MARKING OFF.  The Economics Department was advised that any business from week's end would be dealt with by Sunday night.  This extra treat represents the close of business.  Eventually does not mean "in a couple of days" this time.  Back eventually.

(Via Peoria Pundit, who found it at Allah is in the House.  Is my server too Puritanical to open Allah's images?)
DOES "THE INTERNATIONALE" SCAN TO "OLD HUNDREDTH?"  Midwest Conservative Journal has discovered some new harvest prayers to be added to, what else, the Anglican Communion
"For those who labour in poverty, are oppressed by unjust laws, are prevented from speaking the truth."
A Church spokesman said the prayers "reflected the reality of the global economy in which people recognised the need for fair trade and justice for everybody who produces our food. These are all suggested outlines for use with services that already exist."

As it was with the first vanguardist, it is now and ever shall be:

The Church rejected a move yesterday to pay all clergy of whatever rank the same salary, that of an ordinary parish priest.

The private members' motion argued that all future bishops, deans and archdeacons should be paid just over £18,000 a year.

Equity for everybody else, amen, amen.

SPECIAL DISPENSATION.  In my absence, the SCSU Scholars have carte blanche to comment on the economics of rapid transit.
There is money in the budget for an annual Native American celebration, coordinators for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and multi-ethnic student affairs programs and for repairs and programs at the Trotter Multicultural Center.

University of Michigan students will pay 2.8 percent more in tuition (what is the core inflation rate?) for inter alia reduced library hours, according to Tongue Tied.

THE SHAPE OF THE UNIVERSITY TO COME.  Critical Mass picks up a Timothy Burke proposal to reshape higher education.  There is something to commend any post that notes
The insular, timid and self-confirming character of a great deal of contemporary academic practice. This outline responds to this both by widening the labor pool of potential instructors and by systematically directing faculty towards communicating with wider publics while also demanding that faculty broaden their knowledge and intellectual practice rather than narrowing themselves towards more and more inward-looking forms of specialization. Rather than the laissez-faire spirit of most contemporary academic institutions, in which generalism is only one of many options for professional development and a responsibility to wider public discourse and needs is not a requirement, the 21st Century College would make these central conditions of continued employment. As part of this reorganization, this blueprint also advises the abolition of conventional academic departments and units.
There are some articles in Academic Questions germane to this proposal, but further discussion will have to await resumption of normal operations, which, as promised, are on hold for the present.

I will withhold comment on the tension between "laissez-faire spirit" in research and socialist politics.

SPRUCE UP TO TRAVEL.  Not only is it the mannerly thing to do, it has the potential to spook the terrorists.  (Hat tip: InstaPundit, who is not quite so Insta when it comes to generational shifts.)
THE GAP IN THE GENERATION GAP.  Ravi Shankar?  "You don't know who Ravi Shankar is!?"  My only observation on "changing the direction of rock and roll": compare and contrast Side 1 and Side 2 of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  (Those of you who have only the CD version: the first side ends after Mr. Kite tops the bill.)  The first side is pretty much vintage Beatles.  The second side introduces the sitar and some of the other trappings of "acid rock" and that's the side the intellectualoids swooned over, which might have marked the beginning of pop-culture studies as an academic adventure.

On the other hand, if you play The Beatles 1 none of that stuff shows up.  The cheerful stuff generally rules.
"GAFFE" MEANS TELLING THE TRUTH?  "Schwarzenegger Calls Dems 'Girlie Men' ."  The perpetually outraged are, well, outraged.


HOIST ANOTHER SPRECHER.  The Chicago Cubs get to hoist the L flag  (where it can be seen by riders on the old Northwestern L, which is properly configured for express operation, notwithstanding these objections.)  The Brewers have been playing some pretty good defense, with an unusual double play figuring in Sunday's win.

The Sprecher being hoisted?  Black Bavarian.


MARKING OFF. If it's not the academic year, why am I spending so much time on academic year things, including this? Enough. Thanks for your support. Back eventually.
THE CAPTURE THEORY. Some regulatory commissions cannot see their way to approve any applications to expand the service, even those offered by incumbent carriers. Others cannot find an application they don't like. One such commission is the Health Facilities Planning Board.
Created in 1974 to rein in rising health-care costs by preventing unnecessary building and equipment acquisitions, the board is the state-mandated gateway that controls access into Illinois' $20 billion a year health-care market. It has recently been linked to extortion charges and come under the scrutiny of federal agents.

"We've had a long history of concern over the way the planning board has conducted its business," said Kenneth Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospital Association. "I suspect, in light of the recent allegations, there will be some in the hospital industry to ask whether [the board] still makes sense."

A 2001 analysis by Illinois Auditor General William Holland criticized the board for its inconsistent decision making, and there does not appear to be any evidence things have changed since then.

A look at the 54 votes taken this year on various matters found the board rarely said no, even when its staff said it should.

Forty-six of the proposals were approved, even though board staff who analyzed those projects recommended that 41 of them be turned down.

Although the problem of agency capture is inherent in the design of the regulatory commission, the Theodore Roosevelt era faith in Good Government by Wise Experts still, charmingly, persists.
When run well, the agencies can help control increases in health-care costs, ensure quality of medical care and improve access to it, said Dean Montgomery, president of the American Health Planning Association, an advocate of such boards.

"I think a planning board serves a worthwhile function, providing it is constituted with the right people and they follow the right processes," [hospital executive Reeven] Elfman said.
ANOTHER CANDIDATE FOR THE DECK OF CARDS. From Critical Mass comes news of a mid-level diversity drone at Kansas State University who sought to fire the college newspaper's advisor. A court thought differently. There has to be a card left for associate provost and Reichsfuhrer diversity coordinator Myra Gordon. "Merit a social construction of the dominant coalition." You want the failures to determine what merit is. Oh, wait a minute. That's the way diversity drones interpret "student-friendly" policies.
While I was resigned to fighting plagiarists in my classroom, I had not expected to have to fight one for credit for my own dissertation. A doctoral student at Northeast Urban University -- I'll call him Mr. X -- presented my dissertation as his own. He received a Ph.D. and took an excellent research job at Prominent African University. Through my subsequent efforts, he lost his degree, his job, and his reputation.

Read the rest (via Milt's File.) The good news:
I shared this experience with my students; they found it fascinating. But they still don't get it. We have a tradition on my campus where seniors "will" wishful gifts to faculty members. This past spring the seniors said they hoped that I could someday "bitch-slap the ass who stole my dissertation." They also wished that I would have "the ability to not check every single source a student uses in a research paper."

Note that they did not will me the ability to not have to check every source. Instead they think it's unreasonable of me to take such care to ensure that they are not plagiarizing. I fear they think that is some vile pleasure of mine.
BASTILLE DAY. Don't lose your head over it. I'm told Wisconsin cheeses are good.
BE PREPARED. Semi-open thread at Dan Drezner on postponing the national election in case of a terrorist attack. If memory serves, New York City had a primary on 11 September 2001, which was cancelled that morning and held a few weeks later, with sufficient time for absentee voters to make arrangements. Might be interesting to check on whether local elections, if any, in Carmel or Lake George or Batavia went on as planned. It's a good idea to be prepared for such a disruption, but it's a better idea for everybody to agree that we will be voting on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, everywhere if nothing goes wrong, with some specification of postponement plans in case of a disruption.

If this election is as close as the one four years ago, the greater disruption is likely to be tracking polls and network calling of states before everybody in that state has voted. I plan to vote ... let any lowlife attempt to dissuade me at his own risk!
CAN'T WE DO BETTER? Still no Republican candidate for the open Senate seat from Illinois. There is some buzz around former Chicago Bear coach Mike Ditka ... see this and this and at least one heavy hitter is following this story.

Could make for some interesting days in Illinois, although Candidate Ditka would have to be ready for questions a bit more pointed than "That pass to Perry really fooled the Patriots, didn't it?" or "Comment on Martin's cheap shot."

Is sports broadcasting a counterexample to the proposition that the politics are more vicious in inverse proportion to the importance of the stakes?


