I don't know if this is coming from the media folks present in the room or the Trump side, but the New York Post has a pretty complete record of Trump's "off the record" meeting with the media. Yet another reason not to trust the media -- they don't follow their own rules.
Archive for November 2016
I wrote last week that I thought the whole "fake news" thing was just another excuse for censorship from the Left. I think the problem in online political discourse is not so much with "fake news" but mis-characterized news -- ie the problem is not the news itself but the headline and spin that are layered on top of it.
From time to time I get absolutely inundated with comments on some post from folks who are not regular readers. When I read these comments, my first question is, "did they even read the article?" And you know what I have learned? They did not. Someone on some other web site has written some odd summary of what I have written, spun to fit whatever narrative they are pushing, and then sent folks to my site, who comment on the article as if that 3rd party summary was an accurate precis of the article, eliminating the need for anyone to actually read it. The article I wrote years ago called the Teacher Salary Myth still to this day generates hostile comments and emails because the NEA and various other organizations love to link it with some scare summary like "this author is happy you can't afford to feed your family" and send 'em on over to troll.
Here is my experience from reading most partisan websites on both sides of the aisle: the facts of an article linked, if you really read it, seldom match the headline that sent me over to it. Here is an example I pick only because it is the most recent one in my news feed. Apparently, according to blog headlines all over, a professor at Rutgers threatened on twitter to kill all white people and was thus dragged off to well-deserved psych evaluation. The Breitbart headline, for example, was: "Rutgers University Professor Taken in for Psych Evaluation for Tweets Threatening to Kill White People."
But if you read even their own article, you can find the tweet in question: "will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no…?” Yes, I know it is horrible that a professor at a major university has so little facility with English, but beyond that I am not sure how any reasonable observer can take this as a threat. He is clearly making a point that folks might change their opinion on gun control if lots of white folks, rather than black folks I assume, got shot. I actually think he is wrong -- people would have the opposite reaction -- but it is true that a far higher percentage of blacks fall victim to gun violence than whites and I don't think this formulation of his is an unacceptable way to raise this topic. It is really no different than when I asked, any number of times, how New Yorkers' opinion of stop and frisk would change if it was done at the corner of 5th and 50th (in Midtown) rather than in black neighborhoods. The scary part of this, if you ask me, is a professor was dragged into psych evaluation like he was Winston Smith or something.
So here is my advice for the day -- before you retweet or repost or like on Facebook -- click through to the link and see that it says what you think it says. I have not always followed my own advice but many times when I have not, I have regretted it.
As someone whose company engages is what is usually called "public-private partnerships" or PPPs, one would expect me to be an enthusiastic supporter of all such efforts. (As an aside, my company privatizes the operation, but not the ownership, of public parks and we are paid entirely by user fees and get not one single dollar of tax money.)
But I totally agree with Randal O'Toole's frustration here, talking about light rail in Denver:
Now RTD has been forced to admit that two other lines being built by the same company won’t open on time. RTD claims that it saved money by entering into a public-private partnership for the line in what is known as a “design-build-operate” contract. In fact, it saved no money at all, but was merely getting around a bond limit the voters had imposed on the agency. If the private contractor borrows a billion dollars or so and RTD agrees to pay the contractor enough to repay the loan, the debt doesn’t appear on RTD’s books. Taxpayers will still end up paying interest in the loans, which actually makes it more expensive than if RTD had stayed within its debt limit.
Public-private partnerships work great if the private partner is funded out of the user fees collected for the project, such as a toll road or water system. The Antiplanner resents the way the transit industry has coopted the term, public-private partnership, because their kind of partnership works differently. Instead of being dependent on fares, the private partner gets a fat check from the agency each month–up to $3.5 million in this case–whether anyone rides the train or not. This means the private partner has little incentive to make sure the system is working. RTD has withheld a portion of the monthly payments until the problems are solved, but eventually the contractor will get all of the money.
