Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The NYT gets one right

November 6, 2007

There’s a joke that if George Bush announced the world is flat, tomorrow’s NYT headline would be something like “Politicians’ Views Differ on Shape of World.” The point isn’t about political bias so much as the report-only-the-facts position many newspapers take, which can be a huge turn-off.

Newspapers are facing real trouble today – I think for good reasons – and that’s generally something I welcome. But if I’m going to criticize newspapers, it’s only fair that I point out when they do something right, like this tremendous 3-part series on NY’s foster care system. This is serious, painstaking investigative journalism, something the blogosphere doesn’t do.

What are you trying to say?

October 23, 2007

Emailed to Harvard engineering students:

Quoting [redacted] <[redacted]@seas.harvard.edu>:

> Hi,
> I was asked to forward this to you.
> Thanks
> [redacted]
> ************
> BEAUTY AND THE GEEK
>
> IS CASTING SEASON 5!!!
> ARE YOU A BEAUTY AND THINK YOU CAN HELP A GEEK?
> ARE YOU A GEEK AND WANT TO HELP A BEAUTY?
>
> COME TO OUR OPEN CALL!
>
> SATURDAY, Nov. 3rd 2007
>
>
> 1 Boylston Pl
> Boston, MA 02116
> 2pm – 9pm
> 617.351.7000
>
>

Ratty-nomics

October 23, 2007

Leaving aside the Michael Moore references etc., is there any evidence that preventive care actually reduces long-term medical costs?  (Financial costs, I mean.  I don’t doubt such care improves general health.)  This seems like something that should be easy enough to test, and my not being able to find a serious answer makes me pessimistic about prospects for, like, actual fact-based healthcare reform.

Must read from Ben Stein on the U.S. economy

October 22, 2007

Here.  My only quibble is that he suggests institutional investors are stupid when really they’re anything but.

Today’s outrage

October 17, 2007

He had refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon.

Why are certain laws not enforced?

October 16, 2007

A very interesting series from Tim Wu in Slate.

I also hate physicians because

October 16, 2007

they take bribes.

This is a good sign?

October 16, 2007

Pope JPII is back.  Except he’s burning in the afterlife.

The Global Warming Cult

October 5, 2007

So I’ve basically come around on global warming (GW) to the point where I’m convinced it’s a real, human-caused phenomenon, one that’s bad for the world overall and will particularly harm developing countries. What pushed me over the brink was reading Becker & Posner on the topic. Because I lack the resources (time, interest, academic background) to launch my own investigation, the best I can hope to do is rely on a dependable proxy, and there are few academics I respect as much as these two.

That said, I still think the general GW movement is a cult. There are a few reasons for this. First, the conviction with which adherents believe in the worst consequences of GW resembles religious fervor, sort of like anticipating the Rapture. Second, mention of possible positive effects of GW (e.g., increased agricultural output) is rejected outright and without question, just like blasphemy. Third, the association of the broader GW movement with leftist politics (like the living-wage movement) places GW in a broader framework of social beliefs, sort of like Jews overwhelmingly favoring progressive tax policies. Finally, so many environmentalists identifying as atheists suggests a hole that needs filling.

Last post recap

October 4, 2007

A friend suggests I was too snarky in my last post (about some Crimson opinion piece), and I agree. There were a few broader points I was trying (and failed) to communicate, so let me start over. First, phenomena (cultural, market-based, whatever) don’t just spring up from nowhere, they’re successful because they give a lot of people genuine pleasure. Large portions at restaurants are just like Britney Spears’ CDs; they reflect real preferences the businesses cater to. If this weren’t the case, restaurants (and Sony Music) would operate very differently. The author identifies this point in passing, but then chooses to ignore it. She shouldn’t, because this principle is basically the foundation for capitalism. Second, this obsession at Harvard with Western Europe is completely out of control. It’s virtually always coupled with an assumed shared disdain for fat, dumb, religious, conservative, unsophisticated Americans, which annoys the fuck out of me. Third, and most important, the author is recommending individual restaurants just unilaterally decrease portions without cutting prices to match, expecting that customers will thank them. This assumption that consumers are insensitive to significant price changes (yes, cutting portions constitutes a price change) is extremely privileged and naive.