28.4.17

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR.

Our President: "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."

TEN YEARS AGO.

We were watching this space.


The neighbors were all curious about the strange shape of the foundation hole, but all became clear as the framing went into place.

27.4.17

THE COLORFUL RAILS OF FLORIDA.

Florida's new Brightline service will be rolling out four trains, each a rake of four carriages with a power car on each end.  The first two trains will be called BrightBlue and BrightPink (maybe the North Shore Line first conceived of an ElectroLiner, which makes the jamming together of separate words no less barbarous, but I digress.)  The next two trains will be BrightGreen and BrightOrange.


Unattributed image retrieved from Travel and Trains.

That appears to be the Blue set, which is already being tested in Florida.  As all trains are running on the same track, the color coding provides no additional cues as to destination (e.g. the red cars go to Harvard and the green cars go to Fenway Park).  Perhaps the operators will in future notice the coloration of Seaboard Air Line's old Orange Blossom Special diesels, where it would be easy enough to work the pink in with the green, blue, and orange on the units as delivered.  It's probably too much to ask for power cars that look more like those diesels.

SIN TAXES DO NOT CHANGE BEHAVIOR.

Taxes on Unhealthy Food Are Ineffective and Hurt the Poor.  Yes, if your criteria for "effective" include "reducing the consumption of junk food" and "making the rich pay most of the taxes."  But you have to think carefully about the ability of people to avoid the tax.
It’s certainly intuitive that taxing sugary soda and bad-cholesterol-ridden potato chips will prompt consumers to buy fewer of those items—and that people will substitute healthier alternatives. But it turns out that consumers’ buying habits do not change markedly in response to the higher prices, and that the burden of those taxes falls most heavily on the low-income, who allocate larger shares of their budgets to food than wealthier people do.
Not to mention, to the extent people can avoid local sin taxes (hello, Chicago; hello, Philadelphia) by shopping across jurisdictions, the sin taxes may not bring in the expected revenue either.

Final examination season approaches.  Please note an entry that should be in your workbook.
Raising significant tax revenue suggests a relatively inelastic demand. Ramsey-optimality means raising that revenue with the least excess burden (deadweight loss, for the traditionalist.)
Then, dear reader, change your criteria to "raise revenue with relatively little excess burden" and you have your case for sin taxes.

PRICES ALLOCATE RESOURCES.

Recently, Kentucky and Indiana rebuilt the Interstate 65 bridge at Louisville, and implemented tolls thereon.  The nearby Second Street Bridge remained without tolling.  Conventional wisdom: traffic diverts to the free bridge until the marginal disamenity of the congestion compensates for the marginal outlay on tolls.  In reality, total crossings went down.
As we reported in February, the initial month’s worth of data on bridge traffic shows that adding tolls (which run from $1 to $4 for cars) have caused traffic levels to fall by almost half, from about 122,000 vehicles per day to about 66,000.  We included photographs from area traffic-cams that show rush hour traffic on the tolled bridges almost empty, while traffic was fairly thin on the free Second Street Bridge.
More recently, Louisville closed the Second Street Bridge in connection with a riverfront event (not the Kentucky Derby, which is a week away yet.)
What these images suggest is that, even with the nearby free alternative closed, there’s way, way more capacity on I-65 than there is peak hour demand for travel. You can compare these photos to ones we captured two months ago when the Second Street Bridge was open to traffic at rush hour. While ostensibly the crossing was widened from 6 lanes to 12 to eliminate congestion, the real congestion-fighting investment was the decision to ask users to pay just a portion of the cost of widening the road. With tolls in place, drivers have voted with their feet (or perhaps, wheels) that they didn’t really need additional capacity.
Yes, and there's a lesson to traffic engineers, who take traffic flows as a given. The generalization to the Congressional Budget Office, when it comes to evaluating tax revenues, is straightforward.
It isn’t just that traffic has shifted to the “free” alternative. It's that, with tolling in place, apparently many other trips just simply evaporated. The tendency of traffic to disappear when there’s a toll is an indication that people have much more flexibility about when, where, and how much they travel than is usually contemplated in policy discussions or travel demand models. The mental model that says traffic levels are some inexorable natural force like the tides, which must be accommodated or else, is just wrong.
The fun will begin when the tolls turn out to be inadequate to finance further road construction.
The financing of the widened I-65 crossing (and another beltway freeway crossing several miles to the East) hinges on tolls generating enough revenue to repay the bonds that Kentucky issued to pay for the project. If toll revenues don’t grow fast enough in the years ahead, the state will have to find some other source of funds to make these payments, which could make this particular experiment in transportation behavior a particularly expensive one.
More expensive than issuing the bonds and hoping for enough gasoline taxes and general revenues from strip malls at the major interchanges, the more usual model of overbuilding road capacity?

BOUTIQUE MULTICULTURALISM.

The official voices of the women of the fevered brow would rather you not mention clitoridectomies.
This is mutilation for a cultural purpose, to rob women of sexual joy and render them as breeders.

All of this -- the application of a politically correct filter by The New York Times, the avoidance of the issue by the left, even the destruction of female sexuality by ancient cultures -- is political.

And who suffers? Political wits and activists don't suffer. Girls suffer.

The number of women worldwide estimated to have been subject to female genital mutilation has reached 200 million in some studies. Many thousands of young girls develop infections and die.

"The decision of The New York Times illustrates the terrible trade-off they've made," said [Aayan] Hirsi Ali. "They're concerned about politics, about protecting a group versus the individual rights of the child or the woman."
Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan is having none of the sensitivities.
[I]n many pro-mutilation cultures, it’s not just removing the clitoris and tying up the labia of three year old female bodies; it’s about hiding those bodies under burqas and punishing their misbehavior with honor killing.

Honor killing is too brutal a term for it, though, isn’t it? It will only alienate these communities.  UD proposes honor cutting.
Plus, at the comments, a proper response to anybody who says "what about the Crusades?" or "what about high heels?"

INSTITUTIONS EVOLVE TO CONSERVE ON TRANSACTION COSTS.

The Social Justice Warriors come to mathematics class, warns Accuracy in Academia's Malcolm Kline.
“On a chilly evening in March, students in Cecilia Arias’s mathematics course here at Rutgers University were learning about a concept called fair division,” Shannon Najmabadi wrote in an article which appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education on April 21, 2017. “More specifically, they were considering the case of Jason, Kelly, and Lauren, three business owners who share a location in the mall.”

“Suppose, Ms. Arias explained, that Jason makes the same amount of money each month, while Kelly gets not business in October, November or December. Meanwhile, Lauren earns most of her profits during that same quarter. If only one of them can use the space at a time, Ms. Arias asked, how can the year by fairly divided among the three without an angry standoff?” The name of the course is “Topics in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts.”
I was not able to find that article at the house organ for business as usual in higher education, although there might have been a related one that went behind the paywall on April 18.

The problem reminds me of one from Alchian and Allen's University Economics, in which economics students get the opportunity to suggest a way to calculate percentages that doesn't involve erroneous economics.  The solution involves Jason running a business with no seasonal variations, Lauren running something that I shall interpret as a Christmas-themed business, and Kelly deals in gardening supplies or something similar.  If you allow for the sub-leasing of space, Jason contracts out space to Kelly for nine months and Lauren for three months.  And why would these three enter into joint ownership of a space without considering the seasonal variations in their business in the first place?

