31.8.04

PUBLISHED, BUT DIDN'T GET INTO MADISON? J.V.C. Comments discovers high-schoolers writing peer-reviewed articles.
I can hardly criticize attempts to prepare 17-year-olds for college-level research and writing, since too many kids learn that sort of thing on the fly--or, as many of us know firsthand, they never really learn it at all.

Still, I find it a little creepy that these kids are getting their papers "published." Since 1987, The Concord Review has reprinted nearly 650 essays by ambitious high-schoolers, and the journal enjoys a convenient symbiotic relationship with The National Writing Board, an official-sounding body that will read a student's essay and send a three-page report to admissions officers at several elite colleges and universities. They'll gladly let Yale know how spiffy they think your kid is--for a $100 fee, of course.
There is dirty work, or at least a positional arms race, at work.
Look, I can't fault the Concord Review/National Writing Board folks for spotting a way to cash in, and I support their stated mission to "celebrate varsity academics." What I can't get behind is their weird romanticization of the grad-school mindset, especially when humanities programs are already bursting with the next generation of grumpy, disillusioned bloggers. I mean, come on, these kids are seventeen. At that age, the accomplishment of having understood Beowulf or the Armenian genocide should be enough. Even if it's not, we should tell them that it is.

Besides, let's be honest about "the only quarterly journal in the world to publish the academic work of secondary students." No one's reading The Concord Review for its contributors' brilliant insights on Jane Eyre or Spanish fascism. They're reading it to study examples of essays that the National Writing Board anoints, because they hope to earn the same accolade and a useful line or two on an application to an elite school. They don't respect the contributor to The Concord Review; they just want what he has.
Not only that, the industrial reserve army in the humanities stands to swell further.
If blogs are still big in around seven years, The Concord Review will help guarantee that the chorus of commiseration sounds depressingly familiar. "Grad school...the job market...the competition...seemed like what I was born to do...why didn't anyone tell me?"
Plus ca change. I still recall the laments from university: "I always got good grades in high school. What are they doing to me?" The lament generalizes, with applicable substitution, to graduate school. Many are called, few are chosen. Deal with it.
WHAT'S FOR SUPPER? That's not just a Midwestern question.
RETROSPECTIVE CARNIVAL. Ralph at Cliopatria discovers a Call for Carnival Entries, this being Early Modern Notes requesting posts dealing with developments 1450-1850. There's also a theory-laced disquisition on the origin of carnivals, should you be curious.
CALLBOY, ROUND UP TWO CREWS: Updates to some of yesterday's posts are running.
BY THEIR FRUITS SHALL YE KNOW THEM. Tyler at Marginal Revolution asks, "Can we judge thinkers by their followers?" His focus is on the followers of Karl Marx; there is an interesting challenge at the end of the post:
Can you tell me, standing on one foot, what exactly is both important and valid in the writings of Martin Heidegger? I'll assume I can use your name unless you tell me otherwise; a blogged answer is best of all.
Some people have already taken him up.

30.8.04

FOURTH TURNING ALERT. What public policies best for the future, and what best for the governing conservative coalition? Dan Drezner points to a David Brooks essay that notes the following policy dimensions.
1. War on Islamic extremism.
2. Entitlement reform.
3. Social mobility
4. Restore integrity of institutions
5. Energy
6. National service.
Professor Drezner's reaction is mixed. He invites readers to read and understand the Brooks essay and offer their comments.

Mr Brooks's conclusion:
By using government in limited but energetic ways, conservatives could establish credibility that would enable them to reduce the size of government where it is useless or worse -- export subsidies, agricultural subsidies and the like. Then they could use that credibility to reduce the increases in entitlement spending -- the giant set of programs that crowd out everything else.

More than that, conservatives have it in their power to refashion the political landscape. American politics is now polarized, evenly divided and stagnant. It has become like World War I. Each party is down in its trench, lobbing the same old arguments, relying on the same old coalitions. Neither party is able to gain a lasting advantage. Neither party is able to accomplish much that it is proud of.

Trench warfare finally ended because somebody invented the tank. It is time for one party or another to invent the tank, some new governing philosophy that will broaden its coalition and transform the partisan divide. For Republicans, the progressive conservative governing philosophy is the tank. It is the approach to politics best suited to the emerging suburban civilization, best suited to life during a war on Islamic extremism. It is the way Republicans can build a governing majority and leave a positive mark on the nation and its destiny.
It also sounds a lot like the same old public policy debate as I have understood it for years: the Democrats offer all sorts of programs, and the Republicans offer to operate them more effectively. I fear that it will take something more jarring than a one-off terror raid with jetliners to get people thinking along those new lines.

RUNNING EXTRA: George Will has it about right:
From the New Deal through the civil rights revolution, liberalism strove to use expanding government to drive the alteration of society. Conservatism's mission was largely restoration -- rolling back big government. Neither persuasion is now plausible.

Kerry insists he is not a "redistribution Democrat." But of course he is. And Bush is a redistribution Republican. There is no "natural" distribution of social wealth. Distribution is influenced by social arrangements, from property laws to tax laws to educational arrangements, all of them political choices. Both parties have redistributionist agendas.

In disavowing "redistribution," Kerry presumably means he rejects the old liberal belief in recarving the economic pie, rather than making the pie grow, to ameliorate the condition of the poor. But he favors using government power to direct the flow of wealth to public school teachers, or to protect the flow to trial lawyers. Up-to-date liberalism defends the strong, not the poor, who are either reliable Democratic voters or nonvoters. Republicans defend their own muscular interests.

The vocabulary of the two-party argument just a generation ago now seems as anachronistic as the 1890s argument about the free coinage of silver. Liberals have next to nothing to say about poverty or, because of their servitude to the public education industry, about the calamitous inadequacy of inner-city schools, which is both a cause and a consequence of the social pathologies of poverty. Conservatives, whose party has delivered on its 2000 promise to increase federal involvement in education and health care, no longer invest even rhetorical energy in the cause of "small" or "limited" government. And now their presidential nominee wants an even bigger government role in policing speech.
This 11-D post on public attitudes toward politics merits attention.
THE MISSING OPTIONS. Live from the Third Rail investigates the thin service offered by many commuter rail operators, and discovers what regular readers of Cold Spring Shops have long known, namely that the freight railroads have hived off a great deal of capacity and are now clogged with freight trains, particularly coal trains and container loads of goods from the Pacific Rim.
If trains could run at the speeds they were designed to operate, they could pose a real challenge to low-fare airlines, especially with business-related day-trips and short-notice excursions. But since it's more profitable to run freight, passenger service gets cut. Unlike trucking companies, railroads can speed up their own traffic by Is this unfair? Not really, since the companies who own the track would be negligent in their responsibility to their shareholders if they didn't try to maximize profits.

Theoretically, if the government nationalized the tracks, they could allocate use based on a variety of factors, including traffic reduction. But that's not going to happen, since Congress would never allow it, and experience in other nations has shown separating track and train owners is a very, very bad idea.
The passenger train operators could renegotiate the contracts with the freight railroads that own the tracks, so as to make it more profitable to run the passenger trains on time. Currently, however, the railroads might hold-up the passenger train operators for payments far in excess of the benefits of the faster service, or tell the operators to go away, or some combination of both. (The latest print edition of Trains notes that Amtrak's Chicago-Los Angeles via El Paso is at risk of both having part of its route further downgraded account light traffic and part of its route jammed with freight trains. The Chicago-Los Angeles via Kansas City and Albuquerque also faces both problems.)

Live from the Third Rail notes the following policy options.

So here's what's left:

  • Build new tracks. This is very expensive and an eminent domain nighmare of the highest order anywhere you have enough riders to build new tracks.

  • Add more tracks on existing lines. They're doing this in some places already, along with upgrading signaling. It costs less money, but doesn't improve service as much.

  • Improve trucking. All over the country, ideas for truck-only highways, bridges and tunnels are being considered as a way to move trucks away from the gridlock. As a secondary result, you'd think rail traffic would decrease, allowing for more room for passenger service. But track owners may still want to minimize Amtrak and commuter line runs out of a desire to increase their own flexibility, which has its own economic benefits.

  • Do nothing. Better stock up on the books on tape, because drive time radio isn't getting any better either.

  • There is one further possibility: bring back the discipline of moving hot trains. The steam-era railroads understood how to do that.

