30.11.17

THEIR ATTITUDE IS THEIR ERROR.

For a long time, I have suggested that the aesthetic sensibilities of learned people bring contempt for their otherwise inclined neighbors or former neighbors in train.  That's a suggestion.  If you'd like that argument codified, clarified, and extensively supported, pick up Fred Siegel's The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class.

I'll keep Book Review No. 30 brief.  Mr Siegel is writing about the pernicious effect of the aesthetic sensibilities of learned people, or at least people who have persuaded themselves that their credentials, or their tone, or their hosts or guests at the right kind of parties qualify themselves as learned, or somehow better equipped to lead.  (We understand that they are not: and I have devoted fifteen years to counting the ways in which they are not.)  The usual suspects are there: Herbert Croly, Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Walter Lippmann, Susan Sontag.  His purpose is straightforward.  "Liberals believe that they deserve more power because they act on behalf of people's best interests -- even if the darn fools don't know it."  (Paperback edition, xvi.)

But the story is less about policy or winning elections than it is about the evolution of the cluster of ideas most easily summarized under the rubric of "fatal conceit."  It's also the growing frustration of the remnant of the middle class at their treatment by their self-appointed betters, and the growing frustration of those supposed betters at losing arguments, as well as elections.

The index notes no mentions of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  They're not necessary.  The frustrations documented by Mr Siegel were in place long before those Wisconsin and Michigan electoral votes went on the board.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

28.11.17

MORE IMPORTANT TO MOVE CARGO THAN TO KEEP SCHEDULE?

It's a metaphor I learned years ago, in the context of ensuring that students are learning, rather than fretting about getting through all the material.

Apparently there are people at CSX Transportation who get it.
Toyota Canada on Nov. 17 withdrew generally positive comments it made to federal regulators in October, saying they no longer reflect the service the automaker is receiving from CSX.

And under pressure from lawmakers, CSX last week reversed plans to curtail service to General Mills facilities, including a mill in Buffalo, N.Y., that makes Cheerios, The Buffalo News reported. CSX had planned to switch the Cheerios plant once a day, down from the current twice-daily service.

“As we progress the adaptation of Precision Scheduled Railroading across our network, CSX continues to respond to individual customer issues when they emerge,” spokesman Rob Doolittle says. “A good case in point is General Mills, where CSX has agreed to continue providing twice-daily service to General Mills' Buffalo facility as the company prepares for proposed changes to the rail-service schedule at its Buffalo plant. CSX remains committed to working with General Mills and all of our customers to meet their service requirements as we makes changes across our network to improve efficiency, safety, and customer service.”

CSX officials have said [new chief operating officer James] Foote is an important addition to the management team, particularly since he brings a deep background with Precision Scheduled Railroading.

He replaces both Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn and Chief Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson, who left CSX on Nov. 15 along with Ellen Fitzsimmons, who was the railroad’s chief legal officer.
All that talk about "efficiency, safety, and customer service" is as of nothing when General Mills goes to drones to get those Cheerios right to your door.

DONALD TRUMP IS NOT REPUBLICAN IS NOT CONSERVATIVE.

I've been attempting to find clarity for years.  "Put another way, theological conservatism, or pro-business conservatism, or national-greatness conservatism, are all at odds with libertarian conservatism. These four mind-sets could make common cause against Soviet Communism, and there are ways for those mind-sets to make common cause against whatever the Democrats are currently up to."  And the Republicans and the Democrats alike continue to get by without the libertarians in the room.

The conservative temperament, Dalibor Rohac argues, bets on emergence.
Radicalism instead requires making leaps of faith, and often making impossible promises to mobilize the masses. But that sets in motion a dynamic that inevitably appears in the context of revolutions driven by utopian ideologies. Once the impossibility of promises made becomes apparent, a search for saboteurs and traitors gets underway in order to identify those responsible for derailing the will of the people from being translated into effective policy. At some point, shifting the blame around becomes unsustainable. The revolutionary edifice collapses and is replaced by reactionary backlash.
That's a contemporary abuse of the term "radical" to mean "trying extraordinary methods" or "relying on vanguards" (heck, you could subsume the entire cult of the presidency under either of those rubrics) rather than "looking for the underlying structure."

Emergence is harder work, but more likely to produce less unsatisfactory outcomes.
Intellectuals and political leaders still have the responsibility to make the case for more open immigration and trade regimes if their social benefits outweigh the costs. However, there is a difference between carefully building support for that case and taking such support for granted, while dismissing dissenters as bigots and protectionists. The experience of the past decade shows that particularly in environments of zero-sum politics—which are usually associated with periods of sluggish or absent economic growth—utmost care needs to be exercised in making decisions that can be seen, albeit wrongly, as benefitting foreigners at the expense of “our people.”

In themselves, prudence, humility, and moderation are hardly winning political messages. But in a world of complexity and unintended consequences, they are necessary components of any honest right-of-center politics. Let us remember it when the time comes to rebuild on the ashes of the current conservative radicalism.
Let us remember that the Puritans liked to use names such as Prudence and Patience and Temperance and Thankful and Increase.  The bourgeois virtues.

THE ROAD TO HELL.

Learn Liberty's Ninos Malek clarifies.  "Good intentions do not always lead to good outcomes. In fact, many times, they lead to dire consequences."  Read and understand.

Pinned to the bulletin board in Cafe Hayek.

IT IS BETTER TO GOVERN IN ILLINOIS THAN TO SERVE IN INDIANA?

That despite Illinois being the canonical example of Getting the Blue Model Wrong.
No acknowledgment that this is a state government that is ranked last by almost every objective and measurable standard. A state government that fails every single one of its residents, day after day — and has failed its residents for decades. A state government that demands more and more money each year, to deliver increasingly less value to Illinoisans. A state government that cannot pay its bills, cannot make good on its promises, cannot help people in need.
The author wasn't fired as a whistleblower. She quit.

But well-heeled entrepreneurs, rent-seekers, and heirs are pouring money into gubernortorial campaigns as if a football franchise or a tech company office park at stake.
Self-government has failed in the nation’s currently fifth-most populous state (Pennsylvania soon will pass it). Republican Governor Bruce Rauner will seek re-election with a stark warning: The state is approaching a death spiral — departing people and businesses suppress growth; the legislature responds by raising taxes; the exodus accelerates.

Rauner, whose net worth earned as a private-equity executive is $500 million, give or take, probably will be running against someone six times richer. The race might consume $300 million — “maybe more,” Rauner says — eclipsing California’s $280 million gubernatorial race in 2010, when that state’s population was three times larger than Illinois’.

The strangeness of the contest between Rauner and the likely Democratic nominee (J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune) is that Rauner’s real opponent is a Democrat who has been in the state assembly since Richard Nixon’s first term (1971) and has been speaker all but two years since Ronald Reagan’s first term (1983). Michael Madigan from Chicago is the “blue model” of government incarnate. This model is the iron alliance of the Democratic party and government workers’ unions. Madigan supports Pritzker, who is committed to the alliance. This is the state of the state under it:

Unfunded state and local government retirement debt is more than $260 billion and rising. Unfunded pension liabilities for the nation’s highest-paid government workers (overtime starts at 37.5 hours) are $130 billion and are projected to increase for at least through the next decade. Nearly 25 percent of the state’s general funds go to retirees (many living in Texas and Florida). Vendors are owed $9.5 billion. Every five minutes the population — down 1.22 million in 16 years — declines as another person, and an average of $30,000 more in taxable income, flees the nation’s highest combined state and local taxes. Those leaving are earning $19,600 more than those moving in. The work force has shrunk by 97,000 this year. There has not been an honestly balanced budget — a constitutional requirement — since 2001. The latest tax increase, forced by the legislature to end a two-year budget impasse, will raise more than $4 billion, but another $1.7 billion deficit has already appeared.
Those retirees might be subject to state income tax in Texas or Florida: even the reality that pension payments are exempt from Illinois income tax isn't reason enough to stay. (You can't build basements in much of Florida or Texas, thus I'm still here.)

