Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.
"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
-- Daniel Webster
National Geographic: Roper Geographic Survey 2002
Saturday, November 23, 2002 :::
It'll give you 20 of the questions on the most recent geographic survey to make the news. I was intrigued by this:
Americans who reported that they accessed the Internet within the last 30 days scored 65 percent higher than those who did not.
I'd tell you how I found that website, but I really don't remember.
::: posted by Steven at 7:26 AM
Talk by 9/11 Author Cancelled Under Fire
A union representing Massachusetts firefighters said yesterday it had convinced WordsWorth Books in Harvard Square to cancel an appearance by a journalist whose articles chronicling the recovery effort at New York’s Ground Zero questioned the conduct of some firefighters who helped clear the wreckage.
Professor -- and former Supreme Judicial Court (i.e., state Supreme Court) justice -- Charles Fried is quoted. He backed my city council campaign last year. This comment isn't relevant to the story -- this is just shameless name-dropping, as I'm sure it appears.
He says that the first amendment doesn't constrain a private bookstore. He's right, of course; my feeling toward Wordsworth is, at worst, understanding disappointment.
Link from Hub Blog.
::: posted by Steven at 6:50 AM
Friday, November 22, 2002 :::
Asking why we don't report. I don't think of this as a reporting related thing at all; I think of this as being back in college having bull sessions. I can't imagine sitting around talking at three in the morning and wondering why nobody's doing any reporting. Maybe somebody has a different concept of the blog than I do. Maybe somebody hasn't just been taken out for drinks.
Y'all mightn't hear from me for a little while, as I won't constantly be around a computer looking to waste time. Cheers.
::: posted by dWj at 6:48 PM
Kate Malcolm mentions the Bachelor. I seem to miss these cultural phenomena. I didn't know anyone was actually watching American Idol until the final show was about to air (I'm not denigrating the show here, but I didn't watch it, either); I didn't know people were watching the Bachelor, either. (I agree with Kate, even without having seen it, that the premise is creepy in a uniquely FOX way. Marriage isn't such a big deal; let's dangle it off a seventy foot high balcony for the viewer's pleasure, getting people hitched to people they just met. Improvement over the millionaire marriage, though.) I didn't know that Princess Di's death was a big deal until they preempted 60 Minutes because of it; the O.J. Simpson high-speed chase seemed barely reportable. Good thing I watch the mainstream media to be told what's important.
::: posted by dWj at 2:27 PM
The benefit of centralization of the blogosphere is presumably that someone would be able to do the sorting of information that is done by program directors at the local news radio station; this is explicitly antithetical to what we're doing. We make the trade-off between overkill and sorting and culling in the other direction; the centralized media sort and cull, but our (insofar as I feel a part of "us"; I don't think I'd be giggling, but maybe I'm just not fully into the culture yet) strength is in our variety; we discuss the things that get left out, and if it's not worthy, as my brother says, it gets less reported than it does otherwise. No problem there for me.
::: posted by dWj at 2:17 PM
Still reading The Kitchen Cabinet. Kate was speculating on why Glenn Reynolds was mobbed after his speech. She suggested it had to do with the architecture of the room.
Two entries later, Lily's giggling like a schoolgirl at having shaken his hand. I would be, too. It's not the design of the room, Kate.
::: posted by Steven at 2:00 PM
Pointer to Slate, which suggests I'm the only American Beaujolais fan who hadn't heard of Nouveau until yesterday. It's odd what I know and what I don't.
::: posted by dWj at 1:59 PM
At the Yale Law Blog Conference, it's been suggested that blogdom won't compete with the mainstream media unless it gets more centralized. I'm not convinced.
Just through the vast number and interconnectedness of the blogosphere, stories spread. It's true that this is more the case, at least for now, for analysis than for news; most of the stories that spread right now are pointers to Slate or the Washington Post, rather than to something a blogger has uncovered. But if you're interested in a "niche subject" that doesn't get covered by the mainstream press -- the Yale Law blogger conference, for example -- you can find a blogger or two or six who follows that sort of thing. And if something more universal -- such as fact-checking problems in a Bellesiles book -- gets reported on a web-site with thirty readers, ten of whom have their own blogs, it'll quickly be on ten more sites, from which it will continue to spread.
We do have some concentration points, too, such as Glenn Reynolds. But I don't think we necessarily need more of them, or more powerful ones. Interesting information will travel. It always has, even in communities less interconnected than ours.
