DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for the 'Think about it.' Category

Why We Procrastinate

1st September 2014

Read it.

The British philosopher Derek Parfit espoused a severely reductionist view of personal identity in his seminal book, Reasons and Persons: It does not exist, at least not in the way we usually consider it. We humans, Parfit argued, are not a consistent identity moving through time, but a chain of successive selves, each tangentially linked to, and yet distinct from, the previous and subsequent ones. The boy who begins to smoke despite knowing that he may suffer from the habit decades later should not be judged harshly: “This boy does not identify with his future self,” Parfit wrote. “His attitude towards this future self is in some ways like his attitude to other people.”

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Why Can’t the Media Talk About the Ivy League Without Freaking Out?

1st September 2014

Read it.

For the same reason that rich people can talk about money without freaking out — guilt and envy. (This is the sort of article you will only find in a Voice of the Crust.)

But that’s fairly typical of the convoluted, shamefaced, defensive way we talk about class in America: An Ivy Leaguer mocking another Ivy Leaguer because his denunciation of the Ivy League is just so Ivy League.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

s Feminism Sexist?

1st September 2014

Scott Adams understands the dialectic.

Note to Jezebel, Gawker, and Huffington Post: When you quote this post out of context be sure to leave out the text that doesn’t support your misleading headlines.

To answer your question, Scott: Yes, feminism is sexist, almost by definition, just as the NAACP and La Raza are racist organizations, also almost by definition.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Which States Are in the Midwest?

1st September 2014

Read it.

Actually, the question ought to be phrased ‘Which states other than Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan are in the Midwest?’

Posted in Think about it. | 2 Comments »

A Free Society Must Give Up Empire

1st September 2014

Read it.

If Americans want a free society at home, then they must convince the U.S. government to give up its global empire. The militarized police recently on display in Ferguson was no freak coincidence: Antiwar activists and other civil libertarians have been warning for decades that an aggressive US foreign policy would eventually destroy domestic liberties. Americans can’t ask their government to subjugate foreigners with bombs but bow to their own wishes at the ballot box.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Multiculturalism — The Final Solution

31st August 2014

Read it.

Finally, the mainstream media are beginning to acknowledge the poisonous fruits of multiculturalism. For years journalists have been afraid to speak the truth about what is happening in Britain, just as the council workers in Rotherham who were responsible for child welfare were afraid to speak the truth. And what is the truth they have been so afraid to give voice to? Multiculturalism is a failure, both as a political theory and as a matter of fact.

When the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany joined forces at the beginning of the war, Time magazine referred to the enemies of civilization as “Communazis”. Each had their final solution to the question of how human beings should live together on earth, and they were both willing to employ absolutely any means in order to achieve that end. We have seen the same mindset in government, both at a national level and in local councils up and down the land for many years now. Their final solution to the question of how we are to live is “multiculturalism”, and woe betide anyone who questioned that unproven, impossible theory.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Should You Take Notes By Hand and Read Paper Books?

29th August 2014

Read it.

My answer is ‘yes’, but that’s what I do and I’m one of those tiresome people who think everybody ought to do things my way.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The World Is Squared: Episode 1 – “Switzerland, Country of Joyce”

29th August 2014

Read it.

This is a very odd piece that will tell you more than you ever really wanted to know about Switzerland.

If I had sufficient spare time and a wholly warped sense of priorities, I think I could trace the boundaries of the wars of religion by driving around and listening to regional radio. As far as I can tell, Catholic cantons really go for snare drum backbeats and 2/4 time – if Mumford and Sons aren’t huge in Vaud, they are really missing an opportunity. Protestant cantons are much more into generic AOR. Everywhere in Switzerland gets a signal for the Europop collossus that is RTL2. However, the country does not seem to have any local attempts at hip-hop, for which I greatly respect them.

All in all, though, it’s a fascinating country, and if I hadn’t been born American I wouldn’t have minded terribly much being Swiss.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Richard Florida, Academia Perplexed by Gentrification Research

29th August 2014

Read it.

