30.9.02

AN Instapundit reader provided a link to "an 'unbelievably xenophobic'" Arab News article headed "Those greedy expatriates." The article goes beyond xenophobic all the way to economically illiterate. Consider the following paragraph:

"Certain nationalities have come to be known for their skills in certain fields — Egyptians are skilled carpenters; Moroccans are good interior decorators and Syrians are excellent masons. At present, skilled workers face real competition from those who learned a profession after coming here. This group is always ready to take whatever job is offered for a little money — never mind the quality which is constantly being compromised."

OK, which is it? Have the Egyptians developed a comparative advantage in carpentry? Similarly, have the Syrians developed a comparative advantage in brick laying (did they help build the Hanging Gardens years ago?) If these migrants have developed skills, even locally, what's with the final sentence about quality being compromised? Or haven't Saudi consumers figured out yet that prices have information content?

The real howler is in the next paragraph:

"It seems this country has become the largest training camp in the world. People from every nationality come here to learn a profession, find a job and then send the profits abroad."

I will not live long enough to kill the mercantilist fallacy, here in the States, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln (if we build it here, we keep the money and the goods) continues to haunt the debate. But c'mon ... what good is a riyal sent to Egypt or Syria or Morocco if it doesn't ultimately become a purchase of a Saudi export or an investment in a Saudi factory? And if there are no such opportunities to spend riyals the Saudi consumers are getting their carpentry and their houses in exchange for worthless pieces of paper. What's the Arabic for "crying with your mouth full?"

29.9.02

CARDIAC PACK: Carolina's kicker misses the game-tying field goal from extra point distance, and the Packers win.
I HOPE HIS TENURE DECISIONS WERE BETTER THOUGHT THROUGH: Retired University of Washington dean Hubert Locke had a chance to vacation in Europe and compare notes with the locals about the red states and the blue states. I thought at first that Locke and his friends were reacting favorably to a notorious Guardian essay by Matthew Engel that James Lileks famously demolished. It wasn't that column. It's some other column about a "smug, self-satisfied, insular America" (the red states) somehow opposed to a "fascinating and beguiling" coastal America (the blue states). Hmm, didn't the New Yorker publish a famous cover that omitted everything between Hoboken and Hollywood? There's probably more self-satisfied insularity in the common room at the Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs in Seattle, than at any Friday night fish fry anywhere in the upper Midwest.
Some diversity we'll not likely see being "celebrated."
SMART PIGS. Cato the Younger has the gory details.
I DIDN'T LEAVE THE NATION, THE NATION LEFT ME: Or so Jonah Goldberg suggests about Christopher Hitchens.
ARGUMENTAM AD POPULARUM: Does it really matter whether more people rallied in London against a war or in support of foxhunting?
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
NEIN, DANKE: InstaPundit also recommends a Libertarian News-Portal comment on U.S. consumers doing without German goods. And here I just took delivery of a new 2003 Volkswagen Golf. Hey, the last one was good for 14 1/2 years and 210,000 miles, and this one was finished in Brazil.
DON'T CRY WITH YOUR MOUTH FULL: InstaPundit recommends a Daily Pundit post asserting, "Anybody who thinks a 5.7 percent unemployment rate (a number considered very close to full employment not so many years ago) is more important than the fact that Saddam Hussein may either already have nuclear weapons, or be on the very of obtaining them, is just plain nuts." Focussing for the moment on the economics: that the old "natural rate of unemployment" may no longer apply, and that a lot of people perceive themselves as not as well off today as they were a few years ago, is not something to dismiss so lightly. That many people's retirement plans have popped with the bubble is not something to take lightly either.

What I fear will be lost is any serious assessment of ways that the war, or the intrusive airline security measures, are imposing adjustment costs on the economy.

27.9.02

REQUIRED READING FOR ENROLLMENT MANAGERS: Rachel Lucas understands what "working your way through college" means.
YOU MAKE THE CALL. (Via InstaPundit.)
WHICH IS IT? Corporate crime hunters Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman offer ten reasons to join the protests this weekend in Washington, DC. (The strip-in was earlier today). Among the reasons are the following sins of the World Bank:

4. Fueling climate change and environmental destruction. Fossil fuel corporations benefited from over $24 billion in World Bank financing between 1992 and August 2002, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The Banks' fossil fuel portfolio, IPS estimates, will generate roughly twice as much carbon dioxide (a potent greenhouse gas) as industry produced worldwide in the year 2000.

5. Bankrolling forest destruction. Following a disastrous history of supporting forest destruction around the world, the World Bank in 1993 adopted a policy prohibiting further direct financing of commercial logging activities in primary tropical moist forests. The Bank has not effectively enforced this policy. The Bank's solution? A revised draft Forest Policy which removes the ban and provides no new protections for forests or forest peoples.


Wouldn't development of fossil fuel resources attenuate the incentive to cut trees? Aren't trees carbon dioxide sinks?
CHEBYSHEV BIAS: John Derbyshire runs the numbers.
JUDGED BY THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN, NOT BY THE CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER: Highered Intelligence (citing Instapundit and Angry Clam) discovers ethnic profiling being practiced by the Undergraduate Student Association Council at UCLA (motto: On! Wisconsin!). I like the reference at Angry Clam to "Cultural Affairs Commissioner."
YOU DON'T SAY: Highered Intelligence reports that the Gray Lady has made a startling discovery: higher salaries cure teacher shortages. I have to give the Gray Lady less than full marks, however: "At the right price, supply grows to meet demand." As my students will tell you, "we might as well dispute whether it is the upper or the under blade of a pair of scissors that cuts a piece of paper, as whether value is governed by utility or cost of production." (Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics, eighth edition: 348)
LEFTY LEAVES $100 ON SIDEWALK: I printed the Lieven essay for possible future use as a source of problem set material. There is much to occupy the reader. Let's start here:

"From the point of view of Israel, the Israeli lobby and their representatives in the Administration, the apparent benefits of such a free hand are clear enough. For the group around Cheney, the single most important consideration is guaranteed and unrestricted access to cheap oil, controlled as far as possible at its source. To destroy and occupy the existing Iraqi state and dominate the region militarily would remove even the present limited threat from Opec, greatly reduce the chance of a new oil shock, and eliminate the need to woo and invest in Russia as an alternative source of energy."

