31.10.17

A KINDERGARTNER'S VIEW OF FREE SPEECH.

Columnist Kimberley Strassel gave a talk at Hillsdale College, "The Left’s War on Free Speech."  Her children got into a spat, in the way of children, and she attempted to make a teachable moment.  First the oldest, then the middle, explained what they understood free speech to be.

THE CAPTURE OF KARS.

When the Tsar's troops march in, Modest Mussorgsky writes a commemorative overture.

It's less dramatic when it's trains arriving in Uzbekistan to provide a southerly alternative to China's Silk Road Railroad.
The 849 km [527 mi] BTK [Baku, Azerbaijan - Tblisi, Georgia, Kars, Turkey] programme is central to plans to create a rail corridor from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey. It involved upgrading infrastructure in Azerbaijan and Georgia, rehabilitating 153 km [95 mi] of unused 1 520mm [Soviet 5 foot] gauge line from Marabda to a break-of-gauge facility at Akhalkalaki, and building 110 km [68 mi] of 1 435 mm [standard] gauge line to Kars via a 4·4 km [2.7 mi] tunnel under the Georgia-Turkey border at Kartsakhi.

This completes the missing link between Georgia and Turkey, replacing a route through Armenia which has been out of use since the crossing between Turkey and Armenia was closed in 1993.
Yes, there is a break of gauge and a transloading on this line, which runs through former Tsarist lands, as is the case on the Silk Road Railroad.


The closed line is to the south.

Although the railroad appears to be a way for Turkey and a number of the former Soviet republics to exchange cargo without dealing with Armenia, the connection is also a play for the China to Europe traffic.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the BTK railway had become a reality because of the friendship of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. He said shipments from China would be able to reach Europe in 15 days using the BTK route, and the initial capacity of 6·5 million tonnes of freight and 1 million passengers per year was expected to increase to 17 million tonnes and 3 million passengers per year in 2034.
That's time-competitive with the Silk Road Railroad. I wonder if that new tunnel is tall enough for double-stacks, as much of this railroad is currently diesel hauled.

THE PACIFIC OCEAN IS NO PLACE TO PLAY.

Last week's feel-good story was the rescue of two women, supposedly missing at sea since sometime in May, turning up alive and well with their dogs along, somewhere off Japan.

One of the sailors, Jennifer Appel, joked years ago about things going wrong at sea.
Appel said she was reminded of a conversation about sailing she had with an acquaintance some 10 years ago.

“I was joking with someone,” she said. “And they said what happens when you go out to sea and you get broken? I said, ‘Oh, the Navy will come save me.’ ”
And these intrepid mariners have in fact been at sea since May.
The rescued women had departed May 3, intending to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti, [Joyce] Appel said, but her daughter’s phone was lost overboard the first day she was at sea, and she hadn’t been able to call since.

Then the women lost their engine in bad weather in late May, but believed they could still reach Tahiti using their sails.
But there's something, er, fishy, about that 'phone going in the drink.
Parts of their story have been called into question, including the tropical storm the two say they encountered on their first night at sea in May. National Weather Service records show no organized storms in the region in early May.

When asked if the two had the radio beacon aboard, the women told the AP on Friday they had a number of other communications devices, but they didn't mention the [I'm Sunk Near Here device].
Apparently Mrs Appel never told her daughter to be careful about picking up sailors in bars.
Key elements of the women's account are contradicted by authorities, weather reports and the basic geography of the Pacific Ocean. The discrepancies raised questions about whether Appel and her sailing companion, Tasha Fuiava, remember the ordeal accurately or could have avoided disaster.

The Hawaii residents reported that their sailing equipment and engine failed and said they were close to giving up when the U.S. Navy rescued them last week, thousands of miles off course. They were taken to Japan, where they didn't immediately respond to an email and call seeking comment Monday.

The Navy said they do not investigate incidents like this and they were only there to render assistance. The Coast Guard said its review of the case is ongoing, but that there is no criminal investigation at this time.

The two women met in late 2016, and within a week of knowing each other decided to take the trip together. Fuiava had never sailed a day in her life. They planned to take 18 days to get to Tahiti, then travel the South Pacific and return to Hawaii in October.

On their first day at sea, May 3, the two U.S. women described running into a fearsome storm that tossed their vessel with 60 mph (97 kph) winds and 30-foot (9-meter) seas for three days, but meteorologists say there was no severe weather anywhere along their route during that time.
Let's be grateful they didn't go to Davy Jones, and wait for the television dramatization that is likely to follow.

Sometimes, south seas adventures don't end so well.

30.10.17

MUGGED BY REALITY.

Two court intellectuals for the Democrats offer their perspectives on the 2016 presidential results, and their efforts provide material for Book Reviews No. 23 and No. 24.

IMPROVING THE SOUTH SHORE.

Will the proposed double-tracking of the South Shore Line lead to neighborhoods going upscale on the east side of Gary?  "As area residents on Wednesday passed through the Marshall Gardner Center for the Arts in the Miller neighborhood, they expressed generally positive views of the South Shore Line's plans to double-track its railroad between Gary and Michigan City, and to improve stations along the route."  There's a little bit of transit-oriented gentrification near the current Miller station, as well as a plan to turn the flip-back trains at a new coach yard, rather than on the center siding at Gary.
The rail infrastructure would include two realigned South Shore tracks, gauntlet tracks for passing freight trains, two storage tracks and two new bridges east of the station. The storage tracks would be used for trains that will start the morning commute at Miller. Currently those trains begin service at Metro Center, where they're stored between rush hours.
Unfortunately, current Federal Railroad Administration regulations obviate cuts and adds.  The protocols are only slightly less complicated than those governing rendezvous and docking of Project Apollo command and lunar modules, and defeat the purpose of electric multiple unit cars (refresher rant here, if you wish).  Thus we're not likely to see a Sunset Express dropping cars at Miller to cover the Duneland stations, and cutting unnecessary cars at Shops, the way things worked in the era of the orange arks.

But one holdover from the era of orange arks remains.  I had hoped to catch a presentation of the Rail Rangers interpreting the social history of the South Shore on Saturday.  But their show might have been preempted by football specials.


I was aware that University of Southern California fans chartered special trains for their clashes at Notre Dame.  Former Northern Illinois University coach Dave Doeren made it through a rough patch at North Carolina State and brought a ranked team into South Bend, with enough followers to charter a Passenger Extra departing ten minutes ahead of the scheduled train, and there were plenty of fans aboard the scheduled train as well.


I hope there were enough of these virtue-signalling busses to get all the fans to the shadow of Touchdown Jesus in the two hours between arrival and kickoff.  The regular train ran a few minutes late account passenger loadings and adjustments to track use with scheduled maintenance and preparation for the double tracking under way.

The Rail Rangers hope to be offering programming most Saturdays through the end of this year and into January.  But be guided by this advice.  "Please check this page on the morning of your planned departure if you are riding just to experience our onboard program."

DARE TO BE STUPID.