::: posted by Steven at 1:56 PM
Extending unemployment benefits has been shown to extend the length people stay unemployed (duh), and I have recently heard of people who have been laid off or fired who remain unemployed because new offers pay substantially less than these people are used to making. Can someone advise me as to the rules regarding unemployment? How much does one receive? Does one forfeit one's right to the income stream if one declines a job that meets certain criteria, and, if so, what criteria? It seems to me we ought to make it worth taking a job rather than staying on unemployment, though at the same time when one starts a new job one is presumably less able to devote time to looking for a better one, which might seem to be the purpose of the payments in the first place.
::: posted by dWj at 1:34 PM
This is college football's "rivalry weekend"; Ohio State will beat Michigan, Washington State will have little trouble with Washington (but will lose at UCLA next weekend), USC will beat UCLA (this weekend), 'bama will beat Auburn, Purdue will beat Indiana, Illinois will beat Northwestern (is that a rivalry?), and Harvard will probably beat Yale. Marshall will have surprising difficulty with Ohio, after receiving a gift from the officials last week.
::: posted by dWj at 11:41 AM
Asymmetric information in the stock market as elsewhere. I own stock in a company of questionable repute, though I sold some of my stake yesterday after a 50% run-up in five weeks. (Just long enough to avoid the wash-rule, in fact; buy crappy stocks and get yourself a tax deduction, like I did.)
::: posted by dWj at 11:09 AM
By the way, I'm less gung-ho about social security reform -- personalization, privatization, whatever you want to call it -- than y'all would think. I support it, mind you, but more tepidly than most of my ideological fellow travelers. I'm thinking I should write up an apology of sorts, explaining why I support it and why I do so less excitedly than many.
::: posted by dWj at 11:00 AM
Today is my last day at work. I wore a suit for the occasion. I've been given balloons and a little sketch book with signatures and the like. I feel loved.
::: posted by dWj at 10:55 AM
Last night I found instructions for my watch, which recommended, as did my brother in private email, depressing the start/stop button and holding for a couple seconds. As it happens, I had tried that before I received my brother's email; what the instructions also clarified was that the watch would give me no signal whatsoever that the operation had succeeded. In setting the hourly chime, it emits three rapid beeps; I had expected toggling it off to do the same, so after turning it off I had imagined that I was holding the button at the wrong angle or something, it hadn't been depressed even though it felt depressed, I adjusted my position, got the three beeps, thought this meant it was off -- and was greeted at the top of the next hour. Last night I cleared it successfully, though, of course, I didn't know this until fifty minutes after I performed the operation.
::: posted by dWj at 10:54 AM
Last night I came in on the middle of a NewsHour discussion of a big controversy over a letter that was sent by Fox News president Roger Ailes to President Bush last September. I kept listening, hoping they would mention what the letter said that was so controversial, but the segment ended before they mentioned any such thing.
Today I see the WSJ Online has an editorial in which they clarify that we don't know what it said; CNN is apparently trying to make a big deal of the mere fact that he wrote a letter to the President. My mind boggles.
::: posted by dWj at 10:50 AM
Howard Bashman links to an article about an all-woman Supreme Court in Texas in 1925.
::: posted by Steven at 8:24 AM
Colby Cosh has blogged his reaction to a story that Gore thinks the U.S. should have a "single-payer" health care system "like Canada".
::: posted by Steven at 8:19 AM
Thursday, November 21, 2002 :::
Convenient links to Brink Lindsey's recent trilogy on defending civilization from the jungle:
The ultimate conclusions are Wilsonian, actually; that we need to extirpate the threat by spreading liberal democracy, or in any case its most fundamental precepts:
- At the Gates, Again
- Terrorism & Trust
- War & the Battle of Ideas
In particular, the political and economic repression that is so sadly commonplace in Muslim countries is a breeding ground for Islamist extremism, and thus a direct threat to the security of the United States. Over the coming years and decades, therefore, U.S. policy should support the rollback of chaos and misrule and the advance of liberal democracy throughout the region.
::: posted by dWj at 2:35 PM
A good column by Eugene Volokh about speech codes; it starts by discussing the need for restrictions on speech and transitions to the difference between social sanctions and legalistic ones. I went to a David Horowitz event once where some students protested the mechanism by which they were to ask questions of him, and I remember being struck by their view of what "free speech" meant. Free speech is to cacophony as liberty is to anarchy; it should be a channeling that doesn't restrain ideas, but won't let them overpower by brute force someone else's.