26.4.17

WHO ARE THE ELITISTS NOW?

The National Association of Railroad Passengers takes on the Acela-riding pundits of ... wait for it ... The Wall Street Journal.
We know that, of the 31 million-plus passengers that Amtrak carries in a given year, 19 million of them won’t step foot on a Northeast Corridor train. Do those 19 million people matter to the WSJ? Are they worthy of the investment taxpayer dollars?

Of course, if you’re from small town and rural America, this question might not strike you as academic. If you’re from one of the 225 towns that would lose all intercity rail service if the long distance trains ceased to run, you might take offense at the notion that your town wasn’t worth the work it took to maintain the connection to the wider world; that your train wasn’t worth the public investment.

The last year has taught us the cost of the disconnection we’ve allowed to grow in our nation. And in the 2016 postmortem, the “Acela set”—the media pundits whose view of America is largely defined by the Washington, D.C. – New York City segment of the Northeast Corridor—took a lot of heat for its inability to understand what was happening in the rest of the U.S. The problem is not Amtrak’s Acela, of course, but the people who ride it. If the Wall Street Journal editors took the time to ride a train outside the corridors of power, they would see value of these trains—and the costs that the policies of disinvestment and abandonment they’re advancing have exacted on the rest of us.
You can see the rot from the Capitol Limited and you can see the rot from the Acelas, if you look up from your electronic shackle.  And catch the irony: angry flyover voters are useful to the Trump cheerleaders on Wall Street, but they'd better not make too many demands for trains.

But fighting over the funding for overpurposed cross-country trains that keeps the Acelas from being great doesn't get us any closer to a national regional rail network in which trains might be crossing Nebraska or North Dakota or Ohio during daylight hours.

Perhaps there is a block grant policy available, using some of the current Amtrak appropriation to support and expand the existing state-supported trains where they exist (e.g. California, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania off the Corridor) and to create emerging corridors in some of the relatively thickly settled parts of, for instance, Minnesota or North Dakota or Ohio or Wisconsin.

RED-ON-RED FRATRICIDE.

The reaction among the intersectional, self-styled progressives to Saturday's March for Our Grants Science continues to amuse.  At The Root, a post comes as close to dissing honkies as is possible these days.
But the turmoil that has engulfed the planning of the March for Science (M4S), which is scheduled to happen this Saturday in Washington, D.C., as well as more than 375 cities across the country, is a prime example of scientists peacocking this liberal brand of racism.
Put another way, the virtue signalling among the steering committees in the various towns where the rent-seekers mingled with the Not My President crowd last Saturday might have made for some interesting theater.  (Read the full article, there's a hint of how that went down.)  Ultimately, though, that author views the protest as, yes, a predictable plea for continued funding.  "You may be asking yourself, why are scientists marching on Washington? Scientists as a collective are generally silent on political battles—until you threaten their research funding as Trump has."

In Slate, a writer suggests there's more wrong with Big Science than a protest can fix, or that Our President can defund.
Little of what I observed dissuades me from my baseline belief that, even among the sanctimonious elite who want to own science (and pwn anyone who questions it), most people have no idea how science actually works. The scientific method itself is already under constant attack from within the scientific community itself and is ceaselessly undermined by its so-called supporters, including during marches like those on Saturday. In the long run, such demonstrations will do little to resolve the myriad problems science faces and instead could continue to undermine our efforts to use science accurately and productively.
That's a serious charge. The author defends it.
Being “pro-science” has become a bizarre cultural phenomenon in which liberals (and other members of the cultural elite) engage in public displays of self-reckoned intelligence as a kind of performance art, while demonstrating zero evidence to justify it. On any given day, many of my most “woke” friends are quick to post and retweet viral content about the latest on what Science (and I’m capitalizing this on purpose) “says,” or what some studies “prove.” But on closer look, much of what gets shared and bandied about is sheer bullshit and is diagnostic of one thing only: The state of science (and science literacy) in this country, and most of the planet for that matter, is woefully bad.
Universities are failing at their mission?  But wait: there's more.  Science, properly understood, is that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.  Or approximated within the margin of error and given the limits of the hypotheses being tested.  In a proper research paper, there's often a sentence or paragraph in the conclusion offering suggestions for additional research.  That may be there because a referee wanted his pet project to get a citation, or because the authors wanted to stake a claim for a project still in progress, or it might be an honest recognition that a different investigative technique or a different sample might provide different answers.  The people who envisioned Saturday's march as a suggestion that people not close their eyes to melting glaciers might consider, for instance, that one hypothesis, "climate chaos," makes use of a term from mathematics that stands in for "sensitive dependence on initial conditions."  More generally, the assertion that a study, or a collection of studies, shows, let alone proves, anything beyond any further inquiry, is misleading.

Go read both of the linked articles, which spell out a number of ways in which the reward system in academic research encourages the production of provocative-sounding conclusions that do not survive the further research.  A researcher can generate a lot of citations by producing one or two controversial but not-robust findings that swarms of future researchers investigate: alas, those partial replications may not get beyond the working paper stage, or perhaps into one of the archival journals that languish unread.

But ultimately, the marches might have been all about the funding.
I think the progressives really have no sense of self-awareness or irony. For years, a standard talking point among climate skeptics was that government funding made it very lucrative to exaggerate the possible influence of humans on global temperatures. Naturally, the “pro-science” community recoiled in horror at the very suggestion at such a crass motivation. The only time funding matters is when it’s funding coming from Big Oil or Big Tobacco.

Yet when the Trump Administration proposes large cuts in government grants, NPR runs a story warning that researchers may now engage in “sloppy science” even fudging data to keep their labs open. OK fine, but if NPR is going to run this, I hope they don’t pooh pooh the idea that other scientists might exaggerate the danger of climate change to win grant money. Make up your minds, folks.
When you've lost National Public Radio: "There are strong career incentives to bend the rules, by exaggerating accomplishments in a grant proposal, for example."  Those incentives are present whether it's a review panel full of solid academicians with no micromanagement from on high, or whether the review panel knows an ideologue or a publicist has to sign off on the grants.  Why should a cartel of academicians be different from any other cartel, in generating rents and dissipating them in inefficient activities?

25.4.17

THE CASE FOR A STATE OF GOOD REPAIR.

Inspired by Benj. Franklin, or perhaps by N. N. Anonymous.

For want of a spike, the tie was lost.
For want of a tie, the rail was lost,
For want of a rail, the train was lost,
For want of a train, the station was lost,
For want of a station, the railroad was lost.
And all for the want of a railroad spike.

Upstairs at Penn Station, a disaster.

When the office tower and sports arena replaced the Great Room and concourse, the tracks below (and the stairs leading down to trackside) remained in their 1910 form.  What shape will you be in, dear reader, at the age of 107?

SCARED MONEY MAKES BAD DEALS.

It's a Politico story, so trust but verify.
In his Sunday morning address to the American people, Obama portrayed the seven men he freed as “civilians.” The senior official described them as businessmen convicted of or awaiting trial for mere “sanctions-related offenses, violations of the trade embargo.”

In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.

And in a series of unpublicized court filings, the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men, all of them fugitives. The administration didn’t disclose their names or what they were accused of doing, noting only in an unattributed, 152-word statement about the swap that the U.S. “also removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.”
Perhaps Our President will not be stampeded into making deals just because the press corps or the calendar or the nervous types in Congress think there ought to be one.  But altering international accords is not so easily done.

