We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, February 16. 2016
He is deeply involved in holistic and alternative medicines. That, in itself, is no big deal. I know plenty of people who use these approaches, as I have from time to time (despite being the son of a doctor). My father once told me, "If it works, it doesn't matter what it is. Even placebos have a place in medicine." Of course, he wasn't all that thrilled about me seeing a chiropractor, but I figure that was just professional jealousy kicking in.
What the CRO said to catch my attention was this - "there is no incentive for the medical community to cure cancer because they make far more money by just treating it." From someone as highly educated as he is, I was shocked.
It's not like I haven't heard this comment before. I just never heard it from a person capable of thinking deeply about an issue like this.
His premise is based on the existence of one thing called 'cancer' which must be somehow curable. I tried to explain to him there is no single thing called 'cancer'. There are forms of cancer, and they are all quite different. In addition, we all have some form of 'cancer' within us, it's really just a question of whether the deadly or invasive form has been activated. Furthermore, the term "cure" isn't perfectly applicable. There are many ways of dealing with disease, such as prevention (one example is vaccines - the HPV vaccine should reduce the rate of cervical cancer over time) and altered diets and behaviors (there is evidence that healthier eating habits, reduced sugars can help slow some cancers from spreading - and even ending smoking or drinking can help). But even treatment is a form of 'cure' (many lymphomas are now 'cured' if caught early and treated aggressively). Regardless of how you approach the issue, strides are being made to find a 'cure'.
The idea that you "make more from treatment so you're not looking for a cure" is like saying "the attempt to cure the disease generates so much revenue, they aren't really trying to cure it." In other words, the money generated from 'curing' it isn't really an attempt to 'cure' anything. Which is a nice bit of circular logic I guess only a lawyer can get away with.
The truth is, many cancers may be 'curable', but because all cancers are such complex diseases there is no magic bullet. This, of course, makes Obama's State of the Union call a bit outlandish, and it also tends to forget that we've been trying to find a cure since 1971, when Nixon was the first president to declare "war" on cancer. This doesn't mean we should stop trying simply because we haven't cured all forms yet. However, it does mean we should keep everything in context. We've 'cured' several forms, we've made tremendous progress, and there is no value in ignoring everything which has happened to improve the lives of those with various forms.
If treating diseases generates so much money that 'curing' them isn't a goal, then I'd like to know why we do have so many curable diseases today? Treating diseases like smallpox, polio, and a host of other diseases generates plenty of money - why did we 'cure' them by finding vaccines?
In a way, the logic employed by my CRO friend is an application of Bastiat's "Broken Window Fallacy" - the idea that breaking windows makes us wealthier by keeping the glazier at work, and money changing hands. It's a logic that ignores the massive costs of lost value and misallocation of spending. Cancer's costs on productivity far outweigh the revenue any treatment can generate. 'Curing' all its forms is a goal simply because the overall gains in productivity will be greater than the revenues generated by simply managing it.
Tuesday, February 9. 2016
Reading the morning links, the Signs of Bad Science piece caught my attention, having just read this bit over at Manhattan Contrarian:
There's plenty of good science out there, but there
Thursday, January 14. 2016
For years, I've been taught that 'win-win' solutions are the best. They certainly are, and I try to find them whenever possible. But in this vein, how is compromise necessarily 'win-win'? It can be, certainly, but it is not always and definitely. In my day-to-day life, 'win-win' is what I live for. It's what keeps business running. But it is no longer useful in politics.
My friends who are Democrats bemoan the Republican stance saying "How can they block Obama at every turn? Why can't they compromise?" I don't doubt their sincerity of motive, their desire for what's best. I know they want to do well and good for themselves, others, and the nation. All they hear are flowery stories of 'curing cancer' or 'feeding the poor' and decide "Hey! That's a great idea, and politicians say we can do it by taxing the rich."
But I prefer shrinking the government. So do many people in this nation. When a Democrat says "I want to grow government infinity, and you don't, so let's compromise and only grow it 10%" I immediately start to get angry. Only growing it a little less than you want still constitutes growing it, and I am opposed to growing it. Where do we compromise?
