On the eve of Amtrak's fiftieth birthday, it seems fitting to note again how the retrenchment of the railroads in the years leading up to the creation of Amtrak (and later Conrail, to salvage something in the Official Region) parallels the ongoing shakeout of the universities.  In that post, I wondered, "Are any academic administrators sufficiently forward-looking today? Or will the current crop of administrators have to retire, as was the case with the old-line railroad administrators, before there is any change?" I don't know if Matt "Dean Dad" Reed is still reading Cold Spring Shops; credit him, no matter the source, for understanding the attrition trap.
Layoffs are one way to cut a position, of course, but in my experience they are, by far, the least common one. The much more common one is to leave a position unfilled when someone leaves. The position more or less collapses behind them.

Nonreplacements don’t trigger the same kind of scrutiny, or pushback, as layoffs. For one thing, nobody loses their job. It’s possible to argue that someone is harmed -- presumably, the person who otherwise would have been hired -- but most of the time, nobody knows who that is. No one person has the standing to sue. There’s a cumulative, generational cost, but that doesn’t trigger the same kind of conflagration as firing an incumbent.

With nonreplacements, there’s no suggestion that someone’s performance was poor. In collective bargaining environments, incumbents are represented by unions but prospective hires are not; there’s nobody to bring a grievance.

Nonreplacements -- also called cuts by attrition -- aren’t entirely friction-free, but they’re certainly less traumatic than layoffs.
The remaining rail barons managed to get union support for their mergers, which were intended to achieve operating economies, by pledging to respect seniority and by relying on attrition to achieve the smaller payrolls over time.  To a naïve view, that sounds humane: the fun begins when all the senior armature-winders in the Motor Shop decide to cash out and junior armature-winders in the Diesel Shop at the other end of the system have to be brought in; or if the most promising assistant trainmasters find promising offers elsewhere.  The extension to "can't complete schedules" because the senior faculty have fled is straightforward.  If a number of faculty who all came through tenure review at about the same time call it a career at the same time, the head of the economics department might be in the same position as the foreman of the Motor Shop.
You have to sacrifice some, but not all, of those positions to fill a budget gap. That entails picking winners and losers from among the departments that want to hire replacements. You look at the obvious factors -- enrollment trends at the department level, anticipated demand from employers, strategic directions for the institution, the availability of adjuncts -- and perform a kind of triage.
For the moment, some classes might be covered by temporary help, something that couldn't be said of armature-winders, and yet that is not sustainable.  Blue-collar aristocrats take a more realistic view of job prospects, and they won't go railroading.  That a lot of young people still have the academic vocation, despite going on fifty years of that being a losing proposition, will be somebody else's research opportunity.
Nonreplacement isn’t a panacea. It usually relies, at least in part, on the availability of adjuncts who are paid much less than their full-time counterparts. That creates issues of its own, not the least of which is fairness. Over time, nonreplacement can lead to top-heavy departments. In the case of small departments or programs or work areas, the folks who remain wind up with greater workloads to compensate for the loss; that has limits. And at a really basic level, nonreplacement at scale is more of a holding action than a real solution.
The real solution, however, might be to hive off some of the unproductive divisions.  Where is the system trustee of great vision who will do for the excess capacity in converted normal schools what the Final System Plan did for the Erie-Lackawanna?

Probably not writing for the house organ for Woke Business As Usual.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education on Monday published a pair of consolidation plans for two groups of public universities.

The plans were published eight months after the university system announced its intention to consolidate six universities. The state higher education system has struggled with declining enrollments and anemic state funding for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the system to hasten its plan for financial sustainability.
Or perhaps, they're hoping for some of Mr Biden's funny money.
Dozens of alumni of state public universities, as well as state residents, have expressed concern that PASSHE chancellor Daniel Greenstein is rushing into consolidation without first pushing the state Legislature to better fund the system.

The first plan, dubbed the west integration plan, will consolidate California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University and Edinboro University, which are all located in the western part of the state. The second plan, called the northeast integration plan, will consolidate Bloomsburg University, Lock Haven University and Mansfield University. The second group of universities is clustered in the northeastern part of the state.

Each consolidated university will have one president, who will report to the Board of Governors through the chancellor, according to the plans. The consolidated universities would also have a shared enrollment management strategy and student support services, such as academic advising, financial aid, health and wellness counseling, library services, and career counseling.
We could call the first grouping the Great Western and the second grouping the Great Northeastern.  And yes, the corporate boilerplate sounds a lot like the spin the merger promoters of the late 1950s put out.  And yes, the attrition trap is loaded.
The system will reorganize nonacademic staff members into a single structure for each consolidated university by July of next year. The number of staff members employed by each consolidated university is likely to change.

“Given the efficiencies to be achieved and analysis of retirement eligibility, continued planning is occurring to achieve these results, where possible through removal of vacancies and attrition while maintaining optimal functional capacity,” the plans said. “Periodic adjustments to personnel may be required to meet institutional needs.”
At least in the beginning, though, there will be no changes?  "As the system has developed the consolidation plans, system officials have emphasized that each institution will maintain its own name and branding even after the consolidation. That said, the two consolidated universities will also be given a name this summer."

Sooner or later, reality will dawn.  There is excess capacity to shake out, consolidation will mean liquidation, and the terminally stupid people in charge will be brought to book for their failures.
As long as universities produced highly educated and open-minded graduates, at a reasonable cost, and kept politics out of the lecture hall, Americans did not bother much about their peculiarities—like tenure, non-transparency, legacy admissions, untaxed endowments, rebellious students, and quirky faculty.

But once they began to charge exorbitantly, educate poorly, politick continuously, indebt 45 million people, and act hypocritically, they turned off Americans.

Just as a sermonizing Hollywood grates when it no longer can make good movies, so does a once hallowed but now self-righteous university seem hollow when it charges so much for increasingly so little.
Undermine them with mockery.


Here comes this week's roundup of posts that caught my attention, generally because they could be reduced to one pithy remark, which too often was buried in the concluding paragraph. Follow the links for elaboration. Sometimes that includes a refresher on fundamental Cold Spring Shops.