CARNE DEL GATO IS A THING.

On Lorell Joiner's now-dismantled Great Southern Railway, the Carne del Gato Tamale Factory was a major industry.  Mr Joiner might have been cracking wise about the kind of food trucks that used to surround the Alamo,  but the simpler explanation for the mystery meat might have been "canners and cutters."

In Cuba, however, it's carne del gato.  "Under ever-tighter rationing since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the poorest of Cubans began devouring the cat population last year."  It has always been, dear reader, the propensity of Communists to deny the presence of starvation, and to put the best possible spin on the emaciated state of the citizens.  Useful idiots we shall always have with us.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE TRADE-OFFS.

At another of the Claremont network of colleges, Harvey Mudd, there's self-analysis about the consequences of diversity for its own sake.  Perhaps the bigger gripe is among the students, with the work load.  For instance, “Play is not an institutional value here.”  Playing with ideas is hard work, and what better way to achieve unity in diversity than to set tasks too big for any one student alone to handle?

24.4.17

MAKE A CASE FOR FREQUENCY AND CONNECTIVITY.

Our President's budget proposal, which includes zero funding for Amtrak's long distance trains, is likely to be postponed because even with Republican majorities in the House and Senate and a president purporting to be a Republican, it's likely to be another continuing resolution at the end of the week to avoid a government shutdown.  (And yes, all the roles are reversed, the Democrats who the last time around viewed any budget ceiling brinksmanship as approximating treason, and flirting with welshing on existing bills, are now willing to engage in brinksmanship so as to keep some items in, and spending on the border wall out.)

But perhaps that will give people an opportunity to think about, for instance, the proper role of a national Passenger Rail network.  For instance, editorial writers at Bismarck, North Dakota's Tribune (that's a city not currently on the Passenger Rail network) view with alarm the impending loss of any passenger train service in North Dakota.
Going by rail is a more leisurely form of travel. It allows passengers to relax and enjoy the scenery as the train moves along. Traveling by train used to be a common form of transportation, but it has become a dinosaur of sorts. Most people don’t think of trains when making travel plans, which is too bad because train travel can be more relaxing.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers argues that given time, long-distance train travel will show a profit and offer economic development opportunities. That’s open to debate since Amtrak has been struggling for years to show a profit. The chances that Congress will follow Trump’s recommendations aren’t too bright.

North Dakota’s congressional delegation opposes cutting funds for the long-distance service. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who has been a strong supporter and defender of Trump, has come out against the cuts. He noted the Empire Builder served 454,625 passengers in 2016, which would be a lot of people forced to find alternative travel.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., cited the negative impact cutting Amtrak would have on rural communities.

While it doesn’t look likely Congress will approve cutting the long-distance service, some changes are needed. Train travel can’t just be a luxury dependent on federal funding. Amtrak needs to find ways to wean itself off federal funds.

The nation shouldn’t give up on train travel because it still offers opportunities. We just need to do it right.
Yes, let's start doing it right by considering whether or not paved roads are a luxury dependent on federal funding.  The public roads are not self-supporting, and building everywhere to accommodate 53 foot trailers is a far greater misappropriation of public property.

Then let's think about the role of the train.  The Empire Builder across North Dakota goes places where there are few intercity buses and fewer scheduled airlines (even with the industrial reserve army of Tri-Motor pilots that United relies upon to keep its code-sharing United Express services running on the cheap.)  When it's running to time, it serves as a kind of a throwback to the Olympian Hiawatha combined with the Morning Hiawatha eastbound and Afternoon Hiawatha westbound east of the Cities, and it's scheduled for convenient times at Glacier National Park and as a kind of a transcontinental train for Portland or Seattle.  That means it's crossing North Dakota in the hours when nothing good happens in bars.

In place of one, overpurposed cruise train, mightn't it make sense to run several shorter-distance trains timed, for instance to get students to Grand Forks or Fargo or Morris, and to offer multiple frequencies between the Cities and Chicago?  That second train between Chicago and the Cities doesn't go away on the Minnesota and Wisconsin wish lists, and it would be easy enough to fit it into the existing nomenclature, with the Milwaukee services simply Hiawatha Service, the Cities train becoming the Twin Cities Hiawatha (yeah, it's a convex combination of Chicago and North Western and Milwaukee Road nomenclature) and there's a host of promising Great Northern names for the additional service further west.

The Great Northern lore is present all over the Fargo station.



What was I saying about timekeeping?  The Builders are scheduled through Fargo around 2 am westbound and 3 am eastbound.  Those local passengers aren't well served by this timetabling, and when the service is hours late, as this must be, there's no Red River or Dakotan or Western Star as a fallback.

ABSORB THEM INTO PACKER NATION.

Illinois is losing population, including to Wisconsin.
“Over the last three years, more people have left Illinois than any other state,” Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, told the McHenry Times. “Here in Wisconsin, we have a labor shortage; we need people. If you want to work and are drug free, you can find a good, middle-class life in Wisconsin with a low cost of living and an economy that’s really doing well."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker boasted recently that the state’s unemployment rate has dipped to 3.7 percent, significantly lower than the national average and that in Illinois. Around that same time, Walker announced gummi candy-maker HARIBO will build a manufacturing facility in Pleasant Prairie that will create 400 jobs.
A few things for the exiles to keep in mind: mustard is brown, get a drink at the bubbler, and the Bears still suck.

CRACK DOWN ON THAT ZOO FRATERNITY.

What is it about midwestern chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, anyway?
The [Northwestern suspension} comes less than a month after Loyola University in Chicago suspended its SAE chapter for three years following reports of alleged hazing.

The sanctions against the NU chapter also come less than one year after officials at University of Wisconsin at Madison suspended their SAE chapter for about six months following allegations of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay behavior.
The Northwestern chapter were already on probation, which is the kind of administrative sanction that calls for a really futile and stupid gesture.
Northwestern's SAE chapter was first placed on probation in fall 2016 for serving alcohol to minors, [university spokesman Bob] Rowley said. Under those disciplinary terms, which stretched into the 2017 calendar year, the fraternity was not to host social events.

However, "with blatant disregard of the terms of that probation, SAE planned and hosted social events with alcohol in January 2017," Rowley said.

In February, Northwestern sent out an all-campus alert that four women allegedly were drugged and, of those, two possibly sexually assaulted at a Jan. 21 party at the SAE house. While university officials ultimately decided not to pursue disciplinary action for the alleged drugging or assaults, they and fraternity leadership launched separate investigations into other potential violations, university officials previously said.

Rowley declined to comment Monday on whether the January party mentioned in the drugging and assault allegations was the same party at which minors were served alcohol.
Decorum prevents further description.  There are further Animal House references in the comments.

22.4.17

LAUGHING THE SNOWFLAKES UNTO SCORN.

John "Marquette Warrior" McAdams takes readers to The Wellesley News's Twitter feed, where the editors are getting an education in significant opposing points of view.

ANTICIPATING TRUMP, BEFORE TRUMP?

I'd flagged the following articles early in 2013, at a time when the Orders of the Day were still Hope and Change.  At the time, I saw the conversation as contesting the notion of the state as that attempt for each to live at the expense of everyone else.  But there was something more afoot.  Start with Power Line's Steven Hayward, who picked up on a January 2012 essay by Walter "Via Media" Mead suggesting that Hope and Change was moribund, and everybody recognized that, but nobody knew what would come next.
Their social imagination had hit a wall.

