January 8, 2012
AN ALARMING DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA that everyone has missed.
AN ALARMING DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA that everyone has missed.
TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: “I do have a non-blogging life, you know, however unlikely that may appear. Really. I do. Honest.”
HIGHER EDUCATION UPDATE: A student on Stanford Free Classes. “Stanford ‘free’ classes aren’t free. Stanford students have to pay for them. The fact that I’m paying for them doesn’t bother me, the fact that people who aren’t paying for them have changed the class more than the ones who have, does. I’m sorry, but if I’m going to have to pay $50,000 a year to go to Stanford then the classes should be tailored to fit the students – not a working professional who wants to learn a little machine learning on the side.”
UPDATE: Reader Cindy McNew writes, cruelly: “You mean the person doing the paying, kinda like a, what’s the word, taxpayer, wants a say in the service that’s offered to others on his dime? Wow, what a concept.”
WANT TO SEE YOUR PREEMIES IN THE NICU? Not if Jay-Z and Beyonce Are In the House. Complain to the hospital accreditation board. Also, sue. And tell the papers — but I guess that’s already been done. And get the bodyguards’ names and go after their licenses.
IMPORTANT ADVICE for people interviewing for jobs. “While we’re on the subject, I would guess that winks, hugs, fart jokes (even really funny ones), and referring to anyone as ‘dude’ (especially the interviewer, especially if she’s a woman) might not give you the edge you’re hoping for. And even if you’re interviewing for your dream job at Facebook, I doubt that ‘poking’ the interviewer is a good idea.”
LUIGI ZINGALES: Who Killed Horatio Alger? The decline of the meritocratic ideal.
INFORMER NATION: In Newark, Turn In Your Neighbor For Owning A Gun, Get $1000.
ARAB COLONIALISM: Can Qatar bail out France’s banlieues? “While the investors and credit ratings agencies may be mulling over the economic turmoil gripping France, one set of investors is seeing opportunity. In Le Monde, Arthur Frayer profiled the efforts of Qatar to create a 50 million euro investment fund for the banlieues, France’s poverty-stricken, largely-immigrant suburbs.”
HOW MEN AND WOMEN ARE TREATED DIFFERENTLY, summed up in a t-shirt.
POLITICAL WIVES: Do They Hold All The Power? As the Schwarzenegger experience indicates, conservative politicians married to lefty women tend to “grow in office.” Not sure if it works the other way around.
AT AMAZON, a sale on luggage.
TONY BLANKLEY has died.
LONGEVITY UPDATE: The Surprisingly Mundane Genetic ‘Secrets’ of Earth’s Oldest People. “While genomic research on the super-old is in its very early stages, what’s fascinating is what the researchers are not finding. These people’s genomes are fundamentally the same as other people’s. They are clearly very special, but not in ways that are obvious. . . . When you look at older and older ages, in the tradeoff between environment and genetics, the genetics play a bigger and bigger role.”
BURGLARS ON WHAT’S NOT WORTH STEALING: “Burglars are generally drug-addled, unskilled and opportunistic. Yet they are capable of making economic calculations. And their behaviour reveals something about the state of the media business. Hollywood and the record labels believe they can hold off the threat from technology, both legitimate and illegitimate, and maintain the value of their products. Britain’s burglars disagree.”
CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN : White House mum about guns on Giffords anniversary. “For more than a decade, Democratic officials have sidelined numerous calls by allied activist groups for new curbs on guns. The shift followed the Democrats’ defeat in the 2000 presidential election, when gun-rights activists helped Vice-President Al Gore lose his home state of Tennessee to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.”
UPDATE: Prof. Jacobson: Remembering The Giffords Shooting, And The Reaction. And here are my thoughts from last year.
JOHN TIERNEY: How To Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions. “The study, led by Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Chicago, showed that the people with the best self-control, paradoxically, are the ones who use their willpower less often. Instead of fending off one urge after another, these people set up their lives to minimize temptations. They play offense, not defense, using their willpower in advance so that they avoid crises, conserve their energy and outsource as much self-control as they can.”