Mr Pritzker is running against Christopher Kennedy, son of the late attorney general.  And Mr Rauner has been attempting to make of Michael Madigan what Our President is attempting to make of Elizabeth Warren.  There's a recent commercial in which the Rauner campaign has Republican governors of neighboring states saying "Thanks, Madigan" for the migration of voters and businesses into Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

George Will, confessed Cub fan, hopes that Illinoisans can arrest the decline before it's too late.  "The nation has a huge stake in this brawl because the 'blue model' is bankrupting cities and states from Connecticut to California, so its demolition here, where it has done the most damage, would be a wondrous story enhancing the nation’s glory."

The story has been nailed to Newmark's Door.

BEING A GENTLEMAN IS HARD.

That's Andrew Klavan, shortly after the news that Harvey Weinstein is a cad broke.  But there used to be a way of dealing with cads and bounders.
If a manly man finds out Harvey Weinstein abused his wife or girlfriend, Harvey Weinstein gets his lights punched out. Of all the people involved in this story, the only one I've admired at all so far is Brad Pitt. When Pitt found out Weinstein had made advances on his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow, at least he went and confronted the producer and told him never to do it again. That may not be the last scene of High Noon, but, manhood-wise, I'll take what I can get. Good for Brad Pitt.
Mr Klavan is the moderate today.

Mitch "Shot in the Dark" Berg has a number of new epithets, including "Toxic Eunuchism" and "Genderquislings."  It's a marvellous rant, and it includes a link to Matt Walsh, with another marvellous rant.
What we need in our society are chivalrous, strong, respectable, productive, and self-sacrificial men. Real men, in other words. Men who protect, provide, and do all of the things that society has always depended upon men to do. If you are that sort of man, you certainly should not shut up, step to the side, or consider yourself "trash." Our culture needs your input and leadership more than ever.

It may be pointed out that there are fewer and fewer of these men available today. Again, I agree. That’s why we must raise our boys to embrace their masculinity — not apologize for it or feel ashamed of it — and carry themselves with dignity. The abuser and harasser never learned this lesson. He is an empty shell. He couldn't be a man so he decided to be a cartoon instead. He is not fueled by “toxic masculinity” or any kind of masculinity at all. He is a twisted, emotionally stunted little boy who never grew out of puberty.

The issue is not that he is a man but that he never became one. That's his problem, and ours.
Being a gentleman is hard.

CLOTHED WITH A PUBLIC INTEREST.

I've sometimes wondered whether the Civil Rights era might have had a better outcome, fifty years on, had the national government used its Constitutional authority to limit the power of states, under the principle that "separate but equal" is contrary to "equal treatment under the law."  Thus any state or local segregation statutes would be unconstitutional, and state and local authorities would no longer have the power to compel transportation companies or eateries to provide segregated seating or to refuse service.

What happened, instead, was an extension of the public accommodation doctrine, perhaps because of the visual effect of young collegians sitting-in at lunch counters.  And that extension well might have made perfect legal sense, given Supreme Court rulings on the ability of Congress and of state and local legislatures and common councils to use whatever criteria they wanted in finding property clothed with a public interest.

That approach converts any business into a common carrier (well, sort of: no service whether you're wearing shoes or not; no cheap watches at Sharper Image) and perhaps that ought to be the understood contract.  That argument has purchase to the extent that business owners might otherwise be willing to indulge their prejudices despite the voluntary sacrifice of business that accompanies those prejudices.

In Let Them Bake Cake, Richard Epstein suggests that market tests might be simpler.
When does it make sense to impose an obligation of universal service? The time-honored answer, as I have urged elsewhere, is in the case of common carriers and public utilities, which are not in a position to refuse service because they are the only supplier of standardized, impersonal, but essential services such as rail transportation, electricity, power, and communication, without which participation in ordinary life is exceedingly difficult. Historically, these services were supplied most cheaply by a single provider, which therefore had the correlative duty to serve all customers on what are known as FRAND standards—fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms.

The necessary corollary is that duties of service should never be compelled in a well-organized competitive market, an issue that lies at the heart of the Masterpiece dispute. We are far removed from the days of Jim Crow when the unified exercise of state power and private violence blocked the entry of new firms to serve black citizens who were systematically deprived of rights to vote or to participate in public affairs. We are long past the days when local governments could covertly, and without effective judicial review, deny power and electricity to any firm that chose to integrate its workforce. Our brief pointed out the thriving market supplying services for same-sex marriages both in states that prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and those that do not.
That sounds like a standard legal brief argument.  A half century after the Freedom Rides, however, there are still people who perceive the country as just one bad Supreme Court ruling away from the Confederate Restoration, or something.
In this environment, moreover, the prospect of open entry—never mentioned in the behavioral economics brief—will encourage a sufficient number of merchants to target underserved sections of the market. The behavioral economics brief shows an ideological blindness when it assumes that the rigid totalitarianism of Jim Crow has its analogue today in the hostile social response to gay and lesbian weddings by, of all people, Jack Phillips. That outsized claim inexcusably ignores and trivializes the lynchings, lootings, and humiliations that turned the old South into a police state.
There's good work in behavioral economics, considering such things as endowment effects (the option value of keeping what you currently have).  But you get people seizing on the stylized fact that simple models of behavior don't apply in all circumstances and using that as grounds to toss out the received models of economics under any circumstances, including those circumstances where the model is good enough.

And all this over bakers and photographers who have qualms about same-sex weddings?  Particularly when there are likely other bakers and photographers who would be delighted to cater and record same?

WHEN HIGHER EDUCATION BREAKS THE SOCIAL CONTRACT.

(Edited and bumped) The provisions in the current, not yet ready for a floor vote, tax code revision that will treat tuition waivers as income are not playing well in the common room and the administrative offices.  One might say the proposals are concentrating minds.

Perhaps, though, a quarter century of higher education breaking the social contract that used to ensure that students would learn, and taxpayers would support the enterprise, is behind the proposal.  Peter Wood suggests as much.
We are in deep educational trouble, much of which does not appear to be a matter of excessive tuitions or government programs. The erosion of intellectual standards, the rise of shout-downs and student-led censorship, the disappearance of regard for Constitutional rights and responsibilities are conspicuous evidence that something is amiss in our colleges and universities.  The price of education doesn’t all by itself explain this descent into the maelstrom, but it is a key factor that is often overlooked.  Let’s, for a change, consider it.
Most of his essay concentrates on the ways in which tuition waivers are part of a much more complicated framework by which nobody pays list price.  We've seen that erosion, midwived in part by political correctness, for better than a quarter century.  And the conversion of universities from places of learning to summer camps with beer 'n circus and maybe the odd imposition of a class here or there antagonizes politicians who want to be seen as fiscally responsible.  Maybe, as Mr Wood suggests, it's not so much the nests of court intellectuals for Democrats and latter-day juveniles dressing up as Leon Trotsky (!) that antagonize the legislators as it is climbing walls and water parks (while the classroom buildings and the libraries decay).  "Congress’s decision to start cutting the subsidies is what happens at the end of the river."