The same thing is happening today: The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore. The gaps between the social system we inhabit and the one we now need are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper over them. But even as the failures of the old system become more inescapable and more damaging, our national discourse remains stuck in a bygone age. The end is here, but we can’t quite take it in.
In The New Criterion, James Piereson looks to the past history of values regimes failing, and notes that the existing values regime remains intact, although there is no longer a Consensus Position.
This evolution has now produced a volatile and potentially destabilizing alignment between the two major parties, with one rooted in the public sector and the other in the private sector, and with each communicating mainly with its own supporters. In the past, political parties were coalitions of private interests seeking influence over government in order to facilitate their growth within the private economy. This was true of early party conflicts that pitted commerce against agriculture or the later splits between slavery and free labor or business against organized labor. The regional and sectional conflicts of the past were also of this character. This was in keeping with the small government bias of the Constitution in which the government itself was never supposed to emerge as a political interest in its own right.

The conflict today between Democrats and Republicans increasingly pits public sector unions, government employees and contractors, and beneficiaries of government programs against middle-class taxpayers and business interests large and small. In states where public spending is high and public sector unions are strong, as in New York, California, Illinois, and Connecticut, Democrats have gained control; where public sector interests are weak or poorly organized, as in most of the states across the south and southwest, Republicans have the edge. This configuration, when added up across the nation, has produced a series of electoral stand-offs in recent decades between the red and blue states that have been decided by a handful of swing states moving in one direction or the other.

This impasse between the two parties signals the end game for the system of politics that originated in the 1930s and 1940s. As the “regime party,” the Democrats are in the more vulnerable position because they have built their coalition around public spending, public debt, and publicly guaranteed credit, all sources of funds that appear to be reaching their limits. The end game for the New Deal system, and for the Democrats as our “regime party,” will arrive when those limits are reached or passed.

This point will arrive fairly soon for the following reasons: (1) unsustainable debt; (2) public promises that cannot be fulfilled; (3) stagnation and slow growth; and (4) political paralysis. The last point is important because it means that the parties will fail to agree on any preemptive solutions to the above problems until they reach a point of crisis.
At the time, that looked like standard Fourth Turning stuff, but the 2016 presidential campaign did play out along the lines envisioned in the second and third paragraphs.  But the essay still reads conventionally: we have rent-seekers attempting to live at the expense of others, whether net rent-seekers or simply peasants who must shut up and pay their taxes.
The regime of public spending has at last drawn so many groups into the public arena in search of public dollars that it has paralyzed the political process and driven governments to the edge of bankruptcy. These groups are widely varied: trade associations, educational lobbies, public employee unions, government contractors, ideological and advocacy organizations, health-care providers, hospital associations that earn revenues from Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the like. These are what economists call rent-seeking groups because they are concerned with the distribution of resources rather than with the creation of wealth. They consume rather than create wealth. These groups are highly influential in the political process because they are willing to invest large sums in lobbying and election campaigns in order to protect their sources of income. While rent-seeking groups can be found in both political parties, the largest and most influential of them (at least on the spending side) have congregated within the Democratic Party. To expand on what was said earlier, one might describe the Democratic Party as a coalition of rent-seekers.

Rent-seeking coalitions have little interest in moderating their demands in the interests of the broader economy because, as their leaders reason, the economy will be little affected by the small share of it to which they are laying claim. In addition, they calculate that if they do not take the money, then someone else will—and so they are not inclined to be “fools” for the public interest. But since the leaders of all rent-seeking groups think this way, the interest group system as a whole operates with little concern for the requirements of economic growth and wealth generation. This is one reason why, in times of crisis, rent-seeking coalitions demand tax increases to pay for their programs instead of recommending policies to accelerate growth.
But when the rent-seekers run out of other people's money, the put-upon suckers might not shut up and pay their taxes any more.
Americans may then witness the kinds of events not seen in this country since the 1930s or, even, the 1850s and 1860s: protesters invading the U.S. Capitol, politicians refusing to leave office after they have lost elections, defiance of the Supreme Court, the emergence of new leaders, and, possibly, the formation of new political parties. All of this can be expected from a process in which an entrenched system of politics withers and dies and a new one is gradually organized to take its place.

Does the “fourth revolution” imply the “end of America,” as some have suggested? Not necessarily, though one must acknowledge the possibility that this upheaval might end badly, perhaps in an extended period of political conflict and paralysis that yields no constructive outcome. Yet, based on the evidence of the three previous revolutions, American voters are unlikely to support for very long any party that fails to enhance their standard of living or the nation’s position in the world.
Some of these things had already played out in Wisconsin.  But Deep Thinkers were not yet anticipating anything more general at work, that despite Mr Piereson's concluding comments.
Despite all this, President Obama is unshaken in his presumption that he is a herald of a new era, a revolutionary on the models of Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR. But is it possible that he will instead turn out to be something much different, a modern day Adams, Buchanan, or Hoover—that is, the last representative of a disintegrating order? Such a denouement is not only possible but, in view of our situation, more and more likely.
Perhaps nothing that portentous, and yet, the man who succeeded him in the White House made himself a national political figure by questioning Mr Obama's story.  (As if anyone in 1961 would have faked a Hawaiian birth certificate for a young man named Barack Hussein Obama with the hopes of making him eligible for the presidency.)

But after the election, Forbes's Joel Kotkin warned the coalition of the ascendant not to get cocky.
Of the now triumphant urban gentry have their townhouses and high-rise lofts, but the service workers who do their dirty work have to log their way by bus or car from the vast American banlieues, either in peripheral parts of the city (think of Brooklyn’s impoverished fringes) or the poorer close-in suburbs. This progressive economy works from the well-placed academics, the trustfunders and hedge funders, but produces little opportunity for a better life for the vast majority of the middle and working class.

The gentry progressives don’t see much hope for the recovery of blue collar manufacturing or construction jobs, and they are adamant in making sure that the potential gusher of energy jobs in the resurgent fossil fuel never materializes, at least in such places as New York and California. The best they can offer the [c.q.] hoi polloi is the prospect of becoming haircutters and dog walkers in cognitively favored places like Silicon Valley. Presumably, given the cost of living there, they will have to get there from the Central Valley or sleep on the streets.

Not surprisingly, this prospect is not exciting many Americans.
That's where my initial draft ended the quote. What follows proves prescient.
So instead of heading for the blue paradises, but to lower-cost, those who move now tend towards low-cost, lower-density regions like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte and Raleigh. Even while voting blue, they seem to be migrating to red places. Once there, one has to doubt whether they are simply biding their time for Oklahoma City to morph into San Francisco.

In this respect, the class issue so cleverly exploited by the President in the election could prove the potential Achilles heel of today’s gentry progressivism. The Obama-Bernanke-Geithner economy has done little to reverse the relative decline of the middle and working class, whose their share of national income have fallen to record lows. If you don’t work for venture-backed tech firms, coddled, money-for-nearly-free Wall Street or for the government, your income and standard of living has probably declined since the middle of the last decade.

If the main focus of progressives was to promote upward mobility, they would deserve their predicted political hegemony. But current day leftism is more about style, culture and green consciousness than jobs and opportunity. It’s more Vogue’s Anne Wintour than Harry Truman. Often times the gentry agenda -- for example favoring higher housing and energy prices -- directly conflicts with the interests of middle and working class families.