1.  The only thing worse than trusting the police is not trusting the police? “You have to resort to extra-legal justice, because there is no justice.”

2.  Roger Kimball on the rush to out-Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Johnson.  "And yet here they are behaving as if Karl Marx, if not Mao Zedong himself, had been elected instead of a senile factotum who was supposed to bring back 'normalcy,' national unity, and political 'bipartisanship.'"  The first time around, the Congress and the Supreme Court were cooperative, and the people inclined to go along.  Those policies did not turn out well.

4School became something to game.  "Our cultural expectations grow increasingly insane as the distance grows between reality and our social indicators."

5.  The Technocratic Impulse, when applied to the cities, sowed the seeds of contemporary populism."[T]he seeds of our resentment we hold toward those cultural curators, such as the planning commissions that demolished the heartbeats of these neighborhoods, began when our parents and grandparents fought and lost the hard battles to save their communities."

6Pragmatic populism, as requested by Stacy Lennox: "Define energy independence, symmetrical global trade, national and domestic security, and school choice and education innovation."  Add a reversal of the corona tyranny, and a vision of urban policing untainted by tribal politics, and you might have something.

7Matt Ridley, "We risk allowing officials to cling on to their beloved levers of control for too long."

9.  A correspondent at Shot in the Dark wants a record expunged.  "By making the million-dollar [reparations] payment, the United States would settle all accounts with the former slaves and the books would be balanced. Accepting the payment would include a waiver of entitlement to preferential treatment on account of race."  That's something I've sometimes wondered about: what would a successful policy outcome look like?

10The fruits of corona tyranny? "Who needs to read books about historical tyrants?"  Neither major political party is working as assiduously on the required value proposition.

11.  Craig "Streetwise Professor" Pirrong nails the Fatal Conceit.  "A soi disant elite (ha!) always pushes the alternative that gives them the most power, and deprives you of the most choice."

12.  This S. E. Cupp assertion generalizes.  "I can’t think of anything more abusive and insidious than using your platform to make political pawns of children, and to do so just to incite anger and outrage."

13If it only prevents one suicide!  "If I hear the phrase 'abundance of caution' one more time, I'm going to jump out of my window."

15.  Mary Mitchell laments for her village.  "Only the village can reduce the risks for young Black teens growing up in gun-infested neighborhoods."  Let's see if she thinks about how best to achieve that.

16.  Paul Mirengoff has had enough of dysfunction being enabled.  " I can’t help but wonder if any standard that Blacks disproportionately fail to meet, no matter how self-evidently justified the standard, is safe from attack from the increasingly influential Black/left coalition."  Makes sense, what you enable you get more of.  Mary Mitchell, are you paying attention?

17Compensating differentials exist.  "Four officers moved out of Seattle to make less money in Spokane."

18Liberalism is a mental disorder.  We note elsewhere that all the observers of Wednesday's policy message got their Trump shots long ago.

19.  Process worship summarized in one sentence.  "Only in America will we stop a football game, drag out measuring chains and look at a play 15 times from 6 different angles to make sure we make the right call, but won't verify the integrity of an election of the highest office in our nation."

20Punished for being cooperative?  A business guru concurs.  "It’s tempting for managers to work the best people harder, so they frequently fall into this trap. Now, instead of being rewarded the best workers think they are being punished."

21Outdoor mask guidance is a joke.  Unfortunately, "if you live in a Faucistan sector of the United States, your daily life is likely still going to be affected."

22.  And now, the problems of the succession at quarterback are upon Packer Nation.  "It's hard to envision a happy ending here."

23Reality bites.  "[M]any prominent people and institutions, desperate for a competent foil to then–President Donald Trump, spent the last year celebrating [New York governor Andrew] Cuomo as the leader America needed."


Despite all the attendees at Wednesday night's presidential* address having received their Trump shots during the closing days of the Trump presidency, they were still wearing their Biden muzzles and sitting apart from their unclean colleagues.  And I'm not referring to the Republicans staying away from the Democrats by that.  Bizarre even by Twilight Zone standards, indeed.

Henry Payne used to be a libertarian-leaning cartoonist.  Of late his observations about Democrats have become blunter and more critical.

As for the speech itself, Power Line's Scott Johnson is on point, and I will elaborate.  "The speech should have worked its greatest effect on those who know nothing of LBJ and the Great Society, the Carter administration, and of American history generally."

Yes, I watched the whole thing, and my impression was that the Sixties called, and they want their bromides back.  Roger "Tenured Radicals" Kimball is of like mind.  "I thought it was a horrible speech — cliché-ridden, yes, but also deeply mendacious."
Throughout our history, if you think about it, public investment and infrastructure has literally transformed America — our attitudes, as well as our opportunities.

The transcontinental railroad, the interstate highways united two oceans and brought a totally new age of progress to the United States of America.
I suppose it's churlish to point out that rent seekers captured both projects, and that those interstate highways of the 1950s are either crumbling infrastructure or enabling environmental abuse today.  (It took a lot of Harriman money to uncrumble Union Pacific and Southern Pacific, back in the Cleveland administration, but that's too much history, isn't it?)
And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American.
Biden mercantilism good, Trump mercantilism bad.
And we’re falling behind the competition with the rest of the world.
I gave away my copy of Paul Krugman's Pop Internationalism at retirement, but that comes pretty close to making a false comparison of a company, which engages in competition, with a country, that does not.  (It's called comparative advantage for a reason.)
China and other countries are closing in fast. We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future: advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy.
Are those future winners, or maturing technologies that others might have imitated?
Look, we can’t be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
Countries, to repeat, are not companies. Fortunately, he didn't say "win the future" there. WTF?
Twelve years [of education] is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st Century.
That's stuff for several posts, right there! What happens if that very early childhood education gets youngsters competent enough to learn in high school what they should have learned in high school, so social promotion in the common schools, and remediation in college, become relics of barbarism?
And we’ll increase Pell Grants and invest in Historical Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, Minority-Serving Institutions.  The reason is: They don’t have the endowments, but their students are just as capable of learning about cybersecurity, just as capable of learning about metallurgy — all the things that are going on that provide those jobs of the future.
He left out the law, and medicine, and bond trading. Poor kids don't get to compete with white kids?
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America — nearly three times — for the same drug, nearly three times what other countries pay. We have to change that, and we can.