We used to. We shouldn't anymore. It's time to say no. It's time to push back and take back. Which is why I don't particularly like the methods used in Oregon, but I support them. After all, Eric Holder took part in an armed takeover while at Columbia. How was his 'good' and theirs 'bad'?
The only compromise from here on in, as far as I'm concerned, is to agree to grow a Democratic program while cutting a larger one somewhere else - or not agree to growth at all. It's time for these people to choose what's important, and not throw shit on a wall to see what sticks. Nearly every article in the mainstream is heralding the idea that Joe Biden is going to cure cancer. This is, without question, one of the most laughably stupid concepts I've heard from anyone, anywhere, anytime. 'Cancer' isn't one single disease that a silver bullet cure can be created for, and chasing all the cures needed is absurdly expensive and outlandish regardless of what the mainstream journalists say.
Wednesday, January 13. 2016
I watch less TV than the average American, but more than a little. M*A*S*H reruns (it's on when I get home from work and it's still great television), sports, and movies. I was a regular viewer of The Sopranos and Mad Men. I never watched Breaking Bad (though I may since many people have recommended it), but I have gotten hooked on Better Call Saul. Most of this viewing has been done via binge-watching. Late at night, when nothing else is going on and I can squeeze two or three episodes in on VOD or Netflix.
Recently, the wife and I got a recommendation to watch Fargo. The original film is classic, thoroughly enjoyable. Coen brothers at their very best. I wasn't sure how telling fake 'true crimes' tales in serial format would play out. Despite my reservations, the show is fantastic. I finished the final episode of season two (because I can't get season one yet) this week and had a difficult time taking a break from viewing.
In true Coen brothers fashion, there is plenty of violence, dark humor, and outlandish twists of fate. The Coen brothers often have a theme of unstoppable and overwhelming evil running through their films. Fargo is no different, with several characters, who can only be described as psychotic, pursuing various goals. Each one meets a different end, some more surprising than others.
Without providing spoilers, there is one particular theme which caught my attention. It was mentioned early, and barely discussed until the very end. A secondary character is reading Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus for a class. This detail is brought up in conversation on occasion as the story progresses, several characters comment on the book. As the story unfolds, plot twists hint at the absurdity of life, how boring and difficult it is to live a life that only leaves you dead, without much to show for it. As you begin to think there can't be any redemption, the primary characters (the police) continue to pursue their goals, against odds that slowly stack against them.
Then the script flips. It becomes clear each character is Sisyphus, pushing their own particular boulder up a hill each day. A criminal seeking to make his boss or himself happy, a police officer engaging crime prevention and enforcement against increasing human stupidity and avarice, a mother dying of cancer trying to make life comfortable for her family, and a woman seeking personal fulfillment. Each day, they wake up and push that same rock up the hill again.
What becomes clear at the finish is the rock we all push, the thing we consider a burden, is in fact a privilege. It can be family, a job, any repetitive detail in our lives which we view with some level of disdain simply because it has to be done over and over again. Camus insinuates the reward for this seemingly useless behavior was death. Fargo alternately embraces this point in some cases, and rejects it in others. The characters point out our duties are what provide meaning and value. The show is full of death, and someday we will die. But on every other day, we will live. Living a life expecting nothing but an absurd finish is a fate for many, who don't expect much else. For others, death gave their lives meaning and highlighted what was good in the lives of those around them.
Fargo closes with a standard Coen brothers flourish. We're happy, but not completely so. Life goes on, happy enough for those we're pleased to see finish in good spirits, but it takes bizarre twists for others. Good has triumphed, but only barely, and evil continues in various, new, formats. It's not Hollywood. It's close enough to real life to relate to, but strange enough to keep your interest and make you think.
I look forward to watching the first season (no spoilers in the comments, please!).
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:39 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, January 11. 2016
I imagine this is Bernie's thought process. But if he's in control, he's the entitled minority.
I don't consider my loathing of Dunlap to be particularly unusual or unjustified. I don't know the man, but his behaviors were pretty transparent. It was easy to not like him, as opposed to a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, who have proven themselves astute and relatively even-handed businessmen (even if you don't necessarily admire their politics).