The solution isn’t for the agencies to build the lines themselves. The solution is to completely avoid megaprojects that aren’t funded out of user fees. Without the discipline of user fees, everything that’s happening with the A line should have been expected.
The term "hate speech" has become a useful tool for speech suppression, mostly from the Left side of the political aisle. The reason it is such a dangerous term for free speech is that there is no useful definition of hate speech, meaning that in practice it often comes to mean, "confrontational speech that I disagree with." I think most of us would agree that saying, "all black men should be lynched" is unambiguously hateful. But what about saying something like "African Americans need to come to terms with the high rate of black on black violence." Or even, "President Obama plays too much golf." I would call both the latter statements opinions that, even if wrong, reasonably fit within the acceptable bounds of public discourse, but both have been called hate speech and racist.
The Left's new tool for speech suppression appears to be the term "fake news." Certainly a news story that says, "American actually has 57 states" would be considered by most to be fake. We understand (or most of us outside places like the New York Times, which still seems to get fooled) that sites like the Onion are fake. But, as I suspected the very first time I heard the term, "fake news" also seems to be defined as "political sites with which I disagree." Via Reason:
But Zimdars' list is awful. It includes not just fake or parody sites; it includes sites with heavily ideological slants like Breitbart, LewRockwell.com, Liberty Unyielding, and Red State. These are not "fake news" sites. They are blogs that—much like Reason—have a mix of opinion and news content designed to advance a particular point of view. Red State has linked to pieces from Reason on multiple occasions, and years ago I wrote a guest commentary for Breitbart attempting to make a conservative case to support gay marriage recognition....
Reporting on the alleged impact of fake news on the election is itself full of problems. BuzzFeed investigated how well the top "fake" election news stories performed on Facebook compared to the top "real" election news stories. The fake stories had more "engagement" on Facebook than stories from mainstream media outlets. There's basic problems with this comparison—engagement doesn't mean that people read the stories or even believed them (I know anecdotally that when a fake news story shows up in my feed, the "engagement" is often people pointing out that the story is fake).
There's also a problem when you look at the top stories from mainstream media outlets—they tend toward ideologically supported opinion pieces as well. Tim Carney over at The Washington Examinernoted that two of the top three stories are essentially opinion pieces:
Here's the top "Real News" stories: "Trump's history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?" As the headline suggests, this is a liberal opinion piece, complaining that the media doesn't report enough on Trump's scandals.
No. 2 is "Stop Pretending You Don't Know Why People Hate Hillary Clinton." This is a rambling screed claiming that people only dislike Clinton because she is a woman.
So in an environment where "fake news" is policed by third parties that rely on expert analysis, we could see ideologically driven posts from outlets censored entirely because they're lesser known or smaller, while larger news sites get a pass on spreading heavily ideological opinion pieces. So a decision by Facebook to censor "fake news" would heavily weigh in favor of the more mainstream and "powerful" traditional media outlets.
The lack of having a voice in the media is what caused smaller online ideology-based sites to crop up in the first place. Feldman noted that he's already removed some sites that he believes have been included "unfairly" in Zimdars' list. His extension also doesn't block access to any sites in any event. It just produces a pop-up warning.
Tellingly, in a quick scan of the sites, I don't see any major sites of the Left, while I see many from the Right (though Zero Hedge is on the list and writes from both the Left and the Right). Daily Kos anyone? There are conspiracy sites on the list but none that I see peddle conspiracies (e.g. 9/11 trutherism) of the Left.
This is yet another effort to impose ideological censorship but make it feel like it is following some sort of neutral criteria.
I have played through a half a game on Civ 6 and am thrilled. Like original-cast Star Trek movies, every other episode is really good. This one feels excellent.
I have a new geek obsession called Factorio. Basically, you have to create an ever more complex production base with zillions of different intermediate products zipping this way and that on conveyors, all while fighting off aliens.
I played Stellaris for quite a while but got bogged down in the end game. Tons of potential, maybe Stellaris 2 will crack the code.