::: posted by dWj at 2:12 PM
This will be my most worthless post yet. Even more worthless than the rabbit joke.
I got a new watch a month or two ago -- back when I was running and wanted to know how fast -- and it has a light button at the bottom right corner. I'm used to the light being on the top right corner, and this morning, trying to see the time in the dark, I hit what is labeled only as the start/stop button, which purpose it serves in the stopwatch mode (and, as I indicated, the purpose of its acquisition). It beeped at me when I did that, and I'm not sure how long or how many times or in what pattern I must have pushed it, but every hour since, on the hour, it beeps. Thus am I posting this worthless post just past the top of the hour instead of fixing the partial bust problem, because my train of thought -- which runs on fragile rails, mind you -- has been shocked like in the Harrison Bergeron story. (Vague weird references are fair game for posts you've been warned not to read.) (Even more so.) I can't figure out how to stop this stupid watch from doing this. Depressing the start/stop has been tried, and that's pretty much tapped out my creativity.
Anyway, I think I know where the instructions are, and if I can't find them tonight, I'll just get a hammer.
::: posted by dWj at 12:09 PM
Incidentally, my little mind has better hobgoblins with which to concern itself than an apparent inconsistency in being intolerant of certain kinds of intolerance. I'll hope for now that anyone bothering to read this broadly understands the point; the reason for this post is actually to ask that anyone with a good reference on modern set theory email me with it.
::: posted by dWj at 10:25 AM
My recollection is the same as my brother's; I think Tancredo was suggesting the enforcement of the law as written. And my feelings toward immigration are similar, taking as he does as granted that strict rationing needs to be done. I would liberalize rationing, but believe we should make sure that we aren't attracting immigrants by virtue of our social welfare system. Also, I strenuously object to the characterization of pro-English measures as "anti-immigrant". I don't believe most supporters of these measures are trying to do so as a proxy for closing the doors, or discriminating in favor of people of European descent, or anything else but maintaining a certain national unity. I think immigrants should keep their native language, but should also learn English; they should maintain their own culture, but also should value pluralism, religious tolerance, respect for property and other individual rights, and the other basic precepts that have lead us to what we are. So should those born here.
::: posted by dWj at 10:16 AM
Spain Seeks to Ease Oil Spill Fears
Will the oil company have to pay for the clean-up? I think Exxon had to pay quite a bit for the Valdez incident -- most, or maybe more than all, of the costs -- but maybe the Europeans handle things differently.
Anyway, I assume that if the Oilers do pay for this, they carry some insurance, and wonder what fraction of the cost of oil that works out to. Obviously, it can't be a precise figure, but ball-park, globally, anyone happen to have seen estimates on how much is paid in cleaning up spills per barrel of oil that actually gets used?
::: posted by Steven at 9:41 AM
Of Local Interest
Bill Jones is dead.
He's probably too local to be of meaning to either of our readers (Dean, do you recognize the name as the repeated 50-vote city council candidate?), but read the article. I knew, incidentally, that he wasn't much older than 70 (I'd looked up his age on the voter list), but I also knew he wasn't well. It's been a while that he hasn't been well, actually.
In funnier news, Ed Cyr beats his wife. Okay, that part isn't funny, but his being arrested is funny, besides which, the beating is still funnier than Bill Jones passing, if not funnier than much else.
I'm sorry. I plead lack of sleep. And, frankly, a little shock that Jonesy really is mortal. Was. He was kind of out of his gourd -- one foot in, so to speak -- for long enough that I'd come to assume he'd just stay that way. Think Boris Yeltsin.
Anyway, Ed Cyr was a leftist (even by Cambridge standards) who lost his council seat as I came into town. I didn't actually experience him much, but my general impression of him, combined with my general pleasure at anything that demeans the Council, doesn't lead me to be upset to see him causing trouble for himself. Unlike Jonesy, he's younger than I would have guessed; not having seen him, only knowing he'd been on the council since the mid 80s or so, I assumed he was older. We do get some fairly young councilors in this town.
Meanwhile, current Council leftist Majorie Decker is going home for a spell.
::: posted by Steven at 8:51 AM
Lily at The Kitchen Cabinet quotes a Daniel Griswold from Cato as follows:
Conservative Republicans face a clear choice when it comes to immigration politics. They can follow the lead of President Bush, who has sung the praises of immigrants and sought to create a more welcoming legal path to the United States for those seeking a better life through peaceful work. Or they can follow the likes of Pat Buchanan, Pete Wilson, and Tom Tancredo back into the political wilderness.