I'm sure somebody else will weigh in on the gratuitous swipe at Israel. Let's take the cheap oil premise seriously. Wouldn't it be in Russia's interest to develop its oil business so as to raise the living standards of Russians, and wouldn't Russian oil supplies be a source of price competition, if in fact the objective is cheaper oil? And wouldn't -- somebody else made this point recently but I don't recall who and where -- somebody who is interested in access to oil favor lessened sanctions against the al-Tikriti regime, because using existing capacity is cheaper than rebuilding capacity that has been torched, good as Red Adair is?

It gets better."It would also critically undermine the steps already taken towards the development of alternative sources of energy. So far, these have been pitifully few. All the same, 11 September brought new strength to the security arguments for reducing dependence on imported oil, and as alternative technologies develop, they could become a real threat to the oil lobby - which, like the Israeli lobby, is deeply intertwined with the Bush Administration. War with Iraq can therefore be seen as a satisfactory outcome for both lobbies. Much more important for the future of mankind, it is also part of what is in essence a strategy to use American military force to permit the continued offloading onto the rest of the world of the ecological costs of the existing US economy - without the need for any short-term sacrifices on the part of US capitalism, the US political elite or US voters."

Huh? Hasn't this guy heard about the Asian Brown Cloud? Hasn't he considered the possibility that cheaper oil, extracted with modern technology, just might be an incentive to the Indonesians to cut fewer trees for fuel, and to the Chinese to mine less of that brown coal? Moreover, has it ever occurred to Mr Lieven that these "alternative technologies" will be an incentive for sellers of oil to lower their prices?

Readers, if you come across any other fiskings of this essay, please let me know (skarlson - at - niu dot edu).
FOURTH TURNING ALERT: Andrew Sullivan links to a lengthy Anatol Lieven essay that bundles the U.S. war effort with the culture wars. It's too long for me to parse at this time, but let me at one paragraph.

"The modern incarnation of this spirit can indeed be seen above all as a reaction to the double defeat of the Right in the Vietnam War - a defeat which, they may hope, victory in Iraq and a new wave of conservative nationalism at home could cancel out once and for all. In Vietnam, unprecedented military defeat coincided with the appearance of a modern culture which traditionalist Americans found alien, immoral and hateful beyond description. As was widely remarked at the time of Newt Gingrich's attempted 'Republican Revolution' of the mid-1990s, one way of looking at the hardline Republicans - especially from the Religious Right - is to see them as motivated by a classical nationalist desire for a return to a Golden Age, in their case the pre-Vietnam days of the 1950s."

Let me propose a simpler explanation. The America of the 1950s was an America that worked. The counterculture that followed did not. It's more accurate to describe aspects of it as alien, immoral, and destructive.
ISNTAPUNDIT asserts that proportional response isn't such a good idea.
AMNESTY UPDATE: Angry Clam is not happy about a recent rally at UCLA (motto: On! Wisconsin!) in support of legal status for immigrant workers.

Consider this: amnestied workers might not be the fountainhead of Mexican irredentism that the Clam fears, or the event endorsers might be expecting.
DESTRUCTIVISTS: Good sniglet from A Small Victory. As of 1.30 this afternoon, CNN were trying very hard not to bring live coverage of a strip-in in Georgetown. (That, and musing on when was the last time anybody used "happening" as a noun.)

UPDATE: Editorial coverage at Cold Fury.
ANACONDA PLAN? Greatest Jeneration links to a Washington Post story headlined "NATO Ready to Admit Seven European Countries" ... these east and south of Germany.

Notice of Embargo: The Superintendent will not provide links to Washington Post stories as long as the Washington Post persists in its intrusive registration requests.
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE: Don't quit your day job, Bradford.

26.9.02

Ranting Screeds posts a tribute to Mike Webster, a great Wisconsin center on some not terribly good Wisconsin teams, and admits to being a Packer fan. That's good for interchange privileges. The regular commentary is worth a look, too.
HURRICANE UPDATE: The cloud shield from Isidore is occupying most of the southern horizon now, but the forecast continues to call for a blue norther and the rain to roll in from Minnesota. If so, there will be a really wet day tomorrow along the east coast. Stay dry, and best wishes to our southern correspondents.
IT'S NOT PROFILING IF SOMEBODY IS COMMITTING A CRIME: Last summer, USDA loan officer Johnelle Bryant recounted a visit by jihad bomber Mohammed Atta. ABC News quoted her as giving him the benefit of the doubt: "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from, with all the violence, as compared to the United States," she says. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could make it." Today, Best of the Web links to a disturbing story from Columbus, Ohio in which "women delayed reporting possible break-ins because they didn't want to appear prejudiced -- the suspects were black men, and the white women felt bad about assuming they were doing something criminal". The police sergeant interviewed in the story offered some sensible advice: "Don't let political correctness stop you. Call us. That's what we're here for.''
A coaches' poll here?
Vodka Pundit recommended a visit to Dr. Manhattan. There are several provocative posts there.
Brad DeLong says "do the research!"
Tapped accuses "radical antiabortion zealots" of entrapping Planned Parenthood. Draw your own conclusions.
A WORDS-L MOMENT? Sometimes the blogosphere looks like the new home of listservers. Someday I might elaborate on the parallels between the Buffy blogburst and the Outbreak outbreak (both involve parts of the pop culture that I'm not familiar with.) Another recent thread has involved Nigerian bank frauds. The latest riposte seeks sympathy for the family of a high U.S. government official, and a poster on the O trains discussion list has offered the following:

My Dear Mutombo: (Tabitta, Akahra, etc)

I am very interested in your project as I truly believe you have the
best interests of your countrymen at heart.

Send $100,000 immediately as a show of good faith and, trust me, I will
work with you to help you and your bereaving family.

BTW, send $500,000 and I will send you a complete O Scale Electric
Train, choice of two roadnames.

$10,000,000 will buy you a complete shortline railroad with an
extremely profitable Gibium mining operation.

Be assured that I trust you and I await your certified cheque. Some of
my closest relatives have spent time in your country and I hope some day you will spend time in mine.

It is important that you keep this confidential and never, never divulge this to any member of the Otrains Mailing List
as one or two of the members might be skeptical about your (and my) honorable intentions.