That's not to say that the trendy leftists with their intersectionality and culture studies and French rot and BLTGQUINOA and the rest of it aren't partly responsible.  Mark Bauerlein doesn't quite say "We told you so."  But we told you so.  "If the conservatives and traditionalists predicted a dark future of the humanities, well, that was just because they didn’t have the acuity to understand how rich and cutting-edge theory and cultural studies had become."

Facts are stubborn things, and shrinking enrollments and angry normals are real.
I haven’t seen any of the people who mocked conservatives and traditionalists for their sky-is-falling rhetoric say in response to the catastrophes of the last few years that they were wrong. They can’t. When you dispute an opponent over the facts, but stick to those facts and hold off on raillery, you can change your mind and make admissions. But when you desire not only to prove your adversary wrong but to discredit him, you can’t go back.
And discrediting adversaries is a game anyone can play.

A SPONTANEOUS EMBARGO?

It has long been a fantasy of the Perpetually Aggrieved that they can End War and Bring About Harmonic Convergence by ... sitting in front of trains.  Which is stupid, especially if you think that your statement will be more dramatic if you begin your sit-in as the train approaches.  That's a good way to lose, at a minimum, a foot.  That actually happened, in the San Francisco Bay area, during the Reagan years, but interfering with trains to disrupt the military-industrial complex goes back at least to the late Vietnam War era.  On the other hand, when real enemy agents attempted to interfere with real trains, in a real war, some of them got to sit in an electric chair.

But the fantasy lives on from the Weathermen down, most recently in the port of Olympia, Washington.
Among the protestors' demands is that the rail line no longer be used to transport fossil fuels or anything that's part of "military infrastructure." They are demanding "democratic" control of the port by the community as a whole -- which would not be "democratic," but socialist.

They also want to transition port employees over to mythical "green" jobs.
Once upon a time, The Milwaukee Road, which once served Olympia, used white coal to power trains, and a Milwaukee branch served Hanford, Washington, where the research that made nuclear steam electricity a reality took place, and both nuclear and hydro power are realistic responses to the cinders that blind and the carbon dioxide that accompanies the burning of coal and other fossil fuels.

But there's that little problem of using hydro power to help make atomic bombs ...

There's also that little problem that the Perpetually Aggrieved do not make friends or influence wavering people with their certitude and their virtue signalling.
These folks have a right to protest, but they don't have a right to trespass on property and they have no right to inhibit commerce. They need to be either arrested, or at the very least dragged away from the tracks so business can get back to normal.

What these Leftist protestors don't understand is that they're never going to actually win with these tactics. All they're doing is pissing people off. Do that enough and no one will give a damn why you're protesting.
It might be that they're protesting at the wrong port, anyway. I have some stories ...  But Olympia is close to Seattle, and Seattle is full of Perpetually Aggrieved types, and the trains get blocked.

27.11.17

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A PERMANENT BIPARTISAN ESTABLISHMENT.

Or so Accuracy in Academia's Malcolm A. Kline contends, quoting journalist Neal B. Freeman.  "We know what they’re against: the sad and widely unremarked fact that Obama is conducting what looks to many people very much like a third Bush term—bailouts, stimulus, entitlement expansion, war escalation, wall-to-wall Tenth amendment overreach from the school to the hospital to the bank to the gas station." Meanwhile, in Panem the Capitol District,  "Republican Capitol Hill staffers were as disconsolate as their Democratic counterparts."

That swamp was not filled in one presidential term, nor will it be drained in one term.

26.11.17

SHIRER'S GIBBON?

Shortly after the War ended, William Shirer, who had observed the rise of the Third Reich, wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and that's been the go-to source for generations of readers.  Thirty years later, Richard J. Evans has the opportunity to read through materials unavailable to Mr Shirer, including records held by various Soviet era authorities who lost their power and their monopoly on violence, fortunately without any nukes being released.  Yes, we're talking forty years after Shirer's work, not five centuries or so as in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and we have only three thick books to constitute Book Reviews No. 27, No. 28, and No. 29, rather than the six volumes of Gibbon.  (That despite typesetting technologies that are far more productive and less eyestrain-inducing than those available in the eighteenth century.)

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN.

Railroads' holiday trains deliver gifts, food and joy.

We've given extensive coverage to Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train, which works northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.


You can see a lot of the hidden misery in the United States and Canada from the rails, and that's what gives Canadian Pacific's trains their mission.  "The CP Holiday Train's mission has remained constant ever since: to raise as much money, food and awareness as possible in the fight against hunger, [CPR spokesman Andy] Cummings added."

In addition, there are trains running at museums, and sometimes on regional Commuter Rail operators, for the purpose of giving children of all ages an excursion and a chance to talk to Santa Claus.


Yes, that's from a long time ago.

As far as I know, no retail chains have hired a train to call shoppers' attention to the beginning of the Christmas buying rush.


The prototype for this train was commissioned by Milwaukee's Schuster's department store, and their carpenters added trimmings to interurban work equipment at Cold Spring Shops.  In this December, 1992 reenactment at East Troy, the locomotive, L9, is a product of Cold Spring Shops.

An earlier version of the train used a different locomotive.


He's making a list, and checking it twice ...

MALE CHIVALRY, NOT MALE CHAUVINISM.

Bourgeois conventions confer evolutionary advantage generally, and their absence has led to the toxic workplace environment for women specifically.  Matthew Continetti is thinking in general terms.
The slightest glance at political, entertainment, and business headlines demonstrates that the bourgeois virtues of restraint, frugality, reticence, self-control, self-discipline, and fidelity are not only absent in our public life. They are denigrated. Nor is this a mere political phenomenon. The liberation of the sovereign self transcends race and creed, religion and party. It has bloated our waistlines along with our national deficits, tossed families into a spin cycle of disorientation and breakdown, and endangered and addled children. And though a great many families of schooling and wealth have been able to insulate themselves from the gale-force winds of instant gratification and narcissistic self-expression, those in the middle and lower ends of our society do not have the luxuries of loving two-parent families, good schools, safe neighborhoods, well-paying jobs, and welcoming churches.

According to [Irving] Kristol, personal indiscretions and obnoxious behavior, sexual or otherwise, are intimately related to ferment and strife within society and government. Human nature being the crooked thing it is, one would expect some degree of selfishness, greed, and immorality at all times and in all places. And so it has been. What made our civilization different, Kristol argued, was that it not only originated but also granted honor and pride to bourgeois norms and behavior, and so created a specific type of citizen proper to liberal democracy. Distort the norms, change the behavior, and you create a different sort of character befitting a different sort of government. One very unlike the constitutional republic the Founders envisioned.
Yes, or Harvey Weinstein rationalizing his piggishness as merely what "do your own thing, man" implied.

But deconstruction is human action, and human action can deconstruct the deconstruction.
The civic-bourgeois culture that precedes and shapes politics can also be shaped by politics. It is a matter of asserting the old values and traditions plainly, unabashedly, and forcefully. Of teaching young people, and reminding old ones, to sit on their hands and control themselves. Of recognizing we too may be living in the opening stages of a backlash against the degradation of bourgeois culture — and that the ultimate outcome of this counterrevolution is unknown.
Ben Shapiro turns to specifics. Men, Stop Virtue-Signaling and Return to Rules.
Conservatives have long proclaimed that men, left unchecked, will act like pigs with regard to women. We have recognized that men tend to see women as potential sex objects and, without social boundaries, will treat women that way.