I don't know Congressman Tancredo's views that well, but my impression is that his campaign is more one of enforcing the laws than making them more restrictive. And, while I think of myself as more pro-immigrant than anti-immigrant, I agree with enforcing immigration laws. I agree with enforcing pretty much every law, except the ones I want repealed.
The current immigration system isn't too lenient or too strict so much as it is just generally wacky. And while wackiness is a fine quality in a friend or family member, it's not an attribute I like to see emanating from my government. Canada -- whose asylum policy is probably too weak, but whose main immigration policy I rather like -- scores applicants with a point system, to favor educated, employable, linguistically prepared people over those just shopping for a new welfare state. You can add up most of the points yourself (some are a bit subjective -- how "fluent" is fluent?) and figure out whether it's even worth trying.
In the States, on the other hand, we have one of the most sought-after prizes in the world -- American citizenship, or at least permanent residence -- and feel we need to ration it (at this time, I'm not going to argue for or against the rationing itself). We could pick the best, hardest working, most skilled, but instead we pick 'em at random. It's arbitrary -- he can come, she can't, because that's how the dice landed.
I'd go on from there, but I'm supposed to be doing something else. I do want to add one more thing -- even though I support enforcement of immigration laws, I do think we need to reform them, and ensure that we present this position in an appropriate manner. It's easy to interpret proscecution of illegal immigrants as maliciously anti-immigrant, or even anti-hispanic. We need to make it clear that it's a matter of enforcing our laws; we aren't rounding up Mexicans, arbitrarily, because we feel like it, we're doing it because rule-of-law is the American way. And it would be easier to argue that American immigration law isn't arbitrary if American immigration law weren't, in fact, arbitrary.
::: posted by Steven at 5:55 AM
Wednesday, November 20, 2002 :::
One could while away a practically unlimited amount of time on an interesting post by John Rosenberg and the comments it's garnered in just a few days.
::: posted by dWj at 5:56 PM
National Review has an interesting interview about opposing Wahhabism:
Most immigrant Muslims in the U.S. came to this country to get away from extremism and are horrified to see that their faith is in extremist hands here. They believed, before coming here, that the U.S. government would never permit such a thing to happen. However, their children are often indoctrinated and radicalized by extremists operating through Muslim schools, Islamic Sunday schools, and radical campus groups. That the U.S. government turned a blind idea to the Wahhabization of American Islam is deeply shocking and disturbing for them. They feel intimidated and defeated. The fact that the U.S. political and media elite have done almost nothing to enable traditional Muslims in this country to oppose Wahhabism makes the situation that much worse....
U.S. non-Muslims of good will must assist and support traditional Muslims in creating an Islamic establishment in this country that is loyal to our government and to our traditions of interreligious respect. There is no obstacle to this in traditional Islam. But this also requires opposition to Islamophobia — the incitement of hatred against Islam as a faith — among non-Muslims.
::: posted by dWj at 3:54 PM
Kate Malcolm refers to my ability to pull numbers out of my ass as "worthy of a consulting interview". I didn't realize consulting involved numerical proctology; is it more interesting than what I'm doing now, and does it pay better?
::: posted by dWj at 1:36 PM
Speaking of the Packers, they play Sunday at Tampa Bay. This matchup will be reprised in January, folks, though for more marbles.
::: posted by dWj at 12:30 PM
A grammar quiz that would give many people trouble. I think the answer to number 8 is different in British English than American, and frankly the British usage drives me nuts.
English, of course, is a descriptive language, and if enough people are making the same mistake there comes a point when it should be considered correct; I'm much more conservative on grammar than on vocabulary, though, and would insist that new rules at least make sense. I strenuously object to the use of the nominative of a pronoun as the object of a preposition based on what words are near the pronoun instead of on the role that the pronoun plays in the sentence.
::: posted by dWj at 12:23 PM
As a Packers fan, like my brother, I think football should be played in the snow.
::: posted by dWj at 12:18 PM
I've long supported a cold Super Bowl.
