July 29, 2009
THE BOOKER PRIZE nominees are out.
THE BOOKER PRIZE nominees are out.
MARYLAND IS FOR PIE FIGHTS. “For a moment I considered asking if there was a back room where one could gorge on smuggled pies, but thought better of it. Such secret places would be only for locals and those known to the Mafia, not for transient gypsy engineers such as myself.”
FRAGILE INFRASTRUCTURE: Damaged cable causes Internet blackout in four West African countries.
UPDATE: Here’s something Charlie Stross sent to the Extropian list a while back, and — when contacted by email — he says it still represents his views. Mine too.
Excuse me, but I’m having a really bizarre vision right now, of what the Extropian Revolutionary Front will look like in few years’ time.
(That’s what you get when extropians stop being content to agitate from the sidelines and start thinking about mandating change, get rebuffed by the mainstream, and adopt Lenin’s vanguard party doctrine by way of revenge.)
It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty hellish.
If you mix coercive tactics, or even plain old-fashioned discrimination, in with extropianism and high technology, you get a very, very nasty end product. Previous tyrannies at least left the contents of your skull alone — they yammered propaganda at you, but if you’re used to resisting the blandishments of modern advertising you should be aware that most propaganda is considerably less effective than that. An extropian tyranny, enforced from without in accordance with the usual parameters of a tyrannical system, wouldn’t be content with mere physical compliance. The flip side of uploading as a viable procedure is downloading, and could well be abused to give new meaning to the phrase “the Stalin in your soul”.
If you feel any kind of aversion to this possibility, you want to think very hard about mixing coercion with extropian ideas. Before it’s too late.
Indeed. (Thanks to reader Alastair Young for the tip).
JEFFREY HIRSCH: Making Globalism Work for Employees.
LAW-SCHOOL RANKING EFFORTS REPORTED:
To begin with, let me share an interesting telephone conversation I had several weeks ago, plus two more that followed. On June 23, I received a call from someone at #%$*^# Law School [name redacted, but it is a public law school ranked in US News’s Top 25]. The caller, an employee of that school, asked me if I could provide him with the names of the chair of our faculty hiring committee and the most recently tenured professor (“MRTP”). I asked him why he wanted these names, and he told me that his school planned to send promotional literature to these two faculty members, and also to the dean and associate dean for academic affairs.
For those who haven’t already figured this out, these are the four faculty members who will soon be receiving ballots from US News in connection with next year’s law school rankings. Soon after I had this conversation, two other law schools called me to ask the same question. . . . o, what do you think we might want to send to prospective US News voters? Simple but warm congratulatory notes to every MRTP in the nation? Flowers? Gift cards? ITunes cards? Don’t laugh about that one — at least one other law school has reportedly been sending ITunes cards to would-be law students as a way of improving its student selectivity numbers.
Or just cash. . . .
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Hi Prof. Reynolds:
As you can tell by my e-mail, I work for —- Law School. I am one of the faculty assistants; we sort the incoming mail for the professors. We get a LOT of mail from law schools looking to advance in the U.S. News Rankings – and I’ve worked for both faculty hiring committee chairs and new professors, so I know that this is a lot of mail, everything from postcards and brochures to law school alumni magazines.
If I could say just one thing to all law schools who do this, and the deans who think it’s a good idea: STOP. It is a bad idea. It has no effect on your rankings, and in all likelihood it’s hurting them. The professors who receive this pile of extra junk mail call it “law porn.” Every professor that I know of who gets these instructs us assistants to put it all straight into the trash. They call it a waste of paper – very expensive glossy paper. One told me that it’s actually a negative – the more law porn a school sends him, the more he marks it down on the rankings – and I’m not sure he was kidding. Most of it is academic conference brochures for schools on the other coast in subjects the professors receiving them do not teach in. 50+ page alumni magazines are probably the biggest wastes. But one law school went the extra mile and actually sent separate postcards announcing each of its new faculty hires for the last year, four or five in all, which particularly annoyed the professors here. If these schools want to improve their US News rankings, it’d probably be better to take the money spent on this law porn, which nobody will read, and use it for something else that does improve rankings – more library volumes, for instance. Or better professors.