Speaking of that, I did enjoy Endless Space, judging it good but not great (ie not totally addictive). The pre-release version of Endless Space 2 has dropped and I am just starting to try it out. Endless Legend was a really good alternate take on the Civ model and I am hoping that Endless Space 2 will do the same for space 4x.
From this great article, here are two
1. Immigrants aren't here for the welfare, they are here to work
2. Immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than similar native-born folks
OK, normally I would tell you that the first rule of Coyote Blog is to never take fashion advice from Coyote. But this is an exception. Ignore it at your peril.
Being happily married, I have no use for random female adoration, but for those in search thereof, I can tell you from personal experience that this sweater is a total chick magnet. The last couple years, I have never gone out in it without several women taking me aside and telling me what a great sweater this is. Via amazon
Coyote's first rule of government authority: Never support any government power you would not want your ideological enemy wielding
I often wonder if Democrats really believe they will hold the White House forever. I suppose they must, because they seem utterly unconcerned, even gleeful in fact, about new authoritarian Presidential powers they would freak out over if a Republican exercised.
Coyote's first rule of government authority: Never support any government power you would not want your ideological enemy wielding.
In December 2007 presidential candidate Barack Obama told The Boston Globe that if he won the 2008 election, he would enter the White House committed to rolling back the sort of overreaching executive power that had characterized the presidency of George W. Bush. "The President is not above the law," Obama insisted.
Once elected, however, President Obama began to sing a different sort of tune. "We're not just going to be waiting for legislation," Obama announced. "I've got a pen and I've got a phone...and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions."...
To make matters worse, many of Obama's fervent liberal supporters pretended to see nothing wrong with such obvious abuses of executive power. For example, consider the behavior of the prestigious editorial board of The New York Times. Back in 2006, when George W. Bush had the reins, the Times published an unsigned editorial lambasting Bush for his "grandiose vision of executive power" and his foul scheme to sidestep the Senate and unilaterally install his nominees in high office. "Seizing the opportunity presented by the Congressional holiday break," the Times complained, "Mr. Bush announced 17 recess appointments—a constitutional gimmick."
But guess what the Times had to say a few years later when President Obama had the reins and he utilized the exact same gimmick? "Mr. Obama was entirely justified in using his executive power to keep federal agencies operating," the Times declared in defense of Obama's three illegal appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. (Those three NLRB appointments, incidentally, were ruled unconstitutional by a 9-0 Supreme Court.)
I remember a conversation with my mother-in-law, who is a fairly accurate gauge of New England Left-liberal thought. She was absolutely adamant that the Republican Congress, from the very beginning, had dug in and refused to work with Obama and that the resulting gridlock gave Obama the absolute right to work around Congress and govern by fiat. I remember asking her, are you comfortable giving President Lindsey Graham that power too? (Trump was not even a glimmer in the eye of the body politic at that point so Graham was the best Republican bogeyman I could think up on short notice). I don't remember an answer to this, which reinforced the sense I had at the time that Democrats honestly did not think they would lose the White House in their lifetimes -- I suppose they thought that 8 years of Obama would be followed by 8 years of Clinton.
Well, the freak out is officially here and I will happily embrace all Democrats who want to make common cause in limiting Presidential power.
Coyote's first rule of government authority: Never support any government power you would not want your ideological enemy wielding @reason
— Coyoteblog (@Coyoteblog) November 14, 2016
Sen. Barack Obama certainly saw it that way when he first ran for president in 2008. Limiting executive-power abuses and protecting civil liberties were central themes of his campaign. The former law professor repeatedly railed against the Bush-Cheney template of vesting the president with unchecked authorities in the name of fighting terrorism or achieving other policy objectives. “This administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide,” he said in 2007. Listing an array of controversial Bush-Cheney policies, from warrantless domestic surveillance to due-process-free investigations and imprisonment, he vowed: “We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers.”
