The NIT Champs
Chicago officials issued the first fine for violating the city's ban on the duck liver delicacy, known as foie gras, to the owner of a hot dog restaurant.
Doug Sohn, who runs Hot Doug's "The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium," agreed to pay $250 Thursday for the first-time offense.
He had been openly serving foie gras-laced hot dogs for many months at his restaurant on the city's northwest side after the ordinance banning the delicacy took effect in August 2006.
Sohn acknowledged in February that he had taken the city's warning letter about the duck or goose liver delicacy, framed it and placed it on his counter. He also advertised ingredients for the specialty dogs on a board hung near the front door and on his Web site.
He was cited in February for serving the foie gras and city officials confiscated the meat.
Sohn could have faced up to a $500 dollar fine under the ordinance, according to Tim Hadac, a spokesman for Health Department.
Mr. Buckley has a worrisomely tough time laying the groundwork for this premise, but his idea soon yields the exquisitely dizzy, Wodehouse-style mischief that is his specialty. Although his jumping-off point is generational warfare, it leads straight into a riotous morass of political ambition, with a screwball array of special-interest schemers embroiled in intricate, back-stabbing machinations. As one character sweetly summarizes this author’s outlook: “My, my, my, how very different are the workings of government from what we all read about in books as children. I wonder, do the Founders weep in heaven?”
If they do, they also chuckle — and wait worriedly as the huge, spoiled baby boom cohort of America’s population prepares to barge in. The title of “Boomsday” refers to the point at which this generation becomes eligible for Social Security — and ready to demolish the federal budget. So the book invents a prophetic heroine named Cassandra Devine who sounds a rallying cry to her fellow 20-somethings. Stop paying taxes, she urges, and create financial incentives for boomers to commit suicide. To his credit Mr. Buckley knows that this plan goes far enough. It’s much funnier to watch how these ideas are mauled by the legislative and electoral processes than to keep on one-upping them with wilder demands.
But such criticisms aren’t really worth arguing with, because they are not serious in the first place — and that is their whole point. Many critics dislike “300” so intensely that they refused to do it the honor of criticizing it as if it were a real movie. Critics at a festival in Berlin walked out, and accused its director of being on the Bush payroll.
Thermopylae is a wedge issue!
Lefties can’t abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women’s rights). So you might think that righties would love the film. But they’re nervous that Emperor Xerxes of Persia, not the freedom-loving Leonidas, might be George Bush.
Our so-called conservatives, who have cut all ties to their own intellectual moorings, now espouse policies and personalities that would get them laughed out of Periclean Athens. The few conservatives still able to hold up one end of a Socratic dialogue are those in the ostracized libertarian wing — interestingly enough, a group with a disproportionately high representation among fans of speculative fiction.
The less politicized majority, who perhaps would like to draw inspiration from this story without glossing over the crazy and defective aspects of Spartan society, have turned, in droves, to a film from the alternative cultural universe of fantasy and science fiction. Styled and informed by pulp novels, comic books, video games and Asian martial arts flicks, science fiction eats this kind of material up, and expresses it in ways that look impossibly weird to people who aren’t used to it.
When people talk about the cost of the health care system in the US they (rightly) note that money is spent on marketing and other overheads associated with raising the money to keep the system fed.
However, when they look at the costs of a single payer system, mysteriously, the costs of raising those funds disappear. Now the actual direct costs of raising tax money are not large. However, we know that all and any taxes distort behaviour, leading to there being substantial costs associated with any taxation.
Now this is only a question, not a statement, but is a single payer system actually any cheaper, once the deadweight costs of those taxes are taken into account?
(Also worth pointing out to those agitating for a single payer system in the US. The French system, the one that is generally rated as being number 1 globally, is neither single payer nor single provider. In fact, it is markedly less generous than either Medicare or Medicaid).
it would be institutionally suicidal for a monopoly school system to do a good job of teaching market economics. The very fact that we continue to have a monopoly school system is retroactive proof that market economics has not been well taught. Monopolies, after all, tend to be frowned on by the economically savvy.