DOWNSCALE?? Shadow of Mt. Hollywood discovers railroad fiction, including a site highlighting some of the great classics. These are not for the Thomas the Tank Engine set, nor for the avant-garde photo enthusiasts. Good railroad fiction has in common with good sea stories the opening line, "No s***, this really happened." The stories in the anthologies I've read tend to fall into a few broad categories: the rigid manager who has a humbling experience, the dispatcher or telegrapher that keeps 'em rolling despite natural or man-made problems, the maintainer that comes up with an inventive if not quite by the book fix. There are also stories that border on the Twilight Zone in which the ghost of a dead railroader may or may not be present when danger is around the next turn.

Could be some stuff for the cultural studies types as well.
The railroad story as a subliterary genre disappeared, I would think, right about the time the US proletariat disappeared as such -- Tom Wolfe puts it during World War II and the postwar period. And I can even tie this to Leslie Fiedler and his theories of the American novel (which I'll continue to examine in due course when I get to misogyny). Poor Fiedler at the end of Love and Death in the American Novel laments the disappearance of the Dashiell Hammett-Raymond Chandler "proletarian" private detective (baloney) as due to the decline of Popular Front liberalism. (That happened, of course, because the US proletariat got rich, something Fiedler missed along the way.)

So now Linda Niemann has a literary place as a pioneer woman in a job that used to be "proletarian" (but, despite hard working conditions, pays quite well). Railroading is possibly even avant-garde, though, as with many upscale things, with a certain hint of archaism. But then, on the other hand you had Lucius Beebe, who in many ways made Liberace look restrained, a New Yorker writer who had to use a pseudonym to talk about his consuming interest, and now an outed lesbian -- maybe there's something that will never be quite compatible between railroading and the upper-middle-class noncontroversial straight life. There may be something to revisit here.

There is still plenty of good material for a short story based on reality. The O trains discussion list on Yahoo.com (Downscale indeed, have you priced ready-to-run brass lately?) included some tales of real railroading including one of an engineer who wanted to make a point with a local vandal. The vandal liked to stand on an overpass and toss rocks at the train. The engineer brought along a pistol loaded with blanks one day, and figured he'd scare the kid. What the engineer didn't reckon with was that the kid had a loaded pistol of his own. Now, how shall I continue this story, and should I use it as a flashback as part of a story much later, when the engineer's kid, or perhaps the vandal's cousin, or perhaps both, are working on the railroad?
DOING MORE WITH LESS. Hang out the standby sign:
NIU is seeing high numbers of students applying and has capped enrollment at 25,000. It also is taking steps to cut the costs of the applicant boom, including a change to online class schedule books for spring 2005.

About 3,100 freshmen and 2,000 transfers will enroll for fall 2004, said Donald Larson, NIU executive director of enrollment services.

The cap lowered enrollment figures from last fall’s 3,239 freshmen and 2,153 transfers, Larson said.

In one attempt to control the booming student population, NIU had to cap admissions for fall, said David Dunlap, director of marketing and public relations for NIU Housing and Dining Services.

About 2,300 freshmen and 1,150 transfers have registered so far, Larson said. Summer orientation is ongoing, so these figures are increasing daily, he said.

"We are anticipating an undergraduate enrollment of 18,200 to 18,400 students for fall," Larson said. "We are also planning to keep overall enrollment close to 25,000."

Meanwhile, another of the great characters of long standing has left us, once again to his eternal reward.

Colleagues remember respected professor.
At last I understand the meaning of his license plate. The article, however, does not describe Professor Niemi's neatest trademark: the top hat and tails awarded to doctoral degree recipients in Finland. It spiced up many a processional.
PUTTING THE SYSTEM ON TRIAL. Chicago Tribune editorialists are not pleased with the pace of progress in former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic's trial.
Milosevic's trial before a three-judge panel of the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague began in February 2002. Since then, one of the judges has died, Yugoslavia officially has dissolved, and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic has been assassinated. Milosevic and a fellow alleged war criminal even were elected to seats in Serbia's parliament in December.

Milosevic was scheduled to launch his defense on Monday. But the tribunal, concerned about his health, has postponed it until later this summer. A court-appointed cardiologist said Milosevic has high blood pressure, a damaged left ventricle and is at risk of a heart attack or a stroke. "It is therefore necessary to navigate constantly between sufficient rest, optimum medication and the stress of the trial," the doctor counseled.

That may be legitimate reasoning for a delay. The question is, why has this matter already dragged on for so long? The Nuremberg war crimes tribunal took 11 months to try, convict, sentence and execute 10 of Hitler's top deputies. Israel's trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 took eight months, and he was executed in 1962.

The war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague has been running the meter for a long time. And it is not a cheap ride--it has 1,238 staff members and a budget for this year of nearly $272 million.

On the other hand, Israeli intelligence kidnapped Mr Eichmann, no extradition hearing first; and the Nuremberg tribunal was a creation of the victorious powers, not an institution of long standing. Furthermore, the procedures allow for the defense to string out the proceedings -- there is probably no provision for a guilty plea and a mitigation hearing, the strategy the defense in at least one of the University of Wisconsin truck-bombing cases employed. Mr Milosevic -- and possibly the recently indicted Saddam Hussein -- have to "put the system on trial" as part of their defense, which is what Mr Milosevic's team apparently intends to do.
Milosevic has drawn up a list of 1,400 defense witnesses, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former President Bill Clinton. That should keep the trial going for a few more years and pile up tens of millions of additional euros in expenses.

So what is the world to make--what are the people of the former Yugoslavia to make--of a trial that seems designed to provide everlasting entertainment for the accused?

That's not justice. That's a charade.

Perhaps so. But absent any clarity on what distinguishes rules-as-sword from rules-as-shield, that's what happens.
MORE CAMPS COMING TO DEKALB. The sports camps run some 3,000 kids ragged.
Sports camp training is usually from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Coaches run the sports camps, McConachie said, and campers interact with them and have the chance to meet NIU players.

NIU receives some extra money from sports camps, McConachie said. The money is deposited to a special account and then is directed to different departments. Dining services and the buildings used by the camp are credited for expenses, she said.

NIU offers camps in history, journalism and media, speech, math, creative writing and science...

The article does not slight what I referred to as econ camp, which is officially a different kind of program.


The sick logic of the speech code, when it is used as a means of punishment, is thus that of invasion of conscience: When faced with a choice between apologizing for speaking your mind and being expelled, a student is forced to decide whether his principles matter more to him than his record, whether he is willing to risk his future for the sake of his ideals. There is indeed a great deal of shame in that. But it should be felt by the people who enforce and endorse the codes, not by those the codes attack.

As long as there is "liberating tolerance," Critical Mass exposes its pretensions.
Union Pacific, the nation's biggest railroad, was cited by The Times as an example of how railroads repeatedly denied their own responsibility at fatal grade-crossing crashes.

In one recent 18-month period, the newspaper found, seven federal and state courts imposed sanctions on Union Pacific for destroying or failing to preserve evidence in crossing accidents, and an eighth court ordered a case retried.

In 1997, Union Pacific secretly replaced a defective signal at a crossing where a truck driver was killed while hauling potatoes to a market in Washington, the newspaper found. And in 1998, a federal judge found that the railroad knowingly destroyed relevant evidence after a collision in Arkansas that left a man brain damaged and killed his wife.

The anecdotes are part of what might be a broader pattern, one perhaps abetted by the regulators themselves:
Enforcement of railroad rules is so lax that federal officials have said they were not even aware of the reporting problems, the [New York Times] reported on its Web site Saturday.

It's not just Union Pacific. The Times is doing a multi-parter on the hazards of level crossings, and apparently CSX is also more interested in shaking down model railroad manufacturers for royalties than in protecting level crossings.
In those first raw days after his 17-year-old daughter died, Norman Feaster couldn't stop thinking about how easily she might have been saved: If only Hilary hadn't agreed to run an errand that took her down an unfamiliar road. If only the overgrown bushes hadn't blocked her view of the railroad tracks. If only there had been crossing gates to stop her from driving in front of a CSX locomotive on that autumn day in 1997.