I started this post five years ago, when Hope and Change were still the Orders of the Day, and even then, argued William H. Young for the National Association of Scholars, trendy postmodernism in higher education might have been eating the seed corn.  "Postmodern multicultural higher and public education has produced younger generations with limited capabilities and prospects for taxable income to sustain such obligations." His focus was on the political economy of a welfare state that failed to generate future economic growth -- there being limits on what factor augmenting technical change can get you when the population growth rate is no longer predictably constant. And privilege-shaming mathematicians isn't likely to end well.  Perhaps we could have anticipated somebody like Donald Trump emerging.  Mr Young was working on a series about the connections between the rot in education and the decline of living standards.  "Next week’s article will examine the worsening plight of the middle class," he promised.

But at the house organ for business as usual in higher education, it was all about the vocationalism, and how bad that can be.
With Americans now experiencing acute anxiety over jobs, money, and our larger future, policy analysis and public discussion of higher education—from the White House down—have focused with laserlike intensity on the connections between college and earnings. The U.S. Department of Education has led this effort with its "gainful employment" regulations—ostensibly aimed at for-profit excess, but all too clearly a blunt instrument waiting to be used on all parts of postsecondary education.
I don't recall if that article came out before or after then-president Barack Obama got his dig in at art history majors.  But when things get difficult for higher education, the defenders fall back on precisely the traditions they have been so actively deconstructing or deeming toxic or excessively privileged.
The fact is that society needs many kinds of talent and knowledge development from the nation's colleges. This is a global century, so wherever a student enrolls and whatever the major, college needs to help build citizens' global intelligence—the knowledge and skills to navigate an era of economic interdependence and cross-cultural intersection. This is a science- and technology-fueled century, so everyone needs science, technology, and mathematical savvy and experience. This is a democracy, so students' ability to engage in collaborative civic problem solving is, in the long run, just as important as their capacity to engage in job-related problem solving. This is an economy where innovation is all-important, so students must develop adaptive and problem-solving skills in addition to critical thinking and quantitative capacities.

In short, whatever students choose as their particular majors, we need to ensure that their choices—majors and core studies combined—help them develop all these capacities. We need to make sure, in short, that college provides students with an opportunity-creating education—a liberal and liberating education—and not just with knowledge specific to a particular field.

Even if we focus strictly on the learning needed for success in the economy, employers who advise the Association of American Colleges and Universities' work on educational quality emphasize that the major is only a part of the job-success equation.
Put another way, maybe the Canon and the Curriculum and the Great Books had their value.  "Wage studies that look only at the graduate's choice of major may well accelerate the narrowing of the American mind at the very moment in history when multidimensional learning—liberal learning—has become essential to success."  I believed that, and -- has it already been twenty years -- participated in some campus-wide programming that even got faculty among colleges working together on -- precisely strengthening students' abilities to make connections among disciplinary themes.  Like so much else, that was all great for a few years and then either the funding or the administrative emphasis or something gave up: plus I kept on working with the same people, and after a while, many of us appeared to tire of being punished for being cooperative and returned to our own pastures.

That didn't mean we quit, and Johann Neem put forth the case for the trivium and quadrivium for their own sake and without regard to practical utility.
In a democracy, however, we cannot afford to leave the liberal arts to the elite. In a society in which we expect all people to be effective citizens, all people need to have access to the liberal arts in order to have the knowledge and moral foundation that they need to think about what is a good life and a good society, and the skills necessary to help them work to achieve it here in our democracy. Today’s students need to know a lot about how the human and natural worlds work and they need not just knowledge but the capacity to evaluate — that is to determine the moral value of — different goals, ideas, and policies. This evaluation requires moving well beyond the economic calculus to questions of what is worth it and to understanding our cultural traditions.
Yes, and to have a functioning jive detector. "Gentlemen, nothing that you learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life -- save only this -- that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education."

Better, though, that kids who struggle with difficult stuff, including algebra, not feel marginalized and left out, while the kids who can handle it not be given a false sense of privilege or get too full of themselves.  Yes, this was from five years ago.  But when the theorem of Pythagoras becomes an impediment to anyone not Greek learning plane geometry, well, the rot was setting in five years ago.
I don’t know how many eighth graders should take algebra, but I’m entirely persuaded, first, that we need to be ever vigilant about not lowering our expectations for disadvantaged kids, and second, that we need to be ever vigilant about not lowering our expectations for our most gifted students. Do these goals conflict? I hope not.
(An aside: twenty years ago, I recall our Russian tour guides, probably with their Intourist training showing, referring to "all the elements of the periodic table of Mendeleyev." There was even a wall mural of this tool in St. Petersburg. But Russian chemistry plus Soviet failure equals Soviet failure.)

Meanwhile, we had Victor Hanson calling to account the fabulism of one Barack Hussein Obama.
I had a lot of Obamas in class. They sat in the front of the room, posed long eloquent questions, mellifluously interrupted the lectures with clever refinements and qualifications, often self-referenced all that they had read and done -- and then pow!: you grade their first test and there is simply nothing there: a D or F. It was quite stunning: how could a student be so confident in his rhetoric and so dismal in his performance?
And again, a foreshadowing, if we had but seen it. "To the degree there is a gender crisis, I think it may be more young working-class men without college degrees who simply cannot find jobs in the muscular industries and for whom society apparently has little need."  Ultimately, though, it's about the absence of a working jive detector.  What we get in politics is what we've been getting from the area studies types, diversity weenies, and virtue signallers cluttering the academy.  "It is all bottled piety without truth."

But at Newmark's Door, back on 22 October 2012, comes a warning that the vocationalist pressures on higher education might not be so easily deflected.  "There is a lot of--admittedly mostly anecdotal--evidence that recent job losses are due to deep structural changes in the U.S. economy."  Yes, and there is a premium on technical skills, including mathematical reasoning, amongst those structural changes.

29.10.17

TRADE UNITES, POLITICS DIVIDES.

We're going to sever a railway link.  And Latvia is going to pay for it.

Not so fast: the Lithuanians only hurt themselves.
State railway Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai expects to start work shortly on reinstating the 19 km cross-border railway from Mazeikiai to Renge in Latvia, Managing Director Mantas Bartuska announced on October 18.

Earlier this month the European Commission fined LG €27·9m for dismantling the line in 2008, on the grounds that this had hindered competition in the freight market by limiting the ability of other potential operators to serve Orlen’s refinery. It was also ordered to ‘bring the infringement to an end’, which Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager suggested during a recent visit to Lithuania could best be solved by reinstating the line.
It appears as if the Lithuanian railroad didn't want to short-haul itself on shipments of refined product to ports at Ventsplis and Riga in Latvia.  The article doesn't mention any Lithuanian ports, which would provide the most effective way for the railroad to keep the line haul to itself, although there are lots of possibilities for railroads and shipping lines to tweak rates such that long-distance rates are equal from origin to destination no matter the routing, the port, or the modal split.
Asked about the possibility of Latvian operator LDz Cargo, the port of Riga and Orlen lodging claims for compensation, Bartuska told local media that these could not be ruled out, although he did not think there were substantial grounds. LG was already in negotiation with Orlen in an effort to avoid litigation, and expected to speak to the Latvians soon.