Gentrification is such a nice, hot phrase for something liberals enjoy while simultaneously decrying it for ruining city slum authenticity. It is not like rich conservatives are gentrifying those areas. Simple reviews of vote history in elections by census tract can show the media progressives how they are just attacking the hands that pay for them. Academia even has a nice myopia or selective amnesia about gentrification. In no other way can one explain this piece of work from Richard Florida.

Comedy continues as the writer notes research finding that gentrification is very dependent on the percentage of Black inhabitants, with 40% a magic line. It might not just be “explicit racism”, but other factors. Here is an idea: maybe it is crime statistics for the area. Maybe there is a sweet spot where real estate values are depressed by the crime and blight in the area but the crime and blight might be more manageable with an increased police presence. Do black gangs operate in 65% black neighborhoods but have less of a footprint in 30% black neighborhoods? Just asking before I label gentrification scouts as racists.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The Inversion Conversion

29th August 2014

Charles Krauthammer finds that his bullshit detector has gone off.

Democrats used to wax indignant about having one’s patriotism questioned. Now they throw around the charge with abandon, tossing it at corporations that refuse to do the economically patriotic thing of paying the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

Odder still because Democrats routinely ridicule the very notion of corporations as persons. When Mitt Romney suggested that corporations were people in 2011, Democrats mocked him right through Election Day. In the Hobby Lobby case, they challenged the very idea that corporations can have religious convictions. Now, however, Democrats are demanding that corporations exercise a patriotic conscience. Which is it?

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

When Chinese Children Forget How to Write

28th August 2014

Read it.

To all the whiners about learning cursive: It could be worse.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Pop-up Character Bread Molds Make Breakfast Fun For Everyone

28th August 2014

Read it.

Actually, these seriously creep me out.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

38 Maps That Explain the Global Economy

27th August 2014

Check it out.

From the point of view of the people providing the maps, of course. Your mileage may differ, depending upon your ideological bent.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Whopper Donut Cheeseburgers, Eh?

26th August 2014

Read it. And ponder the picture.

So Burger King is going to acquire the Canadian Tim Horton’s donut chain, in yet another tax inversion that causes so much cranial-rectal inversions among liberals. I sure hope we get a donut Whopper cheeseburger out of this merger. With bacon. That would be more awesome than a deep-fried Twinkie. (Lo and behold, turns out the genera already exist.)

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Vacations and Vocations

26th August 2014

Kevin Williamson lays down some inconvenient truth.

President Barack Obama is spending his vacation golfing on Martha’s Vineyard. Hillary Rodham Clinton is spending her vacation in the habitual Clintonian mode, making a vulgar spectacle of herself in the Hamptons. Joe Biden, not that anybody cares, is off to Grand Teton.

Senator Rand Paul, on the other hand, is spending his vacation in Guatemala, performing eye surgeries on poor children who need care. (Eliana Johnson wrote about the trip here.) As the Washington Post points out, this is not a new thing for the senator-surgeon; on this trip, he saw two patients he’d first treated 15 years ago.

Quite a contrast.

Senator Paul will come out of his vacation looking pretty good. Given the political class’s endless appetite for self-serving theater, I found myself wondering why President Obama, Mrs. Clinton, or Vice President Biden did not choose to spend their vacations in a similar way, offering to put their skills and abilities to use on behalf of others. And then I realized that this was a deeply stupid question on my part.

What the hell would they do?

Unlike Senator Paul, neither the president nor the vice president nor the former secretary of state has anything that one might describe as a useful skill. That’s not quite right: They have skills that are useful . . . to themselves. As for skills that are useful to other people — you’d be hard pressed to think of one. If you were a poor family in Guatemala, which would you rather have: the services of a pretty good ophthalmologist, or those of an excellent orator? (Never mind that, unlike Senator Paul, President Obama does not speak Spanish — or, indeed, any foreign language.) Imagine dispatching Hillary Rodham Clinton to Calcutta or Joe Biden to Conakry and then expecting them to do something useful. The idea is preposterous.