Soon Mr. Feaster began calling politicians, regulators, railroad officials, anyone who could help to get gates installed at the crossing so that no one else's child had to die there. But he made little progress, he says, until one day he received a strange telephone call. A state transportation official wanted to arrange a clandestine meeting. Intrigued, Mr. Feaster agreed to drive an hour and a half to Nashville, where he met the official in the lobby of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

The state official, Terry Cantrell, said he had just discovered some hidden history behind Hilary's case: Two teenage boys had been killed at the same crossing four years earlier. But because the railroad had never reported the accident to the federal authorities, the government had not identified the crossing as especially perilous and had not ordered the railroad to put up gates, Mr. Feaster said the official told him.

Disturbing anecdote? Apparently not.
CSX's failure to report that first fatal crash may be its most serious reporting failure, but it is hardly an isolated omission. Over the last eight years, CSX and other railroads have failed to properly notify federal officials about hundreds of crossing accidents, according to federal records and a computer analysis of crash data by The New York Times.

Hilary Feaster's death is a harsh lesson in the cost of those broken rules, and of the government's lack of enforcement. The federal regulators did not punish CSX for its silence in Decherd, just as they only rarely enforced the rules in other cases. In fact, records obtained by The Times show that in 2000, after finding a "critical problem" with CSX's reporting, regulators acknowledged that they had treated the railroad with "extreme leniency," pardoning most of its violations.

Doesn't do any good to have safety regulations if those are not enforced.

The Times is doing a series on level crossing safety. Visit the sidebars here and here for additional coverage.
TIME TO DEVELOP SOME RIGHT OF WAY RULES. Summer version of an old joke: I went to the boxing match and a NASCAR race broke out. What happened?
Stewart powered around the outside of Marlin and then dived down again. As Kahne shifted to fourth gear, he hesitated slightly to keep from spinning. Stewart ran into the back of Kahne's car, which turned left and then right and into the wall, setting off an eight-car tangle.

Doesn't he have to establish mast abeam before he can force the overtaken yacht to alter course? Not on the oval.
NASCAR considered the bump between Stewart and Kahne a racing incident, series spokesman Herb Branham said, meaning Stewart would not be punished.

"It was my fault I ran into him, but I don't know why he backed up, I don't know what caused him to check up," Stewart said. "It could have tore us up easier than it tore him up in all reality, so it's not something I was expecting by any means."

No provisions for hard luffs in the rules either, evidently.
MISTAKEN IDENTITY? Perhaps the backwards-baseball-cap set misinterpreted "Greek Fest." This comment by a public official is priceless.
Milwaukee Ald. Jim Bohl said he was concerned about the burden on the City of Milwaukee.

"We expend a huge sum of taxpayer money for a festival that is located in Wauwatosa," Bohl said.


STRONGER CAMP FARE. The econ campers (and the Mia Hamm wanna-bes?) have left town; the drum and bugle championship (wool uniforms in this humidity??) and an Olympic soccer camp have arrived.
NOT JUST A HIGH SCHOOL IN MILWAUKEE. Betsy's Page reports that today is the bicentennial of the duel between former Vice President Aaron Burr and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who lent his name to a Milwaukee high school that figures in the Superintendent's intellectual development.
There is already photographic evidence of a massive dismantling of a facility of some sort before last year's invasion. These photos were published on the front page of the New York Times. Whether or not that particular building was producing weapons of mass destruction, it shows that Saddam Hussein saw the need to get rid of some things before they got captured.

Nations do not wait for iron-clad proof when there are lethal threats. The massive Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb was begun when the United States was at peace because of reports that Hitler's scientists were working on such a weapon.

We had no proof -- and, after Germany surrendered, it turned out that Hitler's atomic bomb project was nowhere near the stage that we feared. But we couldn't take that chance.

Thomas Sowell understands the importance of specifying a loss function. (Hat tip: Newmark's Door.)


Be virtuous, and find yourselves a dragonslayer. I am not saying be a prude.
Virtue retains it value better than either virginity or popularity.
Virtue is what cannot be savaged by the years, as beauty can.
Virtue is desired by those worth desiring.

Some context, from a guy who has been there, done that.
Now, in the college arena, the cheerleaders had started to switch their targets. The jocks of high school had failed to make the next evolutionary step to college for the most part. Now, the cheerleaders were starting to think about what would happen to their companions after the next evolutionary step, which was graduation. Now, the cheerleaders were interested in the guys who they had looked over during high school. The guys who were "boring". The ones who had studied hard, and didn't party much. Especially the upper classmen cheerleaders. Now, even the geek in the chess club, who was going on to med school could have his day. So, now, these girls started going after the guys they had ignored.

But it was usually too late. These guys remembered girls like this dating the baseball team. The girls had been used up, and had spread themselves around. Now, the cheerleaders were trying to get the guys they had spurned. And the guys were not playing that game. By this time, these guys had figured out which way was up, and they knew that they were going to be OK. They knew that they were going to have good jobs. They also knew that the cheerleaders were all used up. So, they would date them on occassion, but largerly they were interested in the other girls. They were interested in the girls who had never bought into the Ponzi scheme called popularity in high school. They were interested in the girls that had not fu*ked the basketball team. They were intersted in the girls who were strong enough and smart enough to make it on their own without worrying about how their standing at the prom would be affected.

(Hat tip: Accidental Verbosity.)

SECOND SECTION: Some of the younger people are figuring this out. Here's James K. Glassman.
Young people have become aggressively normal.

Violence, drug use and teen sex have declined. Kids are becoming more conservative politically and socially. They want to get married and have large families. And, get this, they adore their parents.

His column relies heavily on this Kay Hymowitz essay, where there's more reflection on the divide noted here:
Generational backlash counts for a lot: what we’re seeing now is a rewrite of the boomer years. The truth is, Gen Xers and Millennials have some real gripes about the world their boomer parents constructed. When a 1999 Peter D. Hart Research Associates poll asked Americans between the ages of 18 to 30 what experience had shaped their generation, the most common answer was "divorce and single-parent families." Growing up in the aftermath of America’s great marriage meltdown, no wonder that young people put so much stock in marriage and family, their bedrock in the mobile twenty-first century.

The article is too long to comment on at length here, although Mr Glassman (who gets paid to do this stuff, I suppose) has provided a good abstract.
Hymowitz offers four explanations: 1) A "rewrite of the boomer years," with young people reacting critically to the world of sexual experimentation and family breakup and "earnestly knitting up their unraveled culture"; 2) The trauma of 9/11, which has made kids more patriotic and turned them inward toward the comfort of family; 3) The information economy, which has given young people greater faith in their own chances to succeed, especially through self-reliance and entrepreneurship; and 4) Immigration, which has produced what she calls a "fervent work ethic, which can raise the bar for slacker American kids, as any higher schooler with more than three Asian students in his algebra class can attest."
INDUCED INNOVATION IN SMUGGLING? Interesting post by Bob at Truck and Barter about the effect of stronger border enforcement on illegal-immigrant smuggling.
Unfortunately O’Reilly has failed to take into account the fact there will still be millions of people who want to cross the border. Think of immigration as a market. Safe border-crossings are the commodity, “coyotes” are the suppliers, and those who wish to come into America are the buyers. The National Guard may reduce the amount of safe crossings that are produced in the short-run. However, given the huge demand for safe crossing, “coyotes” are more likely to innovate new ways to sneak across undetected than they are to quit altogether. Furthermore, while I have extremely little knowledge of oceanic smuggling operations (about as much as O’Reilly, I’d guess), I know that if the price people are willing to pay is high enough, someone will figure out how to make it worth the costs. Remember, 70 years ago commercial air travel was thought to be unfeasible too.

Trying to reduce the incidence of a specific transaction, if both parties are voluntary participants, is pretty darn close to impossible. We can see that fact in the market for illicit drugs. America has focused on reducing the supply of drugs. Yet considering the quantity of the resources devoted to stopping the supply, most experts would agree that we don’t capture even half of the drugs that are sold in America (I believe 10%-15% is a more accurate estimate). Similarly, even if we reduce the supply of safe border-crossings we have done nothing to decrease the desire of people to enter the United States.