Let’s do what we’ve always talked about for all the years I was down here in this — in this body — in Congress. Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices.
Can you say monopsony?

In the manner of politicians for time immemorial, it's always pie in the sky with somebody else's dough.
Sometimes I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party.  I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire, but pay your fair share.

A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero federal tax last year.  Those 55 corporations made in excess of $40 billion in profit.  A lot of companies also evade taxes through tax havens in Switzerland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.  And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.  It’s not right.

We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well.
First, will somebody, anybody, spell out what the tax incidence calculations are, and on that basis, what is that fair share of taxes that the high income earners aren't currently paying?

Second, are we really back in the late 1960s, where Sophisticated Opinion was getting all worked up about those millionaires who didn't pay any income taxes?  All we got for that was an alternative minimum tax that became a snare for normal people (Paul Krugman pointed that out) until Our Political Masters adjusted it for inflation.

Third, even if you take a fair share out of that $40 billion, that's a rounding error in the trillions of dollars that the Donks are throwing around.

I suppose we should give the coot credit for saying "public investments their businesses will benefit from" without the "you didn't build that."
The pandemic has only made things worse.  Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic — working- and middle-class Americans.  At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion — in the same exact period.  Let me say it again: 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion during this pandemic.  And they’re now worth more than $4 trillion. 

My fellow Americans, trickle-down — trickle-down economics has never worked and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.
That accumulation of wealth (it's probably owners' equity) during the lockdowns has been a pet socialist hobbyhorse for some time.  That the money was flowing in because the smaller competitors were closed, as a matter of quote public health unquote, has not.  The quickest way to restore that entrepreneurship and employment among the middle- and low- income people is to lift the lockdowns.  That, though, would run counter to the theater of all those masked gerontocrats keeping their distance from each others' cooties, or is it body odor?
If we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living to almost everyone around the world.
Maybe, although the way our ancestors lived, without those annoying trains or airplanes, was sustainable.  We are all underemployed relative to them.
Talk to most responsible gun owners and hunters. They’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a weapon.  What do you think — deer are wearing Kevlar vests?  (Laughter.)  They’ll tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
It is not the place of a president, real or placeholding, to tell me what we are justified in buying.  In addition, responsible gun owners would probably tell you there are no hundred round magazines.  Maybe for a Russian Banjo, but you'd have to scratchbuild that.
We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.
That's where the fun is going to begin.
Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds — “We the People”.  Well, it’s time to remember that “We the People” are the government — you and I.  Not some force in a distant capital.  Not some powerful force that we have no control over.  It’s us.  It’s “We the People.”

In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us, “In America, we do our part.”  We all do our part.  That’s all I’m asking: that we do our part, all of us.
That's an interesting allusion to Ronald Reagan's famous "small remote capital" at the end of a string of proposals to increase the power of a national government on the strength of the slimmest of majorities.

And the fun begins.  The Associated Press engages in its fact-checking ritual.  "Biden also made his spending plans sound more broadly supported in Washington than they are."

He's taking stick from his left, apparently for not throwing enough money and rhetoric at the perceived problems.  "[Self-styled] progressives are unlikely to be satisfied with Biden's agenda no matter how aggressively profligate it gets. That's in their nature. What's more worrying is how far they've already managed to push Biden—with the notable exception of criminal justice reform—and how much more they intend to squeeze out of him."

He's getting hammered from his right, with mockery. "It’s not easy to put people to sleep while at the same time promising to destroy the country, but Biden managed it."

If we take that longer view I opened the post with, bear in mind what Rich Lowry wrote, in advance of the speech.
No one listening to that or a thousand other things Biden said during the campaign would have had him pegged as the guy who would immediately set about making wrenching changes in the American way of life.

For a would-be FDR, Biden doesn't seem to understand that a fundamental source of the New Dealer's power was enormous congressional majorities. FDR came into office in 1933 with almost a 200-seat majority in the House, 313-117, after Republicans lost more than 100 seats.

Biden came into office in 2021 with a bare nine-seat majority in the House after Democrats surprisingly lost ground all over the country. It's the narrowest Democratic House majority since the last two years of the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes.

In the Senate, FDR had 58 Senate Democrats, as Republicans lost 12 seats in 1932 in one of the worst senatorial drubbings in history.

Biden has a 50-50 tie after Democrats eked out two special-election victories in Georgia this year, with Vice President Kamala Harris on standby to break ties.
Mr Roosevelt signed more executive orders and more legislation than Mr Biden has.

More recently, we could consider the Congress that took office in 1965, with perhaps the best Senatorial arm-twister ever sitting in the White House.  Those seemed like heady times for the same sort of expansion of government that Mr Biden seems to be pushing for, and yet, that came undone.

Perhaps the more relevant example might be the Carter presidency, which was likely the last gasp of got-a-problem-pass-a-program thinking, at least among voters.  I'm still not sure whether it's Senate manipulator or somebody's puppet sitting behind that desk signing orders and legislation.

It's just business as usual for tax and tax, spend and spend, big government Democrats, notes Reason's Peter Suderman.
Biden's presidency is barely three months old, but it's already fallen into a predictable pattern: Point to the pandemic. Declare that it's an emergency, and that something must be done. Then insist on an expensive, expansive policy overhaul that Democrats have pushed for years—first, in some cases, as a temporary measure, and then, inevitably, for much longer. It's deceptive and dangerous. And if he keeps this up, he may leave a new crisis in his wake.
Of course he will. But will there be a coherent opposition, with a way forward that involves rolling back the administrative state, and favoring more modest federal actions in future?  The editors of National Review hope so.  "Biden is providing Republicans plenty of material to work with, and nothing to intimidate them."