    SECOND SECTION: Eminent domain nightmare? Perhaps. On the other hand, perhaps it is time to consider those new truck-only tollways -- with freight railroads in the median -- as a way to provide additional freight handling capability and to free up road and rail space for passengers. And, pace Transport Blog, it does not have to be the case that without eminent domain -- compulsory purchase in the U.K. -- there would be no railroads. Many of the interurbans and a few of the more speculative railroads acquired their rights of way and easements by voluntary purchase, often sweetened with shares of stock.
    CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS. It's Monday, and time for the Carnival of the Capitalists, this week at New Dog, Old Trick. (Must I phrase the announcement in the Olympian mode: the posts of the CI Carnival of the Capitalists ...?)
    WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? Hundred Percenter posted a number of pictures from Sunday's pre-convention march through Manhattan. The person holding the sign has a bit too much of the Ann Coulter sorority chick look about her ...



    The truth is out. The New Republic discovered, and Outside the Beltway relayed, the news that Communists for Kerry is a bit of guerilla theater turned loose within the guerilla theater. Outside the Beltway also links to Blogs for Bush coverage. Sylvain at Chicago Boyz is amused.

    RUNNING EXTRA: Power Line and Captain's Quarters interview the current Miss America inside the convention. No guerilla theater there.

    28.8.04

    OLYMPICS, OBSOLETE? Perhaps for reasons additional to the organization of players by countries, according to Reason's Nick Gillespie.
    But in an increasingly globalized world, one in which goods and people migrate without a second thought, such variety and such mixing is an everyday occurrence. An ever-growing number of niche cable channels deliver ever-more tailored sports content and the World Wide Web caters to every possible fetish, in sports every bit as much as porn. Compared to 30 years ago, it's a much smaller globe—and a far more interesting world. But in such a setting, the Olympics lose a good deal of what the ad men would call their "unique selling proposition."

    Even more important, the great geopolitical struggles that energized the Olympics have almost completely vanished. First and foremost among these, of course, was the Cold War. Every bit as much as Korea, Vietnam, and Berlin, the Olympics were one of the great proxy battles of the Cold War, pitting the Free World vs. the Iron Curtain, Western Europe vs. Eastern Europe, the U.S.A. vs. the U.S.S.R. Bruce Jenner's 1976 triumph in the decathlon was not simply about shattering a world record; it also represented a slapdown of the 1972 champion, Nikolai Avilov, the Soviet "man machine" who struggled to bronze in Montreal. Nor was the Cold War the only political subtext to enliven the Olympics. Almost as compelling was the rise to athletic dominance of former colonies such as Kenya in track and India and Pakistan in field hockey.

    Every Summer Olympics from 1968 through 1984 occasioned some sort of major protest or boycott.
    (Via Champology 101.)
    TODAY'S RECOMMENDED RAILROAD READING. In the course of researching "electricity keeping its own books" I found a reproduction of a 1923 National Geographic tribute to railroading.




    The article is a great sketch of classic steam-era railroading. It sheds some light on why people still react to someplace busy with "What is this, Grand Central Station?"

    Oh, and no doubt the Blame-America-Firsters of that era would find much about these sentences to complain about the ending to the article.
    The United States has about one-sixteenth of the earth's land and an equal proportion of its population, yet it has nearly a third of the world's railway mileage. Its population is only one-fourth that of Europe, yet it has almost enough miles of line to duplicate the systems of Europe and Asia together.
    Got to find the figures for today. Perhaps later.
    POLITICS MAKES STRANGE SUPPER GUESTS. Hey, I like vegetarian tamales too. Soy ground beef substitute and spicy black beans. Yummy!
    ELECTRICITY KEEPING ITS OWN BOOKS, FORSOOTH! Years ago, the Milwaukee Road's electrified mountain lines




    employed regenerative braking, in which the train going down the mountain helped power the train going up the mountain. As one enthusiast describes it,

    Perhaps the coolest aspect of the electrification system adopted by the Milwaukee was regeneration. When trains went down hill the electric motors were used as generators. This both slowed the train down (with substantial savings in the cost of replacing brake-shoes), and returned power to the system to help ascending trains, reducing the overall power needs by about twelve percent. Heavy capital costs, but significant operational savings (despite padding of costs); the net benefit was later found to amount to a return on investment of nine percent annually.
    The Milwaukee's publicists were somewhat more colorful (40 Trains 46, July 1970, print edition.)
    The restored current automatically sets back the power company's meters and credits the Railway with the amount. Electricity keeping its own books, forsooth!
    Ah, but at what rate does the Power Company credit the consumer? Michael at Knowledge Problem has discovered an Iowa regulatory case in which "setting back the meter" isn't good enough for the Power Company, who would like to buy at wholesale and sell at retail.
    Under net metering, a retail energy consumer with a small generator is only billed by the electric utility for the net power consumption over the billing period. In the Iowa case, the cooperative wanted to charge the retail consumer the retail price for power the consumer took from the system, and pay the retail consumer a lower “avoided cost” rate for any power the consumer put back into the system. The plaintiffs wanted to to be paid at the higher retail rate for power put back into the system.

    The Iowa Supreme Court decided for the plaintiffs on the grounds that the underlying law, PURPA, was intended to encourage renewable resource development, and paying the (higher) retail rate would encourage renewable resources more than paying the (lower) avoided cost rate. In a dissenting opinion, a judge argued that PURPA required payment of a rate not higher than the incremental cost to the utility (i.e., the avoided cost), and the retail rate “is manifestly not the cost to the utility.”

    After citing the dissenting opinion, IREC commented, “This argument is well reasoned, but not the majority opinion.”
    Sounds like a somewhat more sophisticated meter than the St. Paul used. If the wind turbine owned by the plaintiff in the case simply runs the meter backwards, there is insufficient information to dispute the rate. There is a serious legal problem here, but the analogy Mr Giberson offers is strained.
    Economically, the arguments in favor of net metering are all mush. If I picked apples from a tree in my backyard and took them into the supermarket, should the supermarket have to pay me the retail price for my apples? The cooperative’s proposal to charge retail for amounts consumed and pay avoided costs for amounts produced by the generator-equipped customer seems a little more reasonable, at least as a matter of logic.
    I think his main point is that the Power Company is functioning as a sales agent for the windmill owner, who would otherwise be in the position of the orchard owner who would have to market his own apples in excess of his own consumption. But is it not the case that the opportunity cost of the apple I ate myself -- or the windmill-generated electricity I used to power my trains -- is the retail price? I have avoided paying that price by doing it myself.
    WHAT, NO CATS? King at SCSU Scholars is contemplating posting a Friday macro-economy review. The first is informative. Hie thee there and encourage him to post more.
    OVERINDULGED SECOND-STRING STREET THUGS UNDERACHIEVE. Why am I not disappointed? Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sports commentator Michael Hunt diagnoses the problem.

    So the question going forward is how the United States, now in a shocking underdog role, can play catch-up to the world in the game it invented. Having a year-round coach would help. [Pro basketball commissioner David] Stern suggested importing a few expatriates from the European leagues who understand the game and could teach it to the Americans.

    That makes sense, but it all starts at the top. It was Stern who made the decision to market his league on the basis of the individual star. It has made everybody rich, including Stern, but it has done nothing to enhance the basics that the rest of the world can now do better than the Americans.

    Playing as a team would be a start. So would relearning how to shoot. USA basketball. It's not fundamental.

    Hear, hear. Hear this, too: it is not the case that the street game has made everybody rich. There has to be research on the effect the large rewards to a few players has had on the human-capital investments of young men, particularly young men of little intellectual ambition from poor neighborhoods. The corrosive effect of big-time sports on the integrity of the universities is well-documented.

    SECOND SECTION: The U.S. women's team rallied to defeat the Australian team in the gold medal game. The women's game is still a team game. And really, would you rather look at Allen Iverson or at Lisa Leslie?

    27.8.04

    THAT SUBSIDY TO THE UPPER-MIDDLE CLASSES. "Keep UW affordable," urge the editors at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
    The costs of a University of Wisconsin education have been increasingly shifting from taxpayers to students and their families - setting in motion two alarming and related trends:

    (*)Fewer students from middle- to lower-income brackets are enrolling than they used to.

    (*)A smaller share of the state's high school grads of color are winding up as UW freshmen.