Contrast that with professor of orthopedic surgery Tom Price (R., Ga.), obstetrician Mike Burgess (R., Texas), or cardiovascular surgeon Charles W. Boustany (R., La.). Mrs. Clinton may, in making the Hamptons rounds, even pass the childhood home of former physician Howard Dean, whose family split its time between East Hampton and Park Avenue. Even Howlin’ Howard has a useful skill, though his medical license lapsed a decade ago.

Quite a contrast indeed.

Politicians can redistribute wealth, but they do not create any. They can attempt to command the energies of those with the ability and inclination to produce valuable goods and services, but as politicians they do not produce. The entire idea of politicians as society’s leadership is an inversion of the real order of things: Government is not here to lead anybody anywhere — it is here to serve us in the important but limited role of coordinating collective action toward such ends as physical security and the enforcement of contracts.

If you think that President Obama can provide you with health care, let him take a scalpel to your eye. I dare you.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The Secret History of the Telephone Network

24th August 2014

Read it.

The history of telecommunications is a long story of progressives and populists demanding “public interest” regulations that produce and protect monopolies, followed by progressive and populist demands for regulations to fix the problems that their earlier regulations created. At each step, activists were coached and coaxed by the political and business interests in question.

Progressives today are traveling the well-worn policy path of trying to fix old mistakes by making new ones. They demand competition while promoting municipal public utility broadband systems. “Open access creates competition,” they claim, never minding that the unbundling requirements that force providers to lease their systems to competitors only create “competition” by turning an existing provider into a de facto monopoly. The goals of the modern net neutrality movement—which in effect seeks to prevent Internet Service Providers from providing anything but lowest-common-denominator service—might as well adopt the same early slogan of monopoly-era AT&T: “One System, One Policy, Universal Service.”

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Indulging in Destruction

24th August 2014

Theodore Dalrymple lays down some inconvenient truth.

Strangely enough, my experience of being a foreign correspondent, if that is what it was, has never caused me to doubt the veracity of what I read in the newspapers, which I swallow as a boa constrictor swallows a goat.

However, I have followed riots around the world vicariously ever since, and it seems to me that the principal precondition of such events in the modern world is clement weather. The association is much stronger than with, say, injustice, partly because there is complete agreement as to what constitutes clement weather, whereas what constitutes justice has been in dispute since at least the time of Plato. We all recognize good rioting weather when we see it, but injustice—well, we could go on arguing about it for days. Everyone can contain his anger in the rain.

But to hate injustice is not necessarily to love justice; and one might have supposed that the first duty of those who claim to hate injustice was themselves to act justly. Virtually by definition, those who riot violently (as did a small number of the protesters) do not act justly, for almost always they do damage, sometimes much damage, to the interests of those who have not caused the injustice against which they supposedly protest, and therefore commit an injustice against those who are unknown to them. Such is the case of the crimes against property, or rather, as my friend the economist Peter Bauer used to insist, against the owners of property, in Ferguson (property cannot suffer, but its owners can). Two injustices do not make righteousness.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

24th August 2014

Penny Lane

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The Core Democrat Party Platform

23rd August 2014

IQ

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Checklist of Rationality Habits

23rd August 2014

Read it.

Below is the checklist of rationality habits we have been using in the minicamps’ opening session.  It was co-written by Eliezer, myself, and a number of others at CFAR.  As mentioned below, the goal is not to assess how “rational” you are, but, rather, to develop a personal shopping list of habits to consider developing.  We generated it by asking ourselves, not what rationality content it’s useful to understand, but what rationality-related actions (or thinking habits) it’s useful to actually do.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Black Cop Shoots Unarmed White Teenager in Utah

23rd August 2014

Read it.

The policeman’s name is being withheld, unlike Darren Wilson’s –whose address was exposed by outside agitators.