In order to combat piggish behavior, conservatives have advocated for certain rules and a certain educational framework, built up over the course of centuries. Some of those rules include: social expectation that sex would be connected with marriage, thus cementing the connection between sexual activity and commitment; encouragement of marriage prior to sexual activity, thereby providing objective evidence for positive consent from the woman before an entire community of witnesses; carefully cultivated rules of conduct between men and women, including, in many religions, proscribed physical contact; expectation that men would protect women in chivalrous fashion.

All of these rules have fallen under heavy attack — and sometimes the attacks have been justified by the over-restrictiveness of certain rules. But the basis for the rules was simple: Men could not be universally trusted not to sin against women. Call it male control, complete with background checks, mandatory training, and a well-developed male enforcement structure.

The Left, in its refusal to acknowledge the inherent flaws in humanity, decided to do away with the rules. Instead, men were bad because men had been poisoned by the social structure, or because they were screwed up by their parents. Rules were artificial barriers to progress. In fact, it was the rules themselves that were to blame for male misbehavior. Marriage had taught men that women were property; thus, kill marriage, kill that pernicious view. Sexual taboos had taught men that women were dangerous seductresses; kill that taboo, kill that pernicious view. Chivalry had taught men that women were weak, and could therefore be exploited; kill chivalry, kill that pernicious view.

It seemed nice in theory. It has failed dramatically in practice.
Institutions are civilization. Deconstruct them at your peril.  Perhaps that's something former executive and occasional politician Carly Fiorina had in mind in a Sunday show appearance today, urging men to act like gentlemen, and not to tolerate caddish or boorish behavior by their colleagues.

The Consciousness Revolution, suggests George Neumayr, looks like a failed and disastrous experiment against reality.
In a culture that rejects chivalry, chastity, and the countless prudent safeguards previous generations adopted in light of real differences between the sexes — in a culture that in effect reduces “goodness” to a set of political attitudes — the rise of the Beta Male sexual harasser was inevitable. From the sordid bed of the sexual revolution and crass feminism has come a new creature — the male feminist pig.
It's not that we never had a prudent culture.  Via American Conservative we learn that Linda Tripp, she of Monica Lewinsky fame, knew the old rules. “I’m so weary of hearing that society’s mores have changed,” she says, “when I knew that this was an abuse of, essentially, a kid.”  Of course it was.  But shut up, because non-judgementalism is the way.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.

That complaint by university endowment managers about taxes meaning fewer edifices being erected for development officers to then sell naming rights got me to thinking about the west campus project at Northern Illinois University.  "The $286.5 billion transportation bill signed into law by President Bush [in August 2005] in Aurora includes $8.32 million to plan, design and build new roads on the west side of campus."  Mr Bush was in Aurora to demonstrate that he could work with Congress, in this case with the then speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert of Yorkville.  Perhaps the earmark got Mr Hastert an honorary degree, or perhaps not, but it's moot as Mr Hastert subsequently lost his degree for conduct unbecoming.  The federal government did come through on the construction (albeit without those obnoxious Obama era signs).  "The roads paid for in an earmark to the porkulus transportation bill of the early 2000s continue to hurry traffic through otherwise unimproved land the university once intended to build buildings to sell naming rights to."

There have been some improvements to the land, including an intramural complex that is fenced off except when scheduled events, including Quidditch, are in progress.


I took that picture on the morning of Wednesday, 22 November, and the students had mostly departed for the suburbs, but these grounds are idle during a lot of other apparently good play-time.  A day like that Wednesday, or today, would be occasion for lots of impromptu tossing the football around in the pre-electronic shackles era.

There is one new building, the Northern View Apartments, which replaced the graduate student housing that had to be torn down for construction of the tony New Hall.  That's probably an improvement across the board, as the old graduate student housing was adequate by military family housing standards, and Douglas Hall, an undergraduate residence hall demolished to extend a road, was 1950s institutional at its best.


As far as I know, naming opportunities are available for both Northern View and New Hall.

As part of the landscaping, there have to be catch basins to protect the watershed, or perhaps because they look pretty, or simply because as long as there is open water, there will be geese.


The steam plume on the horizon is the Byron cooling towers.  We burn a lot of neutrons to bring you Cold Spring Shops.

I'm not sure if the university leases out unimproved land for farming, the harvest is mostly in by now.

And the roads have the latest in traffic taming techniques.


That's a partial rotary at right, and there is a full rotary at left.  None, however, where these roads join the bypass road in the distance.  Technically, Illinois calls 'em roundabouts, but these are honest-to-Massachusetts one lane rotaries without the complexity the traffic engineers like to build into them in Wisconsin.

Not that there's a lot of traffic.  I didn't see any No Parking signs; I was also able to stop anywhere along these roads to snap pictures.

Thanks, taxpayers.

THE AXE REMAINS IN MADISON.

It has been in Madison almost as long as Cold Spring Shops has been posting.  Wisconsin blocked a Minnesota punt in an October, 2005 game to retain possession (wiser heads have since prevailed, and Wisconsin plays Minnesota the last game of the season, the way Elroy Hirsch and Harry Stuldreher would have it) and the streak of successful defenses of the Axe is now fourteen seasons.  Wisconsin also have a pretty good winning streak for this season.


Wisconsin State Journal photograph by M. P. King.

There has been a Northern Illinois connection to the Minnesota program ever since the Goophs hired Jerry Kill away in 2010, just after Northern Illinois secured a bone in the Cities and before Northern Illinois went to Boise to play on the blue field.  We wished Mr Kill well, apart from games involving the Axe, and we extend the same courtesy to current Minnesota coach and onetime Northern Illinois receiver P. J. Fleck.

Run the ball 'round Minnesota, touchdown sure this time!

22.11.17

THANKSGIVING.

Word has reached Cold Spring Shops that some of today's regional trains are sold out.

We repeat our annual message of good wishes.

Spare a few moments thanks for the young people in harm's way around the world, for the people in emergency services who deserve to sit down to the turkey without the alarm ringing, for the people in transportation, tourism, and entertainment passing on their family gatherings to enhance yours.

As Matt "Dean Dad" notes, "There’s something civilized about a holiday built around reflection and gratitude."

Thank you for your readership, and your comments.

We will return with food for thought at the weekend.

REPURPOSING COMMUTER CARS AGAIN?

Rochelle's Nippon Sharyo were unable to produce a prototype bilevel corridor coach that could pass its compression test.  Thus, Amtrak's regional services out of Chicago continue to make do with fortyish Amfleet cars and Horizon Fleet cars, themselves based on eastern commuter coach shells, that are themselves approaching middle age.

Now the California and Illinois Departments of Transportation, which under the current dispensation must finance the regional trains (although Amtrak handle reservations and cross-country ticketing) have made a deal with Siemens to build a fleet of coaches and club cars.

The article speculates the coaches will be similar to those recently erected for Florida's Brightline service.  We note that Brightline is, at heart, a commuter service, that despite it having opportunities to engage in real estate development that Amtrak is precluded from by law.

LOSING THE GOOD OF THE INTELLECT.

