Saturday, August 14, 2010

me & 2T


Now just 2T:



Hasta Luego, Borrego!

Got up early this am and gathered up Mrs. A and Mr. 2T for a hike in the mountains north of Santa Fe. We did the Borrego / Bear Wallow loop.

For the first 3/4 of the trip, we only saw 3 or 4 other hikers, also with dogs. 2T had a blast playing with the dogs and wading in the creek that we hiked down to (Big Tesuque Creek). The last 1/4 we ran into a fair amount of folks getting a late start and doing the loop in the opposite direction that we did.


On the way back, which is pretty much uphill all the way, 2T kept looking up at me like I had totally lost my mind. He made it in good order though, which is awesome for an 11.5 year old flatlander from OK.

Hidey Ho!

We met an awesome sculptor from El Paso TX yesterday at the Tesuque flea market. His exhibit was titled "gods for future religions" and his name (I am not making this up) is Ho Baron.


It's like Mayan mixed with Balinese mixed with peyote. I love it, but Mrs. Angus is not so sure, so we will be coming back to Norman Ho-less.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some links....

Some links....

Smart parking meters (Nod to Aussie Matt)

Your race card is maxed out! (Nod to Angry Alex)

Year of the Pitcher? Maybe not.... Maybe... Here was your YotP...

Hot. Not.

It's a burden to be a smokin' hot professor.

Not that I would know. Didn't make the top 50. Or 500, or 5,000.

My understanding is that Angus was #51, just barely out of the money.

Maybe I need to have a male version of this kind of website: "The Mungowitz Experience." I'll ask the LMM what she thinks.

(Anonyman asks whether the reason I went to Germany last year was to escape my many fans, because of my smokitude. Um...No...)

Reds Buried

This is where the Cincinnati Reds' pennant chances were buried.

RIP, Brandon Phillips.

Birthright Citizenship

I see the point of those who have argued against birthright citizenship. If you think "efficient government" is a good thing, then sure.

But we are talking past each other. Birthright citizenship is an important check on how badly people can be mistreated. The slavery claim is hyperbole but I stand by it.

WSJourn article

Jeff Miron

The Takeaway: It's 1936 Again in America

Got to talk with my BFFs John and Celeste at "The Takeaway" this morning. Meant I had to get up at 5 am to think about what I was going to say, but always fun to do that show. Here is the archive version....

Two thoughts on this problem:

1. One by Bruce Bartlett. I don't always agree with Bruce, but he makes some good points here. Bruce is always worth reading... (Lagniappe: Bruce B also wonders about my pal Tino Sanandaji, an interesting Iranian-Swedish grad student at UC's Harris School)

2. Another by Lawrence Reed. It was written in 1998, but it's truly prophetic, unfortunately.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Markets in everything: Sovereign barter edition

The North Koreans want to pay the Czechs back in ginseng!

I am not making this up.

For their part, the Czechs are holding out for Zinc.

Is sunburn really a worse problem than lack of sexual vigor in the Czech republic?

Live and learn.

Worst Book in the Last Five Years

Angus' use of the garbage chute for "Witz" suggests a question:

What is the WORST book you have read in the last five years?

And by "read" I mean spent at least an hour on. Concluding a book sucks immediately doesn't count, even if you are right.

My entry into the sweepstakes:

_Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy: Darkness on the Edge of Truth_

This howling stinker was "edited" (in the loosest possible sense) by two unemployed street people named Anderson and Auxier. (And by "unemployed" of course I mean "working as philosophy profs at SIU Carbondale")

Now, I can read almost anything about Bruuuuuuuuce. I have read Dave Marsh's worshipful _Glory Days_ at least three times. Sure, it's appalling, but it has a narrative, and the background story is well told.

"Darkness" starts bad, and gets worse. But it's such a train wreck you have to watch in horrified fascination. Some essays describe how much the author likes Bruuuuuce (I think; these are lit philosophy people, so it's hard to TELL what they are saying); others use Bruuuuuce's work as a springboard for rambling commentary on many topics.