There are still other reasons why people loathe the successful, and the death of flamboyant glam-rocker David Bowie reminded me of some. Many popular music stars have no problem speaking out against successful business people or businesses - even those in their own industry. I don't know if Bowie ever had anything bad to say about the marketers who helped turned him into a cottage industry, but plenty of his contemporaries certainly had/have very negative things to say about the successful. I have sat through more than one concert (Roger Waters in particular) which did nothing but complain about corporations and greed.
As a younger person, I used to complain about paying $X to go see a band. "The greedy music companies want to soak us." I still paid and saw the band. I never considered that the $X I paid covered a large number of costs which provided jobs to people. Sure the music promoters got wealthy, but these promoters were usually making money on the margins, and managed several events which also lost money. Whatever I ultimately paid for the ticket probably covered the costs for the show, as well as some losses on other shows.
As I aged, I realized even though I paid $X, jobs were created to service my entertainment needs. I also realized my willingness to pay $X meant I believed $X was a fair exchange for my entertainment. I no longer believed some wealthy promoter was ripping me off - I was engaging in a fair trade which left both of us better off. I enjoyed my entertainment and the promoter got paid for his ability to put together a show which thousands may enjoy.
Continue reading "Loathing Success"
Thursday, January 7. 2016
Whoopi says she has no problem with someone who wants to search for her gun (she says she's a gun owner, which I don't doubt) and has no problem registering her weapon. Good for her. I do have a problem with it. Why do I have to do it because she doesn't have a problem? I need to register because she's OK with it? Well, I want her to register with my gym and start attending with me, because I did it and it's good for me and it would be good for her.
I didn't need the extra piece of roast beef last night, but I wanted that extra piece of roast beef.
I didn't need to drive 40 in a 25 MPH zone, but I did and nobody was harmed.
I didn't need to cross 34th Street against the light while there was traffic, but I made a choice and I was prepared to deal with the consequences.
Laws which are created by people based on the belief they are needed for others miss an essential point. The 25 MPH zone exists to protect children who live on the street. But at 1am, with well lit streets, I am fairly certain I'm not putting them at risk and I can see very well to react in a timely fashion. While I crossed against the light on 34th Street, and stepped into traffic, it was at a standstill due to a jam. What we 'need' is not always what works in a given situation, and it does not properly address the desire to pursue happiness (my roast beef, or my wish to get across 34th Street quickly).
Others telling us what we "need" or passing laws based on what they feel we "need" are really just telling us what they want or don't want us to have based on their own biases and desires. That's not what this nation was built on. It is what totalitarian regimes are built upon.
Tuesday, January 5. 2016
The "purple squirrel" comment made me laugh because it's perfectly descriptive. I've been involved in many job searches for "purple squirrels." Watching the evolution of the job listing, from purple to brown or gray, as different candidates are interviewed can be alternately frustrating and comical. It's mostly annoying and aggravating, though.
On the other hand, as I pointed out to my friend, you can always have a purple squirrel if you have enough dye and the willingness to hold down the squirrel while you change its colors. It's not a good way to run an organization, but I've seen that happen, too. Happens every day in politics, which is probably why the process of electing a leader is about as enjoyable as the job search for that "purple squirrel." Not only are we trying to find one, but after we elect one, the leader usually becomes the one trying to inflict the dye job on the population.
Thursday, December 24. 2015
It's very easy to look ahead and expect the worst. We could enter 2016 with low expectations. There are plenty of negative trends going on in the world. When aren't there negative trends? I can't remember a single year where life was rosy, bright and promising without a hint of clouds. Some of the less encouraging new years I remember were 2000 (that nasty Y2K bug which did so much damage), 1980 (Iranian hostages and an election...the Winter Olympic Miracle on Ice was still to come), 1988 (after the market crash, people were very uptight) and 2009 (again a market crash, the mortgage meltdown and the election of a president bent on dividing the nation as he claimed to unify it). Even in these years, there were many positives which were overlooked. Needless to say, we passed through all those years without seeing everything fall to pieces.