If you post this (and I hope you do, you’re our only hope), please leave out my name and the school I work for.
Okay, but if I’m you’re only hope, well . . . .
MAKING A laundry list of happiness.
THOUGHTS ON taxing abortion to fund health care. I wonder if cosmetic surgery doesn’t at least arguably have the same personal-identity and bodily integrity issues as abortion. . . .
MSNBC: Losing The Message War? “Perhaps the biggest thing that stood out to us at President Obama’s AARP town hall yesterday was that the White House appears to be losing the message war on health care.”
TOM MAGUIRE NOTES THAT ABC’s race-obsession has led it astray.
CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? West Virginia to Tennessee: This Means War.
CHANGE: NPR Poll Finds Tough Sledding For Obama. “When asked about the plan now moving through Congress, a plurality of 47 percent was opposed and 42 percent said they were in favor, based on what they had heard about the plan so far. . . . But if the president saw his numbers down, Congress fared far worse, with just 7 percent saying they approved strongly and 25 percent saying they approved somewhat. A 61 percent majority said they disapproved of Congress, with 2 out of 3 of them doing so strongly.”
UPDATE: How do you know — I mean, besides that even NPR is saying it — that Obama is in trouble? Suddenly, his critics are being called racist. Would a “wise Latina” recommend this rhetorical move?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Dunn emails: “Surely it was obvious that eventually dissent would become the highest form of racism.” And I remember when it was the highest form of patriotism! Less than a year ago, in fact . . . .
TRACY QUAN is unimpressed with the latest research on “withdrawal” as a means of contraception. “Anxiety about contraception is both good and necessary. It’s like the anxiety you feel about flying through the windshield of your car that makes you buckle up. Even if there are a few short rides during which you didn’t buckle, do you really want road-safety experts telling you not to worry about it?”
I’ll note, though, that from my single-days experience women can be just as casual about contraception as men, and just as unhappy to be reminded of the need to, er, buckle up.
UPDATE: Reader Kevin McKinley writes: “Women can be casual about contraception, because it’s men who ‘get women pregnant’. Apparently women don’t really participate.” People do talk that way sometimes, don’t they?
OOPS: New CBO Estimate Cuts Savings from Obama’s Student Loan Plan in Half. It’s like you can’t trust any of their numbers!
NIGHT INTO DAY: Michael Yon reports on combat in Afghanistan. “The Taliban are trying to snare us with mines, bombs, and SAFIRE (small-arms fire), and basically we try to do the same, only we don’t use mines, and our bombs often come from the sky. The Taliban are very brave, but they are ignorant brutal men who murder locals who do not support them, and brave doesn’t stop bullets.”
LATEST NANNY-IST WORRY: The role of alcohol in Harry Potter.
RUMOR: Health Care Vote Back On. “Democrats are growing fearful that August recess will turn the Blue Dogs cold and want something out by Friday.” Hmm. We’ll know soon, but the rush to get something out by Friday seems unseemly. As John Conyers recently emphasized, nobody’s read this thing.
UPDATE: The Hill: Blue Dogs Strike Deal — No Health Vote Before Recess. “In exchange for putting off a floor vote until after Labor Day, the Energy and Commerce Committee may be allowed to continue its markup of the healthcare bill this week even if an agreement has not been reached between Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and seven Energy and Commerce Committee Blue Dogs over the content of the bill.”
IN THE MAIL: Stephen Carter’s new novel, Jericho’s Fall.
MICHAEL BARONE: Obama has aura but doesn’t know how to legislate. “One reason, perhaps, is that he has had little practice.”
