding up all of the subsidies that GM gets directly for producing the Volt and for he subsidies that its suppliers get, and so on. The numbers indicated that each Volt sold (I suppose with economies of scale this would fall) came equipped with a quarter million dollar of benefits from the taxpayers. Nice!"

'via Blog this'

Monday, April 20, 2015


Instapundit: "Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is holding long-awaited oral arguments to decide whether the secret prosecutions should be halted under Wisconsin law.  The arguments are not open to the public, to protect the identities of the targets.  Frankly, it’s shocking that it’s taken over 5 years to get a hearing from the Wisconsin Supreme Court–5 years of abuse of free speech and association rights is too much."

'via Blog this'

With this prosecution and the lawsuit by Abraham, Wisconsin's "justice" system has become a laughing stock.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kirsten Powers: Gay marriage debate's sore winners

Kirsten Powers: Gay marriage debate's sore winners: "Here's the thing: I didn't support the original Indiana law. I am both a Christian who doesn't believe the Bible prohibits serving a same-sex wedding and a vocal LGBT rights supporter who has blasted laws similar to Indiana's for fear that they could provide legal protection to those who discriminate against gay people.

But I'm starting to wonder: who needs the protection here?

 What happened in Indiana is reminiscent of the bullying that led to the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich exactly this time last year. Eich was harangued for a six-year-old donation supporting an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, but ultimately purged for refusing to recant his beliefs about marriage."

'via Blog this'

I Switched to a Standing Desk, So Now You Should, Too - The New Yorker

I Switched to a Standing Desk, So Now You Should, Too - The New Yorker: "Still need convincing? Consider this: in the nineteenth century, everyone used standing desks. In case you don’t know your history, the nineteenth century was a great century that didn’t have any problems. It wasn’t until the modern era that the tyranny of sitting was imposed upon us by nefarious corporate forces. That’s right, I’m talking about Big Office Chair. Day in, day out, chair factories pump pollution into the air and water, just to manufacture sedentary death machines. With a standing desk, you don’t even need a chair. That’s better for the environment, which is another thing you can be smug about."

'via Blog this'

I Switched to a Standing Desk, So Now You Should, Too - The New Yorker

I Switched to a Standing Desk, So Now You Should, Too - The New Yorker: "Indeed, sitting has been called the new smoking. The only difference is that smoking looks cool and is a great way to meet people and isn’t actually that bad for you. (I smoke.) Sitting, on the other hand, looks ridiculous and shameful—like you’re afraid to admit exactly how tall you are—and is terrible for you. The human body simply wasn’t meant to be folded up for long stretches, like a sad pretzel. It was meant to be held ramrod-straight at all times, like a noble pretzel stick."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Althouse: "My criticism of the article is that it didn't do what the headline made me think it would do and get into a topic I've been concerned with for years. What if, over time, with perfect reproductive freedom, the choice to avoid childbirth is far more popular than we'd ever imagined? One solution would be to back off from women's freedom and equality, and I don't like that. So the thought experiment is: Assume women will continue to have the power to avoid childbirth and complete freedom to exercise that power. Assume we agree that the birthrate must be increased. What can we do?

'via Blog this'

The Runaway Prosecutor Who Almost Lost Iraq

The Runaway Prosecutor Who Almost Lost Iraq: "Yet every part of that testimony was false, and Fitzgerald knew it. He had withheld from Miller a crucial fact: that Plame had once worked undercover as an employee of the State Department, which, unlike the CIA, is divided into bureaus. Fitzgerald also withheld that same vital information from Libby’s lawyers — an unforgivable breach of ethics as well as the law."

'via Blog this'

I wonder what Tina Fey has to say about this? (Context here.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Law Professor Douglas Laycock Supports Same-Sex Marriage and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law | Religion & Politics

Why Law Professor Douglas Laycock Supports Same-Sex Marriage and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law | Religion & Politics: "So I would exempt the very small businesses in the wedding industry, provided that some other reasonably convenient business nearby is available to provide the same goods and services. The gay rights side is unwilling to even think about that. They don’t see that weddings are a religious context; they don’t distinguish declining to do a wedding from simply refusing to serve gays."

'via Blog this'

Why Law Professor Douglas Laycock Supports Same-Sex Marriage and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law | Religion & Politics

Why Law Professor Douglas Laycock Supports Same-Sex Marriage and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law | Religion & Politics: "I would exempt counselors from doing marriage counseling or relationship counseling for same-sex couples. It is in no one’s interest to force a counselor to work with a couple, or subject the couple to working with a counselor, if the counselor thinks the couple’s relationship is fundamentally wrong in its very existence. But the gay rights side will not concede even that; important forces want to drive all these conservative religious folks from the helping professions. The principal battleground has been efforts to force graduate students out of their degree programs."