Yet, beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance.
Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit. The president-elect frightens them, so they are now alarmed. But if they want to know whom to blame, they should look in the mirror.
left-leaning kids ... today can sail through 16 years of education without ever encountering a contrary point of view. Ironically, it is kids on the Left who are being let down the most, raised intellectually as the equivalent of gazelles in a petting zoo rather than wild on the Serengeti.
In the morning, I woke up to a New York Times news alert and social media feeds filled with disappointment. The United States had democratically elected a man who, among so many other despicable qualities and policies, is accused of and boasts about committing sexual assault. As a woman passionate about gender equality, women’s leadership, and ending sexual violence; as someone dedicated to the Clinton campaign and ready to make history; and, quite frankly, as a human being, I didn’t know how to process this. I still don’t. I felt for my friends and anyone who feels that this result puts their safety and their loved ones’ safety at risk, acknowledging that I am not the person this outcome will affect the most.
I didn’t leave my room Wednesday morning. I sat and sobbed and I still have the tissues all over my floor to prove it. When I absolutely had to get up for class, I put on my “Dare to say the F-word: Feminism” t-shirt and my “A woman belongs in the House and the Senate” sweatshirt to make myself feel stronger. Still crying, I left my room.
After hearing the election results, I had expected that the vandal would have torn down my angry note or left some snide comment. To my surprise, it was still there, and people had left supportive notes beside it. I have no idea whether the vandal is a Trump supporter or a misguided prankster unable to fathom the negative impact that a Trump presidency will have on so many people. But I know that the love and kindness others anonymously left gave me the support I needed Wednesday morning.
In every election since I was about 18 years old, I woke up on the day after the election to a President-elect I did not support, one who championed policies I thought to be misguided or even dangerous. But I had the mental health to go on with my life; and I had the knowledge, from a quality western history education (which no longer seems to be taught in high school or at Princeton), that our government was set up to be relatively robust to bad presidents; and I had the understanding, because I ate and drank and went to class and lived with many other students with whom I disagreed (rather than hiding in rubber room safe spaces created by my tribe), that supporters of other political parties were not demons, but were good and well-intentioned people with whom I disagreed.
My daughter and I would feel weird at this point to run a 10K or half-marathon without costumes. For the Marvel #DoctorStrange10K today at Disneyland, she made a cute Thor costume and I made an Ironman outfit. Actually I did not bother very much with the rest of the costume details because I spent all my time geeking out over making the lighted arc reactor. Eventually, I ended up with a very light design using an electro-luminescent panel with an inkjet-printed overlay on transparency film. I had to hump the battery pack over the whole course but it was not too bad.
Update: Per several suggestions, a pocket in the shirt for a smartphone with the image of the arc reactor on the screen does not work well. The phone is too heavy and unless the shirt is really, really tight, it flops around when running. The EL panel is super light, and the main weight of the battery can be on the belt.
This may be the last message you expected from me, but Obama should pardon Hillary. If Obama does not, Trump should.
Look, I am a FOIA absolutist. Long before it came out that Clinton may have had top secret emails on her home server, I wanted to see her punished for her flouting of public accountability laws. Her whole home-brewed email system was a transparent attempt to evade FOIA, and consistent with her history of attempting to duck transparency (going all the way back to her abortive health care initiative she ran as First Lady). In addition, I have had it up to here with bogus non-profits that pretend to do charity work, but are in fact merely lifestyle and influence maintenance devices for their principals. I would love to see the Clinton Foundation investigated (though market forces may take care of that institution on their own, as it is unlikely donors will be sending much money their way now that the Clintons have no prospect of returning to power).
But the optics, and precedents involved, with a winning candidate's administration criminally prosecuting the election's loser are just terrible. Even if entirely justified, the prosecution smacks of banana republic politics. And even if it were justified, half the country would not see it that way and next time, when the parties are reversed, as sure as the sun rises in the East there will be folks looking to duplicate the prosecution in the other direction.