MEGAN MCARDLE: A Long, Long Post About My Reasons For Opposing National Health Care. Excerpt:
Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory. Once we’ve got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government’s incentives? I think they’re bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad. I’m afraid that instead of Security Theater, we’ll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we’re getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.
That’s not just verbal theatrics. Agencies like Britain’s NICE are a case in point. As long as people don’t know that there are cancer treatments they’re not getting, they’re happy. Once they find out, satisfaction plunges. But the reason that people in Britain know about things like herceptin for early stage breast cancer is a robust private market in the US that experiments with this sort of thing.
So in the absence of a robust private US market, my assumption is that the government will focus on the apparent at the expense of the hard-to-measure. Innovation benefits future constituents who aren’t voting now. . . . At this juncture in the conversation, someone almost always breaks in and says, “Why don’t you tell that to an uninsured person?” I have. Specifically, I told it to me. I was uninsured for more than two years after grad school, with an autoimmune disease and asthma. I was, if anything, even more militant than I am now about government takeover of insurance.
But you can also turn this around: why don’t you tell some person who has a terminal condition that sorry, we can’t afford to find a cure for their disease? . . . The other major reason that I am against national health care is the increasing license it gives elites to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone’s life.
Read the whole thing.
REP. LAURA RICHARDSON’S (D-CA) FORECLOSED HOUSE is now the focus of an ethics probe.
THEY USED TO CALL THIS “GREYHOUND THERAPY” — City Aids Homeless With One-Way Tickets Home — and when Houston did it it was proof of uncaring degeneracy. Now that New York is doing it, it’s progressive!
RON BAILEY ON WHAT REAL HEALTH CARE REFORM WOULD LOOK LIKE: How medical markets would improve health care and reduce costs.
GATEWAY PUNDIT JIM HOFT’S MOTHER has died. If you’ve enjoyed his blog, you might send him your condolences.
HEALING WOUNDS with nanodiamonds.
POLITICO: Backlash: Democratic Dangers Mount. “Democrats giddy with possibilities only six months ago now confront a perilous 2010 landscape signaled by troublesome signs of President Barack Obama’s political mortality, the plunging popularity of many governors and rising disquiet among many vulnerable House Democrats. The issue advantage has shifted as well, with Democrats facing the brunt of criticism about the pace of stimulus package spending, anxiety over rising unemployment rates and widespread uneasiness over the twin pillars of Obama’s legislative agenda: his cap-and-trade approach to climate change and the emerging health care bill.”
Related: Republicans ahead on generic ballot.
HOPE AND CHANGE: 49% Now Say America’s Best Days Are In The Past. “Nearly one-out-of-two U.S. voters (49%) now say the nation’s best days are in the past, a five-point jump from last month and the highest level of pessimism on this question in a year.”
HAWAII BACKS DOWN ON INTERNET SALES TAX, Amazon re-enrolls Hawaii affiliates.
MARK STEYN: “Thousand-page bills, unread and indeed unwritten at the time of passage, are the death of representative government. They also provide a clue as to why, in a country this large, national government should be minimal and constrained. Even if you doubled or trebled the size of the legislature, the Conyers conundrum would still hold: No individual can read these bills and understand what he’s voting on. That’s why the bulk of these responsibilities should be left to states and subsidiary jurisdictions, which can legislate on such matters at readable length and in comprehensible language.”
JENNIFER RUBIN: Obama is Tanking in the Polls: Is it Unemployment, Or is it Him? “Polls show the public thinks Obama is spending too much and taking on too much power. It is not hard to conclude that Obama has been caught trying to pull off a bait and switch — he ran as a moderate and is governing as a left-winger. With ample evidence that they have been conned, the voters are now registering their disapproval.”
IF YOUR IPHONE DOESN’T WORK, THIS COULD BE WHY: AT&T Suffers Massive Mobile Data Outage In Northeast, Midwest.
THE HILL: Stocks Go Up As Democratic Agenda Slides. Yeah, it looks that way to me, too.