This is true, up to a point. The demand by illegal immigrants to enter the United States is a derived demand, in this case derived from the willingness of employers to pay for illegal immigrant services. To be sure, any interdiction of the supply of illegal immigrants will raise the wages that successful entrants receive. But those migrants might also be motivated by the possibility of a subsequent regularization, with the accompanying opportunity to participate in the legal economy. More stringent border controls have the effect of inducing migration by individiuals who expect to do better in the legal market, holding the expectation of regularization constant. Details here, or just read the abstract.
BY THEIR FRUITS SHALL YE KNOW THEM. Classic Victor Davis Hanson:
There is a great divide unfolding between the engine of history and the dumbfounded spectators who are apparently furious at what is going on before their eyes. Mr. Bush's flight suit, Abu Ghraib, claims of "no al Qaeda-Saddam ties," Joe Wilson, and still more come and go while millions a world away inch toward consensual government and civilization.

For over a year now, we have witnessed a level of invective not seen since the summer of 1864 — much of it the result of a dying 60's generation's last gasps of lost self-importance. Instead of the "innocent" Rosenbergs and "framed" Alger Hiss we now get the whisk-the-bin-Laden-family-out-of-the-country conspiracy. Michael Moore is a poor substitute for the upfront buffoonery of Abbie Hoffman.

The oil pipeline in Afghanistan that we allegedly went to war over doesn't exist. Brave Americans died to rout al Qaeda, end the fascist Taliban, and free Afghanistan for a good and legitimate man like a Hamid Karzai to oversee elections. It was politically unwise and idealistic — not smart and cynical — for Mr. Bush to gamble his presidency on getting rid of fascists in Iraq. There really was a tie between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein — just as Mr. Gore and Mr. Clinton once believed and Mr. Putin and Mr. Allawi now remind us. The United States really did plan to put Iraqi oil under Iraqi democratic supervision for the first time in the country's history. And it did.

Read it all.

SECOND SECTION: Jeff Zaslow's column focuses on the same cultural fault lines.
The oldest boomers came of age at a time of affordable housing, easier acceptance to colleges and better job markets. The youngest boomers struggled through deeper recessions, crowded workplaces, and now, outsourced jobs. Younger boomers also worry that in the next decade or so, their 401(k) values will fall as retired older boomers cash out of stocks.

He's also found a father and daughter who summarize the fault line in microcosm, as well as an observer from the end of the party.
Dennis Peterson and his daughter, Dee Ann Haibeck, are boomer bookends, born Jan. 1, 1946, and Oct. 28, 1964. Mr. Peterson of Bellevue, Wash., says people from his era "opened the door for a lot of discussions America hadn't been having" -- about such divisive matters as race, women's rights, the Vietnam War. He says those of his daughter's era "didn't have the testosterone to get involved in social issues. I don't think they had our sense of responsibility." For her part, Ms. Haibeck feels some of her dad's hippie contemporaries "changed our culture for the worse" by making society too liberal.

Larry Brennan of Burlingame, Calif., entered the world on Dec. 31, 1964, hours before the baby boom supposedly ended. He says he and his contemporaries feel like "we got to the party late and have to clean up everybody else's mess." For instance, older boomers helped create the drug culture. They deemed divorce more acceptable. They sparked the sexual revolution, though by the time late boomers came of age in the 1980s, herpes and AIDS were epidemics.

Heck, the party was pretty much over by about 1970, notwithstanding this:
Research by the late Yale psychologist Daniel Levinson showed that people tend to view as part of their generation those born about six years before and after them. By this measure, only boomers born between 1952 and 1958 have both feet in the baby boom.

The hippies, then, are a somewhat older cohort.

Virginia Postrel, who picked up the Zaslow column, notes,
My GenX youngest brother (born 1970) thinks of boomers as spoiled yuppies--the people he watched on Thirtysomething when I was only twentysomething--and doesn't associate them at all with the 1960s.

On the other hand, there was that brief shining moment in the early 1980s when "prep" became somewhat fashionable. If anything, that was a reaction to the 1960s.
ARC SIN 0.7071 = ARC COS 0.7071. But that only allows a rough estimate of ARC SIN 0.6 (has to exceed 30, which is ARC SIN 0.5, but cannot exceed 45, or pi/4 to be consistent) and ARC SIN 0.8 (which, per corollary, cannot exceed 60 and does exceed 45.) But to raise questions about Florida Governor Jeb Bush's intelligence over a question about the internal angles of the 3-4-5 triangle, useful for millennia in laying out square buildings is a bit much, although it generates much more discussion at Thursday's Best of the Web.
If I get really punchy, I will publish a post on the demonstration that the set of Pythagorean triples is countable.

SECOND SECTION. I'm not that punchy yet. There is much more on this story in today's Best of the Web, including a gentle correction of the correspondent from yesterday who conflated ARC TAN with ARC SIN, and an observation that "exceeds 30 but does not exceed 45" works out to "about 37" and "just above 53" (the slide rule in my office doesn't have the proper scales for me to check, but I can still chide the correspondent about excessive significant digits, I think 36.9 and 53.1 -- shouldn't that be 36 deg 54 min and 53 deg 6 min?? -- would pass any proper examination. 36.86989764584? Pah.)
SHOWING MY AGE. But look who I had to grow up with:

In 1954 (the year you were born)

Dwight Eisenhower is president of the US

Nautilus, the first atomic powered submarine, launches

Senator Joseph McCarthy begins leading televised hearings into alleged Communist influence in the Army

Roger Bannister, a 25 year old from England, breaks the 4 minute mile with a time of 3:59

Supreme Court rules unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional

Hurricane "Carol" hits the Long Island - New England area killing 60 and injuring 1000

Senate condemns Joseph McCarthy for contempt of a Senate elections subcommittee during his Army investigation hearings

Playboy magazine issue features Margie Harrison, the first playmate

Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey, Christie Brinkley, John Travolta, and Jerry Seinfeld are born

New York Mets win the World Series (Wouldn't this be the Yankees??)

Cleveland Browns win the NFL championship

Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup

Lord of the Flies by William G. Golding is published

What Happened the Year You Were Born?

More cool things for your blog at

(Hat tip: Accidental Verbosity.)
John Edwards, who has more experience than George Bush and better judgment than he does when he became president of the United States. He was right that Dick Cheney was ready to take over on day one, and he did, and he has been ever since.

Answer at Shot in the Dark.
IF YOU LIKED PLAYING "GINGER OR MARY ANN", The American Mind suggests, "let's Play Two!"
EXPANDING THE TUBE NETWORK. Details at Going Underground. These projects are not making use of any Chicago capital as far as I know.
Richard Posner once remarked (I cannot find the reference) that the mere fact that huge amounts of academic research was garbage does not imply inefficiency. After all, a sturgeon lays millions of eggs to produce very few progeny. So maybe intellectuals are like sturgeon. A few million lost to produce one good one.

Perhaps. Judge Posner is echoing a comment John D. Rockefeller made about the propagation of roses years ago.

A similar topic came up at dinner with some colleagues earlier this week. One remarked that economists as professors were probably overpaid in the aggregate, but acknowledged the remark of another colleague, not at dinner, to the effect that macroeconomic research had paid for itself many times in understanding and taming -- perhaps by forestalling foolish policies -- the amplitude of the business cycle. Something else might be true of industrial economics. Research was effective in identifying the deadweight losses of transport regulation, although nobody -- to my knowledge, correct me if I missed something -- anticipated the productivity-enhancing effects of deregulation coupled with better understanding of logistics. The deregulation permitted logistical innovation to be implemented without a wrangle over whether the proposed change in service was in the public interest or likely to have adverse effects on other carriers.
SUMMER READING GOING THE WAY OF TRAIN ORDERS? Lots of commentary on a National Endowment for the Arts study of reading habits. There's a spirited discussion going on at Critical Mass, and another one starting at Joanne Jacobs.

Petrified Truth (via Outside the Beltway) offers a simpler explanation.
Outside of specific genres, such as children's literature, science fiction, and mysteries, most "literary" works are now unreadable and therefore unread. The literary class -- elitist, self-referential, Leftist, and often focused only on the most degenerate aspects of human nature -- has clearly outsmarted itself.

Worse, much of that stuff is sleep-inducing. It is no accident that the term "yawn" frequently turns up here.
IF WE CAN PUT A MAN ON THE MOON. Look for more posts on this theme in the near future. It's a question I recall wonks of years ago would ask, it would equate designing and budgeting a moon shot with obtaining some other outcome that simply involved a program and a budget. It's often a bad question, as it compares an exercise in applied mathematics on a system with predictable properties with some sort of attempt to influence a complex adaptive system. But that doesn't stop people from posing such false analogies. Movie maker Michael Moore is one of the latest.
Are you proud that nearly 3 billion people on this planet do not have access to clean drinking water when we have the resources and technology to remedy this immediately?