The best (ie, worst) essay has to be the one that blames Bruuuuuce for having prevented the Marxist labor revolution from happening. Written by a political scientist at Sacred Heart U, this fellow actually writes "Probably the most prominent voice [on liberty] belongs to Karl Marx (1818-1883). The great error (and evil) of capitalism" is the alienation of the individual from the product of his labor. And then "On the other end of the spectru, we find Professor Max Weber...." That's right, chilluns, he takes on the FULL ideological spectrum, from Marx on the left to Weber on the right. I am not going to quote more, but I do assure you I am not cherry-picking; the essay is full of juicy nuggets of nut-job lefty wisdom from academics whose smooth soft hands have never held a welding torch or a shovel.

But I did it, I read the whole book. And you can, too! Here it is.

Now, YOUR turn, commenters. What is the worst book you have actually read?

What I've been reading

1. "Chronic City". I am a big fan of J. Lethem and I really enjoyed this book, though there is no plot to speak of, and good editing to make it 10% shorter would make it 24% better. "Motherless Brooklyn" remains my favorite Lethem novel, but I'd recommend CC for sure.

2. "Ilustrado". This is good, people. Ambitious, funny, out of control, absorbing. Some of the themes end up a bit cartoonish, but this is a great debut novel, up there with "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and "The Ecstatic".

3."The Lacuna". It starts so slowly that I almost quit, but patience is rewarded. The parts set in Mexico City are transcendent.

4. "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet". I adored the first part of the book and the unlikely hero DeZoet. The middle, DeZoet free, part dragged for me, too cartoony and lurid. Then Mitchell kind of pulls it together toward the end. What can I say, it's no "Cloud Atlas", but then again what is?

5. "Witz". After 15 minutes I physically deposited this POS into the garbage.



Elizabeth Warren: where are you when I need you?

People, how can you name a movie "The Kids are All Right" when (a) the kids are decidedly NOT all right and (b) YOU DON"T EVEN PLAY THE FREAKIN' SONG?

Despite some good performances, Mrs. A and I were not impressed with the movie. It wasn't really very funny and it didn't seem to me to have any real point, or if it did, it failed to make that point convincingly.

I can't tell if it was a badly done defense of same sex parenting or an attack on same sex parenting.

And the speech about marriage at the end was just lame.

On the positive side, I think I saw a trailer for a movie that supports charter schools! Can this be possible? Was that just a flashback from ancient indiscretions on my part? If real, that's pretty amazing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Angus does Canyon Road

The Santa Fe art scene is not all native american and spanish colonial. There is some excellent modern stuff here.

We saw two new to me artists' works that I really liked this morning. One is Hilario Gutierrez. Here's a sample:



The other is Ted Larson who works with scrap metal in a very painterly way:



Then there is one of my very favorite young painters, Nigel Conway, who I've blogged about before. I am making a fool out of myself lobbying Mrs. A over this piece:



Sadly, I am not making much progress.

Danny, We Hardly Knew Ye

Lord, Dan D. has some interesting answers for a question posed by Stefanie Carvin:

Now that Wyclef Jean may be Prez of Haiti, what other musical persons would we want for political office?

Dan rightly discounts Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, but warmly endorses Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg. Do we smell the bitter scent of sexism, where women who are nuts are disqualified, but nutso men are charming?

No, because Dan's #1 is Madonna. As he puts it, she has been in vogue for decades.

That's edgy, Dan. Who knew?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bought off, but NOT paid for

So another $26 billion goes out the door for teachers and police and fireman. But don't worry people, because it's all paid for and won't add to the deficit.

But, our government has an interesting way of paying for things. The spending happens ASAP, if not sooner.

The paying part? Oh yeah, we will let the increased level of food stamp payments from the stimulus bill expire in 2014. That's supposed to be almost half of the $26 billion "payment".

It's not really a cut, just a reversion to pre-stimulus levels. And of course the exchange isn't contemporaneous so Oliver Williamson applies with a vengeance.

Congress calls this "real spending cuts".

I call it BS.


OK, now I want to run for president!

Man did you see what President O did on his birthday?

He set up a hoop session with LeBron, D-Wade, Carmelo, and a bunch of other present and past NBA stars.

Wow!

I told Mrs. A that I wanted something like that on my next birthday and she told me I needed to be president to get it. So.....