    Policy-makers must reverse these trends - and pronto - by stepping up financial aid and by keeping in check future tuition increases.

    These trends betray ideals that lie at the heart of America and of Wisconsin. College opens up opportunities to young people, opportunities that in America are supposed to depend solely on talents, not on race or wealth. Wisconsin observed that principle with a long-standing policy of keeping UW affordable - a policy that steep tuition hikes are threatening.
    There is more to this story. On the one hand, the Journal-Sentinel have not discussed the vanishing art of working your way through college. Have the summer-replacement factory jobs gone missing to such an extent that students are no longer able to earn their tuition with such a summer job, and a part-time job during college? At one time, within my lifetime, that was possible. On the other hand, the writers have missed the expense-preference behavior of the court intellectuals in Madison. (Hat tip: Owen at Boots and Sabers).
    SCHEISTENFREUDE? Bill at Atlantic Blog and Owen at Boots and Sabers have suitably caustic comments about the ownership of the bus that did an unauthorized tank-pumpout onto a sightseeing boat in the Chicago River.

    Witnesses told authorities the deluge of waste came from a long black tour bus crossing the grated bridge. At least one witness gave police an Oregon license plate number.

    Surveillance cameras at neighborhood businesses helped Madigan's investigators and Chicago police detectives trace the bus to Whol, a Texas man who is identified in the complaint as one of five drivers for the Dave Matthews Band, authorities said.

    Whol was driving to pick up a band member at a Michigan Avenue hotel when the bus crossed the bridge, according to the three-count civil complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court. Later that evening, the band played the second of two shows at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wis.

    A band publicist issued a statement Tuesday night saying, "Our driver has stated that he was not involved in this incident. We reserve any judgment until we see the evidence."

    Luxury coaches like the ones leased by the band are equipped with 80- to 100-gallon waste tanks that are emptied underneath the vehicle by pushing a toggle switch behind the driver's seat, according to the attorney general's complaint.

    In addition to seeking fines for violations of state laws, Madigan said she is asking the court to order an evaluation of the band's waste disposal practices. State officials said most charter buses dump waste at licensed disposal facilities."

    This incident may be unique, but that does not lessen the environmental or public health risks posed by the release of at least 800 pounds of liquid human waste into a busy waterway and onto a crowded tour boat," Madigan said in a statement. "This situation clearly demonstrates the environmental and public health problems that can occur when laws are ignored. This act was not only offensive, it was illegal."
    Two wicked thoughts come to mind. First, is the Department of Transportation going to mandate new labels for the pumpout switches? (Drivers will please refrain from ...)

    Second, as the Dave Matthews Band is shilling for Senator Kerry, can it be said that the Kerry campaign has used biological weapons on its own constituents?
    THE FATAL CONCEIT. Krauthammer:
    Upon losing a game at the 1925 Baden-Baden tournament, Aaron Nimzowitsch, the great chess theoretician and a superb player, knocked the pieces off the board, jumped on the table and screamed, "How can I lose to this idiot?"

    Nimzowitsch may have lived decades ago in Denmark, but he had the soul of a modern American Democrat. After all, Democrats have been saying much the same -- with similar body language -- ever since the erudite Adlai Stevenson lost to the syntactically challenged Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. They said it again when they lost to that supposed simpleton Ronald Reagan. Twice, would you believe? With George W. Bush, they are at it again, and equally apoplectic.

    Actually, this time around, even more apoplectic. The Democrats' current disdain for George Bush reminds me of another chess master, Efim Bogoljubov, who once said, "When I am White, I win because I am White" -- White moves first and therefore has a distinct advantage -- "when I am Black, I win because I am Bogoljubov." John Kerry is a man of similar vanity -- intellectual and moral -- and that spirit thoroughly permeates the Democratic Party.

    Democrats feel a mixture of horror and contempt for the huddled masses -- so bovine, so benighted, so besotted with talk radio -- who made a king of an empty-headed movie star (Reagan, long before Arnold) and inexplicably want the Republicans' current nitwit leader to have a second term.
    Does it come as any surprise that many in the academy fancy themselves court intellectuals for the Donks? Got news for you: Commander in Chief is a different sort of office than, say, president of the National Honor Sociey chapter, or secretary-general of the University Council.

    RUNNING EXTRA: None of the above deters Howell Raines. D.J. at Poli Pundit applies the corrective. (Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)
    REMEMBER LAST NIGHT'S SERMONS? Years ago, best-selling memoirs were the work of older people, such as Civil War commanders, reflecting on a lifetime's accomplishment. Today, spoiled twentysomethings write memoirs. If the one in question becomes a best-seller, do not blame me.
    THERE IS A CARNIVAL OF THE CARNIVALS. Regular readers of Cold Spring Shops will know that King of Fools has been posting the Carnival of the Carnivals regularly; the most recent is here. Regular readers of Instapundit may be excused for thinking there is no such thing yet. You've got to explore the web a bit more, Glenn!

    26.8.04

    THE REAL BULL-HEADED SUVOROV.



    Yes, that's a bit strong, and yes, there is a conversation at Brad DeLong's place about which Civil War commander was the most wasteful of life.

    Might I recommend A Victor, Not a Butcher (details or compare prices) that argues General Grant was more careful with lives than any other eastern theater commander including General Lee. The summary: (p. xv.)
    In fact, an average of "only" 15 percent of Grant's Federal troops were killed or wounded in his battles over the course of the war -- a total of slightly more than 94,000 men. In contrast, Grant's major Confederate counterpart, Robert E. Lee, who is often treated far more kindly by historians, had greater casualties both in percentages and in real numbers: an average of 20 percent of his troops were killed or wounded in his battles -- a total of more than 121,000 (far more than any other Civil War general). Lee had 80,000 of his men killed or wounded in his first fourteen months in command (about the same number he started with). ...

    Both Grant and Lee were aggressive generals, but only Grant's aggressiveness was consistent with the strategic aims of his government. ... Lee needed a tie but went for the win, while Grant needed a win, went for it, and achieved it.
    How effective was Grant after the debacle at Cold Harbor? (Author Edward Bonekemper argues was not the pointless slaughter many have portrayed it to be). (p. 265.)
    As Jean Edward Smith concluded, Grant's detaching a 115,000 man army from his foe and secretly crossing the James River "was a perilous maneuver and an incredible tactical accomplishment, and it in no way diminishes Patton's accomplishment [in changing fronts during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944] to say that it pales alongside Grant's withdrawal from Cold Harbor and his crossing of the James in June 1864."
    That maneuver, incidentally, made possible the penning-up of Lee's army in Petersburg, seven weeks after Grant began his campaign. Grant's total casualties (killed, wounded, captured, and missing) from Wilderness to Appomattox totaled 116,954. Preceding eastern theater commanders suffered 143,925 total casualties (p. 249) to no effect.

    Mr Bonekemper cites other sources that provide some insights into the character of the man. Contemporary leaders might study these (p. 256). First, on his alcoholism. Citing James McPherson,
    [Grant's] predisposition to alcoholism may have made him a better general. His struggle for self-discipline enabled him to understand and discipline others; the humiliation of prewar failures gave him a quiet humility that was conspicuously absent from so many generals with a reputation to protect; because Grant had nowhere to go but up, he could act with more boldness and decision than commanders who dared not risk failure.
    Second, on his style. Citing Adam Badeau,
    Not a sign about him suggested rank or reputation or power. He discussed the most ordinary themes with apparent interest, and turned from them in the same quiet tones, and without a shade of difference in his manner, to decisions that involved the fate of armies, as if great things and small were to him of equal moment.
    AND YET MORE CONGESTION PRICING. Peak load pricing gains support:
    The Virginia Department of Transportation said yesterday that it would build high-occupancy toll lanes on a 14-mile stretch of the Capital Beltway, working with a private partner to create the first of an extensive network of the new-style highways for the Washington region.

    The plan would add two lanes on each side of the Beltway, separated from other traffic, between Springfield and the Georgetown Pike. The high-occupancy toll lanes -- or HOT lanes -- would be free for car pools of three or more people, but others would pay for the privilege of using them. To keep the lanes from clogging, tolls would increase with the amount of traffic.
    "We want to build HOT lanes," said Virginia Transportation Commissioner Philip A. Shucet. "I think it could be one of the few options that we have to meaningfully improve mobility."