'via Blog this'

Why Law Professor Douglas Laycock Supports Same-Sex Marriage and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law | Religion & Politics

Why Law Professor Douglas Laycock Supports Same-Sex Marriage and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law | Religion & Politics: "Churches and religious organizations, which generally understand marriage to be an inherently religious relationship, should be allowed to retain their religious definitions of marriage. And for purposes of conducting the work of the church, they should not be required to recognize same-sex civil marriages that are simply not marriages on their religious understanding. This is the most important thing from the religious liberty perspective: inside the religious organization should be an enclave where religious rules control. The gay rights side has been unwilling to concede even that."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Some Thoughts on Indiana

Some Thoughts on Indiana: "1. Why is it okay for Apple to refuse to facilitate, or associate with, a view of marriage that it rejects but not okay for a local florist (or photographer or baker) to do so?"

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The War on the Private Mind

The War on the Private Mind: "here are two easy ways to get a Republican to roll over and put his paws up in the air: The first is to write him a check, which is the political version of scratching his belly, and the second is to call him a bigot. In both cases, it helps if you have a great deal of money behind you."

'via Blog this'

Just found this.

Stigma Works

It's shocking how fast public opinion has changed on the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. I have two takeaways from this that might actually be original or insightful.

First is the power of stigma, and particularly the stigma of calling someone a bigot. Traditional beliefs about the immorality of homosexuality is now bigotry. Of course, the word bigotry doesn't do much analysis. It's just a way of saying my view of morality is right and yours is wrong. It seems to me defenders of traditional morality, in their efforts to seem tolerant and open minded, have consistently been on the defense and have lost the debate as a result. Supporters of traditional marriage don't want to be rude and tell others that their sexual practices are immoral. In contrast, supporters of homosexuality vocally and forcefully denounce traditional views about the morality of homosexuality as bigotry.

My other takeaway is that while it sometimes seem on the rise, libertarianism is still very much out the mainstream and may be on the decline. On traditional morality questions, I have no doubt Americans are moving towards what you could call the "libertarian" position, i.e., the government has no business legislating questions of sexual morality. But this shift is not happening because Americans are rejecting big government, but be cause they reject traditional sexual morality. Thus, the RFRA, which would simply exempts individuals (and maybe businesses) from laws that would otherwise require them to violate their religious beliefs unless there is a compelling state interest, is unacceptable. Apparently, people shouldn't be free to act in accordance with their consciences when government has decide what is moral. In contrast, support of the RFRA (or similar laws) is an easy call for a libertarian. So it's not support for government legislating morality generally that's on the decline, just support for a particular brand of morality.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dear Prudence: Feminists are upset that I don’t have much sexism to complain about in my STEM career.

Dear Prudence: Feminists are upset that I don’t have much sexism to complain about in my STEM career.: "A: How strange that people who say they are fighting for equality are dismayed when they encounter it. How sad that they don’t want to hear the good news that you have been welcomed into this traditionally male field, that your male peers and bosses treat you wonderfully, and that you are thriving. It’s exciting this has been your experience—what a great ambassador you can be for younger women seeking to enter your field. There is an unfortunate strain of obsessive grievance-mongering in feminism today. It’s a kind of sport for these self-proclaimed guardians to venomously attack those they feel don’t precisely toe their line. You’re a scientist who lives in the world of facts. You are finding that ideologues aren’t interested in facts, thus they go after you when your reality trumps their ideology. My general advice is that it’s best not to engage with unpleasant people, especially those who seek to lecture you about your own experiences. Feel free to extract yourself and say, “You’ll have to excuse me, but I’ve got to get back to the lab.” But if you feel like it, you can also counterpunch by saying something like, “It’s funny, but the only people who try to bully me are women who aren’t in my profession.”"

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Modest Proposal For Amendments to the Constitution | Power Line

A Modest Proposal For Amendments to the Constitution | Power Line: "First, President Obama has asserted the power to issue decrees or executive orders that have the force of law. This seems plainly at odds with the framework of the Constitution, but pundits and politicians have not been able to reach a consensus that such rule by executive order is improper. So, to resolve the issue once and for all, I propose that the following language be added to the Constitution:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. 
 That would make it crystal clear that only Congress can enact legislation."

'via Blog this'

The post continues in this vein.

Debate - King v. Burwell and the Validity of Federal Tax Subsidies Under the Affordable Care Act

Debate - <i>King v. Burwell</i> and the Validity of Federal Tax Subsidies Under the Affordable Care Act: "But, as we know, Justice Roberts decided to join the four moderates on the Court and uphold the mandate—not as an exercise of the Commerce Clause power but rather as a legitimate tax.xv The ACA, and its three-legged stool, lived for another day (though the Court struck down a significant aspect of the law’s Medicaid expansion)."

'via Blog this'

This is the most obnoxious political-spin-as-legal-analysis article I've read in a while.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons -

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons - "The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

 The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war."

