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April 18, 2015

"Behold the Batmobile of Baby Strollers"

I'd guess it's as much for dad as it is for a stroller-aged tot.

"This Tree Beautifully Reveals The Relationships Between Languages"

Supposedly, everything is Indo-European except Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian.

April 17, 2015

"Just how good is Eric Clapton?"

Short answer: pretty darn good.

"No, it's not a mirage! The amazing oasis town that flourishes in the middle of the driest place on Earth"

Not something you see every day.

"Survival in the Age of Spotify"

"Two rock musicians find flaws—and hope—in a book that suggests how artists can earn a decent living even after free online access to music has ravaged the business."

April 16, 2015

"Europe accuses Google of antitrust violations and launches a massive investigation into Android"

Sadly, what has been long forecast here--see, for example, "It's coming, I tell ya," and "One more time, for now: Google and antitrust"--has now happened.

(To be clear, I predicted the US antitrust authorities would do it. I underestimated the power of Google's political pull. And it may still yet come.)

Oh and note the main source of the complaint

And most of the people doing the complaining are NOT Europeans — they are other American tech companies (and their lobbyists) whose international businesses have allegedly been screwed over by Google.

This is all too typical of antitrust complaints. The customers don't seem to mind, but the competitors of very successful companies do.

UPDATE: Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. offers this sharp, concise formulation:

Antitrust is predatory corporate welfare policy. Firms do get large and powerful, but never as large and powerful as governments that collude with rent-seeking firms to forcibly channel customers to the latter.

Antitrust’s goal is to absolve lawyered-up firms of the need to competitively respond to the new market regimes brought into being by the dominant firm; it artificially secures less-competitive firms’ survival by forcibly denying consumers the choices they otherwise would have been free to make.

"37 incredible drone photos from across the globe that would be totally illegal today"

Arresting pictures.

Related: "Armchair travelers can now explore Mount Everest on Google Street View".

"The Top 100 Highest Grossing Restaurants In America"

I've been to two of the 100.

Given the prices I assume most of the rest charge, I'm not really interested in visiting the others.

"Don't You Forget About Me: The John Hughes I Knew"

P. J. O'Rourke pays tribute to the "wit, wisdom, and politics of his friend John Hughes".

April 15, 2015

"On the Road Again: Mapping All the Cities in Willie Nelson's Songs"

Willie has gotten around.

"Why is My Dog Such a Picky Pooper?"

Your mileage may vary, but it's way more complicated than I knew.

So what exactly is going on during these intricate performances? Like pretty much everything else that relates to physiology and animal behavior, there isn’t one simple answer. In general though, you can thank your dog’s keen sense of smell and the complex social dynamics he inherited from wolves for this finicky behavior.

Also, magnets. Well, magnetic fields to be precise.

"How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?"

Short answer: ". . . eating 11.4 calories per pound of your ideal body weight is often recommended for weight loss in obese adults."

Among the calorie-target calculators I've looked at, this page seems to me to be the most useful.

"Why You Shouldn't Buy Organic Based on the 'Dirty Dozen' List"

I thought that list was questionable.

"Forget Expedia: It's Becoming Cheaper to Book Hotels Directly"

Good to know.

April 14, 2015

"Our Undemocratic Teachers’ Unions"

When the Liberals call for more "democracy," this would be worth mentioning.

This teachers’ union claims to champion democratic values, but it hasn’t scheduled a single vote by its teachers in 50 years.

"How to Rack Up $18 Trillion in Debt and How to Pay It Down"

The small blue bars on the graph are a reminder that circa 2000, the Fed was holding meetings and staff were writing papers about the looming problem of how the Fed was going to conduct open market operations after surpluses had retired all the federal debt.

Hilarious or tragic, you decide.

Here's a suggestion for something that would help (at least in partial equilibrium): "Time to End the Federal Subsidy for High-Tax States".

"The Truth About UVA and Ferguson Isn't Good Enough for P.C. Crowd"

John McWhorter--no right-wing conspirator he--slams "political correctness dividing the metaphorical truth from the actual truth".

Think about it: The centrality of story over individual is something we associate with pre-literate societies and their focus on legend and myth. A key theme in the development of the West is the increasing value placed on 1) the individual, and 2) the factual. As such, the idea that the narrative is “what we really need to be talking about” sounds insightful, but is actually a veiled argument that moral advancement means fighting the Enlightenment.

See also Naomi Schaefer Riley, "Facts matter: Left sticks to ‘narratives,’ evidence be damned".