What's the Words-L moment? Years ago some programmers wrote a program called "Virupaksha Mokshagundam" that faked posts by someone using the subcontinental version of English. I sometimes wonder if the Nigerian email spammers aren't using something similar.
"There is no royal road to geometry." Also at Joanne Jacobs. Learning is hard work.
LOOK FOR THE SIMPLEST EXPLANATION: Joanne Jacobs links to a series of posts, including one that makes the sensible observation that the easiest way to obtain more oil from Iraq might be to dial back the rhetoric about the al-Tikriti clan.
James Lileks has done it again. I'll be here when you get back.
THOUGHT POLICE ALERT: Hoosier Review catches Big Brother watching at the University of California, San Diego, and engages in a little civil disobedience.
MARSHALL'S CROSS: Hoosier Review links to Economic Causes of Obesity. Rising incomes, cheaper food, and sedentary work. Does it follow that a corrective tax on couches and big-screen TVs is in order?
HI, I'M PLENTY. Reality isn't anywhere near that glamourous. (Via InstaPundit.)
INTERMODAL CONNECTION Cold Fury has found a weblog originating at San Francisco State University that's worth a look. For a little historical context, San Francisco State has been a battleground in the culture wars since about 1968.
Cato the Youngest has read and understood a Paul Craig Roberts column that proposes declaring victory and relocating the Israelis to California.

UPDATE: Common Sense and Wonder didn't like it either.

24.9.02

SELECTIVE INDIGNATION or the beginning of the end for speech codes? Best of the Web also links to this story about the University of Colorado administration's response to swastikas written inside a sukkah. Defacing property, yes. A hate crime, yes. Ethnic intimidation, not yet.
POSTMODERN NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES? Best of the Web (scroll down) links to a report that freshly re-elected Reichkanzler Schroeder has accepted the resignations of the Justice Minister who likened President Bush to der Fuehrer, and a parliamentary whip who likened him to a Caesar.
Greatest Jeneration has the British case against Iraq.
YOU DON'T SAY: Illinois public colleges have hired many more administrators than classroom teachers. Story here. What the story doesn't tell you is that much of that hiring is for non-collegiate purposes: facilitating diversity, providing special education, assessing the obvious, and providing teddy bears for classroom discussion.
GALES OF CREATIVE DESTRUCTION: James Glassman sees them blowing in telecommunications.
"This new fight isn't logical — it's cultural. It is the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America's sense of Manifest Destiny." So argues Maureen Dowd. Er, Maureen, got news for you. Some cultures know how to use logic. You might try it yourself.
BIGGER FISH TO FISK: Andrew Sullivan is not pleased with former Vice President Gore's criticism of the war effort.
MORAL RELATIVISM KILLS: Jane Galt has the details.
SAND IN THE GEARS identifies The Oblivious Menace. Great post. In my family, we referred to cases of intrarectal craniality. Same thing.

23.9.02

VodkaPundit's lament: "Do they not teach economics in college any more?" His lament is inspired by a comment on More Deflation Fears posted earlier. Two simple explanations. 1. Not everybody takes economics, and the minimum wage is a minor topic in many classes. 2. Students tend to generalize from their own experience. I did an informal survey that produced a large overestimate of the proportion of the workforce being paid the minimum wage.

There is a more troubling aspect to these posts. One of Paul Krugman's less polemical columns of the past two months (I don't know how to mine the Times archives to find it) drew some parallels between the US and Japanese economies: a recession, a popping of a stock market bubble, and the inability of the central bank to further lower interest rates. Add a bubble in housing prices and rising energy prices, and be very, very afraid.
LITIGIOUS LARDBUCKETS: Common Sense and Wonder provides a link to this conjecture that the U.S. government continues to engage in the domestic dumping of cheese.
NO WHITE GUYS NEED APPLY. Judge for yourself. (Via InstaPundit.)
SHOWING MY AGE and perhaps my verbosity. I've panned Tom Clancy's Red Rabbit at the Amazon consumer review site, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the Pope being shot after the Falklands war while the Orioles are playing in the World Series. Turns out there may be a simpler distortion of history: former securities analyst Ryan buying Starbucks nine years before it went public.
"What the cold war didn't do to Detroit, globalization did." So asserts the dot-communist. Right. All the prosperous people moved to Canada. Take it from somebody who lived there: it was resistance to globalization, not globalization, at the root of Detroit's problems.
DEKALB BLOGFEST REPORT: The Amateur Economist met the Superintendent for drinks and conversation earlier this evening. Topics for further investigation include whether the real price of college is higher or lower now than it used to be, whether the highways or the commuter railways are the better example of socialism, and the wisdom (particularly about making policy) in The Vices of Economists -- The Virtues of the Bourgeoisie. I'm sure more topics will emerge. Thanks for the pleasant evening.
THE BENEFITS OF COLLEGE: Brad DeLong has a post on the economics of college subsidies. His main point is an equity argument. "To tax the public to subsidize college-goers is a reverse Robin Hood enterprise: it takes from the (relatively) poor and gives to the (relatively) rich." To which I add an efficiency argument: the benefits of a college education are primarily private benefits. The marginal spillover benefits are low. The book titled Everything I Wanted to Know I Learned in Kindergarten makes a point its author may not have intended.
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE UPDATE. Best of the Web links to this story about some Hartford, Connecticut police officers who had some disagreements with their reedu^H^H^H^H^H diversity trainer.
BELLICOSE WOMAN UPDATE: Miss Universe de-crowned. Will she have to go back to the St. Petersburg Militia? (Link provided by Common Sense and Wonder.)
RAILWAY AESTHETICS: UK Transport is impressed by how clean yet how ugly everything is in the Photo of the Month (scroll down). "It is a million miles away from the romantic shots of steam trains puffing their way across rural landscapes that most of us are used to" Perhaps, but oughtn't a transport observer to hang around the West Coast Main Line or the approaches to the Liverpool Street Station?
VICARS OF VACILLATION UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan links to a David Broder column taking the Democrats to task. Sullivan's comment: "[Democrats] won't actually oppose either [war or tax cuts], because they fear the political consequences. Yet they carp and obstruct and criticize - without offering any serious credible alternative. Until they tell us why Saddam is not a threat meriting war or that they will repeal the Bush tax cut, they should be treated with the contempt Broder says they deserve. Andrew, meet the Silent Generation. Silent Generation, Andrew. The median age of Democratic voters is higher than the median age of Republican voters.
TAPPED suggests a tougher line of questioning about Social Security (scroll around). Then he offers this gem: "Redefining Social Security as a retirement plan rather than an old-age guarantee is essential to Republican spin; if the public starts thinking of Social Security as a particularly low-performing 401(k), they'll support privatization." I suppose if the people see the low-performing insurance policy that's bundled with that low-performing 401(k) they'll oppose privatization.
NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE: At one time, the rules used to be stricter at Yale. As an aside, why do the places that post such signs at the door not offer much service even to those who are wearing their shirts and their shoes?
"The fact that someone hates me doesn't mean I'm wrong." Read the rest. The link to a compendium of logical fallacies is worth bookmarking too.
PETITIONING FOR THE REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES: Samizdata reports on the Liberty and Livelihood march held the past Sunday in London, in support of continued legal fox-hunting. The comments are worth a look. Yoicks! and away!