8:00 - Reno 911
10:00 - Pan's Labyrinth
“We need to know just how many more heat deaths we can expect compared with how many fewer cold deaths,” Lomborg said. He cited statistics that showed that each year about 1.5 million people die from excessive cold in Europe, more than seven times the heat deaths. “That we so easily forget these deaths and so easily embrace the exclusive worry about global warming tells us of a breakdown inour sense of proportion,” Lomborg said.
On the issue of sea level change, Lomborg asked, “How is it possible that one of today’s strongest voices on climate change can say something so dramatically different from the est science (provided by the IPCC)?” He added, “IPCC estimates a foot, Gore tops them 20 times.”
Gore’s prediction that if Greenland melted or broke up and slipped into the sea or if half of Greenland and half of Antarctica id the same thing, sea levels worldwide would increase between 18 and 20 feet, Lomborg said, is “simply positing a hypothetical and then in full graphic and gory detail showing us what – hypothetically – would happen to Miami, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Beijing, Shanghai, Dhaka and then New York.”
Lomborg said stronger and more frequent hurricanes have been cited as a calamity of global warming, yet the most reputable scientific sources have drawn no firm conclusions. “When Al Gore tells us that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ that global warming is making hurricanes more powerful and more destructive, it is incorrect.”
The recent increase in human suffering and economic impact as a result of tropical cyclones “has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions,” Lomborg said. “There are many more people, residing in much more vulnerable areas, with many more assets to lose,” he said. “In the U.S. today, the two coastal South Florida counties, Dade and Broward, are home to more people than the number of people who lived in 1930 in all 109 coastal counties stretching from Texas through irginia, along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.”
Gore’s assertions that malaria has increased as a result of global warming are similarly flawed, Lomborg said. “Like most stories, there is at core some truth to the claim that malaria will increase with temperature, but it is a small part compared to richness and health infrastructure,” he said. “Even if we could entirely stop global warming today…we would only change malaria risk in 2085 by 3.2 percent.” Even with a “stringent climate policy” Lomborg said studies show “there is little clear effect by the 2080s.”
“Compare this to current expectations that we can cut malaria incidence to about half to three‐fourths by 2015 for about $3 billion annually – or 2 percent of the cost of Kyoto,” Lomborg said.
Percentage of American adults held in either prison or mental institutions in 1953 and today, respectively: 0.67, 0.68
Percentage of these adults in 1953 who were in mental institutions: 75
Percentage today who are in prisons: 97
That is from Harper's Index, April 2007 issue.
To reduce infant mortality, then, we need to prevent premature births, and if that fails, improve care of premature babies once born. (Prematurity is also linked to other problems; for example, it's the leading cause of mental retardation and cerebral palsy in children.) But modern medicine isn't good at preventing prematurity—just the opposite. Better and more affordable medical care actually has worsened the rate of prematurity, and likely the rate of infant mortality, by making fertility treatment widespread. According to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report, the numbers of women using assistive reproductive technology doubled from 1996 to 2002. At least half of their pregnancies culminated in multiple births (twins or more), which are at high risk of premature delivery.
Meanwhile, no amount of money or resources seems to reduce the rate of preterm births.
I'm all for free speech, I just want to regulate money.
You still have free speech, just grab a milk carton (as long as it's under 14 inches high) and start speaking on your local street corner. Sure you can't buy any space in the New York Times, or on prime time television, but you can still speak.
"Nobody knows how to make a pencil. There's not a single person in the world who actually knows how to make a pencil.
"In order to make a pencil, you have to get wood for the barrel. In order to get wood, you have to have logging. You have to have somebody who can manufacture saws. No single person knows how to do all that.
"What's called lead isn't lead. It's graphite. It comes from some mines in South America. In order to make pencils, you'd have to be able to get the lead.
"The rubber at the tip isn't really rubber, but it used to be. It comes from Malaysia, although the rubber tree is not native to Malaysia. It was imported into Malaysia by some English botanists.
"So, in order to make a pencil, you would have to be able to do all of these things. There are probably thousands of people who have cooperated together to make this pencil. Somehow or other, the people in South America who dug out the graphite cooperated with the people in Malaysia who tapped the rubber trees, cooperated with, maybe, people in Oregon who cut down the trees.