Hyperspecialized savants lose their perspective, asserts John Naughton.  "If our supersmart tech leaders knew a bit more about history or philosophy we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now." His focus is on the alacrity with which people were able to exploit social media algorithms for their own purposes, that is to say, on the continued manifestation of the Law of Unintended Consequences. And why were these savants caught flat-footed? Perhaps because Unintended Consequences were not in their course of study.
As a consequence, the new masters of our universe are people who are essentially only half-educated. They have had no exposure to the humanities or the social sciences, the academic disciplines that aim to provide some understanding of how society works, of history and of the roles that beliefs, philosophies, laws, norms, religion and customs play in the evolution of human culture.

We are now beginning to see the consequences of the dominance of this half-educated elite.
Perhaps, as Mr Naughton's source Bob O'Donnell puts it, "While seemingly democratic at a superficial level, a system in which the lack of structure means that all voices carry equal weight, and yet popularity, not experience or intelligence, actually drives influence, is clearly in need of more refinement and thought than it was first given."

Or perhaps, something more ominous is at work.  It's the abdication of the humanities itself, perhaps because it's more fun subverting dominant paradigms and deconstructing logical systems.  But when you deny coherent beliefs, are you surprised that you get incoherence?

That's Mark Bauerlein's warning.
Some students will enjoy listening to history professors recount the exploitations Western nations have wrought upon people of color.  Some students will like hearing American chided for failing its ideals.  But not enough of them to sustain the fields.  Most students who, in high school, liked reading about Civil War battles and got a kick out of tales of European royalty won’t be drawn to social history, that is, representations of people “at the bottom.” It’s a downer to them, with too much resentment mixed in with the learning.

This is the truth that so many tenured humanities professors don’t wish to admit.  American students aren’t interested in what they have to say.
There might be something more at work, in that those courses devoted to subverting paradigms and undermining hegemonic discourses don't really call for much careful thinking.  Thus the social media algorithm pushers might have gone ahead with their projects without even the ability to recognize that others could subvert what they had put together.

Now consider Mr Naughton's implicit call for gatekeepers ("refinement and thought").  Perhaps, as Richard "Belmont Club" Fernandez puts it, the gatekeepers, whether they know their classics or not, are, to borrow a phrase, terminally stupid.
Now with the decline of prestige leadership the time for amateur hour may be here again. As late as July, 2017 Vox could still write with confidence that "political amateurs are a threat to democracy. What we need is more expertise and experience, not less."  Today that advice seems doubtful.  Now that we know the kind of experience our betters actually possess, maybe we can do with less.
Emergence might be a good thing, Mike Sabo claims.
From skyrocketing divorce rates (especially among our older population) to the explosion of crime in our inner cities, there is overwhelming evidence of the establishment’s failure to take the lead on questions of moral importance.

But try telling that to the members of the establishment. They cannot even see the failures their weakness combined with permissive ideology and policy have produced. In fact, they think that the only prescription needed is more of the same poison that brought us where we are.
Perhaps they have kept the gates long enough, and it is time for them to go.
Upending the establishment consensus can only be successful if Americans are no longer captive to bread and circuses. We must educate ourselves and read widely, even among those with whom we disagree.  We must adopt a contrarian mindset and always be ready to question whatever narrative the media and elected officials sell—and this includes even Right-leaning media and political figures such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and—most especially—the Republican Congress.

Moreover, we must be well-rounded citizens, so that should our project of busting the establishment monopoly succeed, we have something worthy with which to replace it. Tearing down is not enough. We must know what it takes to build a strong civil society that can last for generations to come. We must stop asking what is good for conservatives (who cares?) and start asking what it means to stand for the common good.
That sounds like a call for coherence in thinking, and here are some suggestions from law professor Adam McLeod on how to develop coherence.
Before I can teach you how to reason, I must first teach you how to rid yourself of unreason. For many of you have not yet been educated. You have been dis-educated. To put it bluntly, you have been indoctrinated. Before you learn how to think you must first learn how to stop unthinking.

Reasoning requires you to understand truth claims, even truth claims that you think are false or bad or just icky. Most of you have been taught to label things with various “isms” which prevent you from understanding claims you find uncomfortable or difficult.

Reasoning requires correct judgment. Judgment involves making distinctions, discriminating. Most of you have been taught how to avoid critical, evaluative judgments by appealing to simplistic terms such as “diversity” and “equality.”

Reasoning requires you to understand the difference between true and false. And reasoning requires coherence and logic. Most of you have been taught to embrace incoherence and illogic. You have learned to associate truth with your subjective feelings, which are neither true nor false but only yours, and which are constantly changeful.

We will have to pull out all of the weeds in your mind as we come across them. Unfortunately, your mind is full of weeds, and this will be a very painful experience. But it is strictly necessary if anything useful, good, and fruitful is to be planted in your head.
By all means read it, understand it, and those of you who are still in the trenches, implement it!

20.11.17

THAT'S AVELIA, NOT ACELA.

It's a new Pendolino train, soon to go into service Frankfurt - Basel - Milan.
The Avelia Pendolino for SBB is a seven-car train that can transport up to 420 passengers at a maximum operating speed of 250km/h. The train offers its passengers easy access and high comfort due to wide gangways and corridors, adjustable seats, individual reading lamps and sockets as well as large panoramic windows. The train is equipped with the latest generation of flexible bogies reducing track and wheel wear. It also benefits from Alstom’s unique tilting technology, which allows trains to run 35 per cent faster and more safely through curves on conventional lines.

The Pendolino’s environmentally-friendly design is recyclable up to 95 per cent, and is equipped with an electric brake system allowing reducing energy consumption by almost 10 per cent.
Regenerative braking is not a new thing on electrically operated railroads, although providing the circuitry to rectify and invert and chop and then unchop and convert back to the catenary power and frequency is.

I note that these trains have adjustable seats, which is an advance over Britain's Virgin Pendolino sets.

Is it too much to ask for a spiffed-up version to run Paris to Venice via the Simplon as a latter-day Venice Simplon-Orient Express?

SCHADENFREUDE IN BOSTON.

I happened across the lamentations in Boston's Globe about taxing college endowments and all the rest because that headline caught my eye at a news-stand in North Station.

Howie Carr has to live in the Kultursmog all the time.  And he's not playing nice.
Here’s how you know that there’s at least one beautiful new provision in the Republicans’ tax bill: Harvard is screaming bloody murder, ditto Yale, Wellesley, Smith and all the rest of the pampered-puke rich-kid private colleges.

The GOP must be doing something right!
He gets to be the provocateur. I'm simply an observer passing through. But we're having similar thoughts.
Hilariously, the same eggheads who are always denouncing the Republicans as the party of “the rich” are now sounding like ... Republicans, defending their vast billion-dollar tax breaks.

Here’s the statement from the shocked, shocked president of Harvard, Drew Faust: “A tax on university endowments is really a tax on the people who make up these institutions and the work they do: donors, alumni, staff, students and faculty.”
Tax incidence is messy, but, yes, ultimately, all income accrues to people.

Then he gets to the local member of Congress.
Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) is another pablum-puking Ivy League (Dartmouth) SJW defending his alma mater: “These schools use endowments to build buildings, which employ our workers.”

Did you ever hear such supply-side nonsense? Next he’ll be telling us that the money will “trickle down” to the middle class. Capuano is spouting “voodoo economics,” to coin a phrase.