::: posted by Steven at 10:56 AM
Mt. Union, John Carroll, and Baldwin-Wallace, as predicted, all finish the season 8-0 in games not between two of the three. The 28 team playoff field has been announced; Mt. Union gets one of the four byes, while Carroll starts at a Hobart team this weekend that went 8-1 against a much weaker schedule than Carroll had. Expect the home crowd to be disappointed. B-W was left out because a conference (at least one with an automatic bid) is not allowed more than one at-large bid. Bridgewater, which gets a bye, is largely untested, but faces no real competition in its first game; their quarterfinal matchup will be interesting, though. Unfortunately, two of the best teams in the field are matched in the first round in Trinity, TX; the winner of that should have no real trouble in the second round.
::: posted by dWj at 10:46 AM
Singapore relaxes chewing gum ban
Chewing gum will no longer be a criminal offence in Singapore - but it will only be sold on prescription.
The old law was less weird.
::: posted by Steven at 10:25 AM
If you were running for President, whose advice would you least want?
::: posted by Steven at 10:18 AM
Former Boston City Councilor Tom Keane writes about the Boston teachers union. I hope he runs for something again. He's a Democrat, and as the City Committee chairman I'm supposed to be partisan, but the guy is so sensible.
::: posted by Steven at 10:10 AM
Colby Cosh appears to be closer to my view on the Michael Jackson baby-dangling incident than Lileks, the Kitchen Cabinet (if this link still goes to the wrong place, go to their front page and search for "terrifying"), and pretty much everyone else. I saw the episode on the news and thought, "is it really news that Michael Jackson is Not A Normal Person?" Or, as Cosh so delicately puts it:
Why would anyone who thought Michael's behaviour up till now has been OK be horrified by some triviality like dangling a child over a balcony?
::: posted by Steven at 10:01 AM
Tuesday, November 19, 2002 :::
Of very little relevance to the recent hydrogen/water discussion is the point of interest that my very first blog post was a response to a discussion of ethanol production. How that brings back the memories....
No more posting for Dean today, not even about land rents. Dean waste too much time. Bad Dean.
::: posted by dWj at 6:03 PM
It's the impossible dream of enthusiastic shower singers everywhere: Being able to belt out a song without scaring the pets or small children.
::: posted by dWj at 5:49 PM
Sometime in the not too distant past I read (in the Landes book to which I've refered previously) the assertion that, from around Martin Luther to the age of revolution, the Catholic church opposed gambling because one might lose, while the Protestants opposed gambling because one might win. This latter would mitigate the need for work and dull the character. While my inner economist objects to the notion that increased productivity would be a bad thing, it seems plausible to me that work builds character, but this leaves me with the question, What is work? Is that anything that I don't enjoy for itself, but only for longer-term rewards? Where does this leave the advice to "Do what you love, and find someone who will pay you to do it?" (Certainly part of the answer to that is that the people who apply it as an absolute tend to find themselves disappointed. At least some small detail of what it is you like to do will typically have to be negotiable in order for someone to be willing to pay you to do it.) I think a pro-work viewpoint is a common thread among the blue-collar, anti-trade, Reagan Democrats who lament the export of manufacturing jobs, largely because they don't view white-collar work as real work, and while I sympathize with the view to which I'm imputing this lamentation, I think there's a disconnect between the premise and the conclusion; at the same time it doesn't make sense to me that an activity can be character building just because it creates wealth (even in contrast to gambling, which at best redistributes it).
::: posted by dWj at 3:29 PM
Kemp argues that Bush has played a nice game of chess, but that "it's time to give inspections a chance to succeed in disarming Iraq." I'm not terribly confident with this sort of prediction, but I think the President has been less of a proponent of war than he has made himself out to be, and I think if Iraq does something resembling cooperation, he will keep our dogs of war at heel. If Iraq does do something resembling cooperation, though, it should be understood that those dogs are the reason; Bush is playing not at chess, but at poker, and may well win without having to show his hand.
::: posted by dWj at 3:12 PM
The great Thomas Sowell writes of judicial activism,
This turns the law into a guessing game for those who want to be law-abiding citizens and into an instrument of extortion for those who are litigious.He also notes, though, that
Believers in judicial restraint face a major dilemma because such restraint applies both to following the laws as written and respecting legal precedents. Both these things make the law predictable -- without which it is not really law but just a set of arbitrary edicts, and courts are just places from which lightning can strike anyone without warning at any time.I have encountered erstwhile like-minded people who refuse to recognize this benefit to stare decisis; few decisions in law are so bad as to be worse than the ambiguity they replace.