FOUR VITAMINS that strengthen older brains: “Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E are associated with better mental functioning in the elderly, a new study has found. . . . After controlling for age, sex, blood pressure, body mass index and other factors, the researchers found that people with the highest blood levels of the four vitamins scored higher on the cognitive tests and had larger brain volume than those with the lowest levels. Omega-3 levels were linked to better cognitive functioning and to healthier blood vessels in the brain, but not to higher brain volume, which suggests that these beneficial fats may improve cognition by a different means. Higher blood levels of trans fats, on the other hand, were significantly associated with impaired mental ability and smaller brain volume. “
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Detroit Feeling Greek As the Technocrats Close In. “The city of Henry Ford continues on its road to nowhere. Elected officials don’t want to make savage cuts in pay and benefits for some city workers while firing many others — for understandable reasons both political and humane. On the other hand, there isn’t any money and neither the state nor the feds will bail Detroit out.” And, of course, anyone who wants to seriously address the problem is a racist.
THE STATE HAS NOTICED that your children are getting fat.
GEORGE WILL: The Redistributionist Behemoth. “Liberals have a rendezvous with regret. Their largest achievement is today’s redistributionist government. But such government is inherently regressive: It tends to distribute power and money to the strong, including itself.”
INSIDE A BRITISH COLD-WAR BUNKER.
UP TO 40% OFF on the indispensable George Foreman grills.
WILL THE LAST RETAILER LEAVING THE STRIP MALL TURN THE LIGHTS OFF, PLEASE? “Why Best Buy is Going out of Business…Gradually:”
We left the store, my friend having made his purchase but both of us fuming. I was reminded of a line from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” One character asks another how he went bankrupt. “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” Best Buy, I thought, is doing the same, just as many big box retailers have done in the last decade.First comes the strategic bankruptcy, well in progress at Best Buy, where management’s sole focus is improving some arbitrary metric from last quarter, even when doing so actually interferes with customers trying to buy something else. The financial collapse comes later. But if history is any guide, the second part, once it starts, will be quick.
As with many large retailers unable to cope with new channels and new consumer expectations, the company will continue to sputter on fumes, slowing down bit by bit until one day it just stops moving. Think of Elek-Tek, Virgin Megastores, or KB Toys. (See a non-exhaustive, nostalgia-inducing list of recently-failed retailers over at Wikipedia.)
Or Borders Books. I love Amazon, but I’d like to think there will be a few retailers left in the coming years where you can walk in and buy a product — and even have a cheerful experience doing so. But as Larry Downes writes in Forbes, Best Buy seems to be doing its darnedest to alienate its customers, both those walking into its stores, and especially those shopping online at Christmastime. The result, Steve Green notes at Vodkapundit is “weaker than expected” Christmas sales numbers for the retailer. “I don’t know whether the bad numbers were due to the weak economy, or because Best Buy has entered its death spiral,” Steve writes.
Possibly, the answer to both halves of that equation is yes.
ANDREW FERGUSON: The Chump Effect: Reporters are credulous, studies show.
Lots of cultural writing these days, in books and magazines and newspapers, relies on the so-called Chump Effect. The Effect is defined by its discoverer, me, as the eagerness of laymen and journalists to swallow whole the claims made by social scientists. Entire journalistic enterprises, whole books from cover to cover, would simply collapse into dust if even a smidgen of skepticism were summoned whenever we read that “scientists say” or “a new study finds” or “research shows” or “data suggest.” Most such claims of social science, we would soon find, fall into one of three categories: the trivial, the dubious, or the flatly untrue.
Read the whole thing.
The downside: It’s much harder to have a unified sense of culture now that the mass media of the 1920s through the 1980s is no more, thus leading both to the existence of “present-tense culture,” and the desire to hang onto the beloved older forms of the past. (See also: endless Hollywood sequels and the ubiquity of forty year old rock songs.) The upside: it’s much easier to create your own.
AFTER THE NEW HAMPSHIRE DEBATE, Peter Ingemi meets the most important person in the bar.
JAMES PETHOKOUKIS: Why is Romney doing such a lousy job defending his record at Bain Capital? “Not only is Romney’s Bain record on trial here, so is the whole idea of Schumpeterian, entrepreneurial capitalism where ‘creative destruction’ creates a massive net benefit for society. This is exactly the idea that the Obama reelection campaign is attacking as promoting unacceptable levels of inequality. (Apparently bad government investments — like in Solyndra — that lose jobs are OK.)”
LEGAL EDUCATION UPDATE: Judge Cabranes’ Three-Part Prescription for Law Schools.