22.9.02

TEST YOURSELF Which national political party just got hit with $719,000 in fines by the Federal Election Commission? Details here.
ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM? Matt Welch weighs in on a Boston Phoenix column by Michael Bronski complaining that some prominent public intellectuals aren't getting any respect. Welch sees a glass half-full: "Still, when you do so loudly, and people respond with vigorous counter-arguments, seems to me that’s a golden opportunity for a debate, rather than another excuse to claim censorship, intolerance, or anti-intellectualism." Bronski sees a glass half-empty: "The attacks on Sontag, Chomsky, and Vidal are singular in their viciousness and intensity. This is not only because of what the three commentators say — most of which reflect already-stated positions, and which largely fall firmly within the long tradition of American critical political commentary — but because of their positions as public intellectuals. The attacks on them are not simply, as some have claimed, the panic reaction of a culture that has been deeply shaken by unexpected events in geopolitics, but the full flowering of a strain of anti-intellectualism intrinsic to US culture. What we are witnessing here is a full assault on the dwindling structures of intellectualism — both academic and public — in American life." Bronski, quoting Vidal, diagnoses the problem thus: "No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent." Huh? Perhaps it's Bronski's network of public intellectuals that has eliminated objectivity and dissent -- see here, or survey the job offerings in the Chronicle of Higher Education -- researchers not seeking the multiple oppressions of race, class, and gender often need not apply.

Welch provides links to a more diverse population of public intellectuals than Bronski does.

21.9.02

LOVELY AFTERNOON, LOVELY EVENING Afternoon temperatures in the 80s, falling rapidly around sunset, lots of pregame tailgating, 23,000 fans at the stadium, full moon rising. Alas, no victory to take home.

The Paint Shop has some more work tonight. Posting resumes Monday, God's time.
ISNTAPUNDIT offers a somewhat more bellicose take on the Roberf Fisk interview referenced here.
Vodka Pundit posts a halfway decent chili recipe. It is not, however, an approximation to my secret recipe.

20.9.02

BROCK YATES argues that "the private automobile is here to stay," and mass transit is an ever-less-attractive option. Daniel G. Jennings takes the contrary position and sees a return of the interurban. Which is it? More to the point, is there a more efficient way of achieving "it," whatever it might be. The road not taken, so to speak, is pricing expressway or transit services according to use. It's the same 40 cents to get on the Illinois Tollway no matter how many other cars want to use it, and it's the same $1.50 to ride the L at 5 pm or in the late evening.
RAISING PRICES AND REDUCING SERVICES? The bankers have taken a great deal of stick for introducing automatic cash machines without supplemental charges only later to impose service fees. I spoke with a friend who is a vice president at a bank that was an early adopter of the cash machines, and he agreed that introducing the service fees did engender ill will. I'm noticing the same thing with the big media websites. They tend to push lots of cookies, and their registration efforts are getting more intrusive as they become more common. There has to be a research paper somewhere in here ...
PEOPLE RESPOND TO INCENTIVES Sometimes getting the results you want means changing the rules. More here. (Via Live from the WTC.)
YOU DON'T SAY: "Elite forces from Iraq's Republican Guard may not be called upon to protect Saddam Hussein in the event of an American attack - for fear that they might turn against him. The Iraqi leader is determined to keep his crack troops out of Baghdad where their tanks and heavy weaponry could be used to overthrow the regime rather than defend it, the Guardian has learned. Read the rest here. (You will have to deal with a plate full of cookies before the story loads.)

The Guardian's editorial page (not that there's a difference with a European paper) has been, shall we put it, less than enthusiastic about military action against the Hussein regime. Is this article simply another version of the give-peace-a-chance argument?
Greatest Jeneration seems a bit surprised: "Here's a happening in Detroit you won't hear reported: about 500 Arab men, most of Iraqi descent, marched around the McNamara Federal Building on Wednesday to show their support for U.S. plans to use military action to end the rule of Saddam Hussein and to denounce Saddam as a "facist" tyrant who gases his own people."

Perhaps not newsworthy, but not a surprise either. Many Iraqi immigrants to the Detroit area are Chaldean Christians, who are not well served either by Islam or by socialism.
Little Green Footballs provides extensive coverage of Middle Eastern events. Right now he's posted "Something's happening in Iran ..."
NEXT WEEK IS INTERNATIONAL WEEK at Northern Illinois University. Daniel Henninger proposes bringing back the melting pot. I propose that all the flags at next Friday's Parade of Flags someday represent the country of origin for new citizens.
MORE GOOD STUFF FROM ANDREW SULLIVAN: He links to this Jerusalem Post article about a falling rate of invention of new drugs to treat AIDS. Sullivan's conclusion: "What's interesting here is that there is a collusion of interests between the leftist campaigners and the publicity-shy drug companies. The lefties want to insist there's no trade-off in the hounding of pharmaceutical companies; the companies don't want to admit that their research is fueled by such gross motives as making money. Meanwhile, progress against a fast-mutating virus slows." Sigh. Doesn't anybody remember "it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages?" (Smith 1776, p. 18)

Sullivan also links to a Financial Times essay by Gerard Baker that he credits with making the unilateral multilateralism point "better" than he did yesterday (minidissertation here), which it might, but Baker buried his lede ("If both sides can only hold to it, it should, like all good bargains, make everybody better off") on the markers end.

You'll also find a link to Robert Fisk serving as useful idiotarian to Osama Bin Laden. I particularly liked this Bin Laden quote: ''Once I was only 30 metres from the Russians and they were trying to capture me. I was under bombardment but I was so peaceful in my heart that I fell asleep. This experience has been written about in our earliest books. I saw a 120mm mortar shell land in front of me, but it did not blow up. Four more bombs were dropped from a Russian plane on our headquarters but they did not explode. We beat the Soviet Union. The Russians fled.'' Sammy, you can't read my comments because quality control is better in United States munitions factories.

19.9.02

BO COWGILL likes The Space Between as a plan for the new World Trade Center. There is something there ... now how about building the eight new towers as tall as the old two?