    Virginia and Maryland leaders plan a network of congestion-priced highways that they say will unclog roadways in a region with the third-worst traffic in the nation. Virginia officials are considering additional HOT lanes on parts of Interstates 95 and 395, and Maryland officials are exploring plans to build them on the Beltway, I-270, the Baltimore Beltway and I-95 north of Baltimore.
    Not everybody will pay to cut the line each day.
    Officials have embraced the concept as a way to give motorists relief from chronic tie-ups. They do not expect drivers to take HOT lanes every day, but they believe that everyone would use them sometimes. Occasional users might include parents who are late to pick up children from day care, business people who are rushing to meet clients, and fed-up commuters who simply want to get out of traffic.

    "I'm all for it. I would gladly pay a premium," said Harry Dennis of Arlington, a lawyer who drives the Beltway almost every day. Dennis said he would have taken the Beltway yesterday to get from Reston to Springfield if it had HOT lanes, but because traffic is so unpredictable, he took back roads.

    "It's such a crapshoot the way it is right now," Dennis said.

    Backers also say the lanes would allow for bus service that Beltway traffic jams now make impractical. In addition, drivers on regular lanes would benefit when cars move over to the HOT lanes, supporters say.
    Not everybody likes the idea.
    HOT lane opponents say the tolls amount to double taxation because public funds are used to build roads. "We pay the taxes for them; we shouldn't have to pay for them again with tolls," said Jim Wamsley, transportation chairman of the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter. Wamsley said he objected to the Beltway HOT lanes having tolls at all hours, rather than just during peak times.
    This statement sounds a bit surprising. But when I visited the Sierra Club's energy issues pages, I was not able to find any discussion of carbon taxation, so Mr Wamsley's ignorance is not compounded by inconsistency. And it's rather churlish of him to not thank me for kicking in some of the money for his congested roads, which I do every time I fill my gas tank or replace -- thankfully, not that frequently -- a set of tires, assuming Congress isn't playing around again with the highway trust fund.
    LIGHTHOUSE, OR RADIO SIGNAL? Lynne at Knowledge Problem and Eric at Marginal Revolution are doing some heavy intellectual lifting on whether a satellite-driven, open-signal Global Positioning System qualifies as a pure public good. Neither post considers the possibility that such satellites, whether sending signals in the clear, or sending signals that require a special decoder -- and thus the possibility of excluding free riders by selling renewable code keys -- have elements of natural monopoly (or is it a transaction cost problem in which one satellite club can steal members from two or more smaller clubs??) that might vitiate contestability.

    There is a precursor to the Global Positioning System that is kind of interesting. The Illustrated Longitude (the original book is a great read, there are marvelous maps, drawings, and photos in the illustrated version -- details or compare prices) tells of a plan to anchor ships at well-defined locations in the ocean that would fire guns to give the hour in London. Give or take the speed of sound, ships within earshot of the guideships would be able to reckon their longitude by comparing their observation of local noon with the hour gun signal they heard. (But if one could anchor guideships in the ocean, one could put identifying marks on them exactly as lighthouses and bell buoys, and reckoning longitude would cease to be a problem as ships could proceed from guideship to guideship.) Satellites can be anchored -- it's called geosynchronous orbit -- and run on batteries without getting lonely, thus addressing several practical problems that scuppered the guideship idea.
    DISTINGUISHED VISITORS. Vice President Cheney plans to attend Speaker Hastert's fund-raising dinner, which will be in the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center. No doubt the Washington beat and the policy wonks (go to page 20) will find occasion to carp about Northern Illinois University again benefitting from its Washington connection. Would that I knew where the $16.5 million went.
    OBVIOUSLY NOT. USA Today's William Keck rides with paparazzo Mel Bouzad, in quest of an exclusive shot. Today's quarry: Britney Spears's soon-to-be-stepchild.
    Bouzad reaches Spears' house just in time to see the heavily tattooed [fiancĂ© Kevin] Federline cruising home from the grocery store. “That guy's a chump,” says Bouzad. “And you can print that.”

    Bouzad routinely injects his personal feelings for the celebs he hunts, maintaining contempt for most. He insists that if he invested enough time and manpower, he could find dirt on them all and systematically destroy their lives.
    Nonsense. He's well paid for the scandals he uncovers.
    Whether you love the paparazzi or share George Clooney's disdain for the ground they stalk on, there's no denying these guys live an exciting life. And with demand for celebrity photos at an all-time high and with the weekly bidding war among Star, Us Weekly, People and In Touch magazines, there's a lot of money to be made.
    Those celebrity photos are not airbrushed publicity shots, I can assure you. More dirt? Just more loutishness for people with no internal compass of their own to emulate. It is encouraging, however, that the hunter of celebrities has less respect for his game than the hunter of deer.

    25.8.04

    EVERYTHING I LIKE GOES AWAY. In February, I praised ATA for making effective use of its gates at Chicago Midway Airport. So naturally, ATA may or may not be leaving Chicago, and other carriers may or may not be coveting its gates at Midway. Sounds like a parody of the Baptist call to worship. Jet Blue enters into ATA's gates with Thanksgiving, and into bankruptcy courts with Praise. (Time to power down for the night, nicht wahr?)
    A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. Illinois Governor Blagojevich would like to encourage greater use of the I-Pass electronic transponders in cars and to discourage trucks from cluttering the toll roads. It's probably not yet time for freight corridors -- truck only toll roads with railroad tracks in the median strip but, as this Chicago Tribune story (yes, you must register. You too.) reveals, it might be time for discounts to encourage the use of the transponder and peak load pricing for the trucks.
    FOURTH TURNING ALERT. Students return to campus, where the times, they are a-changing. Outside the Beltway points to a Time column discovering -- gasp -- libertarian-conservative thinking among the students. The column rounds up the usual Old Right suspects as catalysts of the mood shifts. There is something happening here, which to Time isn't exactly clear.
    Many of them think the President has betrayed them by signing bills fattening Medicare and the Department of Education. Though the students embrace small businesses built on enterprise, they criticize big ones for knowing no borders and observing no national loyalties. And while he is fringe even among those students, 40-year-old hip-hop entrepreneur Reginald Jones — who says the Iraq invasion was unconstitutional because Congress never declared war and who decries post-9/11 security measures as infringements on our freedoms — has become one of the most popular figures among the young right. His raucous seminar on the evils of abortion, taxation, the Democrats and "milquetoast" Republicans — as well as the pleasures of NASCAR — didn't end until 2:30 one morning.
    That first sentence is particularly promising, as it suggests future student radicals will discover the root cause of high textbook prices. Young people are speaking their minds in a different way.
    But while professors may lean left, many students are tilting right — especially toward that brand of conservatism known as libertarianism. According to a well-regarded annual survey sponsored for the past 38 years by the American Council on Education, only 17% of last year's college freshmen thought it was important to be involved in an environmental program, half the percentage of 1992. A majority of 2003 freshmen--53%--wanted affirmative action abolished, compared with only 43% of all adults. Two-thirds of frosh favored abortion rights in 1992; only 55% did so in last year's survey. Support for gun control has slipped in recent years among the young, and last year 53% of students believed that "wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now," compared with 72% 11 years earlier.
    Many students want to win one for the Gipper.
    At the National Conservative Student Conference earlier this month, the students cheered nearly every time Reagan was mentioned — which is saying something, given that the name of the recently deceased President was invoked constantly. The conference's souvenir T shirt featured Reagan's image and the words THE REAGAN REVOLUTION LIVES! On the first morning, when the students were invited to the podium to introduce themselves, several said the 40th President had inspired their conservatism.