MOTHERS, BABIES AND CELL TRANSFER:
During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus. A baby’s cells are detectable in his mother’s bloodstream as early as four weeks after conception, and a mother’s cells are detectable in her fetus by week 13. In the first trimester, one out of every fifty thousand cells in her body are from her baby-to-be (this is how some noninvasive prenatal tests check for genetic disorders). In the second and third trimesters, the count is up to one out of every thousand maternal cells. At the end of the pregnancy, up to 6 percent of the DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood plasma comes from the fetus. After birth, the mother’s fetal cell count plummets, but some stick around for the long haul. Those lingerers create their own lineages. Imagine colonies in the motherland.
Moms usually tolerate the invasion. This is why skin, organ, and bone marrow transplants between mother and child have a much higher success rate than between father and child. . . . It turns out that when fetal cells are good, they are very, very good. They may protect mothers from some forms of cancer. Fetal cells show up significantly more often in the breast tissue of women who don’t have breast cancer than in women who do (43 versus 14 percent). Why is this? Fetal cells are foreign to the mother because they contain DNA from the baby’s father. One theory is that this “otherness” stimulates the mother’s immune system just enough to help keep malignant cells in check. The more fetal cells there are in a woman’s body, the less active are autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. These conditions improve during pregnancy and for some time afterward — suggesting that the mother’s immune system is more focused on attacking the “other,” not herself. There’s also tantalizing evidence that fetal cells may offer the mother increased resistance to certain diseases, thanks to the presence of the father’s immune system genes. These are new weapons in the war chest.
Read the whole thing.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Don’t Blame For-Profit Colleges for the Higher-Ed Lobbying Epidemic. “For-profit colleges aren’t the first, or even the biggest, education lobbyists. They simply learned from the best: America’s beloved public and nonprofit universities.”
RON RADOSH: Republican Infighting — A Gift To Barack Obama?
BOB KRUMM: The Tyranny Of Bureaucracy.
TOM BLUMER: The Associated Press’s Stinky ‘New Distinctiveness.’ “When you read the memo’s text, and just a bit between the lines, what you find is a justification for and formulation of a new form of agenda journalism from the people whose only job should be relaying the facts, something they have been doing progressively (pun intended) more poorly in recent years.”
SO LET IT BE WRITTEN, so let it be done.
THE DEBATE THAT MADE NO DIFFERENCE: “At about 10:28pm tonight, as Mitt Romney pivoted from a question on tax loopholes and started in with, ‘the real issue is vision,’ I had recorded this thought in my notes, ‘He just clinched the nomination,’” Michael Barone writes.
UPDATE: Team Romney: Stephanopoulos has a strange obsession with contraception. (By Glenn).
ANOTHER UPDATE: Fairness lost. Stephanopoulos struggles with fairness during New Hampshire debate. “ABC News commentator George Stephanopoulos directed pointed, hard-edged questions to Republican presidential candidates during Saturday night’s New Hampshire debate, often attacking without providing evidence to justify his broadsides.”
Meanwhile, those interested in Griswold might be interested in my piece on the case, Sex Lies and Jurisprudence: Robert Bork, Griswold, and the Philosophy of Original Understanding. In short, I think that Griswold was correctly decided. However, were it applied faithfully, many other state and federal laws having nothing to do with contraception would have to go, too. Which would be fine with me . . . . (By Glenn).
FIVE KEYS TO SLEEPING WELL TONIGHT.
TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: Cornel West’s rap album, and William Shatner’s spoken-word releases.
JESSICA HESLAM ON Santorum’s mourning and her own.
PALESTINIAN SESAME STREET FALLS VICTIM TO US CONGRESS: “Every election cycle we see stories about how those heartless Republicans want to kill Big Bird by privatizing PBS. But did you know we’re also picking up the tab for the Palestinian version of Sesame Street?”
ON THOSE NEW JOBLESS NUMBERS: “The recession may have ended in mid-2009 according to the economists, but the normal rate of growth in the size of the labor force stopped in 2008 and has yet to return. Heck of a job, Mr. President. If you drive enough Americans out of the labor force, unemployment will get down to the 4 to 6 percent range it was during the Bush years!” They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please. . . .
INTERVIEW: Stephen Hawking at 70.