Which isn't to say some things haven't gotten worse. If all we do is focus on what's worse, though, it is hard to see how life gotten better. Yet it has. Hans Rosling spends much time discussing this (and his videos are always worth posting again):
2016 won't be sweetness and light, the news lately has had plenty of negativity. ISIS and the growth of fascism driven by Islamic radicals, Bernie Sanders and socialist wonderland driven by his belief in mythological theories which have been discredited time and again, an overbought stock market fueled by easy money, a dollar that is the prettiest horse in the glue factory, a Fed which is raising rates because it has no choice after keeping them low too long. There's plenty of bad out there to worry about.
2016 could still be pretty good. We may worry the so-called recovery is likely to end badly, though I hesitate to say it will be in 2016. It could've, and should've, ended many times in the past 6 years. But since it isn't a real recovery, more of a muddling along, maybe there hasn't been anything to 'end'. Even though it's been a pale 'recovery', plenty of good events have occurred.
Continue reading "Looking Forward to 2016"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:42 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, December 21. 2015
On the other hand, there is a reason to be disappointed when the issue revolves around responsibility and entitlement. Some claim this is a standard complaint from generation to generation. Perhaps it is, though I don't remember my parents consistently commenting about the work ethic or willingness of any of my friends to think and act responsibly. There were moments when singular behaviors led to stern conversations about smoking, or drinking and how 'kids aren't like they were'. Of course, I'd later hear my parents tell humorous stories of their own proclivities as adolescents and young adults. Some behaviors and complaints do travel across eras.
My parents taught me to work. They instilled an understanding that I'm responsible for myself, and my family, and I need to earn the income to fulfill that responsibility in a dutiful fashion. I began seeing a therapist recently to work through some job-related concerns I have. She keeps using the terms "thoughtful" and "caring" about stories I recount. I always make a face and say "it's an obligation." Maybe some of the things I do are thoughtful and caring. I prefer to think I'm living up to my obligations. Others can think what they want about my motivations. I don't consider an obligation a negative. Like all things in life, there is a price. Obligations are prices with positive feedback loops. Live up to them, and you're trustworthy and should earn a level of respect.
Continue reading "Why Are We Disappointed in the Next Generation?"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:23 | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, December 14. 2015
For several years, she insisted this was a saying that was distinctly Philadelphian in nature. This seems to have been confirmed when we were speaking with several friends of ours who were from Philly and she asked "do you know what the back way means?" They all nodded and the conversation then revolved around how "the back way" is defined.
Every region has some kind of slang. In California, it seems every highway has "the" in front of it. "The 405 to the 10 to the 110" was one set of directions I used whenever I was visiting clients. Visiting Boston College, I learned not to order milkshakes or subs, but frappes and grinders.
Being from Philadelphia, it took me years to stop asking for hoagies and asking after "youse guys", but I still go "down the shore" (another phrase which drives my wife nuts - living on Long Island, she always went to the beach and despite the beach being south of her, she "went to the beach"), and "Yo" is still part of my vocabulary.
For my wife, the torture of the regional slang is only made worse by the fact I've managed to convince both my boys to enjoy certain foodstuffs, like the Philly Cheesesteak (we take ours 'wit' - never 'witout') and Taylor Pork Roll (technically a NJ thing, but a staple down the shore). Of course, neither has succumbed to my great longing for Habbersett's Scrapple, the mere mention of which causes her nose to wrinkle in disgust.
What slang and/or foods do our readers enjoy wherever they are?
Friday, December 11. 2015
I spent last weekend with my family celebrating my father's 80th birthday. My sister and one of her sons flew in from their home in Vienna, Austria as a surprise. My other sisters picked her up to join us, as did my brother, his wife and one of his sons. We all traveled to Connecticut to see my niece play in her first two high school hockey games. She played well, picking up 2 assists and her team won both games, beating one of their rivals for only the second time in history. She is a freshman, excellent on defense, and has the Olympics in her future. My father loves watching her games, so we turned it into a celebration.
As my wife and I traveled home, I reflected on the conversations that weekend, as well as the many I've had with my father over the course of my life. Obviously, my personal points of view were influenced by my parents. But rather than simply adopting their views, both taught me (and my brother and sisters) to think critically. Like most families, our views on life, politics, and economics vary greatly not only from our parents', but from each other.