We do? Strikes me that there might be enormous profits for somebody to apply those resources -- care to reinvest some of your movie's earnings?

James Lileks has already done the Fisking of the column. There are all sorts of possibilities for further explication of these questions, some of which Mr Lileks passed over.
Are you proud that one in six children lives in poverty in America?

Does the popular culture encourage those children to aspire to higher standards?
Are you proud that 40 million adult Americans are functional illiterates?

Shall we have a conversation about the follies of the Colleges of Deaducation?
Are you proud that the bulk of the jobs being created these days are low- and minimum-wage jobs?

They are? One has to adapt the work to the available workers, up to one-fourth of whom are functionally illiterate, nicht wahr?
Are you proud of asking your fellow Americans to live on $5.15 an hour?

The participants in econ camp discovered that a substantial majority of minimum wage workers are younger than 25 and often dependents, functional illiteracy notwithstanding.
Are you proud that, according to a National Geographic Society survey, 85% of young adult Americans cannot find Iraq on the map (and 11% cannot find the United States!)?

Haven't we already talked about the exclusion of academic content from the curriculum?
HE CAN HIDE IN THE BLIND, BUT YOU CAN'T. Robert at Liberty and Power offers some observations on Southern Mississippi's computer use policy, under which embattled President Shelby "Ten of Diamonds" Thames has read others' email.
No student or employee of the University of Southern Mississippi has any reason to expect email or computer privacy until Shelby Thames is removed from office, the information technology contract with Pileum Corporation is terminated, and a strict new email privacy policy is adopted.

Meanwhile, the adoption of such a policy could have wide-ranging impact. Employees in many organizations fear that their email is being read by managers. And it is common for professors and other university employees to avoid using both university email and university phone lines when discussing matters they do not want administrators to know about. It is worth noting that employees of many universities--not just USM--frequently believe that nothing they say over a university phone line is private, even though there are legal prohibitions against listening in on telephone conversations.

The USM Faculty Senate has a choice. If it moves swiftly to put forward a strict email privacy policy, it will do groundbreaking work and ensure loads of favorable publicity for its cause, while hastening the end of the Thames regime. If it falls back on reacting to administrative initiatives, or seeking to smooth things over with Thames and his administrators, it will have done its part to keep Shelby Thames in office for another two years, while insuring that one of his very worst policies remains in force after he is finally fired or his contract runs out.

(Hat tip: King at SCSU Scholars.)
TIME CRUNCHES. Arnold Kling looks at the national income and product accounts, notes historically rapid productivity growth.
As far as I know, President Bush has not claimed credit for the phenomenal productivity growth that has occurred during his Administration. Nor should he. As Dick Cheney said when asked during the Vice-Presidential debate whether he was better off in 2000 than he was four years ago, "Yes, but government had nothing to do with it." Productivity growth in any given Presidential term is affected much more by private sector trends and by policies of previous Administrations than it is by current policies. I think it will be years before we know how much, if any, the Bush Administration's economic policies affected productivity.

The most likely explanation for the faster productivity growth of recent years is the gradual diffusion and exploitation of computer technology. For example, as Virginia Postrel pointed out, "computers have finally gotten powerful enough to collect the data and deliver the problem-solving solutions that [Operations Research] has been promising since the heady days of the New Frontier. Beginning in the 1980s, when American Airlines demonstrated that airlines could save billions of dollars using O.R. techniques to design their schedules, O.R. has become an increasingly important, though largely invisible, contributor to rising productivity."

An Econ Log post offers some additional thoughts, and some comments worth a look.

Perhaps the productivity story has not attracted much attention because, as noted here, everybody is too tired -- in which case today's productivity has eaten future seed corn. Perhaps there is something to that Bolshevik complaint about speed-ups. There certainly are efficiency gains to seek elsewhere.

Consider the latest round of proposals to subsidize caregivers, which remind me of the 1972 Demogrant redux. Laura at Apartment 11-D asserts,
Parenthood is enormously expensive and is at the root of most social inequality today. If you are at all concerned with these issues, then finding a way to lessen the gap between M and P is essential. In this context, Alstott's $5,000 grant seems very small indeed.

Harry at Crooked Timber has been thinking about the same problem, and receiving many comments. One key observation:
I am more moved by a quite different, and much more openly perfectionist, kind of argument for subsidizing primary caregivers, which I can only sketch here. It is grounded in the idea that the structure of social institutions unnecessarily and contingently penalizes the primary caretaker and makes it the case that she/he faces ongoing disadvantages relative to her spouse (and relative to other non-primary caregivers). There is simply no reason to take the institutional status quo as authoritative. The idea is that we want to set things up so that primary caretaking does not have a set of costs attached to it such that one who takes it up is massively disadvantaged within the marriage and if the marriage ends. Why? First, we think that primary care-giving for children is a good thing to do. It is not just one choice among others, but something which has distinctive and intrinsic value, and should be socially validated and encouraged. Second, it will be more rewarding, other things being equal, for both the caregiver and the child if it is done in ‘favourable conditions’; circumstances in which the caregiver is not putting his or her future security excessively at risk. So it is wrong for social institutions unnecessarily to attach great disadvantages to this choice.

Presumably the set of social institutions that involved Dad working, Mom minding the kids, and parents staying together for the sake of the children, which takes advantage of the Say Aggregation Principle to ensure that one wage earner could support a family, and which makes unilateral dissolution of marriage less attractive, are not the set of social institutions envisioned in these discussions. There are, however, other institutional changes to consider, including reduced reliance on the treadmill career path, which might in fact be productivity enhancing as people might have less reason to look for ways out of productive but extremely time-consuming jobs. (Regular readers will correctly note that I have played this tune before: perhaps with sufficient notes on the horn the walls will come tumbling down.)
TONIGHT'S RAILROAD READING. New Zealand has some really funky railroads. There are commuter services in Auckland and Wellington, some long-distance trains, although no sleeper services, and some mineral and container traffic.

New Zealand's government has become the latest to renationalize the tracks while looking for operators to contract out the train operation. Tyler at Marginal Revolution has some thoughts.


So it seems to me that people who are looking down their noses at the lower classes should look in their own mirror. A lot of what Cosby had to say about how low-income black people are living their lives could be said about the middle class.

After all, how can so many immigrants who arrive barely speaking the language outperform black American students, many of whom have been educated at expensive private schools?

Mary Mitchell first puts the question, then answers it:
When I visited Ghana a while ago, I met a 7- or 8-year-old boy who got up every morning and worked on the streets as a vendor before going to school. After eating dinner, he went back to work. The boy told me he studied several hours before going to sleep because he had to take tests to continue to stay in school.

It surprised me that the boy didn't complain about his all-work, no-play schedule. His only concern was whether he would have enough money to pay for his books, pens and paper.

While I certainly don't believe that black students in the United States can't compete, unfortunately many of them do not feel that education is the only way out.

He might have been in the same position that many of the kids who grew up in the Great Depression were. Everybody else was poor too. Toys and playtime were just not in anybody's conception of reality.

Michael at Chicago Report observes,
I believe there is also a larger cultural problem in the Middle Class period. We don't value education culturally speaking. The cool kids in High School are not the smart kids but rather the athletes and the trouble makers, just remember Ferris Bueller. This is not a race problem, its a popular culture problem.

THE GOP CATERS TO THE RICH. Cheap shrimp? Available for boiling or frying in the most modest of homes? No longer restricted to expensive salads at formal restaurants? Must be dumping:
The Bush administration made a preliminary ruling on Tuesday that China and Vietnam were dumping shrimp in the United States at below market prices and proposed duties as high as 112 percent.

Cafe Hayek rephrases the statement more accurately.
TOLD YOU THE WEATHER WAS GOOD. In the days of ASA 10 Kodachrome, these conditions would be referred to as "Kodachrome skies." Those early days of color slide photography were also the glory days of Big Steam. It might have looked a little like this.