The eponymous weblog is still in suspension.  The chaos continues in the city.
Two more suicides while we’re in limbo – nothing from the Groot and worse, a canned e-mail from Brownie. Did you know that after the suicide in 019, not a single member of the Command Staff showed up at Roll Calls for at least three days? Including the District Commander. But they care. Really. They tell us so in e-mails and e-learning videos.

Four cops shot in a matter of days – no condemnation from the political structure. Almost like they’re scared to show even the tiniest bit of support for the men and women in blue, lest the suspiciously dormant “rioters” notice them.

And now a dead 13-year-old gangbanger. How do we know he’s a gangbanger?
Read the rest for the answer to that question, as well as to the future of the weblog.



Every so often, something goes wrong at an amusement park, even at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach.  "Adrenaline junkies were left stranded at the highest point of the 213ft Big One this afternoon. They had been on the notorious - and agonising - stretch of track travelling up to the top of the rollercoaster when it suddenly stopped."

Sometimes, all you can do is keep calm and mind the gap, and don't look down.

The British are somewhat less obsessive about safeguarding their roller coasters than we are in the States.  Years ago, I was at Alton Towers near Manchester, when the afternoon rains came.  (It's the west side of the British Isles, and it rains every afternoon.)  The coaster kept running.  A lightning storm came in.  The power went out.  A train was on the lift hill when the power went out.  Where it stayed.  Until the rain stopped and the power came back on.  The riders stuck up there appeared to take it all in stride.  I viewed the rains as an opportunity to grab a snack and visit the arcade.

The Big One is a good roller coaster to enjoy, although make sure you take in the continuous-track racing coaster while you're there.


Every so often, a Chicago police stop goes bad.  A few years ago, one might have ended the political career of then-mayor Rahm Emanuel.  Somebody else didn't let a good crisis go to waste.  That's how the current state's attorney for Cook county got her job.  Sometimes, though, Team Brown finds itself at odds with Team Black.
[Former congressman Luis] Gutierrez likened [current state's attorney Kim] Foxx’s actions to those of her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, who came under heavy fire for her handling of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.

Alvarez waited a year — until the day that shooting video was released by a judge’s order — to file murder charges against former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

“You rightfully accused your predecessor of hiding the Laquan McDonald video,” Gutierrez said to Foxx. “But you chose to not even bother to see the Adam Toledo videos.”

Gutierrez noted that he even dropped his support for Alvarez and endorsed Foxx “believing that you would show greater sensitivity to all disenfranchised communities.”

He now plans to reach out to Foxx’s office Monday to request a meeting to voice concerns about her handling of Adam’s case and what he sees as a glaring lack of Latino leadership in her office.
If you can't get what you want on principle, get what you want by appealing to the tribe.  So it always seems to be, in Chicago.


More information management from Twitter.  "At India's Request, Twitter Blocks Posts Critical of Modi Covid Response."  Note, that's not a complaint from Pajamas Media types.  "The Indian news outlet Medianama was the first to report the situation on Saturday, followed by Buzzfeed in U.S. press."


The geographic area and population of Illinois are both similar to those in Sweden, and there are similarities of the Chicago and Stockholm metropolitan areas.  But  Springfield politicians are hazardous to your health.  Governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) continues to micromanage and destroy local businesses.

A service called Worldometers has been keeping track of coronavirus infections and deaths, disaggregated in a number of ways.

The latest report from Sweden counts 938,343 infections and 13,923 deaths.
The latest report from Illinois counts 1,321,033 infections and 24,139 deaths.

Conditions in Illinois are such that a transition to a full reopening is in order.  "Illinois will move to the bridge phase when 70% of the population 65 years and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, and to Phase 5 when 50% of the population 16 years and older has received at least one dose of vaccine."

If I have to keep extending this post until Anthony Fauci comes to his senses, or resigns, or until the governor is primaried, or until the ukases are vacated, or until the cows come home, I will.

The state continues to administer vaccines.  The latest count is close to nine million injections (the page doesn't disaggregate among finished and pending) and the latest count of those scary variants notes all of 2,500.

Last week, the governor trailed by 10,167.  Note the time series: a margin of terror that used to be growing by hundreds in a week is growing by around a hundred, or less. 



A month ago, Canadian Pacific proposed to merge with Kansas City Southern, creating a railroad company serving the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts with trackage in Canada, the States, and Mexico.  The company name would be Canadian Pacific Kansas City.  (Why not Montreal, Mexico City and Pacific or Kansas City Mexico and Orient?)  The proposal contains the predictable corporate spin, e.g. "participate in the realization of synergies."  The point is to take advantage of the new trade protocols under the U.S. - Mexico - Canada pact that recently took effect.

The other Canadian carrier, which currently serves the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts with trackage in Canada and the States and still trades under its socialist name, Canadian National, counter-tendered.  See you in court, say CPR. "[Canadian Pacific] also said that a CN-KCS combination would diminish competition between the Midwest and Gulf Coast by putting the parallel KCS and former Illinois Central routes under CN control."  That's right, dear reader, the railroad that currently operates the most trackage in Wisconsin and in Mississippi is CNR.

Shades of the Conrail feeding frenzy.  Here's Trains analyst Bill Stephens.
Canadian Pacific today finds itself in the same uncomfortable – and threatened – position that Norfolk Southern was in 25 years ago.

Back in October 1996, CSX Transportation utterly shocked NS when it announced it had a deal to acquire Conrail. The $8.1 billion merger would give CSX access to the New York market and in the process relegate NS to the status of an Eastern regional railroad.

Last month in a blockbuster $29 billion deal, CP announced it would acquire Kansas City Southern to create the first railroad linking Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. This would give CP a network that would nearly mirror that of larger rival Canadian National, but with access deep into the major consuming and manufacturing regions of Mexico.

Then along comes CN this week with its stunning and unsolicited $33.7 billion bid for KCS. All of a sudden CP could go from a more potent competitor for CN to an also-ran. CN+KCS would become the third largest Class I railroad in North America, making CP by far the smallest fish in the pond.