LDz spokesman Maris Ozols said the railway was still assessing the potential loss caused by the breaching of the line. While it did not rule out seeking compensation from LG, its priority was to get the link reopened as soon as possible, he insisted.
Somewhere Cornelius Vanderbilt and Thomas Scott are sharing a cigar and a smile.

A BACH WITH A GRAMMY.

That's retired Northern Illinois University composer Jan Bach, who has a drinking song and a steel pan toccata to his credit.
Jan Bach of DeKalb shares more than his last name with classical music composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Jan Bach, 79, also is a composer, writing music professionally for more than 40 years.

Through his years with the U.S. Army Band, Bach played for both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson, and at Kennedy’s funeral. One of his operas was performed by the New York City Opera, his tuba quintet was performed at Carnegie Hall, he was nominated six times for the Pulitzer Prize in music, and a CD with one of his pieces, “Oompah Suite,” won the Roger Bobo Award for excellence in recording.
Yes, "Oompah Suite" sounds more like something Peter Schickele might have turned up, or perhaps a medley for the Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band.  And yet a good teacher can summarize, succinctly, the criteria by which a musical composition might have a lasting effect on listeners.
I think that good music tells a story. A good piece has highlights, climaxes and a satisfying ending. Good music will last over time because it is clear and has a story to tell. It also has variations in dynamics, tempo and texture, which most pop music doesn't have. I try to include those parameters in my writing.
Yes, and if it's anything like writing prose, there's a risk of overdoing the variations ("a fog of elegant variation") that will also ultimately discourage listeners.

MARKET TESTS HAVE STEEP GRADING CURVES.

But being a professor of education means you can deny reality with a straight face.
[University of Illinois's Rochelle] Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.
I'm not sure by what magic being good at maths, and using maths to write winning grant proposals, turns into unearned privilege.  Fifty years ago, the complaint against the mathematicians was complicity in the military-industrial complex, which is to say, using one's skills to batten off a corrupt order, but these days, holding a scarce skill and profiting by it becomes privilege.  Egad.
Further, she also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.

“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
Good grief. And so soon after Hollywood released a movie honoring the previously hidden talents of a few talented women that got the numbers right for the early space program.

Want to lower the salaries of math jocks?  Practice solving lots of integrals.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO ACROSS STATE LINES.

Many of the firearms used in Chicago's ongoing carnage come from Chicago area stores.
The Tribune reported on the study, a collaboration among the mayor’s office, Chicago police and University of Chicago Crime Lab, in advance of its official release.

The report found that “roughly two out of every five of Chicago’s crime guns come into the city from Illinois source dealers, making Illinois the single largest source state for Chicago’s illegal guns.”

The report also found that nearly one-fourth of guns recovered at crime scenes over a recent four-year period came from just 10 Chicago-area businesses.

Since Chicago does not have gun stores operating within city limits, the revelation that guns used in crimes here have come from outside the city is not new. But [Chicago police superintendent Eddie] Johnson said the new data are evidence the state can do more to regulate gun shops from surrounding areas.

“Details in this report clearly highlight the need for additional legislative action to help stymie the illegal flow of guns in Chicago,” Johnson said.
Apparently, contra Chuck Todd, it's not smuggling from Indiana.  But there's probably more at work than more stringent statewide constraints on firearm sales.
Johnson argues that the legislation is part of a broader attempt to put together “a comprehensive solution” to the gun crime problem. He pointed to New York and California as states that have stronger regulations on guns and whose cities don’t have the same levels of gun crime as seen in Chicago.
That sounds like opportunities for additional research.

27.10.17

REPAIR UNDER TRAFFIC?

Among the items in a recent Railway Gazette round-up, this.
Liverpool Lime Street station fully reopened on October 23 after Network Rail completed a 23-day project which included replacing 2 000 m of track, lengthening platforms and adding two platforms. Further work next year will enable an extra three trains per hour in and out of the station to be operated from 2019.
That says "fully reopened": perhaps the operators maintained as much of the schedule as feasible, with some trains cancelled, and possibly some diverted, as was the case with the summer rehabilitation of track in New York's Pennsylvania Station.

Lime Street is at the west end of the London to Liverpool corridor, and there is an extensive regional service out of it.  I wonder if "three trains per hour" means something other than creative pathing of the current trains, in which some platform tracks will be occupied by two or more sets of diesel rail cars, with the outermost set arriving first, turning quickly, and leaving to release the next set.

INCONVENIENCE SHIPPERS IN THE NAME OF PRODUCTIVITY?

I tend to cringe whenever I read corporate-speak that attempts to sugar-coat an abuse as an improvement.  The latest illustration, this gem from CSX, deciding to limit how much they link thirteen great states to the Nation.  "CSX told customers the changes were being made 'to improve service, efficiency, and better align product demand.'"  It sounds a little like having to destroy the village in order to save it, but perhaps investors will be happy.
CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle says the changes are part of a review of intermodal operations as the railroad implements Precision Scheduled Railroading.

“We are working to identify opportunities where we can improve service to our intermodal customers by leveraging other parts of our scheduled network to provide faster and more efficient service,” Doolittle says. “In some cases, this may mean using scheduled merchandise trains to support some intermodal customers’ requirements, and reducing the intermediate handling of intermodal traffic when possible, creating more reliable service and faster transit times.”
On one hand, your trailer might get to you a little faster, as it will move on the next train out. On the other hand, as we noted previously, your drayage expenditures might have just increased.
The railroad will curtail service between the Southeastern terminals and smaller markets in the Northeast, including Cleveland, Buffalo, and Syracuse, N.Y., as well as Montreal.

The changes are related to scaling back container sorting at the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal. The unique terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio, is a key to the hub-and-spoke strategy CSX has used to serve lower-volume intermodal markets. But its days as a sorting hub are numbered, sources have told Trains News Wire.
Game on, with Norfolk Southern and the regional railroads possibly soliciting for the traffic.

NO TRADE, NO TRANSPORTATION.

Union Pacific haul a lot of containers and automobiles, and that commerce is eased by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“I think that the impact of the U.S. pulling out of NAFTA would be disastrous,” [Union Pacific] Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz told Reuters. ”The conversation we need to be having is how do we enhance the NAFTA trading bloc’s capability of competing globally and specifically America’s ability to compete globally.

“We are in a death match for jobs and growth against lots and lots of competitors around the globe, and we are positioned to win,” he added.
Mr Fritz is willing to deal with Our President on corporate taxation, however.
“What we really care about is the growth impact that a sensible corporate tax structure would have on the United States,” he said. “That is very meaningful to us as a company as we compete for shipping that business.”

Union Pacific’s CEO said the railroad would like to see corporate tax rates decline, but wants meaningful, long-term reform instead of a quick fix.

“Don’t make it something that can expire in five years or 10 years,” he said.
Big Boy 4014 is likely to be back in steam before any relatively permanent change to the tax code is at hand.

GO NORTH WESTERN.

The latest franchise operator of trains on Britain's West Coast Main Line is a joint venture of three overseas companies.