Mendota, Illinois, 25 June 2004.
To be fair, servicing crews did not have to wear high-visibility vests in those days, and the Milwaukee's tracks --now lifted -- through Mendota would not support something this big.
OUTSOURCING COMPENDIUM? Joe at Winds of Change recommends The Outsourcing Weblog.
ILLUSTRATED ECON CAMP. Last week, these pages reported on the conclusion of Econ Camp, more properly the Illinois Global Economics and Finance High Schools
summer academy.

More pictures, with some commentary on the content of the program, are available here.

RUNNING EXTRA: Econ camp sounds like a lot more fun than transcript-buffing, a new meme for high schoolers taking required classes in the summer so as to be able to schedule more Advanced Placement classes during the school year.
ARE YOU READING MILT'S FILE REGULARLY? If not, get over there. He plans a radio show on the rise of F. D. R. for tonight; presumably with the Milwaukee Brewers not longer tormenting the Cubs, the program will begin at 2100 Central. The stuff he's been linking to is quite eclectic, most of it somewhat more serious than this Onion piece on "Outrage Fatigue." The Onion originates in Madison, Wisconsin, where the staff is likely to have lots of exemplars to satirize.
"I can't even look at the back of my Volvo anymore," said one Syracuse, NY liberal who wished to remain anonymous. "My 'Lick Bush' and 'Four More Wars' bumper stickers just remind me of the angry feelings I can't sustain. I still have a MoveOn.org sign hanging up in my cubicle at work, but if someone starts to talk about Cheney, I can't take it. I'm like, 'Yes, we all hate Cheney. He's an evil puppet-master. Yes, Bush is dumb. This is obvious. How many times can we say it? Now, excuse me, will you let me through so I can microwave my burrito?'"



OPEN UP ANOTHER SPRECHER. Brewers 4, Cubs 0, with lots of disappointed flatlanders learning where Racine County's speed traps are. The Brewers have to learn how to beat the weaker teams too. Tonight: Irish style Stout. Ein prosit!

SECOND SECTION: I wasn't joking about those Racine County speed traps.
Illinois drivers can rest assured that they will always be welcome in Wisconsin, and not just because of this state's fondness for the doormats known as the Chicago Bears. There's the money that Illinoisians spend here, of course. But flatlanders mainly are welcome because they're just such darn friendly folks and good neighbors.

We raise these points because some Illinoisanders have come under the impression of late that Wisconsin - and specifically Racine County - doesn't particularly like folks from south of the border. What happened was that a Chicago Sun-Times columnist was ticketed for speeding not too long ago, and she has written several columns indicating that the Racine County Sheriff's Department is out to get Illinoisites.

The columnist is - as columnists always are - absolutely right to be upset. To give her a ticket for doing 83 in a 65 mph zone is an affront to all Americans' free speech rights. We wouldn't go so far as to say the department owes her an apology for actually daring to enforce the state's traffic laws, but perhaps deputies could send her a nice cherry kringle.

The aggrieved columnist's side of the story is here. I like this:
Back at home, the message light was blinking on my phone. It was a call from a close friend. She had driven her young daughter up I-94 through Wisconsin the same day as my court appearance. She was calling from her cell phone. They were sitting in her car. She had been stopped by a deputy sheriff and ticketed for allegedly speeding. I should mention that her car bears Illinois plates.

I wonder.

Maybe she can plead to distracted driving.

The background, from a flatlander perspective, is here. The view from north of the Cheddar Curtain is somewhat different.
IN CASE OF A TIE. Today's Best of the Web raises the possibility of a tie in the Electoral College and provides a map showing control of the state delegations.

This Democratic Party site has a map of the states it considers in play.

Just in case anyone is curious, I used the Opinion Journal electoral college calculator to set up this scenario. Come November, I will revisit this post to make amends as necessary.


Is eroding civility in the comment section of weblogs that allow them a symptom of a broader fracture in society? Michele at A Small Victory suggests a connection:
How many times have I said in the past year that I feel a 1968 coming? Quite a few. Unfortunately, I think it's no longer just coming. It's here. The air has the same quality to it that I felt as a six year old. Like lightning about to strike. You can almost hear the thunder in the distance. I don't think the violence will reach the point it did that year, that's not what I mean. But the ugliness, the divide that keeps getting bigger, the hatred and vitriol; all present and accounted for.

In the world of blogs, the only thing we can do is close our comments when they need defusing. Even then, we end up doing the anger dance ourselves, lashing out at the left or the right. We reek of hatred right now. I admit to being part of that. Thing is, I don't know what to do about it. It's perhaps too late to reign in those feelings. Honestly, I don't know if I want to. It feels good to be able to sit down here, type away for an hour or so and release whatever pent up frustration I have. The fact that I allow people to respond to that rage probably fuels it.
Citizen Smash has a few thoughts, and a link to a sufficiently furious Cold Fury, who suggests,
The Left has been spoiling for a real fight for years now, and they’re most likely going to get it. It’s the awful truth, and I don’t see anything standing in the way of it but the Left’s own innate sneaky cowardice. When push comes to shove, perhaps the Left will be willing to put down their Bushitler signs and go home peacefully. But they’re not the majority, they never will be, and the only way they can win is through deceit, disinformation, intimidation, and, ultimately, violence. Scott’s fighting the good fight here, and we all ought to be out doing more of this sort of thing—speaking out before it’s too late to change the minds of the uninformed, and the dupes are standing shoulder to shoulder on the front lines with their manipulators. God help us if it should come to that at last.
The war protests, and counter-protests, are one crack along the fault line. Sometimes it can be as mundane as a song, in this case the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The Glittering Eye was sufficiently impressed by its use during President Reagan's funeral to comment on it.
This is not the hymn of pastoral America nor is it the ballad of an America rocked back on her heels. This is the anthem of revolutionary America. It is our La Marseillaise. Unabashedly Christian, unswerving in its commitments, it is the marching song for Winthrop's "City on a Hill".

I'm not entirely comfortable with The Battle Hymn but that means that I get it. You're not supposed to be comfortable with it. It's a challenge. It's a slap in the face to the complacent.

Those who do not believe in American exceptionalism and do believe in the moral equivalence of all cultures either find The Battle Hymn of the Republic incomprehensible, or quaint, or horrifying. They think or at least hope that its singers must be kidding. Those who do believe in American exceptionalism and in the superiority of America's aspirations hope the singers aren't kidding.

I think we'll be hearing The Battle Hymn of the Republic for some time to come.
Which will displease this commentator:
I too have been concerned with the appropriateness of using the Battle Hymn of the Republic in a religious service. Mind you I am "merely" a layman and a Roman Catholic to boot, but in spite of the mistake I made many years ago-- joining the military as a young man-- I have been over the more recent decades drawn to an appreciation for the importance of a concern for peace and justice. I greatly admire the tradition among the AFSC and other peace churches in pursuing a gospel of social justice which, to my chagrin, does not sufficiently include most American RC churches.

The BHOTR and other nationalistic and militaristic songs are played all too frequently this time of year and I am troubled. I usually get up and leave during the singing of these songs, unintendedly appearing to be disruptive to the congregation, but I have not yet been able to find a better way to deal with these occasions. I am in a process of trying to promote a more enlightened (and Christian) consciousness in my parish. But, as you might well imagine, it is a slow-going process.
The poster's use of the terms "peace" and "justice" illustrates yet another crack in the fault line. When a church-goer of a certain age uses those terms there is a strong possibility that that person uses "peace" to mean "appeasing Communists" -- or coexisting with them -- and "justice" to mean "especially in Latin America." Both of these notions are a bit overtaken by events, but still valid. Little Green Footballs provides a list of such organizations and links to a proposal that their protest of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns at the Republican convention be given conspicuous airing. Battle lines being drawn, indeed.

On the other hand, Anthropology and Economics suggests that the people taking sides cool it. It's a rather long post, but the money argument is in the following paragraphs.
The society of strangers says we don’t have to know the people around us to live with them. We don’t have to have to be bound to them by “trust neworks."

Punks go right after this. They present us with someone who looks threatening. Those mohawks, tattoos, safety pins, ripped clothing, black leather jackets send a message. (I still have a leather jacket from the exhibit we did at the Royal Ontario Museum. The back reads: “Help the Police, Beat yerself up.” No, I don’t wear it.)