    No one mentioned Bush. Which brings us back to this year's race. Although students are moving right on many issues, the President isn't necessarily benefiting. In 2000 Al Gore beat Bush among 18-to 29-year-olds by only 2 percentage points, but recent polls show Kerry with a double-digit lead among the young. (The race is a virtual tie overall.) Of course, very few conservative students will vote for Kerry, but most of the kids who attended the conference didn't seem eager to become field troops for the President either. As National Review editor Rich Lowry noted on the conservative magazine's website the day after he spoke at the conference, "What was most notable about this year was just how many smart young conservatives out there seem to think that there are no important differences between Bush and Kerry."
    Some see the value of gridlock.
    One student laid out a conservative case for Kerry: "When a Democrat is in office and proposes the same policies that Bush has proposed, Republicans act Republican and kill them," said Aakash Raut, 23, a senior at the University of Illinois at Springfield, in a heated debate with pro-Bush students. "And you have actually more conservative government than you do if a Republican is in the White House."
    Outside the Beltway is a bit perplexed by the Reagan nostalgia.
    What's odd about the piece is that it attributes this trend to Ronald Reagan, noting that these kids all grew up in the post-Reagan era and that they seem more enamored of Reagan than Bush. While Reagan was certainly a major proponent of liberty, he was hardly libertarian by most standards. And one suspects the relative affection for Reagan over Bush 43 has more to do with nostalgic reflection and the former's oratorical skills rather than substantive policy issues.
    No, it might have something to do with substance. Compare and contrast. President Reagan's inaugural address asserted, "government is the problem." President Bush greeted Congress with, "Year after year in Washington, budget debates seem to come down to an old, tired argument: on one side, those who want more government, regardless of the cost; on the other, those who want less government, regardless of the need." As that essayist put it, "George W. Bush is no Ronald Reagan."

    The Time essay touches on the possibility that student libertarianism and conservatism is simply the newest form of youthful rebellion, a point King at SCSU Scholars raises in commenting on a Christian Science Monitor article discovering libertarians and conservatives, before he makes an observation that is likely closer to reality: "I don't think people are sick of "do what you want" when it means freedom. Perhaps they've learned that liberty and libertine are two different things, and maybe they've learned that what their parents had in the 1960s wasn't freedom." A companion Monitor article lends some credence to that observation.
    On many campuses, protesters dwell on the margins rather than in the mainstream of campus life. Some of their fellow students may admire their convictions - but others confess that they find activism more annoying than persuasive.

    At Harvard University - where protests range from noisy antiwar rallies to smaller but equally zealous antiabortion demonstrations - many students say such actions are missing the mark.

    "A lot of [the activists], liberals and conservatives alike, are fanatics or hopelessly idealistic," says Michael Soto, a Harvard senior studying Latin American development. "I'm not sure how much they actually accomplish, since it's just a small group. They are mainly annoying to the rest of the campus, and ineffectual."
    What's that bit about an activist being someone whose mouth is more active than his mind? Best of the Web has a somewhat more transgressive hypothesis: the make-love-not-war parents of the early Eighties aborted many of the leftist students who would otherwise be here today.

    There's something happening within the establishment, too. The academician is not reflexively a leftist, although he might not be that effective as a public intellectual.
    For better or worse, election years lure many members of my profession out of the ivory tower and into the real world. As political events heat up, historians are summoned to illuminate the political landscape for a wide audience that suddenly craves the insights our expertise supposedly qualifies us to deliver. Generally the appeals flatter, and generally we descend and comply.

    Traditionally, the most conspicuous obstacle to our effectiveness as public intellectuals has been the idea that we're all radical lefties marching in lockstep with the Democratic platform. But this stereotype is woefully inaccurate. In reality, academics -- especially middle-aged and older ones -- are just as likely to be libertarians or conservatives as they are woolly minded liberals. In point of fact, our most skewed collective bias is something more disturbing: We're pathologically close-minded.
    (Via Betsy's Page.) Not only that, the old order is rapidly fading.
    First, it seems we are experiencing one of those moments when history shifts its gears, and the accredited elites cannot seem to grasp what is happening, and cling desperately to the pieces of their fraying reputation. It’s a shift that the army of talented bloggers out there, part of one of the most genuinely populist movements ever to arise in modern American politics, has been announcing for a long time---perhaps a little prematurely and self-interestedly, but what they have been predicting is now clearly upon us. The baby-boomer generation’s journalistic and academic elites sought, and gained, control over the nation’s chief organs of knowledge production, accreditation, and communication, with all the enormous power and influence that has entailed. But now the Gramscian monopoly is crumbling, and they cannot see how they are themselves largely to blame for their own discrediting. The moves by Kerry’s campaign to stifle discourse---threaten booksellers, bully publishers, file lawsuits, seek regulatory restraints---are all too indicative of a reflex to control speech, and thereby deprive a democratic society of the oxygen it needs to thrive. Those of us who live and work in universities have been all too familiar with this reflex, which has been more triumphant than not in the academy, to the enduring detriment of academic discourse. But it is much harder to control and stifle journalistic and non-traditional media of expression. The credential-flashing of Mr. Oliphant (who somehow neglected to mention that his daughter is employed by the Kerry campaign, an uncomfortable fact brought out by the bloggers) looks more and more like the flash of an empty suit.
    (Via Newmark's Door.) The shift, moreover, is generational.
    This collective view emerged as a rather well-intentioned product of an age of wild hope, ill-informed academic speculation, and youthful optimism about the world. Nurtured in the great European and American universities, it was statist, existentialist, anti-religious, suspicious of any science that did not support its views, snobbish, pacifist, anti-technological, hedonistic in practice, puritan in theory, postmodernist in its tastes, committed to a social rather than an individual morality, hostile to the virtue tradition, sentimentally Romanticist in its attitude to Nature (which, in an unconsciously Creationist turn, did not include human beings), relativist about cultural differences, legalistic, optimistic about human nature, and deeply hostile to the marketplace. In one sense it was a nostalgia for the aristocratic European world of our collective rose-tinted memory, when the virtues of artists and intellectuals and university-educated people were recognized automatically, and merchants and financiers were "rightly" despised. In another sense it was a yearning for the dear lost days of revolutionary fervor, moral certainty, "free" sex and callow cynicism about tradition and respectability. It was escapist in its worship of Otherness -- cultural, social, political, economic, ideological, sexual, biological -- and conformist in its anxious attention to the next move of its "coolest" current leadership.

    Harmless enough as a cultural phenomenon, one might think, though perhaps unhealthily centered upon the desires and dreams of a single very large generation of people born in the years following the Second World War. The problem arises when such a fashion effectively takes over the university system, as it did in the seventies and eighties, and then rises into positions of leadership in the great institutions of journalism. The journalistic Boomers themselves, who had often been trained by scholars who believed that there might be truth about a state of affairs that could be closely approached if not fully attained, usually knew when they were bending the truth and spinning for political advantage. Their leftist principles taught them that objectivity was desirable in the abstract and might again become feasible and desirable once the inequities of society were resolved. In any case, they felt, one should not lightly fritter away the legacy of credibility built up since the Enlightenment by the great authoritative institutions of civilization -- science, historiography, the serious newspapers, the great museums, the courts, and so on. But their younger followers and employees, postmodernist in belief-system, educated by ideologically relativist and politically correct junior professors, and increasingly deprived of the basics in logic, ethics, and inductive reasoning by their specialist education, were no longer capable of making any distinction between what was true and what was conducive to their social ideals.
    Not only that, the idea of a "long march" to capture the institutions might have been an error. Once one has the institutions, one has to fortify them. Fixed fortifications are more easily bypassed and left to wither than stormed directly. That the people who took possession of the forts became dizzy with success afterward cannot have helped them.
    THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU. It's the beginning of the academic conference season (Economics has its right after the New Year begins, making for a hectic spring job season) which means people who cannot find a consensus without arguing for 30 minutes about the placement of a comma attempt to speak with one voice on Pressing National Matters. Atlantic Blog uncovers two examples of silliness. First, a Guardian writer discovers the American Sociological Association speaking with one querulous voice against something resembling the Washington Consensus. Bill's reaction:
    One of the more pathetic characteristics of academics is an inflated sense of self-importance. Academics are people who have, for the most part, done well in school, and are used to the praise that goes with it. It can be very hard on them to discover, when they go out into the big world, that the rest of the world does not always value highly what they do.
    There's more. Go read it. Second, the American Political Science Association has rounded up the usual suspects to make the usual arguments.
    What is depressing is remarkably narrow range of ideas present. If this were the annual banquet for The Nation, it would be hardly out of place. But for the APSA featured speaker line-up, it is seems as if the organizers are indulging in aggressive ideological narrowness.
    Dan Drezner, who will also be presenting at the conference, notes,
    APSA has about 6,000 attendees, and a crowd of 300 for these kind of talks would be impressive. These speakers influence no one, but are rather preaching to a small and committed choir.