Needless to say, there were no national news crews sent to Salt Lake. Rachel Madcow did not froth at the mouth about what a horrible, racist country America is. Chris Matthews avoided his usual spittle-spewing public meltdown. The Revs Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were nowhere to be found.

Then again, David Duke was unavailable for comment. The Aryan Nations did not show up. The leader of the American Nazi Party did not lead a chant saying “What’s his name?” “Officer X.” “How do we want him?” “Dead!” There was no looting in Salt Lake by aggrieved whites.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

A Plague on Both Their Charities

23rd August 2014

Sarah Hoyt has some words of wisdom. (Really. They are.)

Look, no humans band up then sit in their clubhouse twirling their moustaches and saying “now we’re going to be evil.” But human organizations often become evil. Partly this is because the people willing to do the donkey work of running a voluntary organization are often – not to say always – the type of mind that seeks power over others. If the charter of the organization allows them to achieve that power by dividing (as it were) the world in two and playing us against them, they will, and they will drive the association down an ever more paranoid path. At the end of which there’s always evil and attack on the “the other.”

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Thought for the Day

22nd August 2014

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

How Presidential Elections Are Impacted by a 100 Million Year Old Coastline

22nd August 2014

Read it.

The legacy of ancient coastlines, chalk, soil, cotton, and slavery can still be seen today.   African Americans make up over 50%, in some cases over 85%, of the population in Black Belt counties.  As expected this has and continues to deeply influence the culture of the Black Belt.  J. Sullivan Gibson writing in 1941 on the geology of the Black Belt noted, “The long-conceded regional identity of the Black Belts roots no more deeply its physical fundament of rolling prairie soil than in its cultural, social, and economic individuality.”  And so this plays out in politics.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

How to Be Fired

22nd August 2014

Gavin McInnes is caught up in the same old.

It’s not even the real trannies who are mad. They’re on my side. It’s the fake trannies who want my guts for garter belts. You see, the hot thing with the kids today is pretending you’re transgendered. To mock this is to take away their “me snowflake” status and make them admit they’re just like everybody else. Telling normal people they’re normal is now a hate crime. The government was just kicked off Wikipedia for citing my article. A congressional staffer mentioned it and now they’re considering booting all of congress off of Wikipedia for good. Want to update your constituents on a new bill? Sorry, one person in your building exhibited signs of transphobia.

Anyhoozers, this happens to pretty much everyone. If you’re lucky, you get a good payout. If you’re even luckier, they got the story straight. I don’t know how many of my friends have almost lost their minds after being fired for something that never happened. All it takes is one angry coworker and next thing you know a nonexistent “You” said “nigger” or grabbed someone’s ass.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

It’s Time for a Four-Day Workweek

21st August 2014

Read it.

Hear, hear.

Posted in Think about it. | 1 Comment »

Israel and Hamas

21st August 2014

Scott Adams cuts to the chase.

So let’s all stop fantasizing that the government of Hamas and the government of Israel can make a lasting peace via traditional peace talks. To do so would mean one of their governments is operating outside its intended design. American efforts to broker such a peace are just for show. No one expects peace because the systems of government that Israel and Hamas each selected make that impossible. You can’t have peace unless one of the two governments involved is replaced by an entirely new system that is designed in a way that allows peace to even be an option.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The Phantom Time Hypothesis

21st August 2014

Read it.

I love the smell of conspiracy in the morning.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Unicorn Governance

19th August 2014

Read it.

When I am discussing the State with my colleagues at Duke, it’s not long before I realize that, for them, almost without exception, the State is a unicorn. I come from the Public Choice tradition, which tends to emphasize consequentialist arguments more than natural rights, and so the distinction is particularly important for me. My friends generally dislike politicians, find democracy messy and distasteful, and object to the brutality and coercive excesses of foreign wars, the war on drugs, and the spying of the NSA. 

But their solution is, without exception, to expand the power of “the State.” That seems literally insane to me—a non sequitur of such monstrous proportions that I had trouble taking it seriously.