The rule of law is seldom helped by ignoring wrong-doing, but in this case I will make an exception.
Postscript: By the way, what could be a better political FU than having Trump pardon her? An attempted prosecution could last for years and could lead nowhere. But nothing leaves the impression of "your guilty" like a preemptive pardon (see Richard Nixon). From a political point of view Obama should pardon her just to prevent Trump from doing so and getting credit for being a healer.
One of the homilies one hears all the time from economists is "Never reason from a price change." What does this mean? Prices emerge in the market at the intersection of the supply and demand curve. Often, when (say) a price of a commodity like oil decreases, pundits might reason that the demand for oil has suddenly dropped. But they don't necessarily know that, not without information other than just the price change. The price could have dropped because of a shift in the supply curve or the demand curve, or perhaps some combination of both. We can't know just from the price change.
Which gets me thinking about the last election. Trump won the election in part because several states like PA and WI, which had been safe Democratic wins in the last several elections, shifted to voting Republican. Reasoning from this shift, pundits have poured forth today with torrents of bloviation about revolutionary changes in how groups like midwestern white males are voting. But all these pundits were way wrong yesterday, so why would we expect them to suddenly be right today? In my mind they are making the same mistake as reasoning from a price change, because the shift in relative party fortunes in a number of states could be because Trump is somehow doing better than Romney and McCain, or it could be because Clinton is doing worse than Obama. Without other information, it is just as likely the story of the election is about a Clinton loss, not a Trump win.
Republican pundits want to think that they are riding some sort of revolutionary wave in the country. Democratic pundits don't want to admit their candidate was really weak and like how they can spin white supremacist story lines out of the narrative that Trump won on the backs of angry white men.
The only way we can know the true story is to get more data than just the fact of the shift. Let's go to Ramesh Ponnuru (and Kevin Drum from the other side of the political aisle makes many of the same points here and here).
The exit polls are remarkable. Would you believe that Mitt Romney won a greater percentage of the white vote than Donald Trump? Mitt took 59 percent while Trump won 58 percent. Would you believe that Trump improved the GOP’s position with black and Hispanic voters? Obama won 93 percent of the black vote. Hillary won 88 percent. Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote. Hillary won 65 percent.
Critically, millions of minority voters apparently stayed home. Trump’s total vote is likely to land somewhere between John McCain’s and Romney’s (and well short of George W. Bush’s 2004 total), while the Democrats have lost almost 10 million voters since 2008. And all this happened even as Democrats doubled-down on their own identity politics. Black Lives Matter went from a fringe movement to the Democratic mainstream in the blink of an eye. Radical sexual politics were mainstreamed even faster. White voters responded mainly by voting in the same or lesser numbers as the last three presidential elections. That’s not a “whitelash,” it’s consistency.
As I know all too well, a portion of Trump’s online support is viciously racist. Conservative and liberal Americans can and must exercise extreme vigilance to insure that not one alt-right “thinker” has a place in the Trump administration, but it’s simply wrong to attribute Trump’s win to some form of great white wave. Trump won because minority voters let him win. The numbers don’t lie. The “coalition of the ascendant” stayed home.
Trump had roughly the same vote totals as Romney and McCain, and did relatively better with non-whites and Hispanics. The difference in the election was not any particular enthusiasm for Trump, and certainly not any unique white enthusiasm, but a total lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. Look at the numbers in Drum's post -- Hillary did worse with every group. For god sakes, she did 5 points worse than Obama with unmarried women, the Lena Dunham crowd that theoretically should have been her core constituency. She did 8 points worse than Obama with Latino women!
This is not a story of a Trump revolution. This is a story of a loss by a really weak Clinton. Obama would have dusted the floor with Trump.