    The reasons for the poor attendance are several. First, these kind of talks are usually held during the vital hours of eating and drinking, where the real business of APSA is conducted: power-schmoozing. Well, that and reconnecting with old grad school friends. Second, after a long day of presenting, discussing, and listening to political science, the last thing most people want to do is go to a lecture about politics.
    We still have the American Anthropological Association and the Modern Language Association to look forward to.

    SECOND SECTION: Chris at Signifying Nothing, who will also be attending the conference, also comments.
    THINKING ABOUT THE OLYMPICS. A juried performance is not the same thing as a competition. Dan Drezner has provoked lots of comments by observing,
    This doesn't mean that judged competitions aren't exciting. Gymnastics, diving, ice skating can be entertaining, and they demand physical excellence -- but they're not sports.
    On the other hand, the fact that an event is a competition does not make it a sport at 11D :
    Is beach volleyball a real sport or is it the equivalent of the swim suit issue of Sports Illustrated. Is beach volleyball really just a way to ogle tall women in bikinis.
    I put that question to a now-graduated college volleyball player who offered the following.

    We all know that (women's) beach volleyball is going to be stereotyped for men's "ogling" and give them an excuse to say they're watching sports when they really just want to check out the chicks in bikinis!

    But if you've ever tried to walk or run on sand on the beach (and not the hard, wet packed sand by the water), you know how hard it is to walk, let alone trying to jump and move to the ball. I'm always amazed at how much ground they can cover with just two people, especially playing at the level.

    Most women's rights Nazis ... probably hate beach vball because of the focus on women and not the sport, but the reality is that men come out to watch women play in bikinis and hopefully along the way they will realize what great athletes they are, plus it helps attendance. Look at women's indoor college vball and how many males come to watch -remember the swimmers at NIU? There's also a reason the girls wear skintight uniforms and it's not because they are comfortable! It works both ways! I think both men and women benefit in some way...

    Gains from trade, don't you see? The women of the fevered brow do not.

    The Superintendent prefers competitions that make no distinctions as to weight or to sex. One-design planing-dinghy racing works that way. There is no reason, for example, to have separate mens' and womens' divisions for 420s or Solings.

    The Olympics, though? Would it be possible to have the competitions without linking competitors to countries in national teams? Does a medal count really mean anything, when the most populous countries tend to harvest more medals (perhaps by fielding more teams?) Olympic performance as a proxy for national greatness was silly when U-boats commanded by 1936 graduates of the German Naval Academy bore the five rings on their conning towers; it was silly during the Cold War, and it is silly now.
    SYMBOLISM TRUMPS SUBSTANCE. Although the University of Illinois's "Chief Illiniwek" is about as authentic as a "Captain Miles Standish" wearing a [Prussian] field-gray uniform complete with spiky helmet and dancing a [Bavarian, for you flatlanders] Schuhplattler, the evaluators from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools finds its continued use damaging to the university's reputation, the absence of any complaints about the university's academic programs notwithstanding. When in doubt, set up a task force.
    Interim Chancellor Richard Herman said he will ask faculty members to conduct a formal study of Illiniwek's effect on the campus' educational mission during the coming academic year.
    Will there be a formal study of legislative micromanagement that starves Urbana -- not to mention DeKalb and Macomb -- of money while forbidding tuition increases during the coming academic year?

    24.8.04

    WHOOSH. Tornadoes on radar to the east and north of me. No news of damage yet.

    RUNNING EXTRA: Some commentary on the storm, from the Northern Illinois weatherman.
    Very busy day today as you can imagine. The stationary front to our south yesterday morning came back as a warm front and was right around U.S. route 30 at 6 PM...and when a thunderstorm started developing in Marshall county and moved northeast across the frontal boundary, it encountered much better wind shear, which caused the storm to rotate almost immediately, and tornado soon thereafter. I knew there was enough energy for thunderstorms, but no one thought there would be enough heating/instability for that. This was eerily reminiscent of the Utica/Joliet tornadoes this spring...same thing...warm front approaches, and there's just enough instability for the storms to become severe mainly if they interact with the front. As you can tell, we need to learn more about that. Could be an interesting grad student thesis. I think I'll pass that along to someone who might want a topic of study... In any case, first, mega kudos to the National Weather Service office in Romeoville for very timely warnings...they were on top of it once the storm started to rotate. The supercell produced 4 tornadoes, as far as I know ... one just south of DeKalb (caught on tape and shown on WREX-TV), two near Burlington, and another one also captured on home video in McHenry (as seen on WBBM-TV in Chicago).
    (That last one has been running on the Weather Channel.) And it's not over yet.
    Monday-end of next week...as the models have shown the last several days, Monday-Wednesday we start comfortable and slowly warm into the 80s. But by Thursday through next weekend, we could enter another stormy pattern, with highs in the 80s and periods of showers and thunderstorms as fronts try to move through the area. So, look for above average temperatures through Friday, near average through Tuesday, then above average, with lower confidence, for the latter half of next week. Rainfall will be above to much above average, with localized flooding still possible through Saturday of this week, and then more storms late next week. Watch our website and emails for further updates as our wild spring/summer weather continues. Yesterday marks the 4th time the sirens have been hit in DeKalb this year, and the 5th tornado warning for our county so far this season. Stay tuned and we'll have the latest as storms develop around the area.

    AND YET ANOTHER CARNIVAL. Herewith the First Carnival of the Recipes. Eat 'em up, yum!
    TONIGHT'S ECONOMICS READING.

    First, a Marshallian moment: can you say "price scissors?" The Noble Pundit takes the occasion of the hurricane that disrupted his neighborhood to explain that "panic buying" is the demand-side counterpart to "price gouging" on the supply side.

    Next, a Schumpeterian moment: can you say "creative destruction?" I was under the impression that seminarians learned logic; evidently Reverend Greeley did not.

    First, the lament:
    Greed is responsible for the endless stress and ruthless competition of the workplace and the strains and tensions of professional class marriages. Greed (in this instance another name for relentless ambition) explains much of the cheating on college campuses. Greed is responsible for outsourcing, which is incapable of comprehending that the employees who lose their jobs are also the consumers who sustain the economy. Greed generates the reckless ventures that in part caused the bubble of the late '90s. Greed causes expensive wars that shatter the budget. Greed is the reason that only the wealthy are benefitting so far from the economic upturn that is allegedly happening. Greed drives loan sharks. Greed is responsible for the success of big box stores that tax the poor with low wages to provide bargains for affluent suburban shoppers. Greed is the reason poor white Appalachians, poor African Americans and poor Native Americans must fight the wars that the wealthy start. Jessica Lynch joined the Army so she could go to college. Her Native American roommate, killed in action, joined so, single mother that she was, she could support her children. Greed is the reason why the country is being run by those whom the president has described, however inelegantly, as the "haves and the have mores."
    Next, nostalgia for the past:
    Greed may have been a more serious problem for Americans, say, in the era of the robber barons. But the Garys and the Morgans and the Carnegies were a small bunch of men. Now their greed has seeped down to a much larger segment of the
    population.
    Finally, the breakdown of logic:
    Ambition is not evil within limits. The struggle for success is not bad within limits. Hard work and fair rewards are good within limits. It is not good to take from the poor and give to the rich, and that's exactly what this country is doing today.
    I have trouble interpreting these paragraphs as meaning anything other than a complaint about how more-widespread prosperity is a greater social problem than the less-widespread prosperity of the era of robber barons, many of whom prospered (and were cursed) for making better products and selling them at lower prices. (And the last time I checked, the big-box retailers were not catering to the Hamptons set. I bet opposition to big-box retailers correlates positively with household income.)

    Finally, a Samuelsonian moment. Alex at Marginal Revolution has some cool math stuff up.
    FOURTH TURNING ALERT. David Broder (via Betsy's Page) is anguished about the youngsters squabbling.
    The only thing that will save the country -- and end this breach in its leadership -- is that the boomers are now in their sixties. Another generation will eventually come to power, and the country will finally be spared from constantly refighting these same battles.
    True enough. But the kind of world that generation inherits will be one shaped by the social pathologies unleashed in the 1960s and thereafter. It is not enough to complain about the divisions, Mr Broder.
    Will we ever recover from the 1960s?

    What's happening with the bitter dispute over John Kerry's role in Vietnam confirms my fears that my generation may never see the day when the baby boomers who came of age in that troubled decade are reconciled sufficiently with each other to lead a united country.