Then I realized that they want a kind of unicorn, a State that has the properties, motivations, knowledge, and abilities that they can imagine for it. When I finally realized that we were talking past each other, I felt kind of dumb. Because essentially this very realization—that people who favor expansion of government imagine a State different from the one possible in the physical world—has been a core part of the argument made by classical liberals for at least three hundred years.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The Secret Rules of Adjective Order

18th August 2014

Read it.

An intuitive code governs the way English speakers order adjectives. The rules come so naturally to us that we rarely learn about them in school, but over the past few decades language nerds have been monitoring modifiers, grouping them into categories, and straining to find logic in how people instinctively rank those categories.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Surprising Salaries for Jobs You’d Never Imagine

17th August 2014

Read it.

Many companies will train employees on the job. Lucas Mund spent a summer in college working at a local burger chain. “My 19 year-old boss was taking home $35,000/year with benefits,” he said. “Plus they train you on the job for free. She told me that she was on track to be a regional manager by the age of 30 and would make 100k by then.”

Working your way up to store manager has its perks. According to Murray Godfrey a Wal-Mart store manager “of a store in a moderate-sized locale can easily make $200k plus bonuses based on sales.”

Katie Nellis said managers of Walgreen’s drugstores in the US “often retire in their 40s.”

Turns out there’s a lot of moola in doing the jobs Americans don’t want to do.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Thought for the Day

17th August 2014

Theodore Dalrymple expresses my sentiments exactly.

I take a small siesta after lunch—I find it revivifies my brain for about half an hour—but each time I wake up I am a little disappointed to be thrust back into the midst of life. Sleep, especially when dreaming, is so much more enjoyable than being awake, with all the petty tasks that consciousness imposes upon one. The process of keeping myself alive bores me terribly; every morning the same thing, shower, shaving, breakfast, how tedious it all seems!

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

17th August 2014

Paperback Writer

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Thought for the Day

16th August 2014

Reagan Golf copy

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Experts: Record Cold Summer Leads to Changing Leaves in August

16th August 2014

Read it.

How’s that Global Warming coming along?

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Texting Creating ‘Text Neck’ Epidemic, Doctor Warns

16th August 2014

Read it.

“The problem is the posture,” Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractic physician who created and trademarked the phrase “text neck,” told FoxNews.com.  The Plantation, Florida-based doctor believes text neck is a global epidemic that is literally changing the way our bodies should grow.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

The Hillary Conundrum: What Does She Really Believe, and When Did She Believe It?

15th August 2014

Ron Radosh looks behind the curtain.

Hillary Clinton’s recent Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg has produced a storm, both by comments from the usual pundits as well as among the ranks of the left-wing of the already very liberal/left Democratic Party. Many conservatives have responded by calling attention to Hillary’s obvious failures, to write off what she has had to say as of no consequence except for revealing her hypocrisy. No one put it better than Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. He dubs her arguments as nothing but her “self re-invention as a hawk,” made because she “belatedly needs to disavow the consequences of the policies she once advocated,” and possibly because “she believes in whatever she says, at least at the time she’s saying it.”

I fully understand Stephens’ reaction to what Hillary Clinton said in the interview, but I think he neglects to take into consideration evidence that indicates she, while serving as his secretary of State, privately fought him tooth and nail, and presented advice that Obama rejected.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

How College Financial Aid Really Works

15th August 2014

Steve Sailer pulls back the curtain.

Economic theory suggests that the ultimate goal of any monopolist would be “perfect price discrimination” in which each customer is charged the maximum they would possibly pay. To ensure they know exactly how much that is, student by student, colleges require parents of applicants to perform a financial colonoscopy upon themselves via the federal FAFSA form, accompanied by signed 1040 forms. And many require the even more intrusive CSS document.