To Harvard and Dartmouth and the rest of the Beautiful People, I would make the same observation their hero Obama once did: “At some point you’ve made enough money.”

As for the Poison Ivy League’s alleged contributions to society, to quote Obama again: “You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Of course, the tax would only be imposed on the 60 to 100 richest, most arrogant universities in the land. But Sen. Ed Markey frets that it would establish a “dangerous precedent” and soon every college would be paying the tax on their endowments’ profits.

Funny, that exact same argument can be made about the proposed “millionaire’s tax” on the state ballot next year — that months after the greed-crazed hacks impose a graduated income tax, every taxpayer in Massachusetts will soon be paying 9 percent.

This 1.4 percent tax must be a great idea, judging by the totally unhinged reactions of The Boston Globe’s trust-funded readers this week.
He's the provocateur, I'm still the observer.

Let me offer you, dear reader, a Real Clear Markets meditation on the "trickle down" smear.
The idea of “trickle-down theory” is nonexistent, except as perpetuated by those opposed to across-the-board tax rate cuts that include the wealthy. As Dr. Thomas Sowell observes in his 2012 treatise, ‘Trickle Down Theory’ and ‘Tax Cuts for the Rich’, “No such theory has been found in even the most voluminous and learned histories of economic theories, including J.A. Schumpeter’s monumental 1,260-page History of Economic Analysis.

No serious or prominent conservative, politician or free market thinker has espoused this “theory” either. It is the standard straw man – or, as Dr. Sowell puts it, “a classic example of arguing against a caricature instead of confronting the argument actually made.”

The “trickle-down” concept suggests two inherent fallacies that ought to be illuminated. First, it portrays a reversal of economic events, suggesting that profits will “trickle down” only after the “rich get richer.” Second, it posits that the benefits experienced by others are intended as a mere side effect of lower-tax policy; in truth, this is an instance of a rising tide lifting all boats.

Dr. Sowell essentially addresses both fallacies in his essay. He notes, “Workers must first be hired, and commitments made to pay them, before there is any output produced to sell for a profit, and independently of whether that output subsequently sells for a profit or at a loss. With many investments, whether they lead to a profit or a loss can often be determined only years later, and workers have to be paid in the meantime, rather than waiting for profits to ‘trickle down’ to them.”

“The real effect of tax rate reductions,” Dr. Sowell concludes, “is to make the future prospects of profit look more favorable, leading to more currentinvestments that generate more current economic activity and more jobs.”

The “trickle down” myth further suggests that there is a zero-sum game being played, and that by the wealthy benefiting from tax rate cuts, lower- and middle-income people necessarily lose out. As explained in the quotation above, this is a fallacy – and the real world bears it out.
Perhaps "trickle down" is a popularizers explanation of the multiplier accompanying a cut in tax rates.  Unfortunately, in the simple macroeconomic model, there's generally only one tax rate t and one marginal propensity to consume m, and the trickle down effect manifests itself in the new disposable income, and the resulting new consumption.

Taxation, though, ought not be viewed as zero-sum.  The great challenge of political economy is keeping government activities symbiotic with commerce (rules of exchange and contract) rather than becoming parasitic on commerce, or being captured by commerce.

THE TINGLE IS GONE.

Last year, even before the surprise presidential election results, we noted that Hardball's Chris Matthews had some doubts about the Democratic coalition of academics, celebrities, and assorted peoples who perceived themselves to be marginalized.  "Biden talked today about what he calls the pedigree problem, how the Democratic Party at the top views anyone not an Ivy Leaguer as below intellectual consideration. How the party has kind of forgotten about ordinary Americans out there, how those people are smarter than they`re given credit for."  I'll leave for another day the way the snobs have treated the assorted marginalized populations as mascots.  Today, we note Mr Matthews again suggesting the Donks not forget an important part of the New Deal coalition.  "I am not sure if he realizes that his intra-party battle has been lost, and the home of the working class is now the GOP."  I'm not sure of that, and there are likely more electoral surprises to come.  (From my perspective, there's not much in either of the major parties at the national level to appeal to me.)

But Mr Matthews has what would make an excellent "Let Me Finish" in his chewing out of the quiche-eaters.
“You know, ever since we started this Archie Bunker thing in the early ’70s, making fun of white working people, we kissed them goodbye,” he said. “You make fun of people, you look down on them? They get the message. You call them deplorables? They hear it. You bet they hear it. You say they cling to their guns and their religion? Oh yeah, I cling to my religion. OK. I’m a little person, and you’re a big person. Thank you, I’ll be voting for the other guy this time.”
Even at the age of fifteen or sixteen, or whatever I was when "All in the Family" came out,  I was put off by Meathead's condescending and hectoring of Archie.  Maybe condescending and hectoring is all Our Progressive Betters ever had.

The full talk is available on C-Span.  (I wonder how people ever get anything done, if they're spending all their time watching public affairs programming in real time, or streaming it later.)

ARE YOU SURE THE OLD BOWLS WERE INCONCLUSIVE?

Slate's Ben Mathis-Liley doesn't like the football conference divisions and the algorithm-driven national championship.  "College football divisions dilute traditional rivalries and reward weak schedules."  To him, it's an outrage that Wisconsin's Badgers have an opportunity to win their way into the final four.
Michigan has not itself beaten a team with a winning record and got blown out by approximately 400 points in its only game against an elite competitor this year.

Michigan, the most formidable of the 12 regular-season opponents faced by an ostensible title contender, is an above-average Big Ten team, but seemingly not much more than that; it will probably end up in a second-tier bowl game sponsored by an appetizer-oriented restaurant chain. But if the Badgers beat the Wolverines and defeat mediocre Minnesota the following weekend, they will enter the Big Ten title game, likely against Ohio State, with an undefeated record despite not having played anyone who’s any good. If Ohio State beats Wisconsin, there’s no guarantee it will make the playoff; having faced a tough schedule, OSU has a number of impressive wins but also two losses. But if Wisconsin wins, it will almost certainly be chosen for the four-team playoff despite playing a schedule that’s bereft of decent competition.
The divisional arrangement benefits Wisconsin this year, but that might not be the case if Nebraska or Iowa can restore normal operations, or if Minnesota and Northwestern get their rebuilding done.
The Big Ten West, like the Big Ten East, has seven teams, meaning the Big Ten as a whole is made up of 14 universities. (Please trust that you are not the first person to recognize that this is deeply stupid.) The West is currently weaker than the East because of both random fluctuation (Michigan State is on an upswing while Nebraska is cratering) and geographical circumstance (the traditional powerhouse East teams in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have denser local populations to draw talent from than West squads like Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota). Each Big Ten team plays the other six teams in its division every year, but only three of the seven teams from the opposite division. This year, that arrangement has allowed the Badgers to dodge tough matchups against the Big Ten’s three highest-ranked non-Wisconsin teams: No. 9 Ohio State, No. 10 Penn State, and No. 17 Michigan State. Meanwhile, they’ve played all five Big Ten teams that will go into this weekend with conference records of 2-5 or worse.
I sometimes suspect that all this conference realignment is a way for four power conferences of sixteen teams each to bypass March Madness and be done with Davidson and George Mason and Marquette and the like for once and for all.