MORE FROM MISSOURI: Health care forum draws hundreds, mostly opposed to federal reform legislation. “Some comments were more dramatic. One man, who identified himself as Jim Dale of Valley Park, posed the question, ‘At what point does the government say to me that it is your patriotic duty to die?’”
More here, from Dana Loesch.
UPDATE: Here’s video of Dana talking about the protest on Greta van Susteren last night.
MICKEY KAUS: “Here’s a safe political prediction: Despite all the innovative e-mobilization and ad campaigns and town halls, the August recess will not produce any effective groundswell of popular support for Obama’s health care reform.”
THEY WON’T LISTEN UNLESS YOU START SAWING OFF HEADS: Christians angry over bible defacement.
AL QAEDA, North Carolina.
BRR: Chicago Sees Coldest July In 67 Years: Average Temperature Only 68.9 Degrees. At least it means lower utility bills.
UPDATE: Reader Blaine Miller reports that the cooling isn’t exactly global: “Austin TX is going to have a 105 degree day and have the hottest July on record.”
THE HILL: Dem Healthcare Infighting Intensifies.
HENRY WAXMAN, closet Birther? And what about John Murtha?
ANOTHER RICCI CASE in NYC?
LOCAL BUSINESSES PROTEST CAP-AND-TRADE in Quincy, Illinois.
TOURING THE Studebaker National Museum.
ALTERNATIVES to Obamacare.
MICHAEL TOTTEN: The military solution in Gaza worked.
MARY KATHARINE HAM JOINS WITH ANDREW SULLIVAN in decrying a morbid fascination with birth-related conspiracy theories.
QUESTION: If Congress can tax plastic surgery, can it tax abortion?
CUT HEALTH COSTS by banning divorce? “If studies show that divorce damages health, then horning into our marriages will become the government’s business too. Obviously another blue pill. You expect us to pay for the red pill, when there’s a blue pill?”
SOUNDS GOOD TO ME: A Biofuel Process to Replace All Fossil Fuels. “A startup based in Cambridge, MA–Joule Biotechnologies–today revealed details of a process that it says can make 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per year. If this yield proves realistic, it could make it practical to replace all fossil fuels used for transportation with biofuels. The company also claims that the fuel can be sold for prices competitive with fossil fuels.” Hope it pans out, but let’s wait for a large-scale demonstration before we get too excited.
HUNDREDS ATTEND anti-Obamacare rally in Denver.
WENDY KAMINER: Law Students Flunk Academic Freedom 101. Silly Wendy. Academic freedom is about freedom for the academy to irritate the outside world without consequences. It’s not freedom to depart from the conventional wisdom of the academy.
REVIEWING THE REVIEWERS: A roundup of book reviews from all over.
DELL NON-HELL: Yeah, I know Jeff Jarvis had his problems, but my luck with Dell service has been good. The Insta-daughter’s machine died over the weekend — stone dead, wouldn’t do anything. I called the support number off their website, a guy showed up yesterday and installed a new motherboard, now everything’s working fine. I wasn’t even stuck on hold very long when I called. Credit where credit’s due.
SILICON GRAFFITI: Legacy: Walter Cronkite and the Apex of Mass Media.
Also, don’t miss this piece from Virginia Postrel. Who donated a kidney to Sally Satel a couple of years back.
COOL: Photo: Docked Space Shuttle and Station Cross the Sun. “You couldn’t just aim your digital camera at the sky and get results like this.”
MICKEY KAUS: Postrel 1, Orszag 0.
FLYING MACH 2.0 in an open cockpit? No thank you.
I THOUGHT THE WAR ON TERROR WAS OVER: Feds: 1 N.C. terrorism suspect still sought. “Federal authorities were searching Tuesday for a U.S. citizen charged with plotting ‘violent jihad’ as part of a North Carolina group suspected of international terrorist aspirations. . . . Investigators arrested seven men involved in the group Monday, accusing them of military-style training at home and plotting terrorist attacks abroad. The men purchased several weapons over the past year, and in June and July, three of them went to private land in north-central North Carolina to practice ‘military tactics,’ according to the indictment.”