Of course, colleges aren’t a monopoly, but they appear to be a pretty successful cartel, at least as far as I can tell from noticing their Augusta National-level landscaping budgets. It’s been decades since I’ve seen a college campus that looked as dried out as Pinehurst No. 2 at the U.S. Open last June.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Definition of Fascism

14th August 2014

John C. Wright lays out some inconvenient truth.

Originally the word had a very specific meaning. It was coined by Mussolini, a socialist, to describe how his heresy of socialism differed from orthodox Marxist socialism.

The word itself comes from the fasci which is the Roman symbol of a magistrate called a Lictor, that is, the authority of the state to punish dissent and nonconformity. The fasci is a bundle of rods surrounding an ax. You can see it in the architectural decorations of statehouses and courts of law. The bundle of rods represents the truism that any one stick can be broken in isolation, but when gathered together, cannot be broken. If put into words, it is a symbol of the motto that unity is strength.

The two main differences of doctrine are, first, that Mussolini socialism operates factories and large businesses as public utilities, where the owners are allowed to keep their businesses in name only, but in fact are reduced to mere managers under direct state control, or quartermasters. This is distinct from Marxism in that it does not consider businessmen and workingmen to be two separate species of mankind, as Marxism does, locked in a Darwinian struggle to the death for racial survival.

The second difference and related to the first is that Mussolini considered the nation, that is, a racial and cultural group sharing a language, to be the fundamental collective to which the individual was to be subordinated, and the state to be the apotheosis of the collective Will. This is distinguished from Marxism who selected the rather more abstract (and irrational) group of persons engaged in categories of economic activity to be the fundamental collective.

The short answer is that a Fascist is a Nationalist Socialist whereas a Marxist is an International Socialist.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Our Higher Education System Fails Leftist Students

14th August 2014

Mike Munger, a Real Economist, uncovers a rock.

It may have come as a shock to the parents of these liberal students that they had learned everything they needed to know…in high school! Having memorized a kind of secular leftist catechism, they were free to wander around the quads of Duke and enjoy themselves.

Once we realize that the problem with our educational system is that we’re short-changing students on the left, denying them an education just because they happen to agree with the professor, then we have a path forward.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Kansas Teachers Union Sues State Over Termination Law

12th August 2014

Read it.

Man, I’m telling you, if someone who is both a government employee and a union member can be fired, who is safe?

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

5 Issues (Among Many) on Which Libertarians Are On Your Side

12th August 2014

J. D. Tuccille attempts to be persuasive.

Are libertarians just Ayn Rand-obsessed pot smokers who want to hide their money from the tax man?

Yeah, pretty much — at least the ones who write for tReason magazine. When our civilization is faced with an existential threat from a billion people whose totalitarian ideology was crafted in the 7th century by a mass-murdering brigand, worrying about whether smoking pot is legal is a perspective problem that makes such ‘libertarians’ irrelevant. If ‘libertarian’ means anything, it means a devotion to liberty, and worrying about what people can smoke here rather than spending full time about how basic liberty is being suppressed there (and here as soon as they can make it happen) is impossible to characterize as other than juvenile.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Leveling the Playing Field (With Explosives)

12th August 2014

Jim Goad lays out some inconvenient truth.

If you start with the premise that people are equal, then disparities in income and intelligence between groups will be blamed on the phantom demon known as “injustice,” and all your political energies will be spent trying to, as the tiresome saying goes, “level the playing field.”

But if you start with the premise that they aren’t equal, nearly all inequalities can be explained by, well, inequality—in other words, the idea that the playing field started out level, and inequalities began emerging when certain groups and individuals proved more adept than others. You will therefore view any attempt to “level the playing field” as artificial and essentially contradictory—to achieve equal results, one must instead tilt the playing field so that all the players appear to be the same height. The chief goal of “diversity” is, ironically, to make everyone the same.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

An Industry Dying for Female Workers

11th August 2014

Read it.