::: posted by dWj at 3:03 PM
Steve seems to have understood that Kate Malcolm was getting the Ark ready; I did not. If she derives comfort in my brother's suggestions, I'm not sure I want to upset that, but, you know, what the hey:
Fuel cells, at least, don't get their hydrogen from water (for conservation of energy reasons that have been discussed); further, if the hydrogen is derived from water, the energy for deriving that hydrogen came from somewhere, simply shifting the problem. As for water coming in from the heavens, I would expect that there are natural processes for maintaining an equilibrium, but I don't know how substantial they are. Maybe they'd save us.
I'm not sure I'm going to convince residents of the Boston and New Haven areas that there's not that much worth saving near the oceans anyway, so let's try a different tack: me, I just can't imagine this is that much water. Let's make up some numbers: suppose burning hydrogen yields energy on the order of an electron volt per molecule -- chemical processes tend to be on that order -- then that gives us 100,000 Joules (a "faraday-volt") per mole, or about 5,000 J per gram, or what would be substantially more than a kW-hr per kilogram if any of these assumptions were precise. That's about 10 cents in electric power -- not quite, nor are other uses of power necessarily the same, but we're doing order of magnitude here -- so about 10 cents of energy gives us a liter of water, and $100 gives us a cubic meter. 3% of the U.S. economy goes to oil, I believe; as an estimate of global energy use, let's suppose 10% of the U.S. economy of $10 trillion a year, so $1 trillion, or 10^10 cubic meters. The world is 4*10^7 meters around; the area is the square of this divided by pi, so about 5*10^14 (check my zeroes), so that all that water, in liquid form, is about 20 microns a year. Presumably that will increase some day, but I don't think it would be a problem in the next fifty years at least.
By the way, I do my math in pen because it's easier to read. I used pencil in high school, but switched over in college. Where possible, though, I do my math in my head, where it erases more cleanly than pencil or erasable pen do.
::: posted by dWj at 10:39 AM
I noticed in the paper the victory for Ashcroft in the appeals panel, and I still haven't seen what I would consider sufficient information to pass judgement on it with confidence. Without confidence, I'm wary of it; I tend to imagine that a special intelligence court whose primary reason for existence is granting warrants is likely to be rather permissive of government invasion of privacy, and while I don't know what the specific request here was, I'm not inclined to infer from the opinion of a three judge panel that it was erroneously denied. I think my brother makes some good points, especially in noting that he's offered no solutions. I stand with him on this.
::: posted by dWj at 10:12 AM
To jump into this privacy discussion, mostly between Dean here and Kate at the Kitchen Cabinet, I think one of the key problems is that assumptions that once were valid are no longer reasonable. Even without the new laws, records which have always been "public", but kept in the back room of the courthouse in one of thirty full filing cabinets, are now indexed and searchable. The local market didn't keep track of what groceries you paid cash for, but now they give out savings cards, with which they track your preferences, and maybe sell the data to others. I'm not sure people really realize this yet.
Simlarly, this war on terrorism involves a paradigm shift that I don't think anyone has fully figured out how to handle yet (I know I haven't), in that warfare and crime are getting blurred. Technology has progressed to the point where small groups of individuals can threaten large groups of people, or even the country as a going concern. We need a re-think of how much power the state needs, how best to check this power, etc.; I think we probably have to give up a little in terms of privacy, but there's substantial danger of using a chainsaw where a scalpal is called for. Data can be tracked, for example, but be made procedurally difficult to obtain. For most domestic functions, there's no reason to surrender any civil liberties whatsoever, and our military in Afghanistan was not out of line shooting at whomever needed shooting, without even considering whether the target would be able to hire an attorney or would need a public defender. I think, though, that we need to start thinking of these as extremes of a continuum, though, rather than fully distinct realms.
I offer no solutions, only problems -- that's the kind of guy I am.
::: posted by Steven at 8:15 AM
I may be the only person who cares, but Firefly appears to have been granted a two-episode stay of execution.
On a completely unrelated topic, there's a search going on, at the bottom of a local lake, for Babe Ruth's piano. This is part of the local folklore, like the great molasses flood.
::: posted by Steven at 7:20 AM
Monday, November 18, 2002 :::
The article Dean just pointed to suggests that NPR demonstrates that there's a market for left-wing talk. That's not really true -- NPR just demonstrates that there's a government subsidy for left-wing talk. I would expect there to be a market for left-wing talk radio, but NPR doesn't demonstrate anything of the sort.