What this means, of course, is that the stakes are as high today for CP as they were for NS back in 1996. CP simply cannot let KCS fall into the hands of its larger rival.
We still haven't heard from the four major U.S. carriers.


Rod Dreher is no fan of High Postmodern Authoritarians.
The threat to us comes primarily from the elite leadership class in government, academia, corporate America, media, and other institutions.

It is true that conservatives are badly led, and that those who think things will be okay if we just cling tighter to Trump are only making things worse, if only because they have chosen a false solution. But I genuinely don’t understand how any non-progressive person can think things are basically fine. Let me put a fine point on it: I don’t understand how any non-progressive person can be anything just short of apocalyptic, given the state of things.

Let me explain.

We are living in a country whose elites are teaching us to see each other primarily on the basis of race, and to hate each other for it.
That's being exploited among white people by provocateurs who would distinguish the Anglo-Saxon salt of the earth types from the various sissified dandies who either appease or seek to rule the woke mob.

It's a Dreher column, which means there are excursions into all sorts of dimensions of the decline and fall, including the likely bad outcomes of "inclusive education for the masses, private tutors for the richest of the dandies."  (Weren't the most promising and politically reliable spawn of the Soviet nachalstvo allowed to read Adam Smith?)

It is to the apocalyptic view, and to the fractures, that I wish to speak.  "We are being demonized and driven out of our jobs and livelihoods, having our children propagandized by ideologues trying to separate them from their families and even their understanding of themselves as male or female, and being told that we are guilty of racist bigotry simply for believing in rewards for achievement — things that were common in America until the day before yesterday."

Although I'm tempted to channel Aaron Rodgers and spell out R-E-L-A-X:  there are still longer elaborations on what I hinted at last week to come, a passage in a Jack Kerwick column that Mr Dreher characterized as "If Berwick [c.q.; is anyone else as annoyed with dictation software as I sometimes am?  -- Ed.]  had not written the odious paragraph [David "Bourgeois Bobos"] Brooks cited, I would have agreed with his column" points to the fracture.
And during the [Black Lives Matter] riots of last summer when citizens of all racial backgrounds across the fruited plain were joining together and taking up arms to protect their communities against the ravages of vandals, Hispanic gangbangers in places like Chicago distinguished themselves on account of their zeal: They not only bludgeoned and shot at black criminals, they also terrorized law-abiding blacks who happened to reside within or pass through the Barrio.
Mr Kerwick's message is about going Schlichter on the sissified dandies who appease or seek to appease the woke mob.  The deeper meaning might be that "communities of color" are not as monolithic as "coalition of the ascendant" or "majority-minority" wonks would have us believe.


What is that Orwell line about some ideas being so goofy only an academic might believe them?  "[P]rofessors at Oxford University are advocating a ban on the use of sheet music as well as an end to the curricular focus on classical European composers—lest the institution continue to be complicit in 'white supremacy.'"  Maybe you have to live in the rarefied air of Oxford to think such things; they're made of sterner stuff at Worcester's Holy Cross.  "Additionally, if sheet music is white supremacy, then successful black composers like André Thomas, Rosephanye Powell, Ysaye Barnwell, and Andraé Crouch would also be complicit. There is a place in the university to learn about different musical traditions across the world that don’t use notation, but saying that sheet music is a form of white supremacy is just ridiculous."

Not to mention that if you're going to show the versatility of the steel pan by arranging other sorts of compositions for it, it helps to have the sheet music.


As more people get vaccinated, the Wuhan coronavirus has a harder time getting from one susceptible person to another.
Eager to know when parts of America are finally approaching herd immunity against COVID-19? Then pay close attention to what’s happening in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Triggered by reopenings and fueled by the rise of more contagious variants, COVID numbers suddenly shot up across all four states last month. But then, just as suddenly, cases began to plummet right at the start of April — and they’re still plummeting today, even as restrictions are being lifted.
Don't you love the legacy press and its tendency to editorialize by pairing two events as if there is some causation?  The story came from Yahoo News, and the fauciism is strong in them.
“I do think this pattern is significant, and the leading factor is the combination of natural immunity from infection and vaccine-induced immunity,” says Yahoo News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel, a Brookings Institution health scholar and a primary care internist. “Between the two, you’re starting to cover the majority of the population in these states. We’re progressing toward herd immunity kind of by hook or crook.”

We may never actually know when a particular state (or the U.S. as a whole) crosses the herd immunity threshold, which experts describe as the point when 75 to 90 percent of a particular population is protected by antibodies. For one thing, true herd immunity — the goal of getting so many Americans vaccinated that COVID-19 can never spread again — is probably unattainable; vaccine demand is declining, hesitancy persists in certain pockets of the country, variants keep emerging and most of the rest of the world remains unshielded by prior infection or immunization.

But there’s another, more immediate way to look at what vaccination and natural immunity have the power to do, together: end the emergency of the U.S. pandemic, reduce COVID-19 to a manageable risk and let normal life resume even before 75 percent of a particular population has been fully dosed.

This isn't to say the virus has ceased to be a threat. “I do not think we are even close to real herd immunity,” Howard Forman, a professor of public health at Yale University, tells Yahoo News.
I wonder if Mr Forman is working from a model of homogeneous susceptibility.
Still, “the more people who are immune,” Forman explains, “the less steep the inclines.”

Patel agrees. “We’re not likely to get to ‘zero COVID,’” she says. “But it’s like a dimmer switch. When you have about 30 percent immunity, you start to see cases go down. At 50 percent, you start to see precipitous drops. And certain pockets of the country seem to be getting there first.”
Not only that, the asymptomatic infections that so had the boffins worried a year ago is now working in our favor. "[T]esting was scarce, so case counts — though also higher than anywhere else in the U.S. early on — could capture only a tiny fraction of the number of residents who got infected, survived and emerged with some degree of natural immunity. Then all four states experienced sizable winter surges, just like the rest of the U.S., expanding that existing base of protection."