Something else that occurs to me ... the site is supposed to get an improved subway, tube, and commuter rail station underneath. Why not borrow some ideas from the concourse area of the old Pennsylvania Station? The space is dignified enough (based, in part, on the Basilica of Constantine) that a chapel would not seem out of place.
LIBERATING TOLERANCE REDUX? Slate's Dahlia Lithwick (via Instapundit) has discovered wartime censorship at colleges and universities and she's not happy: "The university as a bastion of unfettered political dialogue morphed over the last two decades into the university as quasi-parental hug-factory that must ensure that students don't feel harassed by words they don't want to hear." From my post, I don't evaluate it quite that harshly, but read the article more carefully and decide for yourself. Consider also this claim, "Fraternities and beer bongs also put campuses at a safety risk but no one has tossed them onto the streets." If memory serves, quite the opposite. The most famous incident is at Dartmouth, where the administration lacked the self-worth to take Animal House as a comedy, but there are several other colleges, more expensive and less-productive of value-added than Northern Illinois University, that have attempted or succeeded at chucking the fraternities out.
REMEDIAL MATH IS CULTURALLY BIASED. Or something to that effect. Start at Joanne Jacobs and continue at Number 2 Pencil. Read the comments, too: there is no evidence that the mathematics department faculty is incapable of teaching remedial mathematics. (Not well used in that endeavour, perhaps, but that's a rant for another day).
BYGONES ARE FOREVER BYGONES: Thalif Deen reports, "U.S. Bent on Attacking Iraq, Mideast Experts Say." Digging deeper, we see

"Chris Toensing, editor of the Washington-based Middle East Report, said the administration had invested too much political capital in 'regime change' to give up its hard-line.

''Administration officials have a history of saying that arms inspection cannot be trusted to contain the 'mortal threat' of the Iraqi regime's putative weapons of mass destruction,'' he added."


Catch the non-sequitur? Past investments of political capital, whatever that is, are irreversibly lost and cannot be salvaged despite current investments. A past pattern of duplicity, on the other hand, is evidence of an adversary at the negotiating table that cannot be trusted. Putting scare quotes around "mortal threat" does not conceal the modus morons.
TIM BLAIR: Slightly less critical of the United Nations than InstaPundit, but spot on!
WHAT'S THE BEST MOVE? Andrew Sullivan posts an item that is worth quoting in full:

UNILATERAL MULTILATERALISM: I've long been skeptical of the notion that governments in foreign affairs are either multilateralist (good) or unilateralist (bad). It seems to me that any government's first priority in foreign policy should be the pursuit of national interest, broadly understood. For some, that's a unilateralist position, almost by definition. But I'd argue that it's more nuanced than that. The pursuit of national interest can (and should) lead to multilateral arrangements - NAFTA, GATT, NATO, the EU, etc - that benefit each party. Moreover, these multilateral arrangements work precisely because they do represent the sum of national interests, and aren't merely talking shops based on high-minded but impractical ideals. These diplomatic contraptions, in other words, are means, not ends. Bush gets this, I think. And it's a profound improvement on the muddled abdication of American leadership in the previous administration. But Bush adds a twist. It may be that some multilateral deals only really work when one of the critical parties to them threatens to abandon them and go it alone. Call it "unilateral multilateralism". Thatcher's relationship with the E.U., was rather like this. And Bush's continued insistence that the U.S. reserves the right in the last resort to deal with Iraq by itself has, I think, been the single most important factor in forcing the U.N. to act. His unilateralism made multilateralism possible. And it also gave direction to the multilateralism, reminding the U.N. that it should be concerned with tangible results not just debates and resolutions. I doubt the U.N. is up to the task, but it is one of the ironies of the present moment that without Bush's threat to walk, the U.N. wouldn't even recognize the task in front of it. You know, he really is a lot smarter than his critics recognize. Which is, of course, fine by him.



There is a lot of economics at work here.

1. People act in what they perceive to be their best interests. As governments are established to serve somebody's best interests (not everybody begins with the same premises as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) "unilateralism," broadly understood, follows immediately.

2. Cooperation is more likely where there is mutual benefit. (Everyone who has been through one of my basic classes has heard this 2^(k-1) times for k large.) Multilateral agreements, therefore, enable each party to share in the gains from trade, if you will, made possible by the agreement. (That's not the same thing as the sum of individual interests, but I don't act in plays and Mr Sullivan probably hasn't read Paul Samuelson and Abraham Bergson on social welfare functions).

3. One cannot discuss sharing the gains from trade without some understanding of what one stands to lose by not sharing. This third point is somewhat more subtle and it has been the subject of an area of economics called game theory. Three elements are central. First is creating cooperation. "The problems in cooperation are detection of cheating, punishment, and restoring cooperation after punishment." Next comes commitment, where sometimes President Bush's strategy, "[C]ommit to a move first, and tell your opponent so he will respond in a certain way," is best, but sometimes the vicars of vacillation have the right idea: "wait to act as long as possible, to delay costs and maintain flexibility." Finally there is credibility: your response must be rational given the circumstances you're in. "A threat that is not credible is useless." A concept closely related to credibility is reputation: will you follow through on your threats. Mr Sullivan's complaint about the "muddled abdication" of the previous administration recognizes this point. Perhaps al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, (and the elderly delinquents in Teheran?) anticipated continued turning of the other cheek from the United States. With one relocated to Cuba and another in hiding, the bad actors remaining standing must update their expectations in light of new information, another point that keeps recurring in class notes.

18.9.02

THE BLOGOBLATESPHERE: There's a whole 'nother network out there blogging on sports. Here's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sports reporter Jeff Potrykus demonstrating the hazards of sports prediction (scroll down): "UW wins, 38-10.

"PS: If I'm way off, feel free to shove it in my face during the Monday chat!"

For the record, it was Wisconsin 24, Northern Illinois 21, with the outcome in doubt to the final series.
WELCOME BELLICOSE WOMEN. If you've come from On the Third Hand looking for the ancestry reference, it's one of the few postings for 13 September. If that's off the bottom of the screen by now, it's in the archives.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: Dave Barry (he who long ago compared Epcot ride-throughs with Laff in the Dark), has this on the tobacco settlement: "Yes! The state gave this money -- which, you may recall, was taken from tobacco companies to punish them for selling tobacco, which is evil -- to these growers so they can buy machinery that will make them more competitive producers of . . . tobacco! This is like using War On Terrorism funds to buy flying lessons for al Qaeda." Ken Layne, who provided the link, notes, "Barry can write true columns without being hassled by the dorks."
DEFROCKED? USS Clueless questions the moral standing of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
McDONALD'S: harbinger of global homogeneity, or leading indicator of culinary diversity?
ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT: This American Prospect article raises the alarm about recent efforts made by colleges to recruit better students. Is it also arguing that state universities ought not be challenging their best students?
DIRECT DEMOCRACY OR CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC? Ellen S. Miller finds advantages for initiative referendum as a way of obtaining policies a legislature won't pass.
"It's time for corporate accountability to get into legislative reforms that dance on the edge of the possible," writes Nick Penniman.
IS THERE A NASTIER putdown of the United Nations than this?