::: posted by Steven at 7:02 PM
Seeking the left-wing Limbaugh; I've called Michael Moore this before, primarily based on his TV Nation, which was more similar to Limbaugh's than either would be willing to admit. As for FOX News, CNN is no less far left than FOX News is far right -- which may be why the latter has stolen so much share from the former.
::: posted by dWj at 5:34 PM
I'm going to mention here my rankings averages, of which the new set is up. I have a lot of ideas about sports tournaments and rankings, just like most sports fans do, but mine are probably fairly divergent from others'.
::: posted by dWj at 12:43 PM
leaving the Libertarian Party as a change in tactics rather than ideology; John J. Miller writes in That Liberal Rag about the Libertarian Party and its voters "taking votes" from the Republicans. I'm not thrilled by this wording.
When I was an undergraduate at the U of C (er, Chicago), there was an election for student government president in which there were three principle competitors, say A, B, and C. I figured it was a vote between A and B; I felt either A or C would be fine, but that B had to be stopped At Any Cost. I told a friend -- a supporter of B -- that I was voting for A. "A vote for A is a vote for C," he told me, apparently unaware that I was fine with that. Of course my vote did C no good; they won in spite of it.
In the adult world it's typically clearer which candidates have the best shot, and more reliably succesful gaming (i.e., voting for a candidate other than your first choice -- in Miller's case, the Republican) is possible. I imagine the people who vote Libertarian -- that includes me sometimes, depending on the major party candidates -- are aware of these considerations (though they may misestimate the impact they might have on the direction of their prefered major party), and it seems a bit curious to grumble about them more than about those who voted for the winning candidate.
::: posted by dWj at 12:26 PM
Kate Malcolm considers it an invasion of privacy to synthesize public information, because certain information is provided with an expectation that it will be used in a kind of context. I'm not sure I agree with calling this kind of information "public". If I give a piece of information to the government or to my bank on a form for a special purpose, it's not my intent that that be widely disseminated; for the bank or that division of the government to hold onto it, certainly for as long as it's needed for the purpose given, is reasonable to me, but passing it around is not. (The government, for example, gets a notification in the form of a background-check request that someone is buying a firearm; in order that this information serve the purpose for which it is intended, and not others, the government is now at least supposed to get rid of this information after a few months.)
If something takes place in clear view, I don't think it's reasonable to suppose that others aren't allowed to act on that information. I'm not sure I want to be advocating for stalking here, but I think the agressive collection of information that may be more or less public is the problem there, more than remembering and putting together the information one has acquired.
Also, Kate, nice use of the word "squonk".
::: posted by dWj at 10:52 AM
Incidentally, I've updated the NFL ratings, in large part because I think NLF ratings should be updated Monday morning, and not because I expect anyone to actually care about these, which look little enough like the rankings from which the code was stolen to defeat the purpose of the writer of that code, while not yet tranforming to anything that's really fully credible, which would be my ultimate purpose. Anyway, my point is that waiting a day to include an extra game (by releasing on Tuesday) doesn't make sense when twice seven games are played each week. If you're going to do a once-a-week release, Monday is the day to do it.
::: posted by dWj at 10:33 AM
I heard a couple songs last night I'd not heard before; one was Sk8er Boi, and the other was something new by Boston. It seems likely to me that I would find parts of Sk8er Boi reminiscent of "Rio" by Duran Duran knew I the latter better than I do, though it certainly comes with the solo-girl-with-spare-acoustics school of rock that's found a niche in the last several years; if I were picking a song with which to torture my enemies, I would not choose this song.
I wouldn't choose the Boston song either, which I find reminiscent of Boston. One can follow the progression from the seventies albums to Third Stage to this; there was a certain crispness in the early work that has yielded to the straight wall-of-sound motif toward which they were headed. In two or three moments it does demonstrate a certain "edginess", that term of course being the popular current euphemism for weirdness that gets in the way of what you're doing instead of advancing any useful cause -- a practice of which I hope I've as much room to criticize as I intend to use. It's rather like the new Hotel California -- the parts that sound like what we already know are still quite good, in spite of the innovations that get in their way.
::: posted by dWj at 10:29 AM
ScrappleFace suggests that Gore's theme for 2004 will be the same as his theme for 2000. The subsequent headline made me laugh, too.
::: posted by Steven at 5:33 AM
Sunday, November 17, 2002 :::
I sent the women of the Kitchen Cabinet an email the other day related to global warming, which they've been discussing, and I included a link to this article suggesting that it would be cheaper to adapt to global warming than to prevent it.