Angus for President in 2012!!

Platform??

1. Top marginal tax rate of 25%
2. Big increase in Gas tax
3. Federal spending capped at 18% of GDP
4. Semi-open borders
5. Government out of the marriage business
6. Withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan at all deliberate speed
7. Big cuts in Defense budget
8. Repeal of the Patriot Act

People, I can't lose! Me and KD will be hoopin' it up at the White House in the summer of 2013! Plus I can probably get Venus and Serena to come and play doubles too.



Birthright Citizenship

Will Wilkinson is, as always, fair and clear.

Still.... I am likely one of the people he refers to as having an unreasoning opposition to a change in the policy, precisely because it is so symbolic of the elimination of slavery.

But I guess the kind of slavery I have in mind is the kind I saw in Germany, where Turks and other "guest workers" lived as second class citizens. They were not part of the society, but served it. They felt excluded from participation in nearly every part of civic life, but serve that civic life by cleaning toilets and picking up garbage. (I talked to a LOT of taxi drivers. They were pissed.)

Isn't that a kind of slavery, too? Sure, it's voluntary, 'cause they can go home, but what about their children? Does Germany want those native Germans as citizens? As the character Action sang in West Side Story, "They didn't wanna have me, but somehow I got had." [It turns out that it IS possible to acquire German citizenship, in fact, I was wrong about this, as Will W and a commenter point out. In fact, the commenter says that I am "ignorant," which clearly seems correct. Still it is interesting that Turks feel so disaffected, so unassimilated. On which, see C. Caldwell book below]

I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm going to quote Rousseau (I know, I know...)

Social Contract, Book IV, Section 2:

There is but one law which, from its nature, needs unanimous consent. This is the social compact; for civil association is the most voluntary of all acts. Every man being born free and his own master, no one, under any pretext whatsoever, can make any man subject without his consent. To decide that the son of a slave is born a slave is to decide that he is not born a man.

If then there are opponents when the social compact is made, their opposition does not invalidate the contract, but merely prevents them from being included in it. They are foreigners among citizens. When the State is instituted, residence constitutes consent; to dwell within its territory is to submit to the Sovereign.


Birthright citizenship prevents slavery, even today. I would put it, "to decide that the son of a guest worker is born a guest worker is to decide that he is not born a man." And anyone born in the U.S. is not "a foreigner among citizens," but a citizen. Not a slave.

(My favorite book on immigration is Christopher Caldwell, _Reflections on the Revolution in Europe_, who treats birthright citizenship quite fairly, and largely thinks it is a bad idea for Europe, by the way. But the exclusion of guest worker children from citizenship is a big part of the creation of ethnic ghettoes and dangerous segregation in Europe. Since the kids can't be Europeans, by law, they decide to be REALLY REALLY not Europeans. To be fair, the differences, which Caldwell points out, may have to do with assimilation of Islam in Europe, and assimilation of Catholic Latinos in the U.S.)

RESPONSE FROM WILL W: I think the rule is that if you have to quote Rousseau, you lose! Mike did you know that since 2000 the German law has been this (from Wikipedia!):
"Children born on or after 1 January 2000 to non-German parents acquire German citizenship at birth if at least one parent: has a permanent residence permit (and has had this status for at least three years); and has been residing in Germany for at least eight years."


WOW! A double beat down. And I still say I am not gay, unless Will is. Then, I'd think about it.

4 things Angus wants you to know

1. Autotune is EVIL

2. There is no such thing as a "social security trust fund"

3. Lady Gaga is the reincarnation of Cher and Justin Beiber will be her Sonny.

4. The OKC Thunder will make it to the Western Conference finals this coming year

Monday, August 09, 2010

LTE: Thank Goodness for...CONGRESS?

This LTE appeared in the Wilmington Star-News. I reproduce it in its entirety.

The 7th District and Mike McIntyre

Published: Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 6:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 6:08 p.m.
The 7th District is so lucky to have Mike McIntyre.