The trains will run, however, under the brand London Northwestern.
The new West Midlands franchise is scheduled to start on December 10, succeeding the current franchise held by Govia which operates under the London Midland brand.

The incoming franchisee said the London Northwestern name was ‘a reverential nod’ to the pre-1923 London & North Western Railway, ‘formerly the largest railway in Britain and the predecessor of the current West Coast Main Line.’

Services operating around Birmingham are to use the West Midlands Combined Authority’s West Midlands Railway branding, with a view to facilitating the possible future devolution of responsibility for these services from the national Department for Transport to the authority.

West Midlands Trains Ltd said the two brands would have a shared management board, while being ‘closely aligned to their specific regional and route requirements.’
London Midland refers to the post-1924 Grouping company, London Midland and Scottish, the 'ell of a mess, which is not an inapt description of the corporate arrangements and cooperations with regional Passenger Rail authorities.

25.10.17

DOES THE GREAT LEADER MAKE THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME?

The Turkmenistan equivalent to Oelwein, Iowa on the old Chicago Great Western is Bereket, where a new engine house and shops has opened.  Looks like it has a bigger footprint than Oelwein.

William Deramus never had a cult of personality like this.



But do the dispatchers issue track warrants over the signature of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov?

YOU SAY YOU WANT A DEVOLUTION?

That's long been a Cold Spring Shops theme, and if an unusual presidency tarnishes the appeal of the Cult of the Presidency, that's a good thing.

You'd expect Scott Rasmussen to pick up on such a thing.
President Trump has been rolling back regulations rather than giving more power to bureaucrats.

If the political class worldview was correct, the economy should be tanking. But it's not. In fact, consumer confidence is at a 13-year high; people are feeling better about their personal finances and businesses keep generating more jobs.

This is good news for America, but not for the political class. It's further proof that they're not as important as they think they are. For many in official Washington, highlighting the irrelevance of their work is President Trump's unforgivable sin.
That's only tangentially about the presidency, yes, but the Importance of the Presidency is in Appointing the Proper Credentialed Experts to Protect the Public Interest.

Reason's J. D. Tuccille sees in the Poisonous Washington Partisanship reason to, oh, claim the Powers that are Properly Reserved to the several States.
If Americans are divided and factionalized along lines of ideology, lifestyle, culture, and geography, then we could devolve political decision-making down to the state, local, and (best of all) individual level.

If I remember right, that was called "federalism" when the Constitution was first adopted for a diverse country in which people disagreed on a variety of issues and didn't relish the prospect of a lot of one-size-fits-all policy-making. The solution then was to let people disagree and generally govern themselves without dominating one another. It was an imperfect system, for sure, but it averted a lot of conflict.

Some version of that decentralized approach to politics would seem to be in order now, so that people don't have to live subject to rules they dislike cooked up by people they detest.
And Joel Kotkin, a City Journal regular, suggests that the states continue to be little experimental laboratories.

Now comes Tom Dispatch's John Feffer, contemplating a fourth great shattering.
What’s the point of making the necessary compromises to function in a diverse nation-state when you can effectively secede from society and hang with your homies in a virtual community?

Given the polarizing impact of economic and technological globalization, it’s no surprise that the politics of the middle has either disappeared or, because of a weak left, drifted further to the right. Donald Trump is the supreme expression of this stunning loss of faith in centrist politicians as well as such pillars of the institutional center as the mainstream media.
Perhaps, or perhaps smaller platoons with greater internal harmony can coexist with other small platoons with different public priorities.

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.

A lot of stuff, these days, is cheaper to toss and replace, rather than troubleshoot and repair.  That's not necessarily civilization improving.
Manufacturers would prefer to sell you their latest models rather than repair your old electronics, so they work to make fixing their products too expensive or too impractical. It’s a global problem because the marketplace for technology is global, and people everywhere are affected. With so many people throwing out so much broken stuff, it should come as no surprise that e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream, with tens of millions of tons discarded annually around the world.

Tossing things out instead of fixing them has far-reaching consequences—for consumers, for the economy, and for the environment. Indeed, a future in which nothing ever gets repaired isn’t bright for anyone except the people trying to sell you new products. And many of us are not prepared to accept that future without a fight.
It's going to take a fight, and perhaps legislation, because manufacturers are taking liberties with the concept of ownership.  We're not talking about proprietary electronics in a smart 'phone (calls for a careful touch with a soldering pencil) or a command control module in a locomotive (I know people who are proficient with that).  We're talking about farm tractors.
Even John Deere deploys digital locks to make sure that only its own technicians can fix anything software-related on its agricultural machines.

When asked why it was standing in the way of farmers who want to fix their own tractors, the company replied that farmers didn’t really own their tractors. According to John Deere [PDF], farmers have only “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle,” and farmers (or their mechanics) aren’t allowed to fiddle with the software to effect a repair.

Naturally, that position upset a lot of farmers, who assumed that when they plopped down $75,000 or more for a new tractor, they were buying the whole thing. They felt they should be able to fix their tractors on their own terms. And it turns out that the farmers were right.

Authorities in the U.S. Copyright Office—who presumably have a deeper knowledge of U.S. copyright law than John Deere does—have generally sided with consumers when it comes to repair. In 2015, copyright officials told John Deere that owners do have the right to repair their own tractors and other equipment.
Thus we have a world in which right-to-repair laws are a thing.  And farm tractors come with an End Users License Agreement.  (Via Insta Pundit.)

23.10.17

TIME FOR THE WINTER TRAIN MOVEMENTS.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will operate only on the former Milwaukee Road line between Chicago and the Twin Cities this year.

On Saturday, 2 December, the train will call at Gurnee, Sturtevant, and Milwaukee.


This year, the Sunday evening, 3 December stops will include Oconomowoc.

With the coming of the Thanksgiving holidays, and the collegiate rush for something other than dorm food or ramen, Amtrak will again lay on extra trains for and from Ann Arbor, Bloomington - Normal, and Quincy on Wednesday, 22 November, and Sunday, 26 November.


Amtrak will also be requiring reservations on the Hiawatha service, 21 through 27 November.

FIRST GENERATE FEWER RENTS.

Former Secretary of Labor and long time public intellectual Robert Reich offers a modest proposal.  "What if the anti-establishment wings of both parties came together in a pro-democracy coalition to get big money out of politics?"

Here's the challenge: the anti-establishment wing that argues with, but generally votes for, Democrats, comes off as a vanguard, with the credentialed angry graduates on Occupy steering committees, or perhaps they're the colleagues of Mr Reich himself, managing industrial policy or trade relations, all of which smells of Governance by Wise Experts that generates rents.

It's also an attempt by the front row kids to hang onto their power.
One of the best formulations of this division comes from photographer Chris Arnade, who has spent years documenting the lives of America’s forgotten classes. In his characterization, America is split between the “Front Row Kids,” who did well in school, moved to managerial or financial or political jobs and see themselves as the natural rulers of their fellow citizens, and the “Back Row Kids,” who placed less emphasis on school and who resent the pretensions and bossiness of the Front Row Kids.
That's Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds, and he's focusing, narrowly, on the invisibling of graduates of law schools not called Harvard, Yale, or Columbia on the High Bench.