Growing up, heated discussions took place during meals. We covered all kinds of topics from art, history, literature to politics and music. On Maggie's there is plenty to remind me of those conversations, even some of the heated comments down below. My father's birthday, realizing his parents didn't even reach the age of 80, caused me to think long and hard about the positions I take in these discussions.
After some reflection, I began to realize most of the opinions I fight against are related to envy and desire...
Continue reading "Life in America: The 80's"
This isn't the kind of thing I normally spend time thinking about, but this morning I saw this article. In addition, my best friend is, at the moment I'm writing, somewhere over the North Pole on his way back from Hong Kong. As a result, the concept piqued my interest.
Aside from my wife, I can't say I've ever been remotely interested in any of my seatmates.
I've had plenty of good (and bad) interactions with women on a plane. I had a woman yell at me for wearing a Fox News shirt (I used to work there). I calmly explained to her that it's based in New York, so it's chock full of Democrats, which got a smattering of applause. I helped a girl returning from college, who'd never flown before, find her luggage and reunite with her family. I also had a very cute woman grab my arm, to the point of pain, as she chanted something in Spanish and grasped her Bible during takeoff. I'm guessing she was saying the Hail Mary, but I'll never know. I didn't feel like I should pry her loose, her fear was palpable and the flight was a red-eye. I just wanted her to calm down so I could go to sleep.
Thursday, December 3. 2015
There's no law that can keep us safe. After all, there are laws against bombs. Still, the Bath School Massacre, Oklahoma City, Boston Marathon and a host of others, are all examples of how mass death can take place without guns. When deranged people have a goal, they will usually achieve that goal regardless of the laws in place.
Misguided folk, who believe laws can keep us safe, feel there are ways to keep guns out of the hands of 'deranged' people. Unfortunately, the definition of 'deranged' is likely to be open to political maneuvering. I know, because of my deep distrust and dislike of government, that I could easily land up on a politicized list of 'deranged' people. I don't want to invoke Godwin's Law, but it suits this discussion...the Nazis classified political opponents as 'mentally unstable'. Is it so hard to conceive of a future where people like climate skeptics (who are already hearing calls for their views to be criminalized) would be classified as 'mentally unstable' and have their guns taken?
Even more misguided is the belief that banning guns will make us safe. Because strict gun laws always make us perfectly safe. Like in Chicago. Or California. Or France.
To make a case compelling, you have to make it seem like science, so you'll call up data and misuse it. Which is what WaPo did on this blog. Alternatively, you can pick and choose your data to suit your meme. It doesn't have to be scientific. It just has to look scientific.
Friday, November 27. 2015
Which is why, when I read this piece, I began to question whether it's worth reading any more at all. The article implies the U.S. is somehow failing its children since, as a nation, we lag the rest of the developed world in providing pre-school education.
My parents divorced the year I entered kindergarten, aged 6. I had an older brother who was a year ahead of me, and 2 sisters who were younger. For the next 3 years, she was a single mother raising 4 kids and holding down a regular job. We all went to Catholic school. When my mother remarried, my youngest sister was just starting kindergarten. None of us had pre-school
Despite the lack of pre-school, we were all high performers in school and all of us got a college degree, while two of us continued into post-grad work. Maybe we were genetically predisposed to do well. I doubt pre-school would have helped, though we will never know for sure.
An early start to education is useful, but it is not necessary and does not guarantee performance. It's my guess higher performance later in life has to do more with factors such as the involvement and care of parents in their children's lives, as well as the relative success that allows many families to send their kids to pre-school. You can't replace a caring parent and loving family with a (hopefully) good teacher and assume that will yield great students. But that's the story you'll get from Bill de Blasio, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton (as well as a few Republicans). The OECD and CSM will push that agenda, too.
Wednesday, November 25. 2015
It takes a special breed to be a rough and tumble sort. I recently stumbled on the story of Carl Akeley, who brought taxidermy into the modern age. His adventures seem like dime novels. He crossed a crocodile infested river on a carcass, and beat a leopard to death with his hands. I doubt that could be repeated today, but maybe these stories are fairly common for men who wind up dead. What made Carl unusual was his survival. His stories live on, much like his taxidermy and dioramas. In that survival, I believe, comes the official stamp of 'badass'.