The progressive coalition also has little to offer to the private sector small business community, which should be producing jobs as they have in the wake of previous recessions but have failed to do so this time. A recent McKinsey study finds that small business confidence is at a 20 year low, entrepreneurial start-ups have slowed, and with it, the innovation that drives an economy from the ground up.

These economic shortcomings are unlikely to reverse themselves under the Obama progressives. An old Democrat of the Truman and Pat Brown, perhaps even Bill Clinton, genre would be pushing our natural gas revolution, a key to blue-collar rejuvenation, instead of seeking to slow it down. They would be looking to raise revenues from Wall Street plutocrats rather than raise taxes on modestly successful Main Street businesses. A HUD interested in upward mobility and families would be pressing for more detached housing and dispersal of work, not forcing the masses to live in ever smaller, cramped and expensive lodgings.

Over time, the cultural identity and lifestyle politics practiced so brilliantly by the President and his team could begin to wear thin even with their core constituencies.  Hispanics, for example, have suffered grievously in the recession -- some 28% now live in poverty, the highest of any ethnic group.

It’s possible that the unnatural cohesion between gentry progressives and Latinos will tear asunder.
There's more: and perhaps Mr Trump harvesting votes from Americans of Latino extraction despite his wall and drugs talk  was an indication.  But other signs were present: consider Thomas Edsall's Now What, Liberalism?
Obama’s victory and the growing evidence of an emerging majority Democratic coalition pose the danger that the left will take false comfort. The demographic forces currently powering the Democratic Party in no way guarantee a resilient coalition assured of a long-term competitive advantage.

In addition to the glaring class conflicts between the party’s upscale cultural liberals and the larger body of Democratic voters with pressing material needs, there are a host of potential fissures.
Not to mention, as Mr Edsall recognizes, that a coalition based on identity politics is a coalition that can fracture in an Oppression Olympics of monumental proportions.  And all it took was an inexperienced politician refusing to be politically correct for normals to practice their own brand of identity politics.

At the time, W. R. Mead noted, "The reality of blue model decline is so obvious that nobody can ignore it any longer."

The reckoning might have come in the form of Donald Trump.  But coming a reckoning was.

THE RENT-SEEKING OF SCIENCE.

Today, for Earth Day, the "March for Science" served as political theater by which the curtailment of public funding for the environmentalist's pet projects becomes a know-nothing assault on academic science itself. Tyler O'Neil suggests that the rent-seekers get a grip.
Not only do political stunts like the "March for Science" politicize the discipline of studying nature, they also arguably undercut the very process by which science operates — open debate about how to interpret the evidence. When tied to absurd causes like giving legal rights to rivers and asking if peas should be considered persons, they further tarnish science's reputation.
It's a lengthy article, which will reward careful study, and it suggests ways in which the act of doing science undermines any notion of consensus.  It takes better argumentation, and tighter theories, for instance, to undermine the convenient secular commonplaces of Darwin, Freud, and Marx, and that work is under way.  But the marching had its lighter moments.  In Chicago, there were people asserting "Science Is What Makes America Great."  Hang on, is that an endorsement of hegemonic discourses?

TEN YEARS AGO.

I was passing along Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan fulminating about "simulacral education."

But I can report progress in one battle.  "Why not allow Texas Southern to bill the common schools for all the remediation that must be inherent in the university's retention efforts, futile though they turn out to be?"

The state universities are not yet sending the bills, but in some places, including Wisconsin, the legislature has required the state universities to make a little list and name names.  I'm waiting for the returns from the fall 2016 entering class.

THIRTY YEARS AGO.

The Milwaukee Brewers opened the 1987 season with fifteen straight wins.  The twelfth win, on a late Easter Sunday, involved a furious rally in the ninth inning, and that compelled a local burger establishment to make good on an implicit promise.
Thirty years ago Saturday, thousands of people stood in line in the rain to collect on a promise made by George Webb, who by then had been dead for three decades.

Webb, the quirky, iconoclastic restaurant owner who installed two clocks right next to each other in his restaurants for no discernible reason, had predicted Milwaukee's baseball team would someday win a dozen games in a row.

There was no promise attached to the prediction, but all assumed it would mean free burgers if Milwaukee's baseball franchise ever won 12 in a row.

No matter that Milwaukee's team was then the Braves and hamburgers were 15 cents when the prediction was made. But year after year Webb printed the prediction on its napkins. Finally, in April 1987, it happened.

"I didn't think it would take that long, but I knew it would probably happen because of the players we had" in 1987, said Mary Beth Unglaub, a waitress at the George Webb on S. 76th St. in Franklin.
Free stuff in Milwaukee? Let slip the crowds.
A plan was put in place and Dave Stamm announced at the news conference that a free burger for each customer would be handed out three days later. And they came. Lining up outside restaurants for hours, patiently waiting in the rain to taste victory covered with ketchup, pickles, fried onions and mustard.

"It was actually very good for business. It wasn't a dreaded thing, it was an exciting thing," said Tom Aldridge, a second-generation George Webb owner who had nine franchise locations in 1987. "Business went up 20% around the ninth victory and business went up for months after that."

Restaurant owners and managers worried about running out of hamburger patties and buns, but the operation appeared to run without a hitch, assembly lines were set up with workers grilling, adding condiments, bagging and handing out. Styrofoam coolers were filled with burgers as the lines seemed to keep growing throughout the day. A grill fire at the Webb on W. Silver Spring Drive delayed service about 20 minutes and a firefighter jokingly denied that rescue squad members ran into the restaurant to get to the front of the line.
That 1987 season was a season of streaks for the Brewers. Paul Molitor ran a consecutive game hitting streak into the thirties.  Conventional wisdom around baseball was that the fifteen game streak left the Brewers in a good place for the playoffs (which back then involved fewer teams) with .500 baseball the rest of the way.  But after the long winning streak came a couple of long losing streaks (I don't recall people joking about the Brewers having to buy hamburgers, although more recently that did come up) and the team finished out of contention.

The implicit promise of hamburgers is still in the air.  Five burgers for six bucks when the Brewers score five runs in a game is still there.  And those clocks?  To comply with a Milwaukee restaurant closing law.

But don't dump on George Webb when the Brewers get those five runs in the first three innings, chase the Cub starter, and then the relief pitchers lose their stuff.

21.4.17

BASEBALL'S E-T-T-S MOMENT.

Jim Loomis goes to a baseball game in Toronto, has the experience spoiled, but not by the Blue Jays' play.
It’s really awful: bugle calls, rhythmic clapping, the scoreboard admonishing the crowd to “MAKE NOISE!!” and the crowd dutifully responding … even when there is nothing much happening on the field.

This is not football, for God’s sake! There is a lot of thinking required in the watching of a baseball game and all that noise and artificially induced enthusiasm is really just a distraction. In various situations, there’s strategy being applied and then, perhaps, countered. How can a real baseball fan contemplate the various options that might be employed in the next minute or two if people sitting all around him are shrieking as loud as they can hoping to breaking the record set on the Cheer-O-Meter?

This is a trend that has been going on for a couple of decades. I’ve been to several of the Major League Ballparks and have always thought the ballpark in Anaheim where the Angels play is the worst. I may have to\o change my mind after experiencing the home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

All of this just reinforces my opinion that Boston’s Fenway Park is the best venue for baseball in the country . . . by far! The Fenway Park crowd knows the game. They know that “making noise” is spontaneous and occurs involuntarily after an important run is scored or a great defensive play is made.
Indeed.  And a commenter complains that the other traditional urban ballpark, Wrigley Field, is now too full of fair weather fans out for a party.  (Worse, they're partying down on Old Style, and that line in "Go Cubs, Go" about listening on WGN is dated.)