Our reaction: “how nervous should I be? What order of threat is this?” The punk finds a way to say, “if I am prepared to disregard my own comforts and niceties, can I be relied upon to respect yours?” The logic of the (pre-1990s) tattoo was even clearer: “if I am prepared to inflict this act of violence upon myself, think do you think what I am prepared to do to you?”

The deeper cultural logic was still clearer. By breaking the “soft rules” of civil life (social conventions), Punks signaled the possibility they might be prepared to break the “hard rules” of civil life (the ones defined and enforced by law). (I am setting aside the larger cultural and political messages of punkness.)

Punks are, in other words, a test of the limits of a society of strangers. They introduce a very strange stranger, one who gives us pause. (Finally, this was more agitprop theatre than reality. For all their talk of anarchy, most punks weren’t very anarchic. Conventionally dressed soccer hooligans are much more dangerous.)

Punks were a test of whether we meant what we said. Did people have the liberty to define themselves as they wanted to, or not? In the period following World War II, we were, in a sense, cheating. The forces of convention were still so powerful that the society of strangers wasn’t very strange at all. Most people could read most people pretty well. Most marginal groups were marginal, driven by stigma and threat from the mainstream. In effect, we had were an individualistic, pluralist, society that permitted freedom but had not yet had to contend with freedom. We were living a lie. (No cliché is unwelcome in this blog. We are inclusive here too.)

Then marginal cultures began to demand a new voice and profile…and now the test was on. As someone who came of age in the 1960s, I remember how long hair was received. It was customary for people to react badly, sometimes insisting, in a classic Douglasian moment, that they were witnessing a confusion of gender categories and that the wearer “must be a girl.” (I remember Rodney Graham one summer in Banff threatening to remove his pants to answer the challenge.)

The test has continued. As marginal groups have insisted on a more visible place in the mainstream, we found ourselves with more and more “strangers.” At first, we reacted badly. The various youth cultures, lesbians, gays, all took a good deal of grief and, sometimes, acts of violence.

Then came a relative rapprochement. As a collectivity, we discovered that these "differences" weren’t so different. Punks might look threatening, but eventually they became merely one more part of the urban landscape. Most people discovered the wisdom, or at least the usefulness, of the New Yorker’s standard response to the blooming variety of that urban setting: "Whatever buddy. Do what you wanna. Just don’t ask me to like it." Now we could go back to business as usual. Benign neglect was the order of the day. It might be better to call this, in the New York style, "disgruntled neglect."

And this is why the Protestant Right has responded so ferociously to gay marriage. Now a marginal group was asking not just for neglect but for inclusion in the very institution that the Protestant church had made the sacred moral ground of the family. Gay marriage violated the "disgruntled neglect" rule. In my opinion, it is entitled to do so. And we will watch with interest. For this is a still better test, one that demands not neglect but inclusion.

But for the rest of us, disgruntled neglect remains the order of the day. Except when it provokes the sensitivities of a particular group, difference is tolerated. We discovered that the society of strangers could expand very considerably…and that was ok.

The post on plastic surgery (4 posts ago) suggests that we may have new differences on the way. An encounter with the lion-like Bride of Wildenstein in a New York restaurant would almost certainly give me pause (paws?).

But I’d get over it. Because, 25 years after my first face-to-face encounter with a crusty punk, I know the society of strangers can encompass even this. It’s a good thing I finally got the news. Because the real difference engine isn't a computer, it’s a culture.
Perhaps so, although there might well be limits to how well a civilization with substantial "disgruntled neglect" will function. Put another way, there might be consequences to others that follow from "do what you wanna." Contemporary versions of flame wars in the comment section might well be the electronic canary in the mine.
WELCOME GUESTS. It is unusual for a Karnival of the Kapitalists entry to rate an update two days on, but this week's proprietor was sufficiently impressed by this followup to this to provide such a special update. Many thanks.

On two related topics, it's not just the stressful life that can sap future productivity. Apparently the same is true of an insufficiently stressful life. James at Outside the Beltway has discovered the downside of those short European work weeks. His conclusion:
From a social idealist standpoint, the old European paradigm is clearly preferable to the American model. Shorter workweeks and longer vacations should lead to healthier lives and, to a point, happier, more productive workers. Reality and theory don’t match up very well in this case, however.

To a point. That's true of just about any argument in economics, you have to be aware of the point up to which it holds. Not only that, as the New York Times discovers, it's a limitation on individual freedom that free individuals can circumvent.
Flagging tax receipts and large budget deficits are the main cause of the state's newfound push for hours. In France, however, the government is making a broader case that the 35-hour week, which applies to public- and private-sector jobs, is throttling the country's growth.

"I've never been convinced of the positive effect of a 35-hour week," President Jacques Chirac declared recently. "I feel it's been a brake on economic development and therefore a brake on overall employment."

Mr. Chirac is feeling pressure from his fiery finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has called for French employees to have the right to work more than 35 hours, if it fattens their paychecks.

There's another dimension to this problem. A shorter work week does not mean higher rates of employment, if the jobs employers are seeking to fill have insufficient job seekers. (Consider in particular the difficulty employers continuously report in finding skilled workers -- a VOLUNTARY offer of shorter working conditions might be just the ticket for them. But that will not help the seekers who lack those skills, who might be proliferating.)

The second related point comes from some magazine reading. A letter to the editor of Trains made the observation that his objective, while in the employ of an eastern railroad, was to keep the younger workers from being fired AND from being promoted -- as into management. Are those higher management salaries a compensating differential for being brainwashed into accepting foolish fads?
"We are not a warlike people. We have never sought glory as a nation of warriors. We are not interested in aggression. We are not interested--as the dictators are--in looting. We do not covet one square inch of the territory of any other nation. Our vast effort, and the unity of purpose which inspires that effort are due solely to our recognition of the fact that our fundamental rights are threatened...These rights were established by our forefathers on the field of battle. They have been defended--at great cost but with great success--on the field of battle, here on our own soil, and in foreign lands, and on all the seas all over the world. There has never been a moment in our history when Americans were not ready to stand up as free men and fight for their rights."

Scrapple Face has a compendium of quotes from President Franklin Roosevelt's speeches that would give the contemporary Democratic Party -- the one that left me -- pause.
BEGGING TO BE SPANKED? Are the heirs to Xerxes begging for their own Thermopylae?
American and Iraqi joint patrols, along with U.S. Special Operations (search) teams, captured two men with explosives in Baghdad on Monday who identified themselves as Iranian (search) intelligence officers.

Roundup at Memeorandum.
BUG OR FEATURE? Looking for a doctoral dissertation involving the microfoundations of macroeconomics? Start with Tim Worstall's column on the effect of welfare reform on steady-state unemployment rates.
It might even be possible for Paul Krugman to go on and explain exactly why this recovery seems to be working a little differently from previous ones. For several decades it was a given that by the time we got down to 5.6 % unemployment we would expect to be seeing wage inflation. That's where we are now and as is rightly pointed out we don't have that inflation. So what happened, has there been some structural change in the economy since the last recession, something that would change the relationship between unemployment rates and income gains? Well, yes, there has been: welfare reform.

My old Professor, Richard Layard, spent the 1980's banging on (I would say to the point of tedium but then one should not be bored with the truth) about how getting the long term unemployed back into the labor pool, if not the workforce, would permanently bring down NAIRU (don't worry, just think of it as the rate of unemployment at which you start to see worker's incomes rising). What was the main point of Bill Clinton's welfare reforms? Why, to get people off long term dependence upon handouts and back into the labor force. What are we seeing now? Having reformed welfare so that it is indeed a hand up not a handout we see that a level of unemployment which would previously have led to wage increases now does not. We might assume then that NAIRU has indeed been permanently changed in exactly the way that theory predicted it would.

Wouldn't that be an interesting story for an eminent economist to tell in his NY Times column? That the currently skewed growth in profits as against wages is simply proof that the structural changes to the welfare system last decade actually worked.

One might quibble about the use of the word "proof" where there is at best preliminary evidence, but that's where the doctoral dissertation comes in.
I PROBABLY SPENT TOO MUCH TIME ON THIS The latest weblogger participation poll is Terry Teachout's Cultural Concurrence Index. At least one of the following two statements is true.