His career path didn't start out as one which put him on the path as a most interesting guy. He had been fired from his taxidermy jobs for napping. It wasn't until he met P.T. Barnum and stuffed the elephant "Jumbo" that his life changed and he began taking an intense interest in making his creations more life-like. It's doubtful you could get away with living a life like his today, given the current political environment surrounding animals and hunting, in general. In fact, Akeley himself shifted his views later in life and began to promote conservation and nature preserves. I guess anyone's life can change at any point and take a turn for the exciting and adventurous.
Friday, November 13. 2015
Thursday, November 12. 2015
But I'm at a loss for words when it comes to stuff like this.
We have a name for activists who don't want the media around. They are called fascists. They seek to impose their views by force, and having media around exposes their sometimes brutal and always childish behavior to the world. It has nothing to do with sensitivity or "safe space" (what the hell is that?). It has everything to do with hiding your aggression from visibility.
Now, as the University continues to spin out of control, we're learning that most of the claims were lies. We're learning the hunger striker is really just an entitled brat. The football team are just useful idiots, pawns in a bigger game of stupidity, which became apparent when the students sought to separate themselves to create "black only healing space."
I have no doubt these students have grandparents who fought to have schools integrated. So I'm confused. Did we come full circle? Is separate but equal the law of the land, or is separate but equal only in effect if and when a certain group of people say they want it to be in effect? I'm all for their right to voluntarily segregate themselves, but if they do so they should be aware they are simply making things unequal once again, and they have no standing to ask to be treated equally.
They have created a very arbitrary line. I think I'll go create my "white only healing space" to sort through my emotions on this, but I have a feeling I'd be called a racist for having that space. I know these kids are wrong. It's hard for opinions to be wrong, but when they are, they are usually wrong by a long shot. In this case there's no question. These are not students, because they've learned nothing and are acting out on childish impulses. If the university had a president, I'd think the correct response is to expel each and every one of them. There's always room for protest on campus, there's always room for freedom of speech. But there isn't room for lying, misrepresentation, and there's certainly no room for closing one's mind to history and/or the law simply because your emotions were 'triggered'. Time to grow up, snowflakes.
Tuesday, October 20. 2015
Deaton is well-liked in the community of Economics because he is generally perceived as not having an ideological ax to grind. In other words, he hasn't spent time justifying one school of thought versus another as many economists, such as Krugman, typically do. Deaton has spent his time analyzing the reasons for, and solutions to, extreme poverty in the world. He was not wedded to a school of thought which supported intervention over markets, or vice versa.
What he found, as a result, is broadly accepted by many different schools of thought, because he plumbed the depths of human behavior, particularly the behavior of the very poor.
In seeking solutions, he did not limit himself to the need for individual endeavor, or simply promote ideas supporting government aid and intervention. What he found is that inequality was a great driver of behaviors to improve individual position, and promote general progress, as long as there were structures in place to protect individual rights.
Deaton is critic of foreign aid, as that line suggests. His primary thrust, however, is that the world is on the whole wealthier and healthier than it's ever been in history and has the potential to continue getting wealthier and healthier. He points out there is not a nation on earth where infant mortality has risen since 1950. The main reason for this, is income growth which is the result of trade and markets. However, Deaton points out that aid is similar to using an engineering approach to solving a problem. Pumping money into the 'problem' doesn't solve it. The solution requires strong institutions to protect rights and activity.
Deaton is by no means advocating Laissez-Faire Economics. He recognized strong judicial institutions supporting individual drive and effort are necessary, or gains are easily lost. However, he points to the value of trade and markets and the goodwill they spread over a broad swathe of society. He generally disagrees with Piketty's claim that income inequality is a scourge. However, he did worry about centralization of undue influence in the realm of politics, since wealth can be used to derive political power.
By focusing on how the poor behave, rather than on seeking institutional solutions that adhere to a particular economic theme, Deaton has found ways to help the poor, and has created the potential to completely eliminate extreme poverty (as opposed to the relative poverty we often see positioned here in the US by politicians as reasons to provide assistance) within our lifetime.