    I remember precisely when this premonition of perpetual division first struck me. On Aug. 19, 1992, the third night of the Republican National Convention in Houston, Barbara Bush and Marilyn Quayle were the featured speakers. The first lady praised her husband's fine qualities and Mrs. Quayle turned her fire on the Bill Clinton Democrats, who had just finished their convention in New York.

    Through almost gritted teeth, Marilyn Quayle declared that those people in Madison Square Garden, who were claiming the mantle of leadership for a new generation, were usurpers. "Dan and I are members of the baby boom generation, too," she said. "We are all shaped by the times in which we live. I came of age in a time of turbulent social change. Some of it was good, such as civil rights; much of it was questionable."

    And then she drew the line that has not been erased: "Remember, not everyone joined in the counterculture. Not everyone demonstrated, dropped out, took drugs, joined in the sexual revolution or dodged the draft. Not everyone concluded that American society was so bad that it had to be radically remade by social revolution. . . . The majority of my generation lived by the credo our parents taught us: We believed in God, in hard work and personal discipline, in our nation's essential goodness, and in the opportunity it promised those willing to work for it. . . . Though we knew some changes needed to be made, we did not believe in destroying America to save it."
    It is time to recognize that, indeed, many of those changes were questionable. Perhaps it will be up to some future generation to say "enough." The counterculture got all the ink. The rest of us had to grow up in the world they left us. And, Mr Broder, your Silent Generation cohort is complicit -- by its acquiescence -- in the mess.
    TODAY'S IMMIGRATION ROUNDUP. Don at Cafe Hayek understands market tests:
    What distresses me about these visits – beyond the fact that I’m never able to accept their offers of employment in my Department – is that I know that the F1 student visa that each of these students have largely prevents off-campus employment. This reason is paramount, I’m sure, among those that propel these bright, skilled, and energetic young people to go begging for employment on-campus.

    This policy is both immoral and economically stupid. It treats productive people as piranhas. The alleged concern is that hordes of productive, hard-working foreign students will come to America and – gasp! – work very productively and hard and, thereby, eliminate jobs for real Americans.

    First of all, this policy rests on the absurd notion that the number of jobs is fixed, or that more workers in the labor force means lower average wage rates.

    Secondly, and more deeply, what sort of policy is it that intentionally prevents people from producing wealth?

    I’m unfailingly amused whenever I encounter people who oppose more open immigration on the grounds that too many foreigners come to America in order to suck the tit of our welfare state. If this justification for limiting immigration were truly the reason behind restrictive immigration policies, then we would not witness the many prohibitions and restraints on work by immigrants and foreign students.
    There still is a factor-price-equalization argument to work through, however.
    JUST SUCK IT UP AND WALK. Last year, several classroom buildings looked like middle school buildings, with all the cars waiting as students picked up their friends, and the central campus parking lots looked like the malls at Christmas, with cars idling, waiting for nearby parking spaces while more distant spaces went empty. This year, things have changed, and the editorial board of the Northern Star doesn't like it.
    Campus Parking Services has said it is trying to change the campus culture by having students rely less on their cars and more on other modes of transportation.

    But this is NIU, and it is well-known that a majority of NIU students rely on their cars. Perhaps once the city of DeKalb mutates into a true “college town” and students truly don’t need their cars to get around, Campus Parking Services can do its part to change the culture.
    Visualize sobbing violins with lots of vibrato. There is a difference between a convenience and a necessity. Suck it up and walk.
    SEEKING PRICE COMPETITION. King at SCSU Scholars has a summary of developments on the textbook pricing front. Price competition can come none too soon for Northern Illinois University's students.
    From 1998 to 2003, the price publishers’ charge for textbooks has increased 34.9 percent compared to 21.6 percent for all other books, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. College bookstores have marked up the price of their textbooks by 5.9 percent in the same period, while other books had a mark up of only 3 percent.

    The University Bookstore tries to stock as many used books as they can to give students savings, said Mitch Kielb, acting director of the Holmes Student Center. He said half their sales come from used books.
    The unseen part of this story is the role of third-party payments in determining the price of textbooks. It's the same problem that arises in uninformed commentary about rising health care "costs": to the extent that insurers -- in medicine -- and financial aid -- in college -- pays for the services or the books, the buyer has less incentive to shop around, and the seller has less incentive to discover the least cost technology.

    RUNNING EXTRA: Joanne Jacobs asks, "Does a Latin textbook need to be updated?"
    NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED. No sooner does the new athletic director arrive at Northern Illinois than does a scandal arise in -- surprise -- the women's basketball program.
    In addition to losing top scorer Joi Scott, who transferred, the NIU women’s basketball team may face punishment for NCAA rules violations. Scott, who would be a junior this season, lived at the house of LaVerne Ghyant [cq], the director of NIU’s Center for Black Studies, for about a month after the spring semester, Scott said. While there, Scott accepted money for a plane ride to see her mom, accepted rides from Ghyant [cq] and did her laundry at Ghyant’s[cq] house -- all NCAA violations.
    Ms Gyant is a decent person who takes an interest in the troubles some of her charges face, although what transpired might be above and beyond the call of duty.
    “It’s a situation where a staff member didn’t realize they [cq] were doing something that was illegal,” said Dee Abrahamson, NIU associate athletics director.

    Abrahamson said the NCAA likely won’t react until the Mid-American Conference has looked into the matter.

    Scott, who hails from Ohio, said Ghyant served as a mentor and mother figure to her.

    “I had [Ghyant] [cq] for a class,” Scott said. “I talked to her about all my problems and she offered me to stay at her house. I needed someone to relate to and talk to.

    “If I would’ve known that I would have to pay back all the money she gave to me, I wouldn’t have taken it.”

    Scott said she is being charged the rate of staying in a hotel and doing laundry for the time at Ghyant’s [cq] house. She estimated it would be about $2,000 that she has to pay back, but said an agreement may be made to give it to a charity of her choice.

    “My relationship with Joi was no different than with any other student,” Ghyant [cq] said in a published report.
    The coach's relationship with Ms Scott is no different from her relationship with any other player: she is denying any responsibility.
    Scott said her transfer did not have to do with the NCAA violations being reported, but because her boyfriend, Rome Sanders from the NIU men’s basketball team, left DeKalb. Sanders transferred to Florida A&M after he was found guilty of a battery charge on March 19 when he got into an argument with Scott.

    “First of all, Coach [Carol] Hammerle kicked me off the team after I already committed to another school,” Scott said. “I think she did that so it would seem like I left for another reason rather than the real reason. I left because of Rome. He transferred so that gave me the open door to leave.”

    Scott, who first transferred to Jacksonville University before ending up at Murray State, will have to sit out the 2004-05 season as a transfer.

    “I terminated her from the team because of the violations,” Hammerle said. “That was the decision I made as I thought was best for the program. I wish her the best.

    “I hope for the sake of the program and the players that the NCAA doesn’t place any sanctions on us.”
    So yet again, a promising recruit fails to develop either as a player or as a person, and it's not the fault of the person who recruited her. You just can't make up stuff like this.

    23.8.04

    ADAPTATION. Woodlief:
    My wife copied down this quote from Eric Hoffer and left it on my bedside table:
    "In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
    I suspect that most of us have areas of our lives where we are learners, and areas where we are learned. It's wisdom well-taken, isn't it, that in everything where we seem to be successful, we should have the humility and intellectual honesty to consider whether we haven't crossed over the boundary from learner to learned?