For now, let's stick to football.
Before the Bowl Championship Series and now the four-team playoff, we could very easily identify the best teams in the South and the Midwest and the Far West, because they all played each other. It was much more difficult to figure out the best team in the country. Now, it’s somehow easier to identify the best team in the country—it’s hard to fake your way through a four-team playoff—than it is to identify the best team in each region. We have no idea if Wisconsin is the best team in the Big Ten, because Wisconsin hasn’t played any of the other good teams in the Big Ten. This is an odd state of affairs.
No matter how you narrow the field, you're going to have this problem. But it's easier to argue the merits of say, Wisconsin beating UCLA in the Rose Bowl as a better claim to a title than whoever was playing for bragging rights in the Old Confederacy in the Orange Bowl, when there are no meaningful head-to-head records, then when you're griping about algorithms.

That the conferences are different sizes affects the ability of conference contenders to schedule cupcakes, too.
Wisconsin has done this egregiously, and its nonconference schedule this year was characteristically uninspiring: Utah State, Florida Atlantic University, and BYU, none a consistent top 25 program. If you’re going to ask national pundits and fans for RESPECT, your best nonconference opponent can’t be the FAU Owls. (For what it’s worth, nonconference schedules have generally been improving now that the four-team playoff allows more one-loss, and maybe sometimes two-loss, teams to have a shot at a national title.)
These schedules get set many years in advance, although the power teams sometimes chicken out (hence the occasional early bye in a Northern Illinois schedule, that even before this year's win in Lincoln).  But the Wisconsin sports broadcasters complain that in a fourteen-team B1G, teams play more conference games than, for example, the Southeastern Conference teams do, which gives Alabama, Auburn, and Louisiana State more opportunities to eat cupcakes in September.

It all makes a case for returning to the days of traditional bowls, and leaving the matter of a "national champion" as something to argue about over a few beers, or, these days, on social media.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE FALSE ECONOMY.

I've posted, repeatedly, on the errors of cost cutting for its own sake, whether or not it's announced with some bafflegab about "better service" or "enhanced productivity."

Today, we'll turn the forum over to Laura "11-D" McKenna, whose eldest son has just started at Rutgers, you know, the public university in New Jersey that liked being a crash-test dummy for Penn State so much that they followed Penn State into the Big Ten, which, with regional divisions, means they regularly play Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State as well as you-know-who.

Here's what the enhanced productivity looks like on the academic side.
The good side is that he has totally drunk the kool-aid. Every item of clothing that he wears has the college logo. He proudly tells me that his school is damn tough. The kids are smart enough to go to Ivy League schools. Many of his friends were admitted to Ivy League schools. They just didn’t want to waste their money.
The land-grants and mid-majors are in the same business as Harvard, and the continued success of Jonah's cohort has a name, Spielberg Effect.

The false economy, though, is that the entering class are as lost when it comes to schedule completion as a Rutgers defensive coordinator preparing to face Wisconsin will be.
I’m pretty appalled at everything else. The advisement office put him in the wrong Intro to Physics class. There are two Intro to Physics classes at his school – one has a calculus pre-requisite. He took him a week to figure out that he was in the wrong class. It was too late to get into the non-calc Physics class, so they put him in the Intermediate German class and didn’t warn him that the class was pretty much only for advanced students majoring in German.

All of his teachers are adjuncts. And they tell the students that are over worked and under paid all the time. One got fired in the middle of the semester and was replaced by a very, very old adjunct who complains all the time about his physical pains. He said that he can’t do office hours, because his wife has to drive to him school.

His bio and calc classes have 400 students.
I'm resisting the temptation to suggest that taxing graduate tuition waivers might be a way of draining the adjunct swamp.  It's sufficient, here, to suggest that some of those kids who were admitted to the Ivies might seek to transfer for junior year, once they recognize that the Rutgers -- heck, it's all of the state flagships -- bargain is no bargain.
A small private college would easily cost another $35,000. So, I still think we did the right thing provided we make some changes. I’m taking over academic advisement for him. I spent two hours going over all the course guides, syllabi, and major requirements for the spring terms. I called Deans. I yelled at some. We’ll pay for a math tutor. After we pick his classes, we going to lean into Rate My Professor and make sure that he gets better teachers next semester.

Perhaps this is why only 58% of students graduate in four years.
That's part of it, but these are the difficulties the motivated students face.  We're not talking about the Distressed Material and the Greek letter organization cohorts here.

The comments at the post are instructive.  Happy Thanksgiving Break.

19.11.17

RENT-SEEKERS GOTTA RENT-SEEK.

In Boston, the economic interests of local industry have to be protected.  And Boston likes to think of itself as the country's largest college town.  I think Chicago could give them a run for that, with DePaul, Loyola, and Illinois-Chicago each admitting more students than Harvard or those hockey schools across the Charles turn down in a year, but you don't get the kind of special pleading out of higher education in Chicago, where there are plenty of other special-pleaders ahead in the queue.  Here's how the house organ for deep-blue smug by the deep-blue sea characterizes the planned tax treatment of higher education.  "The proposed new tax on endowments at Harvard and Yale won’t generate much money, but it does play the signature trick of Trump-style Republicanism: It sets up a symbolic confrontation with the elite, even as it systematically enriches the wealthiest."  There are other parts of that tax bill that come off as strange, including the treatment of tuition waivers as an imputed income.  That's wonky.  A quarter-century ago, Clinton era rewrites of the tax code sought to tax the imputed rent on owner-occupied houses as a form of income.  Both the tuition waivers and the imputed rent qualify as income under the Haig-Simon definitions, and both are very hard to identify in practice.

But what's funnier is the way the people of the high tax states change their tune when it's their tax breaks at risk.  From that same editorial, read and enjoy this.
The Senate bill, which at least preserves existing tax breaks for student loans, would eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes. Instead of college kids, Senate Republicans are thumbing their nose at blue states that pay for education and infrastructure out of their own funds. (Not coincidentally, states like Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut already contribute far more to federal coffers than they get back, because they’re more productive than states that refuse to invest in themselves.)
But asking the "more productive" states to pay more in federal taxes, which is what eliminating those property and income or sales tax deductions will do is a bit much.  Thus do people with lower incomes, living in less-heavily-taxed states, contribute to those investments Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut are making, or not, with Connecticut trying to become the next Illinois even now.

Then there's some reporting on the deleterious effect ending the tax-exempt status of those collegiate endowments on the local economy.
“These schools use endowments to build buildings, which employ our workers, and use it to subsidize student financial aid,” said Representative Michael Capuano, whose Cambridge district includes Harvard.

“If Harvard has a smaller endowment, they are less likely to build a building. And that hurts my construction industry, that hurts my financial services industry,” Capuano said.
What, taxing wealth less aggressively trickles down?  Apparently that's not a discredited idea when it's tax benefits for Democratic hedge funds.  But if you're a railroad or a printing company, you don't count.

CATTLE ARE NOT ENDANGERED. ELEPHANTS ARE.

We've already noted that circuses are not inherently detrimental to the welfare of elephants.

And we maintain that elephants contribute to the welfare of children of all ages.


Last call at Kingston, Illinois.