But still, the fauciists have to scold and scare us.
It is the combination of these two kinds of immunity that could be at least starting to starve the coronavirus of vulnerable people to infect and depressing case counts across four of America’s previously hardest-hit states, even as they’ve continued to phase out official mitigation measures and combat more contagious variants.
It is long past time to laugh the scare-mongers to scorn. "[U]nlike previous declines, this one doesn’t seem to be happening because people are changing their behavior and taking more precautions. They’re taking fewer, yet cases continue to fall. Something else seems to be exerting downward pressure on the virus."  Which means that if infections continue to decrease, and the intensive care wards have reserve capacity, it is time to change behavior in favor of living free.



A busy stretch of Interstate 95 in Florida's Palm Beach County is due for interchange repairs.  An Orlando Sun-Sentinel article warns, "Construction is going to make it a mess for the next 10 years, but planners believe your drive will get better after that. Really."

I doubt it.  Read the article, and you'll have all the reasons to doubt it.
Among the goals of the projects are to reduce congestion on I-95, lessen traffic spillback from the exits and accommodate future traffic demand. However, the biggest goal for Nick Uhren, executive director for the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, is to improve safety conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists at these busy interchanges.
The very building of capacity to accommodate future traffic guarantees that the expressway will be congested, whether or not they provide extra space or redesigned interchanges to reduce that merging turbulence, particularly if there's no provision for tolling and congestion pricing.  In addition, several of those redesigned interchanges are of the "diverging diamond" variety, which provide additional opportunities for the expressway traffic to make right turns and keep moving, but at the expense of the pedestrian and bicycle safety the planner seems to think come with.  "The diverging diamond interchange flips the direction of traffic, so that cars are running on the left hand side of the roadway, creating deadly confusion for pedestrians used to seeing traffic on the right."  In any event, as Strong Towns contributor Joe Cortright notes, it is difficult to conceive of the crossings of major roads with expressways as being conducive to much pedestrian traffic.  Particularly (read the article for all sorts of documentation) with all those extra opportunities to make right turns, which is to say, all sorts of opportunities for the motorists to floor it and the pedestrians or bicycle riders to watch out.


Things have not been going well in Michigan, where dictatorial governor Gretchen "Karen" Whitmer (D-Hell) micromanaged her state straight into a late-pandemic corona hot spot.
Last Christmas, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released one of the wildest, most mind-warping videos I’ve ever seen. It begins with her shouting, “Thank you for joining us!!” over a Zoom call, before introducing none other than Santa Claus. Several scripted and possibly terrified children then prompt Santa to talk about how he wears a mask at the North Pole and uses hand sanitizer before eating cookies, all while Whitmer hovers imperiously in the corner like some yuletide Big Brother. The video ends with her gently informing the tykes that this year they won’t be able to visit their grandparents for the holidays.

>Watching that, I kept expecting the Soviet national anthem to start playing or Whitmer’s eyes to turn into rotating swirls. I believe the editorial line here at [The American Conservative] prevents me from advocating drug use, but holy moly, that must be some trip. Yet it’s also typical of Whitmer, who more than any other governor has used the coronavirus to exalt herself into a kind of self-unaware epidemiological monarch. Now, her kingdom is starting to crumble.
There might be more unforced errors in her reign than were laid out in our Declaration of Independence.
Whitmer’s response was heavy-handed. She prohibited all private and public gatherings of any size; she banned sales of carpeting, paint, and gardening supplies; she halted all golf games and lawn mowing services. And when the legislature declined to renew the state of emergency that granted her this authority, she simply ignored them.

The meddlesome ingrates on the Michigan Supreme Court later affirmed that Whitmer couldn’t simply rule without legislative consent. That stripped away many of her powers, though she circumvented this by continuing to issue edicts through the health department rather than the governor’s office. The result has been the protracted abolition of any serious democratic deliberation over Michigan’s coronavirus response. Everything has been done through the royal prerogative of Her Majesty the Governor, who seems to regard her Republican opponents as might a mad queen about to reach for the trapdoor button.

The old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely notably does not exempt strong independent women with Dr. Fauci pillows in their offices. And so Whitmer’s reign has brought with it an endless if predictable series of hypocrisies and abuses.
Michigan's experience might give pause to people who have the Technocratic Vision, if they'd but pay attention.
What can be learned from this reign of error? One takeaway is simply that aforementioned adage. Power does indeed corrupt. Concentrate authority in an elite political class and you end up with a two-tiered system, divided between those who make the laws and can flaunt them and those who don’t and are bound by them. Another is that unilateral governments, authoritarian governments, aren’t as effective as we sometimes think. Because decision-making is left to a relative few, serious dissent gets shut out, with groupthink and epistemic closure the predictable consequences. Even the experts Whitmer claims to be consulting are not immune to this. If they were, Texas would be a COVID hellhole right now.

The most glaring lesson from across the bloodstained 20th century is this: There is no such thing as the all-knowing, benevolent leader. That’s true no matter how much we might whimper for one during times of crisis. But she’s keeping us safe! Except she’s not, is she? In fairness, the current COVID surge in Michigan can’t necessarily be blamed on Whitmer. Recently she had been loosening her state’s restrictions, perhaps realizing her subjects were growing restless. It could be that the U.K. variant is running its course. Or it could be the fault of those eased regulations (though plenty of states have opened up more than Michigan without experiencing similar surges).

The truth is that we simply don’t know why Michigan is suffering. But we do know this: The reason Whitmer sits in all her radiant splendor is because she said she needed unilateral authority in order to manage the pandemic. Now she’s failed; her rationale is gone. Which entitles everyone else to ask: Isn’t it time her powers were rolled back for good?
It is precisely during emergencies that leaders must lead by seeking advice and consent.  The dictatorial governors are now having the worst of the coronavirus responses.  The generalization to other areas of governance is straightforward.  It is the Right and the Obligation of the People to make the necessary alterations.