WELL, THEY NEVER CALLED HIM “JESSE THE BRAIN:” SEAL Sniper Punches Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Chaos On The Shores Of Tripoli. “Libya may be in a better place without Muammar Gaddafi, but the country is certainly not out of the woods quite yet. Nobody expected a functioning government by now, but the liberal interventionists who supported the war were hoping for something better than what we now have.”
I’VE MENTIONED UTAH TEA PARTY LEADER DAVID KIRKHAM BEFORE, and now there’s this news: Tea party leader Kirkham ready to run for governor.
David Kirkham, who organized Utah’s first tea party two years ago, said he is “99.99 percent” sure he will run against Gov. Gary Herbert, and that he could make a decision “any second.”
“I have been on the sidelines as a dissident for two years now,” he said in an interview with The Tribune. “I have come to realize that in order to really affect the change that needs to happen you have to, at some point, become a player.”
Indeed. I hope he wins!
UPDATE: Reader Tom Scott writes: “I haven’t made a political contribution since the Contract With America slid quietly into oblivion not even trying to live up to its promises. This is a campaign that would bring me back into the fold. And a governorship would be the ideal spot to begin. I remember Kirkham’s various interviews and contributions to your blog and I was impressed by his integrity and honesty. If you have the opportunity to provide him more coverage I would certainly appreciate it.”
I’ll do my best.
MORE: Ronnie Schreiber writes: “My only dealings with David Kirkham have been automotive, writing about Kirkham Motorsports and his quite capable metal forming skills. He’s made absolutely stunning Cobra replicas out of copper and bronze and he always is gracious when responding to queries. If he got elected, I bet he’d be the only sitting governor that knows how to weld, let alone knows how to use an English wheel to shape a fender. I think that Kirkham is a great example of what Matthew Crawford wrote about in Shop Class As Soul Craft and he’s probably a throwback to an earlier day when even professional politicians had day jobs.”
THEY TOLD GLENN REYNOLDS THAT IF HE VOTED FOR JOHN McCAIN, he’d see Donald Rumsfeld’s vision for the military finally come to fruition…and they were right!
BYRON YORK ON WHY GINGRICH TANKED: “As a political tactic, the brilliance of the Paul and Romney ads was that they provoked Gingrich to anger — and into hurting himself. That allowed Romney supporters to follow up by accusing Gingrich of being in a state of perpetual anger, and therefore unfit for the presidency.”
ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: “How Can I Survive This Job I Hate?”
KYLE SMITH ON CORPORATE GREED:
It’s a classic American saga of top hats against hard hats, lions versus sheep, the one percenters and the forgotten 99. It’s a story about fundamental unfairness, corporate excess, and naked greed. There are exploited workers seething in revolt and spoiled plutocrats floating along on clouds of happy oblivion.
Somebody get The New York Times on the story. Wait a second – The New York Times is the story. So never mind.
Read the whole thing.™
MARK STEYN ON THE LEFT’S SO-CALLED EMPATHY: “The Left’s much-vaunted powers of empathy routinely fail when confronted by those who do not agree with them politically.”
RICOCHET’S 100th PODCAST IS NOW ONLINE: With two-thirds of the troika (James Lileks and Rob Long) on location in New Hampshire.
laundering his vast blogging revenues giving a speech in Grand Cayman, and has asked me to add a few new items in-between the posts he has scheduled.)
FIXING DEPRESSION with deep-brain stimulation.
AT AMAZON, markdowns on bedding.
ISN’T THIS KIND OF AN ADMISSION THAT ECONOMICS IS KIND OF A VOODOO SCIENCE? Revolutionary Conflict Of Interest Disclosure Principles from the American Economic Association. I mean, if it were really scientific, you could rely on replication and data-sharing and . . . oh, who am I kidding?
WELL, GOOD: Researchers successfully treat previously lethal doses of radiation. “Scientists working on a DARPA-funded research effort have determined that an antibiotic and a protein fight radiation sickness more effectively when they are combined than when used separately. While doctors already use antibiotics to treat radiation sickness, researchers have found that adding bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI), a protein found in immune systems, allowed them to increase the survival rates of mice exposed to toxic levels of radiation to nearly 80 percent. More important, this treatment with BPI and antibiotics was effective up to a day after exposure to radiation.” Faster, please.