My company in Moore County has been looking at sites in North Carolina to build a new manufacturing plant that will create 40 new jobs.
Mike McIntyre’s Economic Development Director, Tony McEwen, in Wilmington, has been like a hungry Bass chasing a spinner bait in his efforts to bring our plant to southeastern North Carolina. Tony, with his rolodex of contacts in the state and in Washington, DC, gained through years of assisting Mike, has opened doors we found blocked, bridged communication gaps when we heard busy signals, and short-cut red tape to help us speed the day when we will send out help-wanted ads, pay taxes to state and local governments, and improve the economic picture in the Southeast.
I have never met Mike McIntyre. I have never donated to Mike McIntyre. I do not live in the 7th District so I have never voted for Mike McIntyre.
Mike has risen to a position in Congress that allows him to keep the spotlight on the needs of the people in the 7th District. Mike’s experienced staff has the capability to push aside road blocks and solve issues at home that only comes with years of learning where to go first and who to call at EPA, Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Corps of Engineers …the right call to the right people.
Yes, District 7, you are indeed lucky to have Mike McIntyre serving you in Congress. You just cannot replace that experience.
Jim Cummings
Wake County

Jim Cummings
Wake County


Oh. My. God. Why is a member of Congress even involved in creating an extension of an existing business, for 40 jobs? Answer: Mo "Better" Fiorina, and CONGRESS: THE KEYSTONE OF THE WASHINGTON ESTABLISHMENT. If you haven't read it, please do. It is going to be on the final.

The simple answer is that Congress creates the barriers, with bizarre laws and intractable agencies. And then Congress claims credit for "helping" us through the maze that it creted. Everybody wins! More jobs for bureaucrats, who vote Dem, and more reelections for members of Congress. People are actually grateful, as in the case of the LTE above.

Well, almost everyone wins. It sucks to be a taxpayer. Sorry....

(Nod to L. Smith, whose incredulity is intact)

Kosmos

Kosmos is up, in beta form, not yet ready for prime time. But they are interested in seeing whether you folks can break it. (Don't hack it, don't launch denial of service attacks, just check out the features...jeez).

Some interesting things:

1. A picture of Chris Coyne. Scary.

2. Discipline-specific blogs and a group for faculty.

3. A Calendar listing of events and conferences around the globe.

4. Opportunities, which includes job postings and calls for papers.

5. A Publications section for recent scholarship by classical liberal scholars – keep up with what others are working on or post your own.

Would you use it? What would you do with it? How can it be better? They would like to know. Feel free to comment on it, and be beta testers!

You Can Ring My Bell, CA

Craig N asks some good questions, and provides some amusing background, about Bell, CA.

The Court has Original Jurisdiction, But Not Exclusive O.J., In Arizona Immigration Case

There is this "I went and read the Constitution, and boy was I surprised!" meme running around the Interwebs for the past few days.

It goes like this:

1. Judge Bolton ruled against the State of Arizona

2. But the Constitution says (Article III):

Clause 2. In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party, the Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

3. Therefore, Judge Bolton had no jurisdiction, and the stay is invalid. For example...

The answer: Thanks for playing, but SORRY, you lose. I think Johnny has some FABULOUS prizes for you--on the way out.

Some problems with argument:

A. It was made by some Canadians. And some American Protestants. Like all Prot's, they have this "priesthood of all believers" hangup, where you read the Bible and you know as much as someone who speaks Greek and actually studied what the Bible means. You can't just go reading the thing. Same with the Constitution: the words have been interpreted by a community called the "courts" for 220 years.

B. There are explicit precedents that establish that the lower courts have "concurrent" original jurisdiction. That doesn't mean that the SC does NOT have original jurisdiction. It means that cases can be heard EITHER in the SC or the lower courts. Hard to get on the SC docket. Check this, for example. The simple version...

C. This was not a full-fledged trial, but rather a petition for a stay, pending Supreme Court ruling.

In short, the argument that Judge Bolton had no jurisdiction is simply absurd. It may be a shame that you can't read the Constitution without knowing the huge body of interpretations of its meaning, but you can't. "Discoveries" in the Constitution should always be discounted. Ask a lawyer before you make a fool of yourself.

Some sources: The SC's Original Jurisdiction

Adler in Volokh Consp.