17.9.02

YABBA DABBA DOO! Dave Barry makes a compelling argument that "technology" does not automatically equal "productivity."

Editorial note: everybody else has already picked up this story. The credit for me finding it goes to several other sites. Thanks.
JOANNE JACOBS makes a plea for vocational education. The Superintendent agrees that college is not for everyone, and that there is strong demand for skilled tradesmen, particularly with enterprising people in developing countries willing to do data entry, computation, programming, and computer-assisted design overnight, and for sums of money that seem small to us yet are princely to them. (Dot.com wannabes with marginal coding skills, and anybody who has to use a calculator to check problem set scores, take note.) The Superintendent cautions, however, that vocational education not be equated to a dumping ground for students who are not college material. At the original Cold Spring Shops (there was one, I promise to elaborate) it might be said of a rookie helper with limited promotion prospects, "He couldn't carry water for a patternmaker."
THE AMNESTY SEDUCTION, teases Tapped. I'm likely to return to this topic at a more lucid moment.
JOHN McENROE producing Nightline? Tonight's title: "Ally of convenience, enemy of the moment." Will it be an extended version of "if you sell me a gun, you have no complaint if I point it at you?" Update unlikely, it's been a long day (presenting a workshop at Loyola) and the bunk calls.
Adam Smith long ago observed little good done by those who professed to act for the common good. Amateur Economist rings some changes on this theme. (Warning to students: the poster has a point of view.)
COLUMNIST Bill Murchison celebrates the return to suit and tie. "Lousy dressing has been passed off to us since the '90s as stylish dressing," he asserts.

I have long maintained that two major contributions to the low esteem in which education, particularly the common schools finds itself held, are teachers' unions and teachers retiring their coats and ties. And of the two, looking like mill-hands has probably done more damage than associating as-if mill hands.

16.9.02

IF YOU WANT TO BE A BADGER, then come along with me, by the bright shining light of three moons. (Via Common Sense and Wonder.)
HOW VALUABLE FIELD POSITION? is the topic of some recent research by David Romer reported by Virginia Postrel (you may have to register with the New York Times but that's not as burdensome as the Tribune properties make it).

A note for Northern Illinois University students: the game lasts 60 minutes, and the semester lasts 15 weeks.
A GLOSSARY of terms of art, should the reader want to become a writer.
DIFFERING ATTITUDES towards departures from textbook competition get discussed by Jane Galt. I would add this: in any "departure" from textbook competition that's worth discussing, there's an inefficiency, or a $100 bill on the sidewalk somewhere. To cope with the inefficiency, it helps if you pay less than $100 to pick up the bill.
SOME MISUSED WORDS identified at On the Third Hand. Readers have submitted their own candidates as well. (Via InstaPundit.)

13.9.02

"Congress has already cut my social security benefits, by raising my retirement age," notes InstaPundit. Read the rest.
FREE ENTERPRISE FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ME: Students in my policy classes over the years have heard this rant from me ab initio, ad infinitum, and ad nauseam. Get it from Brad DeLong and Jeff Frankel too.
DESCENDANT OF MOHAMMED? teases InstaPundit in a link to this account of an existence proof of a common ancestor for all Europeans about 600 years ago. Not a big surprise, this research. One way to establish whether someone who claims to be a Mayflower descendant has done his homework is to ask, "how many ways?" There weren't that many people to marry. The joke in my family is that the Hopkinses who moved to Wisconsin from New York finally had opportunities to marry people other than their cousins.
CONSTANT COVERAGE this morning of two cars stopped for an intensive search in Florida. So far, nothing substantive. Jane Galt, meanwhile, asks about a bunch of disturbing news items from yesterday that seem to have dropped off the news.

Three possibilities occur to me.

1. The simplest explanation is that the Florida story is really a false alarm with no terrorist implications.

2. Al-Qaeda's operatives are not the brightest bulbs in the marquee, and somebody (yet again??) talked too much.

3. The bad guys are learning, and this Florida team was supposed to be the mechanical rabbit. But the good guys are learning too, and some of the greyhounds have been rounded up.

UPDATE: More information, and local knowledge about potential targets, here (Via InstaPundit).

12.9.02

OSAMA decapitated!
LIMITED POSTING the next couple of days. The paint shop has some projects that will be released shortly.
YESTERDAY'S MEMORIAL OBSERVATION at noon was well done. Bell ringing, a moment of silence, "America the Beautiful" and bits of "God Bless America" sung in the Gospel style, Taps, and "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. Lots of people went to the volunteer call-out held after the observation.
SO MUCH for the Barro-Romer equivalence theorem ("any symmetric allocation mechanism rations a shared facility identically")? I just finished updating my data on amusement park prices for the 2002 season, and I've discovered many more pricing options in place today than was the case in 1987, the first year for which I have this data. In 1987, some amusement parks resolved the Disneyland Dilemma by charging a high admission price and letting people ride as much as they wanted for free, and others charged a small fee to enter and let people pay for the rides they used. In Walter Oi's home town of Rochester, New York, the Seabreeze Amusement Park used to let people onto the grounds for free. A few parks allowed consumers (called "guests"in amusement-speak) to choose their own price plan.

Today the situation is much different. Many parks charge a different lump-sum fee on weekends than they do on weekdays, and several charge a lower lump-sum fee in the evening (classic peak-load pricing). Some of the parks still offer a choice between pay-one-price plan (enforced by a wristband) or a two-part tariff, but in addition they offer quantity discounts for ticket purchases. A few, mostly the coastal piers, allow walk-ons and sell rides only by ticket.

The major developments in the last few years are these.

1. There has been a proliferation of go-kart parks adding amusement areas to the go-kart tracks. Many of these parks sell thrills on a pay-as-you-go basis.

2. Conventional amusement parks and waterparks tend to affiliate. Sometimes admission to the amusement area includes the use of the waterpark. Otherwise, consumers can buy the services of both as a bundle more cheaply.

3. The latest version of the pizza and birthday party center is an amusement park. There is a chain, Jeepers, that offers such things all over the USA.