National Review's Matthew Scully envisions "Goodbye to the Cruelty of Industrial Animal Farming."  It's now possible to culture meat without breeding and raising animals for slaughter.
Here’s a technology designed to rehumanize us, putting mankind’s brilliance and ingenuity all in service to our gentler side.

Gone, as this innovation reshapes the market, is any further claim of necessity for industrial animal farming, an enterprise that long ago slipped the boundaries of reasonable and conscientious practice — to say nothing of an environmental and public-health influence equally reckless. For meat companies — already challenged by popular, plant-based alternatives — culturing technology will mark a radical redirection, and there is no industry more in need of one.
That story is about commercial scale sale of chicken sandwiches in Singapore. Commercial scale sale of steak might also be possible, according to Reason's Ron Bailey.
The Israeli company Aleph Farms has just unveiled its lab-grown bio-printed slaughter-free fat-marbled ribeye steak. The steak is grown from living cow cells and then incubated to grow, differentiate, and interact in order to acquire the texture and qualities of a real steak. The company claims that it has "the ability to produce any type of steak and plans to expand its portfolio of quality meat products."
Bet on emergence: is there any reason for a vegetarian or vegan to be squeamish about eating a protein that wasn't bred for slaughter, or for a conservationist to be squeamish about land left fallow?
A switch to cultured meats and milk could have big benefits for the natural world. Currently, about half of the world's habitable land is devoted to agriculture and 77 percent of that is used to raise livestock and produce milk. Although controversial, one preliminary estimate suggests that producing cultured meats cuts energy use by 7–45 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 78–96 percent, land use by 99 percent, and water use by 82–96 percent. The end of farming could be in sight as real factories replace factory farming.
Perhaps not so much the end of farming, as a change in its form. What happens, though ... you always have to think beyond the immediate consequences ... if a lot of land currently devoted to field corn for animal feed becomes available for sweet corn for human consumption?

If a chicken sandwich or a boneless T-bone (or does that become a filet or a tenderloin?) don't intrigue enough, might I interest you in Wiener schnitzel?  "A Finnish tech startup hopes to produce protein out of thin air and not much more, creating a plant-based product they can put into healthy drinks and yoghurts or even turn into a meatless schnitzel, the company said."  This project isn't quite ready for the plate, and there are a few teething troubles, although capturing carbon dioxide to make the protein tackles yet another challenge.

Maybe some of the land currently devoted to soybeans for chicken feed will become available to make tofu fish fillets (the ultimate in poor man's lobster) instead.  "Tofu pieces cut thin and covered in batter stand in for the fish, while sides include home fries, home made tarter sauce, coleslaw, and a lemon wedge."

Inefficiencies (in these anecdotes, negative nonpecuniary externalities) are incentives for self-interested agents to harvest (no pun intended) gains from trade.  I might not have been clever enough to see any of these opportunities.  Fortunately, others did.


Sometimes, it is good to be pensioned off and out of the fray.  "Faculty members are concerned about the future of four-year institutions in Illinois, including a state bill that would create bachelor degree programs at community colleges, sociology professor Símon Weffer said at Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting."

We used to have something resembling a division of effort in the state's colleges and universities, with the research flagship in Urbana, a few converted teachers' colleges with a smattering of graduate and professional degree programs, and each county had a two-year college doing baccalaureate prep as well as technical and vocational certificates, and continuing education.

Now, it's looking more like a free-for-all.  "Weffer said he’s concerned with the general underselling of the importance of four-year institutions in the fabric of our society as a state."  It might have come to this when the four-year institutions decided that paying obeisance to the diversity weenies was more important than having standards.

Or, perhaps, it's about clinging to those few privileges that faculty at four-year state-located universities still have.
“We’re worried that with this document, people will skip the narrative and go straight to the metrics and not see anything that really measures the impact of higher education on the greater society, and when I mean higher education, I mean everything research, artistry teaching, civic engagement and on,” Weffer said.

Weffer also addressed Senate Bill 1832, a bill that would allow community colleges to create bachelor’s degree programs for early childhood education. The bill has gained support from Illinois lawmakers and would address high turnover and low wages in the early education workforce and low enrollment at community colleges across the state, according to an April 7 Chalkbeat Chicago.

“The problem is that if we allow community colleges to start granting a B.A. in any way, shape, or form, it’s only a matter of time that they might say ‘this is only early childhood education,” Weffer said. “We know that one of the things that happens is that these programs tend to be extended.”
I'm not sure how additional credentials address what looks more like the usual labor market response to low pay and crappy working conditions in early childhood education, which has long attracted idealistic young people, particularly young women, but has long been less than truthful about the pay and working conditions.

Whether generating additional capacity in a part of the higher education sector that probably already has excess capacity is another matter.  On the other hand, there's a longer view one might take: were there people in the University of Illinois system raising similar objections when those normal schools started behaving more like universities?  Back then, though, there might have been rising populations.


Nothing can make the case for Ben Shapiro referring to "President Potted Plant" quite like the Leader of the Free World, muzzled on a video conference.  "But we are pretty damn sure he looks like a weak, ridiculous old man masked up with other world leaders during a damn Zoom call."  Sad!



Apparently the Dr. Demento show left the air waves in 2010.  That link will take you to videos of some of the greatest hits, including "Fish Heads."

There still is a Dr. Demento online show.

I wonder, though, whether the usual lineup of parody and satire singers can really do today's world justice.


Here comes this week's roundup of posts that caught my attention, generally because they could be reduced to one pithy remark, which too often was buried in the concluding paragraph.  Follow the links for elaboration.  Sometimes that includes a refresher on fundamental Cold Spring Shops.

1Calling out the Church of Intersectionality? "To demonize a writer rather than address the writer’s arguments is a confession that one has no rational response to them."

2John Hinderaker, "It is too bad when a severely ailing 85-year-old doesn’t live to be 86. But the fact that we have devastated the lives of our young people over the Wuhan epidemic is a crime."

3George Will, "[Democrats'] devotion to constitutional propriety expired three months ago, at noon, Jan. 20." I would have written "remaining devotion," but whatever.

4.  A father objects to the unintended consequences of inclusive education.  "I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites."