(1) I have to expand my circle of acquaintances.

(2) This selection of choices is weird.

Anyway, I was able to make a choice on 59 of the following items, and maybe ten of the items skipped were informed items. I concur with Mr Teachout on about half of the items I chose, for whatever that might be worth. Here are my choices.
1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Astaire
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? Drop back fifteen and punt.
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Ellington (last public appearance was at Northern Illinois University)
4. Cats or dogs? With a basement full of trains?
5. Matisse or Picasso? Picasso
6. Yeats or Eliot? T. S., not George, Eliot
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Keaton reenacted the Great Locomotive Chase
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike? Punt
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? Punt
11. The Who or the Stones? Got satisfaction. Stones
12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath? Punt
13. Trollope or Dickens? Dickens, slightly
14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? Insufficient information
16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? Huh?
17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? Punt
18. Hot dogs or hamburgers? Dogs
19. Letterman or Leno? Yawn.
20. Wilco or Cat Power? Huh?
21. Verdi or Wagner? Wagner
22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Punt
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? Cash
24. Kingsley or Martin Amis? Punt
25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? Mitchum. GI beats outsider hands down.
26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Punt
27. Vermeer or Rembrandt? Rembrandt, slightly
28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Tchaikovsky
29. Red wine or white? What's for supper?
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Yawn
31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? Punt
32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev? Shostakovich, slightly
33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? Yawn
34. Constable or Turner? Punt
35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? Rio Bravo
36. Comedy or tragedy? What time is it (thanks, Bill)
37. Fall or spring? Fall. There is no spring in the State Line
38. Manet or Monet? Monet, slightly
39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons? Simpsons
40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? Gershwins
41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James? Conrad
42. Sunset or sunrise? Sunset, particularly with the lightning bugs out
43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? Porter
44. Mac or PC? IBM, path-dependence be damned
45. New York or Los Angeles? Chicago
46. Partisan Review or Horizon? Yawn
47. Stax or Motown? Motown
48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? Van Gogh
49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? The Cuervo gold ...
50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? Magazine
51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Alec Guinness
52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers? Punt
53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? Punt
54. Ghost World or Election? Punt
55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Minimalism, provided it's not supported by government grants
56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? Bugs
57. Modernism or postmodernism? Modernism, particularly on the rails
58. Batman or Spider-Man? Batman. Adam West rules.
59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams? Punt
60. Johnson or Boswell? Punt
61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Yawn
62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Before my time
63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? Arch Deluxe
64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? Punt
65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni? Figaro has better tunes
66. Blue or green? Blue
67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It? Dream
68. Ballet or opera? Yawn
69. Film or live theater? Movies. It's Arch Deluxe to refer to "film."
70. Acoustic or electric? Acoustic
71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? North by Northwest, on the Twentieth Century
72. Sargent or Whistler? Whistler, son of railroaders
73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera? Yawn
74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? Music Man
75. Sushi, yes or no? No.
76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? Yawn
77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Williams
78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove? Punt
79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? Punt
80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? Wright. Roh More Boxes.
81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? Punt
82. Watercolor or pastel? Watercolor
83. Bus or subway? Subway, preferably elevated. Spell that L, please.
84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg? Stravinsky
85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth
86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser? Cather
87. Schubert or Mozart? Mozart. Schubert is a minor post-Mozartian.
88. The Fifties or the Twenties? Fifties
89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick? Finn
90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce? Yawn
91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? Punt
92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman? Dickinson, slightly
93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Churchill
94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Punt
95. Italian or French cooking? Italian
96. Bach on piano or harpsichord? Harpsichord
97. Anchovies, yes or no? No. Get out the salt shaker.
98. Short novels or long ones? Short
99. Swing or bebop? Swing, although the people who can get it right are passing.
100. "The Last Judgment" or "The Last Supper"? Punt
SOME FAST TRAINS. Grand Central Terminal in New York has some old synchronization equipment and some even older clocks. Live from the Third Rail finds coverage of an upgrade to the clocks that includes a bit of history of "railroad time" and the evolution of standard time. The article also hints at some extremely fast running on the New York Central.
"A train could leave Syracuse at 12 o'clock and come into Utica, and it would still be 12 o'clock," said Pierce Haviland, a Metro-North employee who is also a railroad historian. "That wasn't working."

That would be some stunt. Utica is east of Syracuse, meaning local noon in Utica ought to precede local noon in Syracuse. Going west, the train would have to make the Utica-Syracuse run in four or five minutes. (To think that there is still controversy about No. 999 hitting 112 mph on a test train, sometime after the adoption of standard time ... apparently such speeds were routinely exceeded by an order of magnitude before the adoption of standard time.)
MORE ON PERFECT PRICE DISCRIMINATION. Rich Lowry has a footnote to last week's post:
Put aside the fact that George Bush doesn't himself set the tuition at any universities. The entire premise of this line of Kerry attack is still mistaken. Almost no one pays official tuition rates, and college tuition has become more affordable in recent years, not less. A report in USA Today found that the amount students pay public universities has fallen by a third since 1998. "In fact," according to the paper, "today's students have enjoyed the greatest improvement in college affordability since the GI Bill provided benefits for returning World War II veterans."

One would think that this constitutes what the Kerry campaign welcomes only through gritted teeth — good news. At public universities, students are paying roughly 27 percent of the official tuition price. Students pay more at private schools, but private tuition actually paid has gone up only 7 percent during the past five years, less than the 20 percent rise in the official price.

It is positively raining college aid, meaning students are in a tight competition with the elderly over who can be more pampered by government. Georgia began a program in 1993 to pay full tuition to state universities for students who had a B average in high school. Thirteen states have created similar programs. Eight new federal tuition tax breaks have been created since 1997. Total federal and state financial aid hit a record $49 billion in 2003, according to USA Today.

The game for universities is obvious — hike official tuition rates ever higher. Then everyone thinks students cannot afford college and plies them with more aid, which ends up lining the pockets of the schools. It's one of the great scams of our time, and Kerry has been happy to play along by hyping nominal tuition increases and promising yet more aid. He is the dream candidate of greedy college administrators.

The problem isn't that students hungry for knowledge are being frozen out from college, but the opposite. Marginal students take their generous aid and go to colleges that don't teach them. Eighty percent of universities aren't selective, e.g. more or less happy to accept anyone who shows up with a check. Only 37 percent of first-time freshmen graduate in four years, and only 60 percent graduate in six years. Universities are happy to take money from unprepared students and fail them right back out, or dumb down their standards to stay on the government-aid gravy train.

(Hat tip: Libertaria at Social Justice Friends.)
CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES NO. 94 visits Democrats Give Conservatives Indigestion, where there is a brief history lesson about cabinets of curiosities, the precursors of modern museums. Sometimes the cabinet becomes an entire chamber, or a decent-sized palace, such as Peter the Great's Chamber of Curiosities, in Piter. The palace at one time provided lodging to Leonhard Euler. Henry Ford probably holds the record for largest cabinet of curiosities, namely the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Mr Ford purchased all sorts of mass-produced and mass-marketed goods to highlight improvements in the lives of ordinary people. His "history is bunk" quip is a comment on the emphasis of ordinary historians of his time on Important People and Important Events.
ON THE ONE HAND, ON THE OTHER HAND. Why I don't do macroeconomics:
There were strong 4.5 percent growth rates in 1997 and 1999, when Bill Clinton was president and the country was in the midst of a record 10-year expansion.

But if this year's growth ends up a bit faster than that, it will be the best since the economy roared ahead at a 7.2 percent rate in 1984, a year when another Republican president - Ronald Reagan - was running for re-election.

"We are moving into a sweet spot for the economy with interest rates not too high, jobs coming back and business investment providing strength," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Bank One in Chicago, who is predicting GDP growth of 4.8 percent this year.

President Bush is highlighting the improving economy at every opportunity while Democratic challenger John Kerry has focused on what he calls a middle class squeeze of rising health and tuition costs and laid-off workers forced to take lower-paying jobs.

Who will win on the all-important pocketbook issues? Economists aren't sure.

"It is unclear whether voters will remember the past year and the better jobs created during that period or the past four years," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com. "It will be a close call and that is one of the reasons the election could be so close."