But the anti-establishment wing that currently argues with, but generally votes for, Republicans, has little use for vanguardists, because it's just more posturing by the front row kids.
They hold us in contempt, but the thing is, now the student body is paying attention, and we hold the chess club, the student council, the cheerleaders, and all the other little stereotyped suck-ups in contempt right back. And there are a lot more of us.

The establishment has learned nothing. It’s members keep thinking that if they can be just a little more insulting, just a little more condescending, we’ll finally learn our place – which they contend is at their feet, forking over our lunch money.
That's Kurt Schlichter, cautioning the Bipartisan Establishment not to wish for some Deep State procedural maneuver to ease Our President out of office.

Somehow I don't see that cohort making common cause with Occupy or the Resistance.

CONTEMPLATING MULTIPLIERS.

Professor Mankiw tackles the effect of a change in the capital tax rate t on wages w.

A correspondent, Casey Mulligan, using the analytics of a simple aggregate production function, written in intensive form as y = f(k), derives

(1)   dw/dx = 1/(1-t),

where dx = -kf'(k)dt is the static cost of the tax cut per worker.

The details are in Professor Mankiw's post, and under some circumstances reducing the tax rate on capital increases the wage rate.

There's more intuition at Professor Steven "Big Questions" Landburg, and Professor John "Grumpy Economist" Cochrane works through the algebra at length.  Plus a disquisition on the role of the algebra.
The example is gorgeous, because all the production function parameters drop out. Usually you have to calibrate things like the parameter α and then argue about that.

This is not the same as the Laffer curve, which I think causes some of the confusion. The question is not whether one dollar of static tax cut produces more than a dollar of revenue. The question is whether it raises capital enough to produce more than a dollar of wages.

This is also a lovely little example for people who decry math in economics. At a verbal level, who knows? It seems plausible that a $1 tax cut could never raise wages by more than $1. Your head swims. A few lines of algebra later, and the argument is clear. You could never do this verbally.
And Professor Mankiw's invocation of the single sector macroeconomics model suggests a way forward to answer a commenter question at Grumpy Economist.  "What does the government do with the tax money?"

There might be a way to capture the essential elements of taxation and government activity modifying either the Uzawa two sector growth model or the Lewis dual sector development model.

The challenge is to set things up in a way that doesn't too explicitly force the results, and I haven't done anything formal, this is just thinking at the keyboard.  Suppose that some part B (honoring John Kenneth Galbraith's "bezzle") of aggregate output Y gets embezzled.  But law enforcement activities  -- OK, mediating institutions generally, including the rules of contract and property -- can reduce (albeit never eliminate?) the bezzle.  Governing is financed out of taxes, and there appears to be the possibility of taxing beyond the level at which the bezzle can no longer be reduced, thus we get rent seeking.

There might be some elements of this presentation of the two sector growth model that will reward careful study.  Consumers pursue maximum utility, where their per capita consumption is y-b-t.  As workers, they allocate their effort between the goods sector, where their compensation is the value of their marginal product, and the governing sector, where their compensation is ... to be determined without forcing the results.

There's probably some of this elsewhere in the research, but I'm not aware of it.  I'd be pleased to hear of any systematic thoughts on political economy and taxation that can clarify the conditions for governance being symbiotic with commerce rather than parasitic on it (rent seeking), or with commerce becoming parasitic on governance (old style corruption.)

22.10.17

THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF COLD SPRING SHOPS.

The original, that is.



Four workmen are posing for the company photographer.  They are rolling a maximum traction truck under a rebuilt 700 class streetcar.  These cars were delivered as center door cars, later rebuilt with doors at the car ends.  Why the original trucks went back under the cars I don't know: the maximum traction idea was to save money by putting one bigger motor with a bigger drive wheel on each truck rather than put two smaller motors on each truck.  It was an evolutionary dead end.

I don't know the history of this picture, it's undated, unattributed, and a purchase at a swap meet.

That's an 800 or 900 class streetcar, Milwaukee's newest type, at left, and the car at right is interurban 1120 in a 1940s modern image paint job the locals referred to as the "Spitball Car."

WHAT HAPPENED.

Yes, that's the title of a new book by a failed presidential candidate, but the impression I have gathered of it is that she continues to blame everyone but herself, and life is short.

But when two members in good standing of the vast right wing conspiracy offer widely differing polemics on the outcome of the same election, perhaps I should devote Book Reviews No. 21 and No. 22 as a brief compare-and-contrast.

On the dismayed side, Charles J. Sykes, proud Never Trumper, is out with How the Right Lost Its Mind, (yes, I set that up with the earlier review of E. J. Dionne's Why the Right Went Wrong) in which he wonders if his talk radio echo chamber hasn't made possible the epistemic closure in which voters hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest, even if what they are hearing is made up out of whole cloth and hyped by clickbait-savvy webmasters or ratings-desperate talk show hosts.

I might take Mr Sykes's confession more seriously if he'd say an Act of Contrition over helping undermine the extension of the Hiawatha service to Madison as a boondoggle for a few Capitol Square rent-seekers -- although Passenger Rail advocates in Wisconsin did a poor job of rebutting his claims.

On the other hand, the Charlie Sykes of Prof Scam and Fail U properly could characterize much of what came out of the pro-Trump commentariat as the fallout of postmodern deconstructionism of coherent beliefs.  Thus, we might add to the sins of the political class "weaponizing the Executive only to turn it over to Donald Trump" and to the sins cultural class "weaponizing identity politics only to see it picked up by White America" the sins of the academic class "treating truth as a malleable social construction only to see the sledge-hammer wielded by Breitbart and Alex Jones."

But the election did come down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and principled conservatives could make a case for Mr Trump, crudity and all.  For instance, Victor Hanson saw it this way, to Mr Sykes's dismay.  "One does not need lectures about conservatism from Edmund Burke when, at the neighborhood school, English becomes a second language, or when one is rammed by a hit-and-run driver illegally in the United States who flees the scene of the accident."

What comes earlier in Mr Hanson's essay is more salient.
The lives and concerns of the Republican establishment in the media and government no longer resembled those of half their supporters. The Beltway establishment grew more concerned about their sinecures in government and the media than about showing urgency in stopping Obamaism. When the Voz de Aztlan and the Wall Street Journaloften share the same position on illegal immigration, or when Republicans of the Gang of Eight are as likely as their left-wing associates to disparage those who want federal immigration law enforced, the proverbial conservative masses feel they have lost their representation. How, under a supposedly obstructive, conservative-controlled House and Senate, did we reach $20 trillion in debt, institutionalize sanctuary cities, and put ourselves on track to a Navy of World War I size?
That's where the second book, Laura Ingraham's Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump, comes in.  Ms Ingraham might be angling for a job as director of communications in the Trump administration (although Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doing just fine without her help) but her book makes the case -- perhaps, it parallels Mr Dionne in its exploration of presidential campaigns from 1988 to the present -- that the Republican establishment Mr Dionne wanted to be more accommodating and squishy was in fact more interested in its sinecures than in the lived experience of their voters.  She even quotes somebody interesting on that score.
I've been governor of a small state for 12 years. I'll tell you how it's affected me. Every year, Congress and the President sign laws that makes us -- make us do more things and gives us less money to do it with. I see people in my state, middle-class people, their taxes have gone up in Washington and their services have gone down while the wealthy have gotten tax cuts. I have seen what's happened in this last four years when in my state, when people lose their jobs, there's a good chance I'll know them by their names. When a factory closes I know the people who ran it. When the businesses go bankrupt, I know them. And I've been out here for 13 months meeting in meetings just like this ever since October with people like you all over America, people that have lost their jobs, lost their livelihood, lost their health insurance.