Dear Conservatives: As you wallow around in your election-day schadenfreude, I offer you this note of caution: Except perhaps on immigration and a few miscellaneous issues like climate, Trump is not a Conservative. He has no apparent respect for the Constitution, or free speech, or any number of individual freedoms. He is a serial abuser of eminent domain and has lived off of crony rents for decades. We often compare government unfavorably to private individuals when it comes to budgeting, observing that most of us can only spend as much as we bring in, unlike a profligate Federal government -- but Trump can't control spending in his own private sphere and has run up huge amounts of debt he has had to disavow in various quests for self-aggrandizement. Do you really think he won't do the same thing with public funds?
I said this morning I would give up political prognostication, but I am fairly sure in less than 6 months we are going to see prominent Conservatives coming out publicly with buyer's remorse.
Our company operates a number of public campgrounds and parks, including about 35 in Arizona. This is a letter I sent early this morning to the agencies we work with in Arizona
It appears that the ballot initiative for a higher Arizona minimum wage is going to pass, raising minimum wages as early as January, 2017 from $8.05 to $10.00. This is an increase of 24%, and comes on very short notice.
Currently, about half of our total costs are tied to wage rates (both payroll taxes and workers compensation insurance premiums are directly tied to wages and go up automatically by the same amount wages go up). Because of this, a 24% increase in wage rates will result in our costs going up on average by 12%.
It had been my intention to keep fees to customers flat in 2017, but that is now impossible in Arizona. This 12% expense increase is about twice the amount of profit we make -- there is no way we can absorb it without a fee increase. I apologize for the late notice, but I have never, ever had a minimum wage increase imposed on such short notice.
We will have to look at our financials for each permit, but my guess is that on average, we are talking about camping fee increases of $2 and day use fee increases of $1. This range of fee increases will actually not cover our full cost increase, but we will try to make up the rest with some reductions in employee hours.
Last night, Van Jones (among likely many others on the Progressive Left) lamented, "How am I going to explain the election [Trump's victory] to my kids?"
Well, as someone who has always respected the Constitution, I would tell my kids that the folks who wrote the Constitution spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the system robust against tyrants. Their solution was a system of checks and balances that prevented a single person in the Presidency acting against the general wishes of the country. The President is bound both by Congress and the judiciary, but also by law (particularly restrictions in the Bill of Rights).
The last couple of Presidents, with the aid of a sometimes supine Congress and judiciary, have pushed the boundaries of these limitations, expanding Presidential power, and in certain spheres attempted to rule by decree. Folks like Van Jones were way up in the forefront of folks cheering on this power grab, at least under President Obama, as long as it was their guy grabbing for power. What should Jones tell his kids? Perhaps he could say that for well-intentioned reasons, he helped increase the power of the President, but in doing so forgot that folks he disagrees with would likely someday inherit that power.
- Technocratic idealists ALWAYS lose control of the game. It may feel good at first when the trains start running on time, but the technocrats are soon swept away by the thugs, and the patina of idealism is swept away, and only fascism is left. Interestingly, the technocrats always cry "our only mistake was letting those other guys take control". No, the mistake was accepting the right to use force on another man. Everything after that was inevitable.
Sarah Baker has some nice thoughts along these lines at the Liberty Papers, but I will leave you with her first one:
This is how libertarians feel after every election. We learn to live with it. So will you.
The history of this blog has been, except for the last three months, one of me never ever making political prognostications. This is a policy I will return to, as I was completely wrong about this election. Just to rub my own nose in it, this is what I wrote:
I think that "shackled to a suicide bomber" is more apt. Trump is not only going to lose big in this election to an incredibly weak Democratic candidate, but he is also going to kill the Republicans in the House and Senate and any number of down-ballot elections.
Oops. At this point the election is not decided but Trump is clearly competitive and the Republicans look likely to hold on to both houses of Congress.