THE SINGULARITY APPROACHETH: Gene Editing Sped Up By Orders of Magnitude.
POLITICO: WILL HEALTH CARE “REFORM” PROMOTE EUTHANASIA?
TESTING the Tesla Roadster. “I’m on a three-day, 460-mile mission to challenge the Tesla hype and decide if living on 375 volts is actually enjoyable in the gas age. First order of business: I never got close to Tesla’s claimed 244-mile range in which the car can drive without a recharge. Had I driven like a maniacal hypermiler and avoided highways, which drain the battery much faster than back roads, I might have hit 200 miles.”
VARIOUS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SENDING ME THIS DAVID FRUM PIECE. I do think that there are a some cheerfully-gloomy folks on the Right, people who would rather talk about how things are going down the tubes than, you know, actually do anything about it. I don’t know why Frum picked Mark Levin as an example, though. Even Levin’s detractors would admit that he’s a fighter, not a Gloomy Gus. And if you actually read Liberty and Tyranny — as I did for my Levin interview — it’s clearly a call to action, not a counsel of despair. What’s more, if you look at things like the Tea Party movement, which Levin supports, there are obvously a lot of people out there doing things, and having fun doing them.
Which is more than you can say for Frum, lately. The tone of his stuff seems closer to the problem he diagnoses than does Levin’s. Pundit, heal thyself.
UPDATE: Various readers inform me that Frum and Levin have been going at it for a while, something I was vaguely — but only vaguely — aware of. Okay, whatever. My advice is to stop taking shots at each other, when there’s such a target-rich environment elsewhere. And, frankly, I think that conservatives and libertarians should be feeling a lot better than they did a few months ago, as the Obama aura is dissipating much faster than even the most optimistic might have expected.
TROUBLE FOR THE APTERA? “Apparently, all is not well in Aptera Motors fandom land. After something of a sustained burst in marketing and promotional appearances earlier this year that included a visit to TED and to Washington D.C., it seems a recent lack of announcements and unresponsiveness to customer emails is leading some Apterans to begin stressing big time about what is up with the company that’s supposed to begin building their first model, the all-electric 2e, this autumn.” But the Aptera folks say they’re just kinda busy starting up a new car company. Fine, whatever, but where’s mine?
TRYING TO BUILD A BETTER BATTERY. Faster, please.
PRIVATE SPACE TRAVEL DEAL to be announced today.
WELCOME TO POSTRACIAL AMERICA: Black female cop who voted for Obama says she won’t do it again. “I supported him, I voted for him. I will not again.” (Via Jules Crittenden, who has more thoughts).
THE LATEST Grand Rounds is up!
IN THE MAIL: From Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International.
MATT WELCH: Questioning Obama’s Numbers. Accusing Obama of “Magical Realism” in budgeting.
RICHARD POSNER: LIBERALS FORGETTING KEYNES: “Krugman’s passionate support for the Administration’s health-care program suggests that he has not absorbed one of the central elements of Keynes’s theory, which is the role of uncertainty in depressing investment spending and, both by depressing investment and by increasing passive savings, in depressing consumption spending as well. . . . When uncertainty in the sense of risk that cannot be calculated rises, it tends to make businessmen and consumers alike freeze–they hoard money rather than spend it, whether spending on investment in the case of businessmen or sending on consumption in the case of consumers. That is the prudent response to increased uncertainty, because by holding off on spending the businessman or the consumer buys time to gather information about his options, or simply wait for the situation to clarify itself, and also accumulates cash with which to deal with emergencies to which an uncertain economic environment can give rise. We see these tendencies at work today, in the huge excess reserves accumulated by the banks, the decline in new bank loans, the massive layoffs by employers uncertain about the demand for the goods and services they produce, the decline in business deals, and the sharp increase in the personal savings rate.”