"These thousands of people don't know one another. They speak different languages. They come from different religions. They might hate one another if they met. What is it that enabled them to cooperate together?
"The answer is the existence of a market.
"The simple answer is the people in South America were led to dig out the graphite because somebody was willing to pay them. They didn't have to know who was paying them; they didn't have to know what it was going to be used for. All they had to know was somebody was going to pay them.
"What brought all these people together was an enormously complex structure of prices - the price of graphite, the price of lumber, the price of rubber, the wages paid to the laborer, and so on. It's a marvelous example of how you can get a complex structure of cooperation and coordination which no individual planned.
"There was nobody who sat in a central office and sent an order out to Malaysia: 'Produce more rubber.' It was the market that coordinated all of this without anybody having to know all of the people involved."
As time went on, it also attracted notice because of a perceived closeness with the Bush administration, which had given the school's students a number of White House internships and opportunities. In the spring of 2004, of the almost 100 student interns working in the White House, seven were from Patrick Henry College, which had 240 students at the time.
Learning From Africa
Nigeria has a law that is working its way through its government that would assign a five-year prison sentence on anyone practicing homosexuality. Would American Christians support the same type of legislation if it came before our government for a vote? We are on comfortable ground talking about legislation and constitutional amendments to keep marriage between one man and one woman. Fine. But if we are going to be consistent, if we truly believe that homosexuality is wrong, then is there a reason why we wouldn't support such a law? Are we afraid of those who would laugh at us? I can see the comments already to this post--most wouldn't even be charitable and I will be openly mocked even to entertain thoughts about this law.
But we must be consistent and we must stand up for the truth even if it hurts.
But aside from what might be, the what is looks solid. In a division that appears to be redefining medioparity, the Brewers as currently constructed have the fewest things that need to go right in order to reach the top of the standings. The Cardinals have to be carried by a shaky pitching staff and three creaky stars. The Cubs are already feeling the weight of renewed (and expensive) expectations. The Astros are still looking for an identity at the end of the Bagwell/Biggio era. The Reds are relying on Ken Griffey, Jr. to stay healthy and on Adam Dunn to be a bit more than Russell Branyan.
All the Brewers have to do is what all winning teams do: stay within themselves and stay healthy. It’s that last part that’s hard. Up the middle, J.J. Hardy has spent four of the last five years dealing with major injuries. Rickie Weeks has a history of wrist problems. Ben Sheets has spent the better part of two years fighting to overcome a muscle tear, something he’s just now coming to mechanical terms with. The team doesn’t need career years from anyone, just solid and reasonable production. They don't even need someone to “step it up” or “take it to the next level,” two clichés you’ll hear about virtually every team. Improvement would be welcomed, a peak year would be accepted, but it’s not one of the necessary ingredients for a World Series run. Bill Hall doesn’t have to be the next Robin Yount and Ned Yost doesn’t need a wooden leg to bring this team back to October.
It’s a team of depth and options, of possibilities and probabilities. The Brewers are the only team in the league which could take an injury at almost every position and still have a solid replacement there the next day (aside from Sheets going down again). There’s no team in the division with the bench depth and versatility. There’s no bullpen in the NL with the combination of role players, power arms, and potential. With all that, the team simply has to do what’s expected. For once in Milwaukee, that’s enough.
Advertising Age calculates that around $100 million has been spent blanketing billboards and magazines with images of Bono and other "celebrities", while the total sum raised for Africa is $18 million.
Just to be clear... Total spent on making Bono more famous = $100 million.
Total spent on drugs for Africans = $18 million.
22% of workers surveyed said management "coerced them a great deal.' 6% said the same for unions. During the NLRB election, 46% of workers complained of management pressure. During card check elections, 14% complained of union pressure. Workers in NLRB elections were twice as likely as workers in card check elections to report that management coerced them to oppose (it's worth noting that in card-check elections, 23% of workers complained of management coercion -- more than complained of union coercion). Workers in NLRB elections were more than 53% as likely to report that management threatened to eliminate their jobs.
I propose a deal. I'll agree that unions, in the best natural experiments we have, boost wages by about 10 to 20 percent. On the other hand, will Ezra (and others) agree that unions are mostly detrimental to the rate of economic growth?