'via Blog this'

You've got to wonder why we're only hearing about this now. This would have been very useful information to know back when we were making decisions about who should lead the country.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Facebook: "“When is the time you felt most broken?”
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ --- then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”"

'via Blog this'

Here's something Obama said that I appreciate.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Education Debate

I had the following debate with a co-worker on whether common core was a good idea. His arguments in favor of common core were:

  1. The states are not doing a good job educating our students
  2. We need to do a better job educating so we don't live in a county of idiots, who will elect Sarah Palin!
  3. The states' main obstacle to doing a good job is the teachers unions
  4. States cannot take on the teachers union, even in Republican states. Its easier for unions to buy off state governments than it is to buy off the federal government
  5. The federal government will require accountability from state schools through common core
  6. The evidence that the federal government will do this is common core itself. The fact that teachers unions hate common core is evidence the federal government is sticking it to common core
  7. Might as well try something. We can't screw it up too badly, since our education is already screwed up
  8. Creating a basic curriculum and enforcing compliance with it is not so complicated that the federal government can't pull it off, and
  9. Vouchers would work, but that is not a politically feasible solution
My arguments against:
  1. I agree, our education system is not great
  2. The states do not do a good job because they have the wrong incentives. We need to properly align the decision makers and incentives to get a good education system
  3. Parents have the most invested in their children and the strongest incentive to get their kids a good education. The largest problem is that parents cannot control their kids' education, other than by moving out of the school districts. The school districts in rich neighborhoods are usually good, because those parents have chosen those schools. Poor parents often don't have that option of moving their children into good school districts, and are so are stuck sending their kids to the schools in the district where they live. A voucher system would give parents control
  4. Putting the federal government in charge of curriculum goes the opposite direction from aligning incentives. It makes it even less likely that a parent can influence the kind of education the child is getting
  5. What examples are their of the federal government taking on a problem and actually improving it? The federal government does not usually solve problems it tackles
  6. Teachers unions are a problem, but largely created by government privileges given to unions.
  7. In fact, putting the federal government in charge may make a bad situation worse.
Arguments I wish I'd made:
  1. Why was no child left behind not enough accountability? Where is the evidence that it worked?
  2. Why should we believe that the federal government is going to stand up to unions? Particularly in the face of at least two counter examples I can think of:
    1. The GM bailout: investors and bond holders took a haircut; the union did not
    2. Teachers unions hated the DC voucher program, and President Obama did their biding and defunded it in his budget, even though it was popular in DC.

Friday, January 30, 2015

YCHIBW: Big Corporations and the Teat Edition «

YCHIBW: Big Corporations and the Teat Edition «: "(1) Corporations like Walmart disproportionately benefit from the existence of antipoverty programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps. Why? Because when these are available to people, Walmart does not have to provide people with a wage that, alone, would be enough for these workers to sustain themselves since the government is already providing it.

(2) Corporations like Walmart disproportionately benefit from the existence of antipoverty programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Why? Because when the government provides a tax credit to people that are working, they are more likely to work, and therefore Walmart does not have to pay the workers as much as it “normally” would in order to attract them.

Only one of these can be right."

'via Blog this'

It took me a moment to figure this one out.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gates v. Jobs

I'm starting to think this is going to be an awkward conversation if we ever have this book club since, so far, I'm not impressed with Outliers.

In support of his theroy that almost anyone can achieve excellence with 10,000 hours of practice, Gladwell spills considerable ink documenting the confluence of events that allowed Bill Gates to get his 10,000 programming hours. Gate's proficiency at programming, we are told, is not because Gates is especially talented in any way, but because he logged a lot of programming hours. He was lucky to get access to a computer between the hours of 3 am and 6 am. He was lucky to live in proximity to a computer in the 60s. He was lucky to get released from school to do a special programming task.

I concede that there is some luck in being in the right place at the right time. But I took a different lesson away from this events. Bill Gates was extremely motivated to learn programming. He wanted to spend all his after-school time programming. He was willing to get up in the middle of the night to program, and hide that from his parents. Yes, he was lucky to be close to a computer, but more so, he was really motivated to learn.

But when the book gets to Steve Jobs, it really goes off the rails. There we learn that Steve Jobs didn't have computer terminal access, but he had another advantage: free computer parts! Those parts, Gladwell tells us, are "on par with Bill Gates getting unlimited access to a time-share terminal at age thirteen."

Funny, but I don't see a parallel at all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Outliers

I'm starting to see some tension in the thesis  (or theses) of Outliers.

Chapter One: Professional sports and higher education are not really meritocracies. Those who succeed do so because of a random advantage given them by being older and more developed.

Chapter Two: There are no naturally gifted people or naturally disadvantaged people. All you have to do is spend 10,000 hours practicing to reach an expert level of performance.

A world where everyone has the power to achieve excellence by merely put in the work, is a fairer world than the one I observe. And I generally believe the developed world, despite its injustices, is, on average, a meritocracy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Outliers Bleg

I'm reading Outliers for a (potential) book club. I'm wondering if there is a good, critical, comprehensive review of the book. Particularly I'm interested in the argument made in the first chapter: older children are favored in certain sports and, even college attendance, because they are more physically and mentally developed than their younger peers, and as a result, receive more attention and positive reinforcement, giving them a life-long advantage.