How come oil and gas firms are never a target for feminist groups? They pay great for education required. They are growing and spread out in many different regions of the US. They are also enclaves of masculinity. All this bitching about brogrammers, yet it is just coding at a desk in an air-conditioned room. The frac operators, mechanics, and cement specialists are doing manly physical work. Wouldn’t getting women involved in this sort of work prove gender equality? Come on, women’s studies majors! This is your big chance.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

We Don’t Really Need More Jobs

9th August 2014

Read it.

Most people, if offered the alternative between their current job on one hand and, on the other hand, the same salary but no job would choose the latter. Many do make this sort of choice. Casey Mulligan, a University of Chicago economist, calculates that half the depression of the labor market during the recent recession lies in the incentives created by the expansion of the safety net.

And note that anybody who gets bored without a job or needs the sentiment of being useful can do charity work. So why do most of us want to work at paid jobs?

The answer is simple. What people are really after is not jobs, but the incomes that come with them. And people want incomes because they want to consume during their leisure time. Life is not about making useless efforts, but about enjoying things, many of which, alas, only come with some effort. Jobs are the cost; consumption is the benefit.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Why Do We Care About Transportation Mode Share?

9th August 2014

Read it.

The New York Times ran an op-ed piece that helpfully demonstrated the pitfalls of lifestyle arguments in favor of urbanism, namely that they are annoying to everyone but the people making the argument.

The boys, like their father, are lean, strong and healthy. Their parents chose to live in New York, where their legs and public transit enable them to go from place to place efficiently, at low cost and with little stress (usually). They own a car but use it almost exclusively for vacations.

“Green” commuting is a priority in my family. I use a bicycle for most shopping and errands in the neighborhood, and I just bought my grandsons new bicycles for their trips to and from soccer games, accompanied by their cycling father.

These arguments – whether they’re about physical health, or “diverse” or “vibrant” or “creative” communities, or whatever else – are, at bottom, about telling people that they are lacking, and that in order to improve themselves they should become more like the author. In the 1970s, when city dwellers felt superior mainly because of their supposed cultural capital and were telling middle-class suburbanites to loosen up a little, that might have been obnoxious but harmless. In our current situation – when the city dwellers making these arguments are the economic elite (the author of this particular piece, Jane Brody, lives in gentrified brownstone Brooklyn, I believe) – it’s a lot more sinister. Brody talks about commutes as if their length and form were something that most people could freely choose, rather than something imposed upon them by their wages and the price of housing and form of development of their metropolitan area. She makes this a story about personal morality, rather than the constraints we choose to put on people through public policy.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Thought for the Day

8th August 2014

My Mistake

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Herd of Cows Kills German Hiker in Austria

7th August 2014

Read it.

Well, after all, they were Austian cows — maybe they were just getting a little payback for Hitler.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actresses, All White — Again

5th August 2014

Read it.

Maybe black women just can’t act. Or perhaps they just aren’t much to look at — I’ve noticed that ‘black’ women who are generally considered good-looking really look like white women with one African great-grandparent. Beyoncé? Yup. Michelle Obama? Not so much.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »

In Times of Peace

5th August 2014

Bill Reader pulls back the curtain.

Control of the circumstances of a battle is the key to winning, and the proverb reminds us that our ability to control such things is much greater if we do it well in advance… in times of peace… than when they are immediate needs… in times of war.

Commonly in politics, we see it applied when someone (99.99% of the time a Democrat, which is not to our strategic advantage) accuses an opponent of a crime preemptively in order to excuse their own malfeasance later. The crime is often a generalized one that’s difficult to disprove, such as being an -ist. Obama bought practical immunity from questions about his otherwise extremely questionable past in two elections, simply by accusing opponents of being racist. Such general accusations of prejudice are very useful. Any sufficiently well-known public figure will be opposed for reasons both philosophical and prejudicial. The accusation gives followers sanction not to even attempt to differentiate the groups, however prominent the prior and insubstantial the latter. The accusation becomes a kind of magic word, spoken to protect the user from the conflict of ideas.

Posted in Think about it. | No Comments »