If so, the utilitarian evaluation will boil down to the choice of discount rate, keeping in mind that under the left-wing account the gains follow mostly from redistribution more than from wealth creation.
Union supporters? Do we have an epistemic deal about how you are willing to lower the growth rate? And can we pull your true discount rate from the Stern/global warming debates? (I recall Jane once writing that a zero discount rate would require her to revise everything she believed, but I think the opposite is sooner true.)
Oh, did I mention that the union wage premium, especially for private sector employees, has been declining and may be disappearing altogether?
To some extent higher union wages translate into higher prices for consumer goods. Over a five year time horizon I'll guess at 50 percent pass through, adding that most of these goods are bought by other laborers. Just to be flippant, for each dollar gained by a union member, I'll guess that labor market "outsiders" lose 50 cents.
Notice we haven't even counted negative effects on the rate of future economic growth, or for that matter costs to employers.
We already don't have workers, viewed as a class, coming out ahead.
I would be curious to hear the numbers assumed by those who wish to encourage labor markets by law. I would be curious to hear how much they think, over say a ten-year time horizon, wages deviate from labor productivity.
Inquiring minds wish to know.
Let me put it another way. What do pro-union organisers think of card check--and delivering the cards to employers as well as union organisers with no penalty, should the union fail, for firing or otherwise making life miserable for the yes votes? If you think that this is in some way wrong on principle, then how is it not wrong for unions?
The Brawler writes about unions so I don't have to. All youse who are afraid of imaginary union goons (like the scary 300 pound men of Paul Noonan's fevered imagination) are apparently unfamiliar with the facts.
Speaking of studies that burst conservatives' imaginary-world bubbles, it turns out that immigrants--including illegal ones--boost pay more than prison populations.
UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who conducted the study, said the benefits were shared by all native-born workers, from high school dropouts to college graduates, because immigrants generally perform complementary rather than competitive work.
As immigrants filled lower-skilled jobs, they pushed natives up the economic ladder into employment that required more English or know-how of the U.S. system, he said.
"The big message is that there is no big loss from immigration," Peri said. "There are gains, and these are enjoyed by a much bigger share of the population than is commonly believed."
Psssst. Want to see Susan Hallowell naked? Look at the Feb. 24 New York Times. She's on Page A10.
Hallowell runs the Transportation Security Administration's research lab. Four years ago, she volunteered to be scanned by a backscatter X-ray machine, which sees through clothing. She was wearing a skirt and blazer. But in the picture, she's as good as nude.
Now it's your turn.
Labels: Books I Hate
With Democrats in control of Congress and seeking to boost a sagging labor movement, Illinois' two senators and other local officials appeared at a Chicago rally this morning to promote legislation that would make it easier for workers to join a labor union against the wishes of a company.
"We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). "We may have to wait for the next president to sign it, but we will get this thing done."
The researchers studied 200 video clips of penalty kicks from real matches. In 174 of those cases, the goalkeeper stood an average of 10 centimetres to one side or another, and in 103 of those the kick went to the wide side. The fact that the goalkeeper was no more likely to dive to the wide side suggests that his initial positioning was accidental, and not a conscious strategy, says John van der Kamp, one of the Dutch research team.
To test the idea further, the researchers projected an image of a goal and German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn onto a screen. Then they asked volunteers to kick a football at the screen. Volunteers were unable to consciously detect displacements of up to about 10 centimetres. Nevertheless, they were more likely to kick to the wide side of the goal.
The difference was not great – kickers were only 10% more likely to kick to the wide side. But considering the long odds facing a goalkeeper, this is a definite improvement, van der Kamp says.
Like aerogels, the nanorod layer is full of voids. This reduces the refractive index of materials to just 5% above that of air and opens the door to novel materials with useful optical properties, the researchers say.
As well as boosting the efficiency of silicon solar cells, allowing them to absorb more light energy, the coating could reduce reflective losses in devices like LEDs. The new materials could also improve photographic lenses and mirrors that selectively reflect specific wavelengths.
Homer: We'll search out every place a sick twisted solitary misfit might run to.
Lisa: I'll start with Radio Shack.