Deaton has done a great service to the realm of Economics. It is a field which often comes under justifiable criticism. One area of criticism has often been the lack of attention paid to poverty, as opposed to wealth accumulation. Deaton, in focusing on poverty, has shown that the two are inextricably linked. Not because wealth accumulation makes others more poor, but because wealth accumulation spreads goodwill to all, if institutions exist to protect individual rights. But he is critical of the use of intrusive aid and handouts, particularly in environments where individual rights are still lacking.
Monday, October 19. 2015
He seems like the kind of guy you would love to have an everyday conversation with, toss back some beer or bourbon, then work with him to replace your septic system. In no particular order.
He responds to fan mail fairly regularly, and I really enjoyed his post today:
Continue reading "The Modern Man vs. A Man's Man"
Wednesday, October 14. 2015
Following up on the previous theme of finding things to do as an empty-nester, we were at the mall recently (the Apple Store to fix an iPad and iPhone which had gone awry) and found a gallery which was selling/showing Salvador Dali etchings from the Argillet Collection.
Christine Argillet is the daughter of Pierre Argillet, one of Dali's patrons. His relationship with Dali began in 1934 and continued throughout his life. Christine essentially grew up with Dali, and since Pierre's death has managed one of the largest Dali collections in the world.
I love Dali's work and for my sake my wife suggested we walk in. The gallery manager viewed the etchings with us, telling stories from previous shows which Christine had attended. We were invited back for the show (this weekend on Saturday), which I will attend. A bit later, on the ride home, my wife told me she had no interest in Dali, but knew I enjoyed surrealism, was willing to take a look but I'd likely attend on my own. That's fine, I spent an hour by myself in the Time Warner Building on Columbus Avenue when they had Dali's work in the lobby. A lucky find while out walking NYC streets during lunch.
I was lucky that my wife had paid attention as we were leaving the mall. Empty-nesting is a constant relearning of what brought you together in the first place. Sometimes you find things one or both enjoy, sometimes you just indulge the other person. Dali is a great indulgence, particularly on her part.
Continue reading "Dali"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:43 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, October 12. 2015
This weekend we determined to go to the movies. The Martian was playing, and has gotten good reviews. I like Sci-Fi, she does not, but she likes movies where people save Matt Damon, I guess. As luck would have it, the showtimes were all sold out. We then considered The Walk, Robert Zemeckis' dramatization of Philippe Petit's traversing the World Trade Center Towers. It was in 3-D. Generally, I don't like 3-D. We thought maybe this would be a good application of the gimmick. It could be fun to be that close to feeling what Petit felt. The wife was not as sure, and she had see Man On Wire, the documentary, which I had not seen. She had enjoyed the documentary and wasn't sure this would do the story justice. Still, we took the plunge.
If you can deal with 3-D, the movie is relatively true to the story, and told in compelling fashion. Not being a fan of 3-D, I'd have to say it worked. My palms were sweating as he crossed the wire. I flinched twice in scenes which were deliberately shot to make you flinch (knew it was going to happen, but still fell for it).
Continue reading "The Walk Isn't Just a Movie"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:57 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, September 22. 2015
The last time I looked, patents were government-protected monopolies. The benefits of patents are debatable in the discussion of free markets. Most economists recognize their value as an tool for creating the incentive for innovation. However, it is recognized as a temporarily assigned privilege.
I don't hold a particular stance on whether or not patents are viable tools. Unlike Jeffrey Tucker, I'd venture that removing patents altogether would not be good for innovation. I'm willing to accept his arguments, they do make a great deal of sense, I just don't think they have practical applications (I could be wrong...saying something doesn't have practical application just means it hasn't been tried, so we're wary. In fact, patents didn't exist for many years and humans still made tremendous innovations without intellectual property rights.)
Since patents are a government rigging of market management (controlling production), perhaps the length of patents should be reduced. Or perhaps upon the sale of a patent, the protections are eliminated within a shortened time frame.
Patents are government regulation and an inhibition on markets. Thus, the government has the means to 'fix' what it broke with patents. That said, the journalist needs to learn quite a bit about what a free market is.