CORPORATIONS ERASE INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY.

Milwaukee railroad photographers, whether at The Milwaukee Road's Everett Street Depot or at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee Terminal, often got the Schroeder Hotel (and you could always identify the out-of towners by the way they pronounced it) in the background.


John Karlson photograph, fall 1952.

But local ownership of a hotel (it's the brick tower peeking over the Public Service Building just left of center) was one more casualty of a more mobile economy, in which the casual traveller required a signal of dependability, even if that dependability meant the blandness of a McDonald's or Holiday Inn.  And Sheraton established a foothold in Milwaukee (yeah, we had trouble with that whole bush league thing, and getting national hotel chains downtown and jets at the airport mattered) by purchasing Schroeder.  That prompted local humor columnist Gerald Kloss to pen a parody of "Old Ironsides" suggesting that Sheraton not mess with the hotel's name.

But if the chain cannot, in grace,
With "Schroeder" quite agree,
Then make it "Scheraton," and place
'Twixt "S" and "h" a "c"!

I don't know if Sheraton read the advice, but they were willing to leave well enough alone.  Subsequently, though, the hotel passed to the same entrepreneur who sold the Big Boy hamburgers (in southeastern Wisconsin, thus, it was Marc's Big Boy) and what followed was not amusing.
Although the Sheraton-Schroeder never did end up dropping its last name, change eventually came. In 1972, Marcus Corp. Chairman Ben Marcus headed up a group of Milwaukee investors to buy the hotel, renaming it the Marc Plaza. In 1995, Marcus Corp. affiliated with the Hilton chain, and changed the hotel's name again, to Hilton Milwaukee City Center.
But I recall there being a Roy Rogers (!) eatery occupying space along Wisconsin Avenue.

THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.

Longtime academic administrator William M. Chace asks, "Why Pick on Middlebury?"  He raises a valid point.
[Middlebury's] enrollment of some 2,450 students represents 0.012 percent of the national enrollment. Those students, none of whom will study either homeland security or transportation and materials moving, gained admission to the school in a process so competitive (16 percent of applicants admitted) that it renders them highly unrepresentative of American college students in general. Middlebury professors, all 270 of them, are similarly unrepresentative of American college teachers, of whom there are 1.5 million. They teach small classes, most of them enjoy the privileges of tenure, and they are better paid than most of their national colleagues. Middlebury is small, prestigious, and remote.

But when the controversial and itinerant political scientist Charles Murray was invited by some Middlebury students to speak at the college in February, he was angrily denounced by other students and was prevented by denunciations and threats from giving his talk. Protected by public safety officers, he was ushered away from the lectern; the professor whom he was scheduled to debate suffered an injury in the melee.

In the weeks thereafter, Middlebury (founded 1800) became, for the first and only time in its history, the face of American higher education.
I write from the perspective of a utilities and transportation major with more than a passing interest in materials moving, and a former employee of a university offering a concentration in homeland security who concurs with Mr Chace's thesis that most of the action in higher education goes on in the community colleges and land-grants and mid-majors.  And for the most part, students don't carry on like the entitled snowflakes in their epistemically closed resorts.
Murray went on to speak, and to be heard with only minimal commotion, at Duke, Columbia, New York University, Notre Dame, Villanova, and Indiana University. The Middlebury debacle was not repeated. At Duke, Murray’s talk proceeded peacefully before an audience of 50. At Columbia, 150 faculty members expressed their support of Murray’s right to speak; 60 people attended the talk. The lecture at NYU prompted protest, but those in the audience, all 50 of them, heard it. At Villanova three protestors were removed after some four minutes of sustained objection before Murray spoke to about 100 people. Murray spoke peacefully to a small crowd at Indiana while, outside the room, there was some protest. But since these events had nothing spectacular on show, the commentators had no “revelations” to announce.

When mulling over Middlebury and these other institutions, it is helpful to keep in mind the remaining 4,600 American colleges and universities, public and private. What to make of their calmness? When characterizing American higher education, why turn to Middlebury and Charles Murray? Why is it easy to imagine that what happened in Vermont summed up the state of American higher education? What, if anything, did Middlebury “reveal”?
All valid questions, and yet the position of a Middlebury or a Yale or an Oberlin in the status hierarchy matters, as the crazy ideas that originate there find their way into the humanities curriculum everywhere (and Mr Chace ought not be too sanguine about deconstructing Introduction to Chemistry either); and the kind of foolishness that infected Student Affairs at Delaware (imagine, a state university invisible in the football polls and generally irrelevant in the basketball tournament) is likely to break out elsewhere, absent the faculty taking their duties as stewards of the curriculum seriously.

We don't hammer on Middlebury (or Oberlin, or Yale) for enabling their snowflakes.

We hammer on Middlebury in order that Northern Illinois (or Delaware, or Nebraska) not enable snowflakes.

TEN YEARS AGO.

We first watched this space.


The trees behind the latter-day saltboxes have had ten years to fill in.

20.4.17

ALLOCATIVE EFFICIENCY IS NOT IMPLIED BY PRODUCTIVE EFFICIENCY.

Cases in point: those water-saving toilets and showers. Your Shower Is Lame, Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Work, and Your Clothes are Dirty.
The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades, thanks to EPA mandates on state and local governments. This has meant that even with a good showerhead, the shower is not as good as it might be. It also means that less water is running through our pipes, causing lines to clog and homes to stink just slightly like the sewer. This problem is much more difficult to fix, especially because plumbers are forbidden by law from hacking your water pressure.

The combination of poor pressure and lukewarm temperatures profoundly affects how well your dishwasher and washing machine work.

As for the heat of the water, the obsession over “safety” has led to regulations that the top temperature is preset on most water heaters, at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is only slightly hotter than the ideal temperature for growing yeast. Most are shipped at 110 degrees in order to stay safe with regulators. This is not going to get anything really clean; just the opposite. Water temperatures need to be 140 degrees to clean things.
Some of the work-arounds are straightforward: take longer showers, flush the toilet two or three times, use mechanics' cleaning supplies (sparingly) in the laundry.  But maybe the Wise Experts ought pay more attention to the unintended consequences, and the propensity of people to develop work-arounds.
So let’s put it all together: lukewarm water, low water pressure, low-energy appliances, water-conserving technologies, flow stoppers in showers, low-flow toilets, plus no phosphates in detergent. You have here a perfect recipe for a non-working home and a more miserable life, all courtesy of government regulations. Some you can fix if you are creative; others hopelessly ruin many once-great features of American homelife.

Donald Trump spoke the truth but he only knows a fraction of it. One of the great achievements of modern technology was to bring the best appliances and the conveniences they offer into every home. Government regulations have systematically taken all that away from us, seriously diminishing the quality of our lives.

If the public knew the whole truth about this, the anti-government feeling alive in the land would intensify beyond anything we’ve ever known. In the meantime, don’t blame the manufacturers. They are the victims, along with the rest of the public. We are all trying to live better lives but the government won’t allow that to happen.
Perhaps. But the appearance of Doing Something is more important to the People Active in Politics than whether or not what they sell as For Our Own Good actually Does Any Good.