In finding said article (which I had read earlier, but had to Google for), I ran across this theoretical political science article by the same fellow. Coincidentally, future Supreme Court Justice Eugene Volokh asked yesterday:
Does anyone have any facts, or even plausible conjectures, on how many votes Republicans would gain on balance if they shifted towards a more libertarian position?
The poli-sci article I linked to is, as I say, theoretical; it also assumes, at points, a parliamentary system (the author is Danish). But most of it seems to apply to the American system, and it does provide "a model with alienation [for which] it is shown that parties will not move out to compensate for losses at the fringes but actually move closer to the center." That quote is from the abstract; I haven't read the whole article, but page 22 seems to be where it starts getting into that sort of issue. Models used in earlier sections (i.e., the parts I've read) tended to assume a distribution of voters with a buldge in the middle, so intuitively one can reason that moving to the extreme to pick up a few outlying voters will be less profitable than moving toward the larger number of voters in the middle.
I happen to think that aspect of the model is likely to be right. It's not complete, though. The author acknowledges he doesn't incorporate in his model the strategy of trying to lead the voters into changing their positions, a practice which might score one for the extremists. It's also true (at least in my experience) that the "base" of the party, which works to get out voters and create a general aura of competence and warm, happy goodness around the party and its candidates, tends to be more ideologically extreme than the voters for the party. In other words, a move toward the center to try to pick up votes might cause a party to have fewer people working for it, and therefore some of the targeted centrists might not hear the message or develop a strong impression of the party or its candidates.
Personally, I support a pragmatic, gradual dragging of the party toward a more libertarian position. If we were consistently winning 60% of the vote, I'd be demanding it; if the Democrats controlled Congress, the most I'd hope for from my fellow Republicans would be to not give up ground, but to work on changing the discussion to issues we own. With a narrow majority, I don't think we should fight losing battles, but I think there are places we can act. I think a minority of the public supports individual accounts for social security, but that increasingly seems like an area where we can get a foot in the door -- I think just trying to get individual accounts, with very little discretion for actually directing the investments, is the place to start on that. School choice is probably a lot tougher, or at least riskier -- I think we could alienate a lot of suburban voters, but start picking up some urban minority voters. Now is definitely not the time to aim for actual decreases in government spending, but we should be able to hold spending to a constant or slightly decreasing portion of GDP.
Within Massachusetts, of course, almost anything we can do to elect legislators is acceptable to me. I have Republican friends who hate, for example, State Senator Brian Lees, but as long as only 15% of the Senate is Republican, we should try to keep him in there. Especially in the district he represents, he's the best we're going to do, at least for now.
For the record, I was a Libertarian once. My positions haven't changed so much as my ideas about how best to achieve them.
::: posted by Steven at 7:26 AM
I've noticed the expression "good on you" in The Corner several times, where I (having grown up in central Iowa) would have said "good for you". I assumed it was a New York thing, but I've been re-reading some Harry Potter, and I've noticed it in there, too. Would either of our readers like to provide data points?
If this topic interests you, you'll probably want to take a look at this pop vs. soda map, too. I usually say "soda" when I'm in Massachusetts and "pop" when I'm in Iowa -- this is the only component of my dialect that I chameleon, at least that I'm aware of. I did once add a dollar to a waitress's tip (this in Harvard Square) because she'd offered to re-fill my "pop" (she grew up in Buffalo).
::: posted by Steven at 4:37 AM
I just ran into this bit of sports trivia on a Sue Bird discussion list that I skim occasionally.
Ann [Meyers] is still the only woman ever to sign a free-agent contract with an NBA team when she signed with the Indiana Pacers in 1979.
Actually, the Sue Bird fan said Meyers had tried out for the Cavs; I'm more inclined to believe the web site I've pointed to.
::: posted by Steven at 4:29 AM
I seem to have missed this election of a Pakistani parliament. Does anyone know how farcical the election was? My understanding is that their presidential referendum was pretty flawed (especially seeing the 98% figure given in the story I linked to), so I can't imagine this election was entirely clean, either.
Pakistan's a tough case; the U.S. would almost certainly be worse off if they democratized now, and Pakistan might well be. Gradual movement in that direction (with an emphasis on rule-of-law and, generally, the development of a culture appropriate for democracy) is probably the best thing we can hope for. That's what I'm supposing this is. So, yay, I guess.
::: posted by Steven at 4:14 AM