"The impending surge for the University of Everywhere"

George Leef reviews Kevin Carey's The End of College.

I don't know about all college courses, but having both taken and taught large lecture sections, I'm sure that online courses can easily replace them.

"A Sociology Prof Proves that Studying Econ is Morally Bad"

Yeah, right. Sociologists should stick to sociology.

April 13, 2015

"The Prescience of Daniel Patrick Moynihan"

It's been late coming, but Senator Moynihan is now widely recognized for being, in 1964, absolutely right.

See also "The Last Sane Liberal," "Moynihan’s Mistake and the Left’s Shame," and two earlier posts here, "Terribly sadly, 45 years ago Pat Moynihan was right," and "Fine paragraph".

Professor Amy Wax at Penn argues that the problem Moynihan identified is deep-rooted and there is a sharp limit to what government can do about it. See, for examples, "Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure" and "Diverging Family Structure and 'Rational' Behavior: The Decline in Marriage as a Disorder of Choice".

Michael Barone and Megan McArdle have some hope for improvement.

"How Chicago has used financial engineering to paper over its massive budget gap"

Read this and be amazed. Amazed, not at how awful Chicago's finances are and the damage that years of political malfeasance will likely cause, but amazed at why all American big cities have yet to copy it.

Yet.

"We Are Ready to Believe You!"

John Podhoretz uses simple economics to explain an important part of what's happening in today's colleges: if you pay good money to people to solve problems, they have a vested interest in making the problems bigger

Ed Driscoll drolly sums this up by referring to their interest in protecting "their phony-baloney jobs". If you don't understand that reference, see this clip

"A delicate balance: Are professors teaching too little?"

Whether or not you agree that professors are teaching too little, I'd hope we could agree on solutions to two problems in higher education, especially at state schools, raised by this article.

Relatively small problem:

Faculty members at area universities say teaching load is not the same as workload. They say in addition to research and teaching, they are meeting with and mentoring students, serving on various committees . . . 

Fix: cut the committees by 50% and cut the number of meetings of the remaining committees by 50%.

Bigger problem:

"We've received calls from professors who were absolutely aghast that I would even bring such a subject up," [NC State Senator] McInnis said last week.

Fix: hey, arrogant jerks, try remembering who you work for.

"At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics"

The New York Times is appalled--simply appalled!--that at Success Academy students who are performing poorly are publicly shamed. But here's the bottom line:

. . . this year, the network said, it received more than 22,000 applications for 2,688 seats.

And here's another one, something you don't find in the regular public schools:

When the students were sitting on the floor and he [the principal] noticed that they were not sitting properly, he interrupted the lesson and said, “Ms. Vistocco, can you reset your carpet expectations?”

"California Government Is The Big Water Management Problem"

Hank Campbell, Science 2.0:

Why not allow more water to be stored in the south or build more reservoirs in the north instead of dumping fresh water into the ocean? Californians know water is important, we have agreed to water bonds totaling $22 billion in recent years, but the money has ended up going to environmental projects rather than things that help the people paying interest on those bonds.

Most of California is actually desert, the green parts are all watered to be that way, and we know droughts will happen - this is the fourth one in 50 years - so it would make sense to store more water, a literal anti-rainy day plan. But environmentalists block all efforts to create more reservoirs even though we know this sort of thing has always happened and will continue to happen.

"Higher Minimum Wage Leaves Working Poor Without Childcare"

Mary Theroux:

. . . but those who have to keep their doors open deal more in Cold Hard Facts:

Revenues < Expenses = Bankruptcy

So when its main expense (labor) increases by more than 36% overnight (from $9 to $12.25 per hour), Cold Hard Facts say: Increase Revenues or Decrease Expenses.

April 12, 2015

"The Comfort of Feeling Small"

"As the Spurs prepare for another playoff run, they take with them a team of millions."

Sportswriter Travis Hale offers a beautiful, beautiful tribute to San Antonio.

"142 Behind-The-Scenes Photos Reveal Blade Runner's Miniature World"

Blade Runner is cool.

April 11, 2015

"An Oral History of Laurel Canyon, the 60s and 70s Music Mecca"

For a couple of years it was, verily, paradise.

But paradises usually don't last and this one didn't.

"The 10 Best Films of the 1970s"

Not a dud in the bunch. Way better than almost all of the recent stuff I've seen. (But that could be yet another sign that I'm offically a Cranky Old Man.)

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