In business school, there is a famous project we do in marketing that teaches an important lesson. In that project, a bunch of Ivy Leaguers are asked to estimate the percentage of people in the US who snow ski. We all look around the table and say, "I ski and you ski and she skis, so it must be about 80%", when in fact the percentage is in the single digits. The lesson is to not make predictions for whole markets (and countries) based on one's own personal outlook and experience. I and many other clearly did not understand large swathes of the electorate, something I want to think about for a bit. The one thing I am sure about is that my (and many others') attempt to apply a policy framework to this is simply not going to work. Trump is a sort of anti-wonk, a governmental Loki. Policy choices likely don't explain this election.
Apparently Snuggles is concerned with the mass migration of chihuahuas into this country.
As an aside, I find the mindless selection of candidates based on which one seems to be offering the best treat to be an apt metaphor for modern American democracy.
When some sort of "bad" phenomenon is experiencing a random peak, stories about this peak flood the media. When the same "bad" phenomenon has an extraordinarily quiet year, there are no stories in the media. This (mostly) innocuous media habit (based on their incentives) creates the impression among average folks that the "bad" phenomenon is on the rise, even when there is no such trend.
Case in point: tornadoes. How many stories have you seen this year about what may well be a record low year for US tornadoes?
Extreme lack of extreme with tornadoes. Will need "second season" to stop it from being quietest year on record! pic.twitter.com/PuBvgjJBvn
— Joe Bastardi (@BigJoeBastardi) November 8, 2016
Postscript: By the way, some may see the "inflation-adjusted" term in the heading of the chart and think that is a joke, but there is a real adjustment required. Today we have doppler radar and storm chasers and all sorts of other tornado detection tools that did not exist in, say, 1950. So tornado counts in 1950 are known to understate actual counts we would get today and thus can't be compared directly. Since we did not miss many of the larger tornadoes in 1950, we can adjust the smaller numbers based on the larger numbers. This is a well-known effect and an absolutely necessary adjustment, though Al Gore managed to completely fail to do so when he discussed tornadoes in An Inconvenient Truth. Which is why the movie got the Peace prize, not a science prize, from the crazy folks in Oslo.
If you know anyone in the Phoenix area who might be interested, have them apply. Please do not apply by putting something in the comments section.
Update: fixed the link
Coming out of voting today, I met two different couples who I know who both said the same thing to me: "we cancelled each other out". Meaning, I think, that the husband and wife voted differently in key elections. I know this is also true of my wife and I. Which leads me to wonder if there is a generational difference in toleration for spouses with different political views, or if (as is often the case) nothing is really changing on this and the examples given in the media of intolerant millennials who won't socialize with people who don't pass various political litmus tests are just that, isolated examples.
Speaking of which, I took my daughter to vote for the first time today. She was pretty excited, and planned her outfit in advance.
She asked me why I was not wearing my "I voted" sticker. I told her that it made me feel like a sucker. She told me that she had clearly come to vote her first time with the wrong person, and should have found a doe-eyed idealist.
This is the fourth presidential election since I started blogging. Never thought I would hold out this long.
This is a good video about various voting mechanisms for handling voting between more than 2 choices.
The video is about voting, but to make things simple it discusses voting among people for a single ice cream flavor they all have to share. I don't think this video was meant to have any broader application beyond just highlighting basic paradoxes and strategies well-known in voting theory. To me, though, this video highlights the strong advantages of capitalism over socialism in at least three ways
- Forcing one-size-fits-all socialist and authoritarian solutions sucks vs. allowing individuals to make choices based on their personal preferences regardless of other preferences in the group. While the video discusses a variety of voting approaches for forcing everyone into a single choice, all of these result in a lot of folks who don't get their first preference. Obamacare is a great example, where product features have been standardized, essentially through a voting process (though indirectly) and huge numbers of people are unhappy.
- The video fails to discuss one shortcoming of simple yes/no voting, and that is degree of preference. In the real world, we both may prefer vanilla over chocolate, but your preference might be pretty close whereas I might be so allergic to chocolate that eating it will kill me. Socialist and authoritarian approaches don't have a solution for this, but market capitalism does, as prices signal not only our preference but our degree of preference as well. The real market for ice cream is a preference expression process orders of magnitude more sophisticated than voting.