4. National amusement park chains have done a lot of acquisition. I was surprised to see what Anheuser-Busch has been up to, and Six Flags are in a lot of states that cannot claim to have been territory under six flags. The Crystal Beach Comet is now an asset of Six Flags, in its new home in Lake George, New York.
The research department decided to simplify the presentation of its latest results. Rather than ask readers to wade through six tedious and similar propositions, we're going to prove the most interesting one, assert that in like manner one can prove the other five, and get right to a numerical analysis that illustrates which outcome happens under which conditions. That should speed up the arrival of a working paper for downloading as a .pdf file.
Josh Chafetz complains, "Why is it that those who call for 'dialogue' never have any substantive contribution to make to the dialogue? Look, if you have a point to make, then make it. But if not, then don't call for more talking simply to forestall action."

Perhaps Josh has discovered the Silent Generation. Social science based on cycles of history may or may not be useful, but that doesn't stop people from trying. Go to Fourth Turning to see some efforts.

The short version of the story: does anybody else remember Vice President Agnew dismissing thirty-something "vicars of vacillation?" He was trashing the same cohort who are now the sixty-somethings running the New York Times (and occupying most of the faculty committees, but that's a rant for another day.) Such people were born during a major secular crisis (the Depression and World War II) and had no major coming-of-age challenges (perhaps apart from civil rights -- how many of the Guilty Southern White Boys are sixty-somethings?)

The circumstances of their youth lead to the following tendencies: "Overprotected as children, they become underprotective parents. Their principal endowment activities are in the domain of pluralism, expertise, and due process. Their best-known leaders include: William Shirley and Cadwallader Colden; John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson; Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson; Walter Mondale, and Colin Powell. These have been sensitive and complex social technicians, advocates of fair play and the politics of inclusion." (from Fourth Turning).

I have read the book. The authors have a maintained hypothesis that Europe's last secular crisis ended later than it did in the Anglosphere. Thus, Europe's Silent Generation is a few years younger than the Anglosphere's.
INSTAPUNDIT has provided Iran updates: here to the government suppressing rallies and here to memorial tiles posted at Yahoo from Iran. The Student Movement Coordination Committe has a poll on its main page that fans of the First Amendment ought to visit.
Larry Kudlow argues Saudi Arabia has strong incentives to keep the oil flowing.
NATIONAL REVIEW has the text of the President's speech to the General Assembly.
THE PRESIDENT is making his case against Iraq right now. The research department has work shortly. Back later today.
Good stuff from Joanne Jacobs here and here (the comments at the latter are worth a look too).
NO TEDDY BEARS for Jennifer Harper either. (Via Kausfiles.)
"To our shame, George Bush gets a worse press than Saddam Hussein." Thank you, Tony Parsons (Interchanged via Lucianne to Common Sense and Wonder.)
John Unitas, 1933-2002. Classic success story. He had the misfortune of being the greatest quarterback during the years the Packers had the best team. Yet another great dies too soon.
OCCAM'S RAZOR? Charlie Sykes opens this morning with the observation, "Some people in Florida are too dumb to vote."

11.9.02

Unsullied and Undismayed posts the full text of his presentation at a symposium held today. It's a long pull but worth the effort. And scroll down to find a comparison of firearm deaths in the United States with suffocation deaths in France.
Leonard Pitts was spot on a year ago. His latest offering nails it too.
Troubling warning in a sting conducted by ABC News.
Thank you, Mort Walker! (Via The Corner)
Go west and scroll down. Keep scrolling.
"If you are looking for the real England, you will not find it in the pages of the Guardian, but rather on the high streets and in the shop windows." Thanks, Samizdata, fpr the tour.
Cold Fury has a whole bunch of useful posts, including President Bush's speech to the joint session of Congress last fall and InstaPundit's reprise of his predictions from a year ago.
Anne Applebaum requests the fixed price for heating oil. Rational expectations at work?
Hey, Mallard Fillmore, tell us exactly how you feel!
Susanna Cornett's views from New York City are here. She has posted a picture taken early on last September 11 from Jersey City.
The “Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran” issues this call. I will report news of what happens when I find it.
Never ask a question in court unless you know what the answer will be. The 42 year old judge knew that. The 20 year old defendant didn't.
"Our enemies attacked us not for what we have done but for what we are," argues George Will. Much more to read and reflect on in the column.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2002. IN MEMORY, IN SADNESS, IN ANGER. On OxBlog (via Atlantic Blog.)

10.9.02

"Please, God, make it quick", prayed Chief Richard Picciotto as the noise of the collapsing North Tower grew nearer and nearer, and the compression wave reached Force Ten. Chief Picciotto was guest of Northern Illinois University today. His presentation drew firefighters from most of the surrounding towns; several of the local schools sent class trips; and many students, faculty, and staff were present. His advice for the 11th: Say a prayer. Remember those who died. Be grateful you're in the United States.

The first question from the audience: "How is Josephine (the civilian who the firefighters were escorting) doing?" Very well.

The Chief lingered to sign Last Man Down. Our conversation: "What's your name?" Steve. "That's my son's name." My dad had trouble getting me started in the morning [I had read some of the book in line]. Chief Picciotto is concerned for his son. Chief, don't sweat it, he's got good parents, he'll turn out OK.

Tunku Varadarajan picks his best and worst September 11 books. Last Man Down is in neither category. Buy it. Read it, particularly if you're disposed to give the highers-up a hard time when they deserve it. (Is highers-up the proper plural?)
Todd Gitlin, onetime SDS figure and current sociology professor, successfully combines criticism of Gore Vidal with criticism of the Bush administration.
The Superintendent doesn't like to spend money until he's sure that it will be well-spent. Therefore, no images on the weblog yet. In May of 2000, I was in Jersey City on railway business, and this picture struck me as a way to combine the resentment against achievement of a previous generation of thugs with the failure (at the time) to accomplish the same thing. Little did I know how prophetic that image was.
NO TEDDY BEARS at my university, please. You'd think that the first anniversary of the beginning of a war might be a good opportunity for university classes to engage some big ideas, such as "did globalization cause September 11?" or "why was the World Trade Center in Sri Lanka bombed (not by al-Qaeda)?" or "why doesn't attacking office towers stop the economy?" or "might catastrophic failure be anticipated and prevented without lots of deaths?" or "compare and contrast the martyrdom heresy with the Manichean heresy?" No doubt there are other topics that have occurred to others. These "tips for instructors", however, confine themselves to advice about how people react differently to bad news. Fine, and thank you for letting me know, but there's nothing in those tips that the organizer of an encounter group, or the owner of a child-care center, would not be able to use.
I'm tempted simply to urge that everyone go to National Review Online and read everything posted today. Ariel Cohen argues that the Europeans indeed have a dog in this fight: more precisely, their dogs are at risk. Michael Novak offers some classically liberal proposals for improving the lot of people in the poorer parts of the world. Charles Kesler observes that the Culture Wars on these shores and the shooting war against the retro-stasists are the same conflict.
"This question routes back to the central issues the Bushies steadfastly duck: Has deterrence and containment of Saddam failed, and if so, how and when?" So asks Reason Express. The Washington Times spells out the current level of deterrence and containment.