RED-ON-RED FRATRICIDE.

There's a new book out, counting the ways in which Hillary Clinton failed to close the sale last year.  Upon reading it, Robert Parry, for Common Dreams, says the things Respectable People dared not say last year.  "An early insider account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, entitled Shattered, reveals a paranoid presidential candidate who couldn’t articulate why she wanted to be President and who oversaw an overconfident and dysfunctional operation that failed to project a positive message or appeal to key voting groups."  Yes, if there was any Russian meddling, it happened years ago, at Wellesley, where the Dowager Empress first learned to think of normals as deplorables.

How bad is it?  Bad enough that Mr Parry is reduced to citing sources that Proper Virtue Signallers, last year, were writing off as Beneath Contempt. "Clinton – in some Nixonian fit of paranoia – violated the privacy of her senior advisers in her own mole hunt, a revelation that reflects on her own self-described “mistake” to funnel her emails as Secretary of State through a private server rather than a government one. As the [Wall Street] Journal’s review puts it: 'she didn’t want anyone reading her emails the way she was reading those of her 2008 staffers.'"  So perhaps the Donk establishment will pay closer attention to what the left wing has been saying.
A passive-aggressive campaign that neglected to act on warning flares sent up by Democratic operatives on the ground in crucial swing states, and that ignored the advice of the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and other Democratic Party elders, who argued that the campaign needed to work harder to persuade undecided and ambivalent voters (like working-class whites and millennials), instead of focusing so insistently on turning out core supporters.”

So, perhaps this new book about how Hillary Clinton really lost Campaign 2016 will enable national Democrats to finally start charting a course correction before the party slams another Titanic-style campaign into another iceberg.
The challenge, though, is in appealing to the Wellesley-style millennials and older blue collar voters.  The elders, meanwhile, are interested in exiling Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress, dashed off a tweet calling on voters in Hawaii to oust Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard for expressing skepticism about the Syrian government’s responsibility for the chemical attack that provoked the US military strikes. Former presidential candidate and former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean piled on, and tweeted that Gabbard’s comments were a “disgrace” and that she “should not be in the Congress.”
Representative Gabbard is an interesting case, a surfing Major in the Reserves, with reservations about committing forces to ill-defined military campaigns.  But Robert Borosage argues she's gone off the reservation the Donk Establishment runs.
 Gabbard earned Tanden and Dean’s enmity when she resigned as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 in order to endorse Bernie Sanders, warning that a Clinton victory would mean further futile interventions in the Middle East chaos. The attack on Gabbard from two ardent Clinton supporters should not surprise us.

Tanden and Dean walk in the footsteps of those who would have read Republican Senator Wayne Morse and Democratic Senator Ernest Gruening out of the Congress for providing the only votes against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, or censored William Fulbright for leading the indictment of the Johnson Administration’s Vietnam lies and myths. Would they banish the 21 Democratic Senators who got it right when they doubted the distorted intelligence that claimed to prove Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and voted against Bush’s catastrophic war of choice on that country?
That second sentence is speculative, and it may be another dying gasp of the Sixties leftovers attempting to win an argument they lost long ago with an appeal that the current crop of likely Democrat voters are so addled by contemporary miseducation that it falls flat.  Mr Borosage is likely correct, though, that there is a scrap for the future of the Democrats in progress.
Democrats are in the midst of a major struggle to decide what they stand for and who they represent. Part of that is the debate over a bipartisan interventionist foreign policy that has so abjectly failed. In her short time in Congress, Gabbard has established herself as a leading critic of that policy. The harsh attack on her is simply an attempt to enforce the boundaries of conventional wisdom. Gabbard deserves applause and support for questioning those boundaries in the cause of peace.
That's one fault line. Bill "Politically Incorrect" Maher has identified another.  "There's liberals like me and then there's the kale eaters, and the kale eaters, they're the ones who are dragging this party down."

It's giving Kurt Schlichter no end of entertainment.
You Democrats must ensure that every Democrat candidate everywhere embodies the passions and the prejudices of weenie San Francisco tech dorks!

Now, I’m telling you this as a friend, the same kind of a friend you are to working people, to our troops, to American patriots: I sincerely hope that you stick to your principles, that you never doubt yourselves, and that you never waver.

You’re perfect just the way you are.

Don’t you ever change.
I think he's sending a carload of kale to Democrat headquarters.

SUSTAINABLE STEELMAKING.

The smelting, rolling, and finishing of steel generates a lot of scrap.  But reusing the scrap, which requires less heat energy than extracting the iron from the rocks in the first place, required learning.
Bessemer steel plants generated large volumes of scrap, but Bessemer furnaces generally could not or did not use scrap for a number of different reasons. In economic terms, this commodity had a value, but little utility; it lacked usefulness. [Andrew] Carnegie changed that.
It helped to have the open-hearth furnace, which could remelt scrap at the same time that it converted molten iron to steel.
An acid open hearth required the use of very high-quality scrap, which made its operation expensive. When Carnegie developed the capability to produce basic steel in open-hearth furnaces, he was able to use lower-quality scraps that were contaminated with phosphorus, so it was cheaper to make.

Carnegie could use this material in basic furnaces and convert it into steel—he was the first in the United States to do this. Carnegie owned two of the most productive Bessemer plants in the world, so in essence he could get the scrap for free. Not only that, he used it to make armor plate, boiler plate for locomotives and steel beams. He now had a plant, unique in the country, where he could take large volumes of low-utility scrap or even purchase it from others at low cost, and make high-value products that had high utility. That was one of Carnegie’s big breakthroughs, an important one that helped secure Pittsburgh’s place as the steel capital.
Impound entrepreneurial alertness in ceteris paribus, and some other location for primary steelmaking might yield a minimum of inbound transportation costs (which matters, because steelmaking is seriously weight-losing).  With alertness to the reuse of scrap, the capacity emerges initially in Pittsburgh.

SQUARE "HEGEMONIC DISCOURSE" WITH "NO FINAL SAY."

There's been a radical tradition, going back at least as far as Critique of Pure Tolerance, of people suggesting that some lines of inquiry and trains of thought be proscribed in some way, because they're wrongheaded or oppressive.  We saw that tradition on display recently at Wellesley, not in a good way.  John "Marquette Warrior" McAdams notes that mind-set will not end well.
But “productive dialogue” has to exclude anything that we consider “racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech” to be pretty much any political opinion we disagree with, we intend to try to shut that up.

That people like this will soon be dominating the mainstream media is a scary prospect indeed.
Yes, and "productive dialogue" is campus-speak for "You sit there and we harangue you."

But it gets better.  That "productive dialogue" doesn't have to respect truth.  Truth is oppressive.  A collective of young virtue-signallers at Claremont's Pomona College said so.
Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry. Thus, if “our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,” how does free speech uphold that value? The notion of discourse, when it comes to discussions about experiences and identities, deters the ‘Columbusing’ of established realities and truths (coded as ‘intellectual inquiry’) that the institution promotes. Pomona cannot have its cake and eat it, too. Either you support students of marginalized identities, particularly Black students, or leave us to protect and organize for our communities without the impositions of your patronization, without your binary respectability politics, and without your monolithic perceptions of protest and organizing. In addition, non-Black individuals do not have the right to prescribe how Black people respond to anti-Blackness.

Your statement contains unnuanced views surrounding the academy and a belief in searching for some venerated truth. Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth--’the Truth’--is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny.
Say WHAAAAAAT, Man?