5.  Outdoor masking is quarantine theater.  "It is [TV talker Joy] Reid and [superannuated virologist Anthony] Fauci who are being irrationally paranoid, not the people they are criticizing."

6.  The corona tyranny is an opportunity for classical liberals and practitioners of conventional skepticism, should they recognize it. "We can hope it will be the realization that the old principles of public health served us well, as did the legal and moral principles of human rights and restrictions on the powers of government."

7.  More John Hinderaker, "The dominant elements of our political class hate our country."  The time is right for a pragmatic populism, if people would but see it.

8Sarah Hoyt, "When an entire class of people think they’re immune from punishment, no matter the reason — skin color, features, size, or whatever — those people will naturally supply the vast majority of criminals."  What you enable you get more of.

9Reason's Matt Welch, "It is entirely possible to believe that the [systematic racism]-term is 100 percent applicable in the previous paragraph's examples while acknowledging that this language and utter preponderance sounds a bit goofy around the gills for a significant portion of the public who need to be persuaded if the sweeping changes advocated by activists are going to be enacted. Unless, that is, skeptics can be alienated into disengagement or intimidated into silence, leaving the remaining players on a shrinking field increased elbow room."  Sometimes exit is the only option.

10Stephen Green, "Insanity Wrap is a big believer in bourgeois, middle-class values and behavior because they are a universal and color-blind way to live a decent and successful life." 

11.  Matt "Dean Dad" Reed gropes toward the Tragic Vision.  "The universalist approach to ethics -- everyone is entitled to basic protections, human dignity and the like -- is often and easily caricatured as idealistic. It’s anything but. It’s based on a realistic, even gloomy, sense that absolutely everybody is flawed."

12Reason's J. D. Tuccille sees the original intent of the Second Amendment.  "Just in case their fears come true, people worried that authoritarianism will come to America might want to learn from pro-democracy activists elsewhere. That requires treating efforts at civilian disarmament as even more reason to keep the tools for self-defense close to hand."

13Neo: "Black lives don’t matter very much to Black Lives Matter."

14Charles Marohn, "We were too poor to tear anything down."

15John Hinderaker, "Liberals love covid restrictions and the arbitrary power they give to governments. They won’t stop bullying the rest of us until we make them stop."

16.  There will be a reckoning.  "It is time to reassert the primacy of freedom."

18Let there be limits.  "Three-fourths of a century after it ended, the war against Nazi Germany remains the wellspring of American Exceptionalism—the primary source of the illusion that having once rescued the world from evil, the United States is called upon to do it again and again."

19.  Michigan, the corona cesspool of the west.  "Because [the governor] did such a great job at the beginning of the pandemic, more people are getting sick now because they don’t have antibodies… or something."  She's out of optionsPobrecito, que lastima.

21.  A different sort of intersectionality.  "No, what caused and continues to cause the exodus out of California is not tax burden, or regulation, or cost of living, or housing prices. Rather, it is the burden, and regulation, and cost of living, and housing prices, and more."


Pajamas Media columnist Stacey Lennox sees people crying with their mouths full.  "Progressives Have Gotten a Lot of What They Want in 2021—So Why Are They Still So Miserable?"

There's nothing new in that observation.  Here's a recollection from college years.
These were precisely the years of affirmative action, environmental protection, no-fault divorce, and legal abortion becoming national policy. The U.S. wound up its work in Vietnam in such a way as to ensure Vietcong and Khmer Rouge victories. First Vice President Agnew, and then President Nixon, self-destructed. The Equal Rights Amendment appeared on its way to ratification. But what impressed me in those days was how unhappy the Movement (always pronounced Mewve-ment) people remained despite all that.
They hit the wall then, although nobody could have anticipated how refreshing the correction would be, and they're going to hit the wall again.  Along the way, though, some people are going nuts.  "First, those who identify as 'liberal' or 'very liberal' report having had a medical provider tell them they had a mental health condition at significantly higher rates."  Perhaps the stress of keeping track of all the crises whilst walking on eggs for fear of being the next to be denounced makes you nuts.  "There is a never-ending list of problems to solve on the march to some version of utopia, which is entirely at odds with human nature. A connected world makes it feel like the issues of racial tension, inequality, and a so-called 'climate emergency' are bearing down on us with frequency and at a terrifying speed. The corporate media, progressive leaders, universities, celebrities, and now even corporations amplify these messages."

Josh Hammer appears to concur, not without some glee.
The unfortunate reality is that, in our modern political and media ecosystem, a permanently aggrieved, outraged, victimized mentality pays well. For the charlatans and hucksters of "anti-racism" and "critical race theory," therefore, conceding that a development such as Chauvin's conviction might indicate that America's criminal justice system is not "systemically racist" is unconscionable. Indeed, an entire industry has been established to perpetuate this rotten myth. "A post-racial America would be an unmitigated disaster" for this industry, David Azerrad recently wrote for Newsweek. "Instead of charging $6,000 an hour lecturing corporate America on its white privilege, Robin DiAngelo would be selling plastic jewelry on the Home Shopping Network."
The experiments against reality that were so popular from the middle 1960s into the 1970s are still with us, and reality is still implacable.
The Democratic takeover of the White House and Senate, far from being a triumph, is an illustration of just how politically feeble the left has become. It has no leaders more appealing than a seventy-eight-year-old Joe Biden. Who will replace him? There is no second Obama. No youthful leader in the House or Senate stands out. The next-generation figures who have been most touted by the media, such as Beto O’Rourke—the man who was supposed to turn Texas blue—have proved to have little actual support. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is certainly popular with the left, but she and her brand of politics hardly seem prepared to repeat the ballot-box feats of Obama or Biden, both of whom won by concealing the radicalism of their party.
There are two currents at work, each of which will require separate, longer posts to elaborate. First, some of the mascots of today's intersectional coalitions are at odds with each other, and some will be transient in any event. Second, the Democrats own the urban unrest and the shuttered schools and the corona tyranny, and there have to be pragmatists working to exploit those things.