UPDATE:Eugene Volokh makes the case that Saddam is likely to be less committed to institutional survival than, say, Nikita Khrushchev's commissars. Reason's basic question remains open.
It's no surprise that Robert Fisk is being simplistic. Who is behind the US war effort? Israeli lobbyists. That Jinsa knife slices, it dices, and boy, does it ever make policy! Expect prayers, speeches, and a great deal of Fisking tomorrow.
Who is being simplistic now? Playwright Bill Davis asserts, "It was 'cheap' aviation fuel and an emotion that brought down the World Trade Center."
No teddy bears at Unsullied and Undismayed's institution!
Outstanding photo at Brad DeLong's site.

Update:Sometimes the weekend sailor gets his bow ahead of the America's Cup winner! Note the timeInstapundit pointed the blogosphere that way.
Depressing news from Joanne Jacobs about the state of public education not far from here and more encouraging news about Fresno State seeking to be more than a university the football team can be proud of.
If you've followed Joanne Jacobs's link to here (thanks, Joanne!) welcome, and have a look around. Chief Picciotto of the FDNY is visiting DeKalb today, and the morning postings will be light. I will report on his visit later.

9.9.02

Life after college is the revenge of the nerds. Radek Sikorski and Kevin Hassett make the point at somewhat greater length.
No teddy bears, please asks Jesse Panuccio of the Duke University administration. (Via Front Page.)
Will Common Dreams link to this Guardian article? (Common Dreams is frequently a useful way to read Guardian content without having their 40 cookies set. The fisking of editorial comment on the site is left to the reader as an exercise.)
"There is every cause for circumspection and care," writes Christopher Hitchens. Read and understand the entire essay.
Wisconsin's no-call list "annoys marketers," according to this story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Too bad, so sad.
Thank you, Spain! And congratulations to Yugoslavia. I enjoy a good game of basketball, but professional basketball has become the last bastion of Thirteenth Generation crudity.
How and how not to have a memorial observance. Start at the top and scroll down.
Most of the stuff I wanted to link to this morning has already been linked and identified at Atlantic Blog. Go there and follow all the 9 September links.

8.9.02

I borrowed from a National Association of Scholars survey of student attitudes toward business ethics. The respondents are students in a Government and Business course that has an introductory economics prerequisite. I modified a couple of the questions from the poll. First, I offered the statement, "Here are several examples of business practices that are generally regarded as good. Which one of these business practices would probably rank as the most important?"

10% (3 of 30 respondents) chose "recruiting a diverse workforce in which women and minorities are advanced and promoted."

50% chose "providing clear and accurate business statements to stockholders and creditors."
26.7% chose "minimizing environmental pollution by adopting the latest anti-pollution technology and complying with government regulations."
One respondent chose "avoiding layoffs by not exporting jobs or moving plants from one area to another."
Three were not sure.

I also offered the assertion, "The only real difference between executives at Enron and those at most other big companies, is that those at Enron got caught."
Four respondents strongly disagreed, sixteen agreed somewhat, nine disagreed somewhat, and five strongly disagreed. The set of "not sure" responses was empty.
RESULTS OF AN INFORMAL SURVEY I conducted on the first day of class, August 26. I told the students that their answers would not affect their grade.

My first question: What proportion of the work force earns minimum wage?. Of the 83 responses, the mean was 32.6 percent, the (divided by n-1) standard deviation was 17.8, the mode 25, the lowest estimate 0.73, and the highest estimate 80 percent.

The reality: less than 10 percent of the work force earns minimum wage.

Next: Are real living standards in the U.S. better or worse today than they were 100 years ago?. 46 students offered better, 34 offered worse.

Last: In a financial transaction, who benefits, the seller or the buyer?. 35 respondents offered the seller, 8 the buyer, and 41 showed the initiative to answer both. That's an encouraging note on which to begin the term.
In Overtime, the Packers managed a 37-34 win.
Is there a Mark Steyn fan club? He's a Canadian that gets it.
I Want to Attend Your College Because... James Bowman proposes some college admission essay topics for which "coaching in authenticity" is not an option.
In Defense of Suburbia: Quaint's Nice, But Sprawl Makes Me Weak at the Knees by David Lindley in the Washington Post. Mr Lindley discovered that living in the English countryside had its drawbacks, despite the romantic image one gets of English country life from watching public television. Ah, the limitations of one's horizon: there was a reason the Great Western Railway rostered only thirty Kings but over a thousand Ducks.
Professor DeLong identifies what makes economists different from other policy wonks. Read it. Understand it. Bookmark it.
The evolution of networks or an echo chamber? N. Z. Bear offers some observations on why some web loggers get more hits and more links than others.

Update: The post linked above is part of an ongoing conversation. Dawn Olsen has responded here. Scroll down and follow her links to get the subtext.
Read and understand James Lileks's reflection on the death of Christine Hanson, a two-year old whose parents were taking her to Disneyland last September 11. Lileks writes from the experience of a parent of a two-year old, reflecting on what reassurances they must have offered their daughter, up to the end. There were other children in the air that day. ABC's Up Close for September 6 featured the uncles, grandparents, and friends of Zoe and Dana Falkenberg, who, along with their parents Charles Falkenberg and Leslie Whittington, were riding American Airlines Flight 77 that day. The family and friends have set up a website, Zoe's Zinnias, with the suggestion that people plant zinnias as a memorial. James Lileks may not have known Christine Hanson. The economics faculty at Northern Illinois University interviewed Professor Whittington many years ago, and some of us made use of her work. She and her family were on the way to a visiting position in Australia that day.

7.9.02

It's September, and "diversity awareness" programs are likely to be in full swing. Here are some ideas you probably won't see ...
The University of Wisconsin's football team won the game in Madison today, but the Mountaineer mascot got to fire his musket a few times. Perhaps the Northern Illinois University band or cheer team will have something to mock the musket-banning.
The things you learn! "To crawfish" is a locution meaning to back down, perhaps sheepishly! (Via InstaPundit)

5.9.02

Mark Steyn identifies contemporary Minutemen. (Via InstaPundit)
The Cold Spring Shops are open. More later about what that title means. More content provided sporadically.