And what’s the biggest source of uncertainty right now? The Administration and Congress! “I therefore thought it a mistake, as I have noted often in the blog, for the Administration to embark, without waiting for the recovery from the depression, on ambitious social programs that are likely to add substantially to the national debt. These programs, if enacted, will increase the likelihood of a severe aftershock.”
SAVING MONEY BY REDEFINING “HEALTH”?
FORTUNE: 5 freedoms you’d lose in health care reform. “If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you’ll find that a lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.”
POLITICO: Democrats Search for Villains on Health Care. “With their health care plans in a holding pattern — and no George W. Bush to kick around anymore — Democrats are casting about for somebody to blame.”
MEN DON’T WANT PRINCESSES: “Give us Sarah Connor in a black cocktail dress pumping a shotgun any day.” Wait — which Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton or Lena Headey? Okay, really it doesn’t matter, I guess . . . .
SCUTTLING THE NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE? I thought we were in some sort of greenhouse crisis. Apparently I was misinformed.
MEGAN MCARDLE: Why get married? “Why not simply live together, and avoid the tax hit?”
CHRIS DODD AND THE STORY HE CAN’T SHAKE.
THE WEAPON OF CHOICE FOR . . . ER, SOMEBODY. The Assault Peashooter.
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: As Health Vows Don’t Hold Up, Dems Scramble To Square Circle. “Jolted by a Congressional Budget Office warning that leading health care plans would raise spending, not lower it, the White House moved quickly last week to avoid a potential deal-breaker.”
Plus, reader Patrick Parsons writes: “It’s going to be ugly for members during congressional recess. Here is an ad on ‘card check’ that will be running against Webb/Warner in Virginia. It isn’t just going to be healthcare, cap and trade, spending, and taxes. there are going to be so many issues that they are going to get hit on.” Yeah, that’s the downside of trying to rush a lot of stuff through all at once. I think they’ll be hearing from a lot of Tea Party folks, too.
TAXPROF: Henry Louis Gates’ tax problem.
TEACHING ROBOTS the rules of war.
FRANK CAGLE LOOKS AT BLOGS in the Tennessee Governor’s Race:
Blogs will play an important role in this election by default. Over the next year, traditional news organizations will do the occasional “take out” on the race. (The News Sentinel had a nice piece a couple of Sundays ago on Republicans and conservatism.) But day in and day out the gossip, the trivia, the minutiae, and the obscure details that thrill political junkies will be found on the blogs.
That is as it should be, I suppose. Blogs can provide information that is not general enough for mass media. That will be especially true for special-interest issue blogs. No doubt SayUncle will keep us informed on where the candidates are on gun issues, for example.
Blogs do not, by and large, have the reach of traditional news organizations. At least right now. But they do have a great deal of influence with political insiders. And they are often read by newspaper editors and television and radio news directors. Thus they often set the tone of campaign coverage. They can get the “talk right” for a candidate, or reveal the candidate to be a bumbling fool. This campaign, they may set the storylines that play out in the course of the campaign.
That sounds about right to me.
SOMEONE’S SET UP AN AGGREGATOR BLOG covering the Inspector General scandals.
IOWAHAWK ON THE “GRIM REALITY” of Cambridge police profiling.
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: AP IMPACT: Dodd, Conrad told deals were sweetened. “Despite their denials, influential Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd were told from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts from one of the nation’s largest lenders, the official who handled their loans has told Congress in secret testimony.” Oh come on — a politician lying about his finances? You expect me to believe that?
I think I have the answer.
They signed the paperwork without reading.
We already have proof of all that with every new massive piece of legislation that has been passed of late – without anyone reading for details, and members of Congress like John Conyers bellyaching about having to read for understanding being too difficult to do.
Sadly, that’s plausible . . . .