MEGAN MCARDLE: Can Credit Unions Replace “Predatory” Lending?
AMERICA’S WORST-RATED AIRLINE.
WHAT AMERICA NEEDS: A Sons of Guns Drinking Game.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Moody’s lowers Illinois credit rating, again.
DATECHGUY REPORTS on Ron Paul in New Hampshire.
IS IT RACIST to require a photo ID to buy drain cleaner? Yes, and if there were right-wing public interest lawyers like there are left-wing public interest lawyers, someone would be suing. . . .
ROCK ME LIKE AN ELECTRIC EEL: Chevy Volt has best month ever, but Nissan Leaf still wins 2011 plug-in sales contest.
JOHN HINDERAKER ON DEFENSE CUTS:
I, personally, think that a lot of money could be cut out of the Defense Department’s budget. There is strong evidence that the DOD bureaucracy is mostly an obstacle to action, and several Secretaries of Defense have tried to reform it or, failing that, to work around it. So I think that money could be saved, if an administration were willing to take on 1) the entrenched bureaucracy of the department, and 2) influential Congressmen and Senators who are determined to preserve bases and weapons programs that benefit their districts and states.
Unfortunately, that isn’t what the Obama administration has in mind.
Of course not.
HOW TO PREPARE for pandemic flu.
PHIL BOWERMASTER: All That We’re Capable Of.
PUTTING SCIENTISTS ON MARS in permanent colonies.
YES, THESE ARE THE CRAZY YEARS. Mummy, just what I always wanted! Girl, 7, gets £7,000 liposuction voucher for Christmas from ‘Human Barbie’ mum.
VISUALIZING FLUID DYNAMICS in a two-horsepower blender.
IF ONLY IT WERE that easy.
CHARLES LANE ON THE SANTORUM ABUSE: “I regret that, unlike the Santorums, who presented the body of their child to their children, we did not show Jonathan’s body to our other son, who was six years old at the time. When I told him what had happened, his first question was, ‘Well, where is the baby?’ I tried to explain what a morgue is, and why the baby went there. It was awkward and unsatisfactory — too abstract. In hindsight, I was not protecting my son from a difficult conversation, I was protecting myself.”
UPDATE: A reader sends this comment from his daughter: “It’s a thoroughly modern idea that the dead are gross, weird, repulsive- family members used to dress their own dead for burial, and they would have the viewing in the house. . . . I must confess that one of your favorite stereotypes rings horribly true- when a humpback whale washes ashore and dies, weeping and general despair ensues. A stillborn baby? ‘Oh my gosh! Isn’t that SO GROSS??!! they’re so WEIRD!’”
TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: “WE’RE IN THE MIDST OF A WAR AGAINST TERRORISM, thousands dead, the rest of us worried about smallpox, anthrax, smuggled nukes, dirty nukes, truck-bombs, car-bombs, luggage-bombs and even shoe-bombs. But the New York Times’ editors think that we should be worried about sparklers. Puhleez.”
UPDATE: Reader Craig Good writes: “And shall we compare the percentage change in readership between Instapundit and the NYT over those ten years?” No, that would be wrong.
HOW SCOTTISH SCIENTISTS recreated a hundred-year-old whiskey.
ARE STATE COURT IMMUNITIES FOR FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATIONS unconstitutional?
MIND OVER MOTOR: Controlling robots with your thoughts.
AT AMAZON, Warehouse Deals in Lawn & Garden.
CARS AND ULTRABOOKS: A Consumer Electronics Show Preview.
THOUGHTS ON guns and the disabled.
WIN THE LOTTERY, GET A CHECK, find out the check’s no good. Only in Illinois. . . .
WAGES OF PROTECTIONISM: What Could Have Entered The Public Domain on January 1, 2012. Under the old, and superior, copyright law.
CAMERAS: Revenge Of The Point-And-Shoot.
AT AMAZON, up to 40% off Timex watches.
OF BY AND FOR THE ONE PERCENT: Wall Street Money For Elizabeth Warren.
MEDDLESOME FAA BUREAUCRATS stranding migratory birds.
LEGAL EDUCATION UPDATE: Rick Matasar: ‘The Ron Paul of Legal Education’ or ‘My Hero’?
THE TEN GREATEST failed U.S. auto companies.
GOOD NEWS: Cancer Death Rates Continue To Decline.