- It is almost impossible for even an autocrat who legitimately wants to maximize well-being to do so, because the mass of individual preferences are impossible to encompass in any one mind. Towards the end of the video, it became harder and harder for a person to synthesize a best approach from the preference data, and this was just for 10 people. Imagine 300 million preferences.
I have written before that many universities have focused on creating true diversity of skin pigments and reproductive plumbing among their students but in their primary world of ideas, have created an intellectual monoculture. If you don't believe it, check out this quote from a Yale dean in the Yale Daily News.
Despite ongoing campus discussions about free speech, Yale remains deeply unwelcoming to students with conservative political beliefs, according to a News survey distributed earlier this month.
Nearly 75 percent of 2,054 respondents who completed the survey — representing views across the political spectrum — said they believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues. Among the 11.86 percent of respondents who described themselves as either “conservative” or “very conservative,” the numbers are even starker: Nearly 95 percent said the Yale community does not welcome their opinions. About two-thirds of respondents who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal” said Yale is not welcoming to conservative students.
By contrast, more than 98 percent of respondents said Yale is welcoming to students with liberal beliefs. And among students who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal,” 85 percent said they are “comfortable” or “very comfortable” sharing their political views in campus discussions.
In an interview with the News, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the results of the survey were lamentable but unsurprising. Holloway attributed conservative students’ discomfort at sharing their views partly to the pervasiveness of social media.
“So much of your generation’s world is managed through smart phones. There’s no margin anymore for saying something stupid,” Holloway said. “People have been saying dumb things forever, but when I was your age word of mouth would take a while. Now it’s instantaneous, now context is stripped away.”
So the reason Conservatives have a problem at Yale, according to the Yale administration, is that Yale people don't tolerate folks who are stupid. LOL. The Dean later tried to back away from this statement, arguing that he did not mean Conservatives said stupid things, but his comments don't make any sense in any other context.
The institution is certainly hurt by this sort of narrow-mindedness. It is more of a mixed bag for students. While Conservatives are certainly frustrated they are frequently not allowed to bring speakers from their side of political issues to campus, there is potentially a silver lining. As I wrote previously in my letter to Princeton:
I suppose I should confess that this has one silver lining for my family. My son just graduated Amherst College, and as a libertarian he never had a professor who held similar views. This means that he was constantly challenged to defend his positions with faculty and students who at a minimum disagreed, and in certain cases considered him to be a pariah. In my mind, he likely got a better education than left-leaning kids who today can sail through 16 years of education without ever encountering a contrary point of view. Ironically, it is kids on the Left who are being let down the most, raised intellectually as the equivalent of gazelles in a petting zoo rather than wild on the Serengeti,.
Americans are leaving the costliest metro areas for more affordable parts of the country at a faster rate than they are being replaced, according to an analysis of census data, reflecting the impact of housing costs on domestic migration patterns.
Those mostly likely to move from expensive to inexpensive metro areas were at the lower end of the income scale, under the age of 40 and without a bachelor’s degree, the analysis by home-tracker Trulia found.
Looking at census migration patterns across the U.S. from 2010 to 2014, Trulia analyzed movement between the 10 most expensive metro areas—including all of coastal California, New York City and Miami—and the next 90 priciest metro areas, based on the percentage of income needed to pay a monthly mortgage on a typical home.
I can't tell you now many people I know here in Arizona that tell horror stories about California and how they had to get out, and then, almost in the same breath, complain that the only problem with Arizona is that it does not have all the laws in place that made California unlivable in the first place. The will say, for example, they left California for Arizona because homes here are so much more affordable, and then complain that Phoenix doesn't have tight enough zoning, or has no open space requirements, or has no affordability set-asides, or whatever. I am amazed by how many otherwise smart people cannot make connections between policy choices and outcomes, preferring instead to judge regulatory decisions solely on their stated intentions, rather than their actual effects.