What I want you to understand is the national debt is not the only cause of that. It is because America has not invested in its people. It is because we have not grown. It is because we've had 12 years of trickle-down economics. We've gone from first to 12th in the world in wages. We've had four years were we've produced no private-sector jobs. Most people are working harder for less money than they were making 10 years ago. It is because we are in the grip of a failed economic theory. And this decision you're about to make better be about what kind of economic theory you want. Not just people saying I want to go fix it but what are we going to do. What I think we have to do is invest in American jobs, American education, control American health care costs and bring the American people together again.
That's Governor Bill Clinton, sounding a populist theme to the expense of President George H. W. Bush: that Bush the son and Hillary the spouse both failed to pick it up, and Hillary the candidate called the disaffected voters deplorables contributed to the populist insurgency.  Yes, and it was one Donald J. Trump who, in 1993, objected to the North American Free Trade Agreement that the various Bushes and Clintons signed off on.

Now, she argues, it is up to the populists to keep their focus. and to hold Mr Trump to his promises to keep working for the people, as opposed to the political class.

And the political class is despairing.  Consider this lament from Thomas Friedman and fellow panelists on Meet the Press this morning.
TOM FRIEDMAN:
Well, I think what's going on, Chuck, is a real crisis of authority. Something I talked about on the show once before, I quoted my friend Dov Seidman who said, "There's a big difference between formal authority and moral authority." So we have a president who has formal authority, but I would argue he has lost all of his moral authority. That is why last week he had to bring out General Kelly, a four-star Marine general, because he still had formal authority and moral authority. Unfortunately, General Kelly, by saying things that were provably false about that congresswoman, really lost, I think, a lot of his moral authority. And now we have a situation where the White House spokeswoman had to invoke his formal authority, that he was a four-star Marine general to basically shut up the press. And I think that's the tragedy here. Like, everyone has lost their moral authority. And I think that's a real crisis for the country. Because when we're in a real crisis, and we need to trust General Kelly and the president, I think something's been lost here.
CHUCK TODD:
You know, Dani, here's how Peggy Noonan sort of put it. She writes, "F.D.R., Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan were pretty tough hombres. But they always managed to sound like presidents and not, say, John Gotti."
DANIELLE PLETKA:
Yeah, but again, I think President Bush, with all respect for the analysis about moral authority, which I think is very fair, I think that President Bush and President Obama actually don't get what the issue is. There's a crisis [facing] government. The American people, much like many people around the world, don't believe that government is in this for them.
Don't believe that they're being served. Think that they're corrupt. Think that they're dishonest. What those two gentlemen said, while we all at the table may agree with them, aren't actually going towards solving this problem.
CHUCK TODD:
But should we be concerned that their anger is based on fabrications in many ways? Like, they're angry at things that didn't happen, but they think they did because they're being fed divisive rhetoric.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
Well, you might as well say, and I might as well say, well, that's because of the fake news.
CHUCK TODD:
I understand that.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
So that's the national--
CHUCK TODD:
But it's a vicious cycle that we're in.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
But, I mean, we need to answer the crisis of faith in our leadership, not simply focus on the fact that Donald Trump is there. Lindsey Graham was absolutely right. Lindsey Graham said, "This isn't just about what one guy." He got elected. We may not like it, but he got elected. What are those folks looking for?
HELENE COOPER:
I think it's pretty hard though to talk about restoring Americans' faith in the government when you have the representatives of the government standing in front of the American people and telling demonstrably false stories. I think Tom is completely right that General Kelly lost a huge amount of credibility when he said what he did about Representative Wilson. And that just takes away, I mean, you see this White House constantly bleeding out these credibility issues.
ROBERT COSTA:
When I was at the Capitol this week, I talked to some senators on the Republican side and some House members. A lot of them echoed Senator Graham. They said privately, they're in lock step with President George W. Bush. They respect President Obama's comments. But they believe the country, in part because, they told me, about the Obama and Bush presidencies, has lost faith in the institutions, of the national political parties. And because of this rising populism and just general frustration, the leaders in Washington don't feel able to navigate this moment.But okay. Why can't you have this populism, why can't you have this anger without? Look, David Brooks wrote this, "Barbarism and vulgarity we have in profusion. Through his daily utterances, Trump is influencing the nation in powerful ways. Few would say he is spreading a contagion that we'd like our children to catch." The point is, the idea of role model and going back to your moral authority, can't the president do this, torch the establishment and at the same time, set a high bar of laws?
DANIELLE PLETKA:
I mean, there's so much elitist twaddle being sort of slapped around about all of this.
CHUCK TODD:
I understand that.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
And the answer is that Donald Trump is a reflection of something and he is who he is. For those of us who don't like it, for those of us who can't deal with it, the right answer is to figure out how to have candidates out there who aren't Roy Moore, right? And who aren't Donald Trump. And how the American people will elect them. And nobody's talking about that fact.
TOM FRIEDMAN:
You know, Chuck, the biggest industry in America today is the anger industry. Because we have technologies now, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, that allow so many people to participate in arousing, and also videos and pictures. And the whole country is just out there arousing each other through video and pictures and what not. And I worry that we're really fighting this technology. It's just so easy to get a lot of people stirred up and you don't have to be president to do it.
I couldn't watch that panel this morning without having visions of Pope Leo and his cardinals deploring those German peasants talking about redemption by faith alone.  Thomas Friedman as pope, Chuck Todd as loyal cardinal, Helene Cooper and Robert Costa managing the Index, and Daniel Pletka as Devil's Advocate.  Mr Sykes will perform the exorcisms.

But there are fissures in the Bipartisan Ruling Class, and we'll likely be having more of Kurt Schlichter.  "In one week, Trump crushed the cultural left in the Battle of the NFL, decertified Iran, pulled us out of the PLO-hugging fiasco that is UNESCO, gutted Obamacare, and dissed that simpering weasel Bob Corker. Sad? We’re freaking thrilled." Is it an accident, dear reader, that many of the people Mr Sykes thanks for their advice and comments made Salon's Approved Conservatives list?

All concerned ought understand that populism is distinct from the usual Sunday show talking points.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE GUNS.