Late note: A comment mentions that Daraprim is off-patent and the firm purchased 'exclusive rights', which the journalist failed to look into and assumed was a patent. I looked into it at lunch, because I'd assume the same thing. There are no 'exclusive rights' without a patent. What the firm purchased was the only factory currently making the drug. There are no 'exclusive rights' at all. By keeping the price down, the current company was making a profit and reducing competition (which should have, oddly enough, brought it up on anti-trust laws). But the new owner may make a short term large margin, only to face a competitor who decides to now enter this market and drive prices down.
All in all, the free market is working far better than this journalist ever imagined, even if the short term hit for people is substantial. My guess is the competition will push the price for the drug far lower than it was previously.
Sunday, September 6. 2015
There were two things which I don't see much of, though. The first was a street show on The Mall. About 8 young men exhibiting their athleticism, performing gymnastic feats for a crowd they'd assembled. They must practice a lot, they were all perfectly timed, in great shape, and their sales pitch was hilarious and frequently done in unison. I was plucked from the crowd, along with 8 other men for a supposed athletic feat. I had a feeling it was as much a shakedown as it was my being part of the show, and I was right. I was fine with it, though. After all, I was part of the show for 15 minutes, and I spent another 15 minutes or so watching them as part of the crowd. I figure they collected about $400 for all 8 of them after a half hour of work. Lots of people handing over 10's and 20's. They aren't earning a living doing this, but it's a good way to fill time and make spare cash. We enjoyed watching (and being part of) their performance, even if it cost us $20. I'd have spent more at a comedy club or at the US Open (which I won't be attending for the first time in several years).
Then there was this guy (or gal - not sure), and I realized "walking the park is so much fun...you just never know who you're going to see." I think I'll leave defining normal to others. The pumps are a nice touch.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:56 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, August 24. 2015
Glad my kids don't go here. It's unfortunate that this is in my home state of NJ. It's unfortunate this is the prevailing viewpoint at many universities. I am not aware of any notifications like this at Syracuse, or Miami (OH), where my boys are. However, I know this pattern of thinking is common at both schools.
Tuesday, August 18. 2015
It's widely known that college football and basketball are de facto minor leagues for the NBA and NFL. But they are not true minor leagues, and while the athletes are not paid in the same fashion as professionals (they are 'amateurs', after all), they are actually paid quite a bit of money. Most of these payments are utilized at their own discretion, such as getting an education and not just taking Underwater Pottery 101.
At any major school, the education itself carries a cost of $18,000-50,000 a year. At some elite schools, it could be substantially more. Very few people in the 18-24 age range earn this much money, let alone are given the opportunity to supplement that 'payment' through the use of educational facilities.
There are other payments as well. 'Free' food (the players eat substantial portions at the school cafeterias), 'free' living facilities (not always 5-star quality, but I liked my college digs), 'free' health care and fitness facilities, travel to and from games, and the likelihood of a free meal at a host of local bars and restaurants (if you're the big star).
My neighbor's son is currently playing Wide Receiver at a major northeastern university. I've spoken with him many times since he's been up there, and he works hard. His freshman year was a bust, due to pulled hamstring (he tells me the workouts for injured players are harder than for those who are healthy, but you work on other muscle groups that usually go ignored). To hear his stories, however, you come to realize these young people have a very good lifestyle, even if they are not the rock-star QB.
The NCAA needs reform, no doubt. College athletics (and education - but that's a completely different matter), in general, needs reform. I don't think unionization will solve any of these issues, nor will any kind of governmental interference. It's fair to say these are well-compensated student/athletes (emphasis on athlete) for the level of play they are engaged in. If the players want to unionize, I really don't have a problem with that. I suppose if they did and pushed for more 'stuff', they'd find out just how important or unimportant they are (I'm thinking unimportant, at many schools, though not the big-sports ones).
It's also fair to say that, if some people have their way, and these athletes get paid, the Title IX athletics will disappear. The wide-ranging effects of unionization and paid student-athletes has never truly been investigated. My guess is the only logical end to this will be to turn major college sports into a true minor league. For now, however, the NCAA continues to hold sway.