Some precedents, on concurrent original jurisdiction:
Rhode Island v. Massachusetts, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 657 (1838); Bors v. Preston, 111 U.S. 252 (1884); Ames v. Kansas ex rel. Johnston, 111 U.S. 449 (1884).

(Interestingly, such suits could be brought and maintained in state courts as well, if all parties consent, so concurrent jurisdiction is even broader! Plaquemines Tropical Fruit Co. v. Henderson, 170 U.S. 511 (1898); Ohio ex rel. Poporici v. Alger, 280 U.S. 379 (1930).)

(Nod to the Blond, for asking cool questions)

Say WHAT?

In the WallStJ this a.m., this story.

A quote: Ms. Fisher's lawyer, Gloria Allred, said her client is a single mother, raising a young son, who had worked recently as the vice president of a commercial real estate company.

Really? Her 11 year old son worked as a VP at a real estate company? Impressive.

Have people completely forgotten how to write?

And, on the merits, what did Ms. Fisher THINK was going to happen? I have no sympathy for Hurd, if he acted badly he should be fired. But... if Ms. Fisher didn't want him to be fired, what DID she want? Furthermore, Hurd was NOT fired for harrassment, but rather for stealing money with doctored expenses (which he says he did not fill out, but acknowledges were inaccurate).

Lord, California, give it up.

ah would some power the gifter give us...

Great headline in Sunday's NY Times: "A Gift the Wealthy Don’t Need"

and people, you just know the "gift" in question is a chunk of their own money.

Then today PK takes up the same cudgel: "But isn’t keeping taxes for the affluent low also a form of stimulus? Not so you’d notice. When we save a schoolteacher’s job, that unambiguously aids employment; when we give millionaires more money instead, there’s a good chance that most of that money will just sit idle."

Let's break this BS down piece by piece, ok?

"When we save a schoolteacher's job that unambiguously aids employment".

It may well aid employment, but it's hard to be certain without knowing what the alternative use of the money might have been. It's also not the case that "we saved a job" means the policy was a correct policy. "At what cost" still remains relevant.

"when we give millionaires more money instead".

This is the real stunner. First, families earning $250,000 or more is not exactly the same thing as "millionaires".

Second, we "give" them?

Really?

I am pretty sure it's their money to begin with and "we" are talking about how much to take. There's no gift giving involved.

Here's another PK gem:

"In effect, a large part of our political class is showing its priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton-era boom, or allowing the nation’s foundations to crumble — literally in the case of roads, figuratively in the case of education — they’re choosing the latter."

People, the "gift to millionaires" we are debating is just not that much money compared to the kind of budget hole we face. PK elsewhere says the lost revenue would be "$700 billion over a decade", i.e. $70 billion a year.

That's not going to re pave America folks. It's kind of small potatoes (is that right or did I just go all Dan Quayle on the English language). We are going to need a lot more than that from the millionaires to achieve PK's vision.

Finally, I don't see how anyone can say with a straight face that the problem with our educational system is too little money is being spent!

Yikes!



California is One Odd Place

The locational rents of the physical beauty and nice weather in northern CA have made their political leaders a little crazy. Okay, no, totally bat-sh*t crazy.

1. No water bottles. NO WATER BOTTLES. You can sell them, but you can't have them at public events. Why not ban outright? And of course that will happen soon. They want people to reuse containers. Well, at my house we reuse.... water bottles!

2. They actually think that they are crazy, themselves. That's nuts!

3. They have "POPOS." Yes, they do. Because they can. If you want to build, you have to agree to "host" a POPOS, voluntarily.

4. A lot of Dems in CA are not very impressive. But honestly I think they are more impressive than the Repubs. Check this: she won the primary, but insists on still campaigning against the guy she beat....IN THE PRIMARY. You might want to focus on your actual opponent in the upcoming election, what? Whitman does, however, promise "Una Nueva California." She is running against Jerry Brown. Yes, THAT Jerry Brown, "Governor Moonbeam." This is a very interesting race, because Whitman and Brown together don't add up to one real candidate. Is this really the best the state-sponsored parties can do?

CA is doomed. Let's let them have their own currency, and deal with their debt on their own by inflating and devaluing their currency. Then we'll check back in ten years, and see if they can rejoin the U.S.