    But it seems to be wisdom seldom taken. So consider for a moment the areas where you might rightly be regarded by your peers as learned. Are you open -- truly open -- to the new idea?
    Read and understand.
    QUOTE OF THE DAY: Winston's Diary is unimpressed with the Freshman Orientation Indoctrination on offer at his college.
    Also, a preview of things to come. J.V.C. and I have agreed to have a blog-to-blog discussion on what it was like to be a lower-middle-class student in the humanities. We're both of the opinion that our distaste for theory and the far-left are in part the result of our respective upbringings. For my part, I would also like to bring up what I have perceived as definite classism amongst my "colleagues." We'll probably start this in a week or so. I'm not sure who will be firing off the first salvo. I'll be working on a draft of my initial comments on the issue over the course of the next week, but will definitely have a few things to say next week about Freshman Indoctrination 101.
    Winston is onto something. The humanities are no place for the down-to-earth, which is the usual state of people with a blue collar upbringing who enroll in college. (If you're stoned and blue-collar, you're probably washing cars.)
    TRAINS IN THE CELLAR, BOOKS EVERYWHERE ELSE. I'm going to substitute "model trains" in place of "books" everywhere in this self-help guide from Crescat Sententia.
    Are model trains a necessary part of your daily routine? Yup. Do you become grumpy and irritable if your modeling time is taken away from you? Yup. If you begin building, just a little bit, do you find it hard to stop? Frequently. Do you find yourself growing distant from friends who disapprove of your train habit? Disapprove, you ain't no friend of mine. Do you find yourself needing more and more trains to get the same "fix"? Sometimes. That New Haven freight motor is definitely not essential. When you meet a new person or enter a new room, do you instantly size up his modeling? Why else enter a train room? Does your modelling sometimes get in the way of leading a "normal" life? What's normal? Do you buy trains to make yourself feel better when sad or lonely? Been known to.
    Dan Drezner found a defense of reading, at least in Greater DeKalb, that is suitable for model railroaders as well.
    At least at Chicago, if not in some larger segments of the world, a person who reads books all the time is considered admirable, even if all that is gained by this reading is that the reader is entertained.
    Chicago is also the place to be for O Scale in the United States, hence this defense generalizes.
    ANOTHER TENNESSEE CONNECTION. Northern Illinois University president John Peters has called another name from his Tennessee Rolodex, tabbing Notre Dame's Jim Phillips (stopped also at the candy store in Champaign) as the new athletic director. One of the people the local newspaper reached for a reaction was Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt, who praised the hire.
    That's awesome.Jim has so many qualities that will make him successful at NIU: He's a people person, and he'll inspire those around him. He has positive energy and positive attitude - if someone thinks their glass is half empty, Jim's (glass) is running over. He brings out the best in others. I'm excited for Jim and equally excited for NIU. He is a great choice. I've been to DeKalb and I know people will embrace Jim, his leadership, and his philosophy.
    Yes, Pat, you were in DeKalb, in the winter of 1992, and if memory serves, your team trailed by a bucket at halftime, although they acquitted themselves well in the second half. But in those days the women's basketball team had a real coach and real players. Perhaps Mr Phillips will take his talk about the "next level" seriously and stop using the program as a plaything for the Diversity Boondoggle.
    SITZPINKLER ALERT. In some circles, the red pen is no longer the grader's color of choice, because it's too scary.
    "If you see a whole paper of red, it looks pretty frightening," said Sharon Carlson, a health and physical education teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton. "Purple stands out, but it doesn't look as scary as red."
    And to think that Northampton shows up on my birth certificate. Can I disown my native town?
    A mix of red and blue, the color purple embodies red's sense of authority but also blue's association with serenity, making it a less negative and more constructive color for correcting student papers, color psychologists said. Purple calls attention to itself without being too aggressive. And because the color is linked to creativity and royalty, it is also more encouraging to students.
    It's also linked to Finlanders on the Iron Range and bowling-shirt Poles in Milwaukee.

    Thus, today's Weenie Worldview quiz: will purple first fall out of favor because of that royal connection or because somebody will discover that editors used to correct manuscripts using blue pencils? Erm, don't the education theorists have more pressing matters to think about than the symbolism of a red correcting pen? They've been fretting about this for the past twelve years?
    "The concept of purple as a replacement for red is a pretty good idea," said Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute in Carlstadt, N.J., and author of five books on color. "You soften the blow of red. Red is a bit over-the-top in its aggression."
    Oh, good. I have a whole desk drawer full of over-the-top aggression. Let the slackers and the credential grubbers tremble at the thought of my aggression. Fortunately, I am not alone.
    Red has other defenders. California high-school teacher Carol Jago, who has been working with students for more than 30 years, said she has no plans to stop using red. She said her students do not seem psychologically scarred by how she wields her pen. And if her students are mixing up "their," "there," and "they're," she wants to shock them into fixing the mistake.

    "We need to be honest and forthright with students," Jago said. "Red is honest, direct, and to the point. I'm sending the message, 'I care about you enough to care how you present yourself to the outside world.' "
    Betsy's Page, who picked up the Boston Globe story, notes,
    I've been hearing this vapidity in teacher workshops for the past 12 years. What a crock! As if kids don't know that a mistake is a mistake. I'm with [Ms. Jago].
    Ayup, and as if pretending that a mistake isn't a mistake somehow encourages fewer mistakes. People respond to incentives. Parents, if your kids' teachers start grading with purple, plan to be assertive in teacher conferences.

    RUNNING EXTRA: You'd think these hand-wringers had said something nasty about snakes the way Dr Swygert unloads on them.
    Come ON people! If your students are flunking, do you really think it matters - to them, to their parents, to their lives - what color you use on their papers? My dissertation advisor used nothing but green ink in his pens and at times my dissertation drafts looked like leprechauns had bled to death on them. Do you think I felt better about having to change every word, twice, just because I got the message in green rather than red?

    Here's a hint, teachers - if your students' papers are swimming in a sea of red ink, you have many more important things to worry about than the colors of your pens. Trust me on this.
    Her reaction to the "cult of self-esteem" is priceless.
    This is why I don't drink while blogging - I'd spit my mead all over my keyboard laughing. It's nice to know that a deep purple pen can make it all better for a student who received a D-minus. Yes indeedy. And now the teacher can feel better about herself, too, because she's not being "over-the-top" in her "aggression", which is what touchy-feely types define as "grading objectively" these days.
    Erm, isn't that D-minus just a tad "aggressive?" Or does that "minus" make it passive-aggressive?
    DISCHARGED IF YOU DO, DISCHARGED IF YOU DON'T. King at SCSU Scholars links to a story about two tenure-track professors at Benedict College who have been discharged for noncompliance with a grading policy that requires course grades to reflect effort as well as achievement. His post points up the difficulty a school (the term college does not quite apply) faces in balancing "access" (read: recruiting unprepared students) with "performance" (read: producing prepared graduates) as well as the obligation such a school faces in socializing new hires to the academic environment on campus.

    The curious part of the story is that at this college credit for attendance matters. I recall a for-cause hearing at Northern Illinois involving a professor's ineffective teaching, including inter alia basing grades excessively on attendance. (There were other difficulties with this professor's performance, thus the two situations are not parallel.)
    CARNIVALS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE MOBILE, and this week's Carnival of the Capitalists visits the aptly-named Mobile Technology Weblog. Step right up!
    A PROMISING DEVELOPMENT. Students have returned to Northern Illinois University, and the police blotter is filling up again.
    About 200 Northern Illinois University students and visitors to the city discovered that if you booze, you can lose at least $200.

    The fines accompanied the 215 citations issued by the DeKalb Police Department between Thursday, which was Move-In Day for NIU, and Sunday for consumption of alcohol by a minor, possession of alcohol by a minor and possession of an open container of alcohol on a public way.

    Although police haven't pulled statistics from previous years, the number of tickets issued this year appears to be "a fair amount higher than in previous years," Police Chief Bill Feithen said.

    Locations of the violations varied, however. Several dozen citations were issued by police on foot patrols in the northwest part of DeKalb commonly known as Greek Row.
    The good news is, the police might have decided not to let MTV and ESPN define college life.
    Feithen attributed some of the increase in tickets to having more officers on the streets.

    "It doesn't necessarily mean there was more drinking going on," he said.

    In addition to the alcohol busts, one man was arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly trying to sell some 20 bags of marijuana.
    The times, they are a-changin'.
    PERHAPS THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT THE HIAWATHA CORRIDOR. Beyond Brilliance, Beyond Stupidity is a compendium of Orchids and Onions Awards in urban planning. One development worthy of an Orchid is this report from Milwaukee's Business Journal on plans for the Amtrak Wisconsin service.
    The Milwaukee-to-Chicago trip currently takes about one hour and 30 minutes. The goal is to reduce the travel time to about one hour and five minutes, [Amtrak spokesman and former WNIU newscaster Marc] Magliari said.
    Regular readers of Cold Spring Shops will know that this goal represents genuine progress. The best scheduled time, long before either the Superintendent or Mr Magliari were born, was 75 minutes, nonstop. A run time of 65 minutes inclusive of stops at Mitchell Field, Sturtevant, and Glenview will require average running times between stations approaching 90 miles per hour.