But the idea of managing hunting preserves as a strategy for conserving wild elephant bothers people.  When you have a philosopher's freedom to play with ideas without having to respect the box of existing institutions (whether those be of property rights or of bribes and favors) you can propose some interesting things.
According to conservationism, scarce and precious resources should be conserved and used wisely. According to preservation ethics, we should not think of wilderness as merely a resource. Wilderness commands reverence in a way mere resources do not. Each philosophy, I argue, can fail by its own lights, because trying to put the principles of conservationism or preservationism into institutional practice can have results that are the opposite of what the respective philosophies tell us we ought to be trying to achieve. For example, if the wisest use of South American rainforests is no use at all, then in that case conservationism by its own lights defers to preservationism. Analogously, if, when deprived of the option of preserving elephants as a resource, Africans respond by not preserving elephants at all, then in that case preservationism by its own lights defers to conservationism.
The article gets into the meaning of "waste", asking, for instance if the harvest of a large, rare tree produces benefits in the form of housing or furniture does in fact confer net benefits.  That argument becomes more interesting if it's possible to fence off the trees, and sell harvesting rights, and replant the grounds.  And in the absence of incentives to manage the hunt, the end outcome might be no elephants preserved in Africa at all.

It's likely, though, that there might be some interesting Thanksgiving conversations about the ethics of hunting at Our President's house.

NO QUIT IN THIS TEAM.

Yesterday's team reunion and banner reveal didn't get off to a good start for Northern Illinois.  The opponent was Western Illinois, now campaigning under the same "Leathernecks" moniker as the guys, rather than the previous Westerwinds.  Swirling winds, Marines storming beaches, what have you: they got off to a good start, hitting three-point baskets or recognizing driving opportunities, then being disruptive on defense.  It got so bad that the Northern Illinois coach had to call a time out just before the end of the first quarter to recombobulate.  And after the intermission, the visitors built as much as a fourteen point lead.


That's not edited in the camera.  Northern's kids took a 92-91 lead with under two minutes to play.  Score is tied at 94 with under two seconds to play.  Three times-out used in those final two minutes: under the new rules, the team runs its out-of-bounds play in the forecourt.  "The play was exactly what was drawn up and these players have run that a million times," said NIU Head Coach Lisa Carlsen. "From a coaching standpoint Coach [John] McGinty did a great job of drawing up the play, these players did a great job of executing and Kelly [Smith] did a great job of sticking it in the basket."

Note, at upper left, a gap between displayed banners.  The unveiling, a half hour after game's end, proved to be more festive that it appeared much of the game.


That's not a bad way to get down to serious basketball, and start thinking about March.

18.11.17

TIMED TO THE SECOND.

It's not enough, in Japan, to post departure times to the nearest minute (e.g. the 5.04 Elburn 400.)  "Operator ‘deeply’ sorry for inconvenience to passengers after the 9.44.40am Tsukuba Express pulled away at 9.44.20am."  But when the trains run on Chicago streetcar headways of years ago, the only inconvenience might be to a few passengers having to stand further along the line.  "Passengers who might have made the train had it left on time in fact suffered little inconvenience: the next one arrived just four minutes later."

There's no word in the story of whether the conductor and motormen were called on the carpet for violating Rule Five.  A train has no authority to leave a station before its scheduled leaving time.

WOULD YOU LIKE SMUG WITH THAT?

A trip to Boston is an opportunity to get a sense of just how Our Progressive Betters think.

Actually, it starts on the train, where there are free copies of the Amtrak magazine for the reading.  I have to wonder how well the content, whether of the articles or the advertisements (buy artisanal wine, some of the proceeds go to some environmental effort, for instance) plays with coach passengers, particularly once one is off the Acela routes.

Then there's the Globe, and I'm going to have even more fun with them before I'm done.

But it's suppertime, and we'll start with the Globe's alleged food reporter, Devra First.
I was a Chick-fil-A virgin.

If you want a mark of my Yankeetude, there it is. I made it well into adulthood without ever having a chicken biscuit or a Spicy Deluxe sandwich or the distinctively lump-shaped nuggets or the waffle fries. One summer my family took a road trip through the South, but we just kept driving past the battalion of buildings adorned with the company’s crimson-combed logo. (There are a lot of them: more than 200 in the chicken chain’s home state of Georgia alone.) On to the truck stops we loved, where we ordered 18-wheeler breakfasts and my sister and I hoped for gift shops where we could buy T-shirts emblazoned with cheesy wolves and country-western cassette tapes. And then home again, to delis with bowls of half-sours on every table and takeout Chinese on Friday nights.

Then, a few weeks ago, Chick-fil-A opened in Dedham.
Are we finally ready to talk about the food?  Not when there's virtue to be signalled.
Two years before he died, Mayor Thomas Menino sent a fiery letter to Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy, who had spoken out against same-sex marriage. “I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston,” Menino wrote. Now there’s a Chick-fil-A about 2 miles from his Hyde Park house.

Generally speaking, put in front of me a food I haven’t tried that has a hold on the hearts of a large swath of America, and I am there. But also, I have no interest in supporting a business that has opposed gay marriage.
The business isn't opposed to gay marriage: the CEO has reservations, and those reservations might be a function of the term "marriage" referring to a legal status for the bequest of property and the establishment of lineage as well as to a religious ritual.  Now can we EAT MOR CHIKIN?
The official corporate purpose is thus: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” It’s as loving on the surface as it is open to interpretation, but as a culturally Jewish agnostic who attends the Temple of Live and Let Live, I’m willing to give it a chance.

So on a recent afternoon — when, if logistics had only cooperated, I would have been in Mexico, bawling into my champagne flute at one of the very same-sex marriages Cathy decried (on my planet simply referred to as “a wedding”) — I found myself pulling into the parking lot of Chick-fil-A for the first time.
Let us give thanks that she is crying before her mouth is full.  And the Chick-fil-A is doing a good business, catering to normals.
I was not alone. There was a backup at the drive-through. There was a guy directing traffic. There was nowhere to park. There was a line out the door. People were taking selfies with the sign in the background.

The interior was bright, spotless, more stylish than I’d imagined — more midscale chain brewpub than fast-food restaurant. And everyone was here: parents with tattoo sleeves, church ladies, people comparing notes on military life, a doppelganger for Poussey on “Orange Is the New Black,” obnoxious teenage boys flirting with plaid-kilted Catholic-school girls. We all waited in line together. Then our food was delivered right to our tables by sweet kids who will grow up to be good citizens.
Annoy a liberal: post a selfie from Chick-fil-A on your social media platforms.  This prologue has gone on longer than the invocation at a Puritan Thanksgiving.  Can we eat already?
I wasn’t going to do anything crazy. It was my first time, after all. I ordered the original Chick-fil-A sandwich: a squishy bun, toasted and buttered; a crisp fried cutlet; a necessary layer of tart dill pickle chips. I had the waffle fries, which had a unique cardboard texture. It was all pretty satisfying, in its way. I asked for the Chick-fil-A sauce, which was like barbecue sauce blended with French dressing and mayonnaise — which is to say vile, to my taste.

Because I didn’t grow up eating it.

This wasn’t my food. I couldn’t lay claim to it. It had no deeper meaning for me. Half the people in this Dedham Chick-fil-A were curious, like me, or simply hungry. But the other half were here for a taste of home. (Several queer friends have recently confessed to sneaking guilty orders of waffle fries or spicy biscuits or nuggets.) We are willing to overlook a lot for love, as some of us will soon be reminded while avoiding political talk at Thanksgiving. Something as simple as chicken sandwiches can bring us to the same table, too.

I left Chick-fil-A full, and I stayed that way well into the next day.
I don't know, lady, you sound pretty full of yourself, well into writing your column.  Not to mention full of it.  I had hoped that advice on how to conduct yourself at Thanksgiving went away with the Obamas.

But in Boston, it's just another day.