Perhaps, on the basis of the available evidence, the colonialists and the slave-traders saw the colonized and enslaved peoples as deficient and worthy of mistreatment.  But the discovery of humanity and sensitivity to pain involves hypothesis testing and the rest of the apparatus of scholarly inquiry.  And perhaps "treat others the way you would like to be treated" is the moral standard by which people who are not black recognize manifestations of "anti-Blackness" as wrong.

Meanwhile, the editorial board of Wellesley's News doubles down on progressive intolerance.
In recent years, our community has neither threatened nor denied a speaker the right to present at Wellesley based on their ideas and has made efforts to encourage productive dialogue surrounding controversial issues. In instances where there were dissenting reactions to events on campus, such as the recent defacing of posters, students and faculty responded appropriately with the intention of promoting respect on campus. In essence, we have exercised our right to free speech in the form of disagreement. When a visiting lecturer comes to campus to share their beliefs, the audience should have an opportunity to object to those perspectives. Wellesley students are not complacent when a guest speaker offers harmful rhetoric. Unlike the events that transpired at Middlebury College in early March in which a speaker and professor were attacked, we have neither engaged in the violent silencing of opposing opinions, nor do we support such actions. Instead, Wellesley students listen to and understand those that differ from us regarding politics, religion and other sensitive topics and respond with productive discourse.

Wellesley will not be labeled an echochamber of liberal opinions while we have demonstrated concerted efforts to seek out well-evidenced opinions that differ from ours. We have the right to speak freely and to debate opinions. In the coming years, we will continue to do just that — never with violence, but with constructive dialogue. Yet, even as we exercise our right to object, onlookers are offended by our audacity. It would be against our principles as a place of intellectual conversation to deny free debate through respectful avenues.
That Middlebury reference? Why compare yourself with the worst?  Deny free debate through respectable avenues?  Should we be grateful nobody has pulled a fire alarm?  Don't be fooled, dear reader.
We respect free speech at Wellesley. We reiterate that there is a line between free speech and hate speech. We fight not against free speech, but to protect members of our community from language that harms or threatens their well-being. Thus, we respect the right to use speech to challenge other views. We will listen to and dismantle arguments and opinions that threaten a person’s ability to speak freely.
Put another way, Wellesley's hegemonic discourse is good.  Anybody who raises difficult questions is bad.  Yes, rattling a saber simply makes noise, but the noise suggests the presence of a saber.

It's not clear from this story, however, whether gross applications for slots at Wellesley are up or down for this season of thick envelopes.

You'd think people writing for a newspaper at an allegedly highly-regarded college might know how to, you know, write coherently.  Or is coherence yet another hegemonic discourse?

WISCONSIN WILL PAY FOR THE WALL.

Until recently, ultra-filtered milk, a useful ingredient in the manufacture of cheese, crossed the Canadian border without let or hindrance.  Until Canadian dairy farmers asked their government for a bigger piece of the action.  That put a number of Wisconsin dairy farmers, who produce way more milk than all the cheese-making talent of America's Dairyland are able to use, in the place of discovering other ways to dump the milk, or, horrible dictu, shipping Elsie off to McDonald's.  Editorial writers at Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel want Our President to negotiate a New Deal.  (In the original New Deal, a lot of that milk got dumped in the ditch, rather than on starving third world countries.)  Our President was in Wisconsin recently, and without irony suggested that trade protection might hurt some domestic industries.
U.S. President Donald Trump promised on Tuesday to defend American dairy farmers who have been hurt by Canada’s protectionist trade practices, during a visit to the cheese-making state of Wisconsin.

Canada's dairy sector is protected by high tariffs on imported products and controls on domestic production as a means of supporting prices that farmers receive. It is frequently criticized by other dairy-producing countries.

"We're also going to stand up for our dairy farmers," Trump said in Kenosha, Wisconsin. "Because in Canada some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others."

Trump did not detail his concerns, but promised his administration would call the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and demand an explanation.

"It's another typical one-sided deal against the United States and it's not going to be happening for long," Trump said.

Trump also reiterated his threat to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico if it cannot be changed.

U.S. dairy industry groups want Trump to urge Trudeau to halt a pricing policy that has disrupted some U.S. dairy exports and prioritize dairy market access in NAFTA renegotiation talks.
The dirty little secret of trade policy is that the advanced industrial economies, whether under the rubric of Common Agricultural Policy or in reverence of the Minutemen and the State Volunteer Regiments who marched with Grant and Sherman, all protect domestic agricultural production and ship the surplus overseas under the rubric of foreign aid.

The more general lesson, though, is that when Canadians choose to produce cheese with milk from their own pastures, they give up an opportunity to produce cheese with maple syrup from their forests.  Mr Trump apparently still doesn't grasp this, although he's getting an education.

On balance, though, not having to report on a Hillary Clinton visit to Snap-On Tools is probably a good thing.

EXPEDIENCE TRUMPS INTERSECTIONALITY.

Thus, in a special Congressional election in Georgia, we are going to see Democrats trashing a woman for daring to have the wrong politics.
Karen Handel, best known outside of Georgia for resigning from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation amid a national uproar caused by her decision to end the organization’s grants to Planned Parenthood. (She is the author of a book titled Planned Bullyhood.) The vote is June 20, and it will be an uphill climb in an area when Republicans outnumber Democrats.
The apostate must be sent into internal exile, and in Michelle Goldberg's eyes, there's a growing resistance in Old Dixie.
Nearly overnight, progressive organizing has become the center of social life for thousands of previously disengaged people in the area. Whether or not the movement is enough to swing this election, Republicans may never again be able to win local offices here without a fight. And the intense activity in the 6th District is a sign of how the anti-Trump resistance is building a new, locally rooted progressive infrastructure nationwide.
The resistance even extends to the Republican primary, in which Mrs Handel merits mention as "least associated with the president."  I think that used to be a mainstream Republican.

The Democrat's great hope?  A carpet-bagging beta male.

We have much to look forward to.

18.4.17

IN PLACE OF A RAILROAD NETWORK.

Cleaning out the archives.  Perhaps fixed-guideway transit is too restrictive, but the rail networks have analogues involving buses of various kinds.
[E]xpress buses would run on networks of managed lanes and [bus rapid transit] would run on networks of managed arterials. Taken together, these offer the quick, reliable performance of commuter, heavy and light rail, along with much lower costs (which allow a more comprehensive, connected transit network to be established) and benefits for motorists (which obviates much of the political controversy surrounding transit investment). The glue that holds this transit system together is local bus service, running on local roads and minor arterials with stops typically placed less than every quarter-mile, and connecting residential areas, transit hubs and employment centers. All major metropolitan areas have existing local bus service. (Some areas would supplement local bus service with limited-stop bus service.)
"Managed lanes" refers to the road equivalent of a fixed guideway, although it can be as simple as lanes that might be segregated for bus usage during peak times and released for general use at other times.  (Or perhaps unused capacity at night could be sold to trucking companies, perhaps this being enforced by heavy fines for trucks in lanes designated for automobiles?)  "Managed arterials" refers to the buses having the ability to override traffic signals and keep moving, if the stops are spaced more than a quarter mile apart.  But the model envisions a lot of transferring between the local busses and the expresses.  Even generous transfers discourage ridership.  That's one reason for the massive parking lots at Metra's suburban stations.