Columnist S. E. Cupp (who now has an evening talk show on CNN's Headline News that impresses me as more edifying, plus it skews younger, than the Fox News and MSNBC offerings running in that hour) understands what Constitutional Principles currently mean, and what standing on principle means.
It’s Democrats and the gun control lobby that lack the courage. Because the only intellectually honest and consistent proposal for curbing gun violence is a ban on all guns. If Democrats are serious about putting an end to mass shootings, or gun deaths in Chicago, or gang violence, they should fight to take every last gun off the street. They should stand up and say they want to repeal the Second Amendment. Anything short is either a shortsighted fallacy or political window dressing.
Leaving aside, for the moment, the problem that Chicago already has stringent restrictions on gun ownership, but those restrictions might be undone by smuggling, or by scratch building.  (The British Sten gun, for instance, comprises components that a reasonably competent machinist could build at home, something that might have been necessary had fighting on the beaches and the landing grounds and in the Midlands become necessary.)

But the smuggling allowed NBC's Chuck Todd to deflect Representative Steve Scalise's invocation of Chicago's gun deaths by alluding to the less restrictive laws just east of the state line.  "But they'll tell you, you just go in Gary, Indiana. So I mean, you just go across state lines. And you can have all the tough gun laws you want in the world, but if you cross state lines, I mean, this is, that's why they argue for a federal law."  On the other hand, there's more at work than the relatively greater availability of firearms in Indiana.  Gary, despite its own Murder City reputation, has recently beaten Chicago out for at least one business project, and I have no evidence of a similarly violent war of drug lords in progress in Indianapolis or Frankfort or Kokomo.  Meanwhile, the violent crime rate has been falling nationwide for some years.

Perhaps, if it's angry people committing mass shootings that's the policy challenge, it's identifying and containing the angry people before they act out.  Was it really the best public policy, upon discovering the conditions in the mental hospitals to treat institutionalizing people as anathema, rather than improving the conditions?

SUMMONING THE ECHOES.

Members of Chicago's Iron Workers Local #1 offer a tribute photograph.


Retrieved from Curbed Chicago.

21.10.17

FOOTBALL IS BLOCKING AND TACKLING.

Green Bay Packer spokesman Mike Spofford notes, "Protecting the football is job one."

There are still some coaching points beyond equipping new quarterback Brett Hundley with a game plan.
I loved the fact that, going against the media grain of the day, [coach Mike McCarthy] wanted to focus his remarks on his team’s poor play that had nothing to do with Rodgers’ injury. He was borderline sick to his stomach after watching the film. That’s a coach and a leader, through and through. Even though we might all feel better if the Packers were 5-1 right now, losing that game might have been the best thing for the Rodgers-less Packers.
Furthermore, any reserve is one injury away from being sent in.  Prepare and act accordingly.
What message does that send to the other 52 players on the roster? How do young players develop if the coaching staff and organization aren’t behind them 100 percent to succeed? This is professional football.
Take care of the blocking and tackling, and the wins will take care of themselves.

17.10.17

A PROGRESSIVE SEEKS TO TURN THE CLOCK BACK.

The progressive in question is E. J. Dionne, and the setting he wants is "Eisenhower Republican."

And I could end Book Review No. 20 simply by giving the title Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism - From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond, and let it go at that.  And it transpires that he had to come out with a revised edition in November (my copy has a purchase date of 22 January 2016, and it was obsolete effective 20 January 2017) with a new title, Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism - From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond, and he's likely walking back one of his themes: that the Republicans might have little future as a presidential party, which surfaces at page 10. "A right-leaning Republican Party is in a strong position to rally a coalition of discontent among older white Americans who dominate the electorate in the off years.  But absent a change in its approach, the conservative coalition is threatened with long-term minority status in presidential elections, where a younger, more culturally and ethnically diverse electorate holds sway."  Oops, and Mr Dionne's recognition that this electorate is clustered in a few places is something that's going to be in the political discourse going forward.  And we no longer have the Victory Dividend to enable a Dwight Eisenhower to consolidate the gains with interstate highways, and Lyndon Johnson dissipating them in any number of ways.  The problem with politics may less be a disorderly conservatism than it is widespread manifestations of ineffective technocratic expertise.

And there might be Mr Dionne's greatest insight, page 14. "I offer this book in part because I continue to believe that a healthy democratic order needs conservatism's skepticism about the grand plans we progressives sometimes offer, its respect for traditional institutions, and its skepticism of those who believe that politics can remold human nature."

Alas, dear reader, that's missing from much of what passes for conservatism these days -- there's another book or two on that score sitting on my desk -- and it's unfortunate that when the skepticism manifests itself, it might be in a disrespectful way.  Page 309, from a Tea Party inspired town hall in South Carolina, quoting an unidentified hospital worker.  "I also have had many years of experience seeing the result of government intervention in the private sector.  The result of that government intervention has been mostly the result of what I call the reverse Midas Touch.  That is, whatever government touches through its control, it mostly turns to crap."  Yes, and if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and your good government school comes bundled with a granite counter top.  There is a lot of work left to do,  But somehow Mr Dionne's calls for "a more moderate brand of politics" ring hollow.  He's more on point at page 450.  "But to challenge the gridlock created by the two electorates, progressives will need to win back white working-class voters who look to government to reduce economic insecurity and expand opportunity -- yet have lost confidence in government's ability to succeed."

Yes, somewhere between a quarter-century of rent-seeking by the Davos set, and a half-century of technocratic conceits will do that to voters.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

GIVING UP ON RETAIL RAILROADING?

At the same time Norfolk Southern is cooperating with regional railroads on intermodal movements, CSX appears to be concentrating its intermodal resources on fewer routes.  Goodbye, Columbus.
CSX told customers on Oct. 12 that it would be dropping outbound service from Columbus to nearly two dozen locations. Only a handful of inbound lanes are being eliminated, the railroad said.

The announcements come on the heels of reductions in intermodal service to Detroit as well as Louisville, Ky., as CSX prepares to scale back container sorting operations at its hub in North Baltimore, Ohio.

The terminal opened in 2011 as the linchpin of a new intermodal strategy. The $175-million Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal was designed to support CSX’s hub-and-spoke approach to serving smaller intermodal markets.

By sorting container shipments at North Baltimore, CSX could build the density required to provide new or more frequent service to places such as Louisville, Detroit, and Columbus.
Developing.

FOOTBALL IS BLOCKING AND TACKLING.

A week ago, we were savoring a Green Bay Packer rally in Dallas: 75 yards in 62 seconds for the win.

Thursday, which is now unaccountably the beginning of the new football week, (North) Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton and team had two minutes to go about seventy yards for a win.  That team went four and out for a loss.

Sunday, Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game with a clavicle fracture.

The offensive line is also full of walking wounded, but the rest of the receivers and the running backs are available.  That puts the signal calling in the hands of Brett Hundley.
Hundley was sacked four times and knocked to the ground eight more.

As a result, a good deal of time will be spent in the classroom talking with the offensive linemen about protections, particularly center Corey Linsley, who is in charge of making calls for the offensive line.

“It’s all about talking, it’s all about conversing, making sure we’re on the same page, making sure we all know what everyone is thinking,” Linsley said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

It will be a challenge because the statuses of right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion), left guard Lane Taylor (ankle) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) are uncertain. The game plan probably will reflect which linemen are in and which are out.
Yes, although the important part is in executing the plan, or carrying out the coach's intentions.
More than anything, [Packer head coach Mike] McCarthy said, the team needs to perform much better than it did against the Vikings. The most support Hundley can get is if the players around him are performing.

“We need to clean our own house,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s clear what we need to do. Our basics were not good enough, and that’s what our focus is on.”
Another October, another opportunity to focus on doing things the hard way.  Developing.

AIDING A PRODUCER TO THE DETRIMENT OF ITS CONSUMERS.

Cafe Hayek links to an instructive Wall Street Journal commentary by a member of a trade association whose interests were at odds with those of the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The Institute, understandably, make all sorts of national-security arguments for not being dependent on foreign steel, and all sorts of injured-innocence arguments about dumping, and they got much of what they asked for.

But the imports might have served a purpose, and who knows what sort of expense-preference behavior is at work when deliveries of steel from overseas are more dependable than deliveries from the local mill.
By the late 1980s, high steel prices and quota-induced shortages were undermining factory efficiency as just-in-time processes gave way to just-in-case workarounds. Unconcerned, the steel industry demanded five more years of even tighter quotas.

That launched a political fight sometimes called the Steel Wars. A robust coalition of American steel users—led by Caterpillar, where [author Bill Lane] worked—was formed to push for an end to the quotas. Big companies provided much of the political access, but what carried the day was the hundreds of small metal-bending concerns represented by the Precision Metalforming Association. Congress quickly learned that 30 times as many people worked in factories using steel than in mills making it—and they were mad. Most of them seemed to be located in the same congressional districts as steelworkers.
And thus does the rent-seeking of the Institute provoke the formation of another coalition of rent-seekers, the Coalition of American Steel Using Manufacturers.  That coalition had more potential voters than the Institute, as the local mill was slow to deliver steel to fabricators not far from the plant gate.  There are agglomeration economies in having the fabricators close to each other, as well as locational advantages in having a ready supply of prompt industrial scrap to recycle.  There's been plenty of creative destruction at work in steel manufacturing, which ought to provide cheaper, better steel to the fabricators, as well as incentives to, oh, deliver the sheets and bars when the fabricators are expecting them.

NOT THE ONION.

Rick Pitino has just been named Academic Provost at the University of North Carolina!

R-E-L-A-X.

But Power Line's Paul Mirengoff suggests there's truth behind the tease.  "The sham courses were, indeed, available to all students."

Cold Spring Shops does not endorse all of Mr Mirengoff's continuation.
Many of the University’s athletes in high profile sports, especially football and basketball, fell into that category, and why not? They were admitted with inferior academic credentials (grades and/or test scores) and had to deal with the pressure and demands of competing in big-time sports.

But the athletes weren’t the only students admitted with inferior academic credentials. Students admitted to the University pursuant to race-based preferences also fit this description. Naturally some, and probably many, of these students would struggle if required to take a full load of real courses.

Thus, the sham courses were a natural (though particularly egregious) consequence of race-based admissions preferences. Their existence can be explained without positing a desire to help athletes inl particular. It’s quite possible — I would say probable — that this desire also existed. However, the determinative factor was likely a desire to relax standards for students admitted to the University pursuant to racial preferences. In other words, the sham courses were more an adjunct to the preferential admissions program than an adjunct to the athletics department.
Your Superintendent is not surprised, however, to learn that students might be left undereducated on a diet of access-assessment-remediation-retention.

14.10.17

THE POSSIBILITIES FOR RETAIL RAILROADING?

The Milwaukee Road and The Pennsylvania Railroad announce a new route for agricultural exports.  "The Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad and the Indiana & Ohio Railway will provide [Canadian Pacific] with a route from the Windy City to an intermodal terminal in Jeffersonville, Ohio, which is within easy striking distance of Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton."

Yes, I deliberately used the old names for the United States parts of the routing.  The grain will be destined overseas by way of the Port of Vancouver.  (Don't anybody tell Our President this movement is likely easier thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement ...)
The 90-acre terminal is owned and operated by a corn and soybean producer, Bluegrass Farms of Ohio.

International containers — which come to North America filled with consumer goods — often return to Asia empty. But North American farmers have seen growing demand for exports to Asia, and the empty containers represent a welcome opportunity for shippers, steamship lines, and railroads.
And the alliance of the Canadian transcontinentals with Midwestern regional railroads to expand the reach of container service continues.

START A CULTURE WAR, PREPARE TO FACE GRANT OR PATTON.

Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds offers the Trenchant Lament of the Day.  "I’ve warned the left for years of the incentives their unprincipled behavior was creating; perhaps now that people are starting to react to those incentives, they’ll finally listen, instead of denouncing civil society and free expression as obsolete bourgeois values."  Yes, and better to seek terms now than face your own Dresden later.  "You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the liberals are too corrupt and incompetent to maintain a liberal polity."  And make no mistake, it is Weimar.  "The liberals wanted a culture war. They just didn't expect that we would fight back."  It could get worse.

WIN THE BATTLE OF IDEAS.

No affirmative action for conservatives, urges Jay Schalin.
Legislating a problem away is an extremely tempting option, when available. Why not try to fix the most intractable problem in public higher education—its intensifying politicization—with a single stroke of a pen, if you hold the ultimate authority through legislative majorities?

And so, the cry arises to institute affirmative action for conservative scholars in academia. At first glance, it seems to satisfy the need to rebalance the Ivory Tower from its leftward lurch, but such legislative overreach is actually a desperate act that should be employed only if less extreme measures prove ineffective.

That universities are politically one-sided is beyond question today. Whether one looks at voter registrations or faculty publications, or merely scans online headlines to see how academia keeps pushing further to the left, the radicalization is all too obvious. The problem is most pervasive in those disciplines that are concerned with culture, politics, and society; academia at times seems intent on driving a polarizing wedge into the American people with little concern for what may happen when the nation is ripped apart.
Give no legislative majority a power you would fear in the hands of a different legislative majority.
The academic ideal is to promote the spirit of open inquiry and the free market of ideas, a sentiment that has the support of right-thinking intellectuals on both sides of the political aisle. Legislating the inclusion of specific views in public universities will undermine that openness; it may seem reasonable when addressing the lack of conservatives on campus but could set a disastrous precedent should a shift to the left in state electoral politics occur.
The challenge, as I have noted, repeatedly and at length, is for the proper stewards of higher education -- the faculty, not the conscience-cowboys in Human Resources or the Vice Presidents of Morale Conditioning -- to assert their role as stewards and teach the controversies.  Does it really have to take an entire generation of unprepared clueless graduates and ever more intrusive legislative oversight before that stewardship emerges?  (And if it takes that long, it will be mostly ignored.)
The nation is going through a period of heightened political awareness, with an increasing realization that traditional Western thought and free market economics must be defended in academia if our way of life is to continue. If conservatives—politicians, trustees, alumni, students, and parents—work together, they may be able to restore political balance without throwing away the spirit of free inquiry through intrusive legislation such as affirmative action.
So mote it be.