1. Barack Obama is a pretty bad president. Not apocalyptically, George W. Bush bad, but bad. And he will be remembered as a bad president.
2. Barack Obama is a pretty effective candidate. Certainly better than Mitt Romney. But then George W. Bush was a pretty good candidate, too. Bush was a failure as a President, and Obama's failures have much (though not everything) to do with his being coopted by the defense-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex. There are ways in which Obama is no better than Bush, because he is no DIFFERENT than Bush. Obama lied about Gitmo, no wars, and drug policy. Just flat lied. As a candidate, you can do that. As a leader...well, he got away with it. Because....
3. Romney is the Republican Kerry. They are both even from Massachusetts. Kerry was richer, of course, because he slept his way to great wealth. But in both cases there was a weak, largely ineffective incumbent who had some campaign skills and was not afraid to lie in order to win. And in both cases, the Kerry / Romney character in this little play lost a race he should have won. And lost a race that a competent campaigner would have won easily. If you think I am saying that this makes Obama the Democratic George Bush... I'm not ready to be THAT insulting. Obama is only incompetent and woefully uninformed about policy, and the way economies work outside of Chicago.
4. Gary Johnson did NOT cost Romney the election. There is no story you can tell, even assuming 100% of Johnson voters would have voted for Romney (which is asinine!), where Romney could win the Presidency. Maybe Florida. But not Ohio. Romney lost this by being a goofball, not because of Gary Johnson.
5. Now, it is quite true that I wish that Johnson had gotten 5%, and that the race had been close enough that Johnson did plausibly cost Romney the election. Because I still don't think the Republicans get it. They think that people actually agree with their bigotry, their religious prudery, and their barbaric foreign policy. And they got enough votes this time to allow them to continue to believe that. Darn it.
We are besieged by messages about voting. It's our duty, don't you know. It's important, right?
After all, people will proudly parade around tomorrow wearing inane "I voted" stickers and buttons like they've accomplished something.
The closest we get to a negative message is some folks saying you shouldn't vote unless you are informed.
I'm here to say it's ok. If you don't want to vote, don't worry about it. It's not your duty and it's not important.
And I'd say that the more informed you are, the harder it should be to get out and vote.
Drone strikes, the TSA, the Patriot Act, Messiah complexes, the War on drugs, idiotic trade policies, idiotic immigration policies, a huge bloated military, arrogant intervention into areas where it doesn't belong, bills that run thousands of pages long, big policy changes slipped into law via reconciliation, an almost complete unwillingness to face some aspects of reality.
These are not bugs. These are not the flaws of one particular party. These are bi-partisan FEATURES of the Federal government in the 21st century, and few if any will change based on the outcome of this election.
About the only thing this election will settle is where our government will most keep sticking it's illegitimate nose.
The authoritarian streak in Washington grew under Obama and will continue to grow whether it's Obama II or Mittens at the helm.
So tomorrow, I'll be getting quizzical looks and hostile remarks from folks who see my home-made "I Didn't Vote sticker".
Drivers in New Jersey faced 1970s-style gasoline rationing imposed by Gov. Chris Christie, while in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said
that the Defense Department would distribute free fuel from five mobile
stations. But that effort backfired when too many people showed up. Rationing makes sense, given that Gov. Christie has decided to prevent the price system from allocating resources. Like all Republicans, his authoritarian and life-arranging instincts come out in times of crisis, and like all Republicans he'll make up crises if he has to, justify state control of pretty much everything. But at least that's possible.
Governor Cuomo just has no conception of how things work, though. Knowing that people really, really need this stuff, we'll...give it away for free! What could possibly go wrong? We don't NEED no stinkin' rationing. Except that if the price is zero, the costs of non-price rationing are very high. There is no saving, and there is no reason to believe that the people who need gas actually get it.
And Mayor Bloomberg? Completely hopeless, a statist to the core.
Officials said they were trying to get help where it was needed. “One of
the problems is that when you have lots of different agencies, it takes
a while for them to get coordinated,” Mr. Bloomberg said at his
briefing, adding that he understood how high the tensions were in the
Rockaways. “Somebody this morning screamed at me that they could not get
coffee.” Because they were waiting for "lots of different agencies" to "get coordinated" to provide coffee. If only there were a system that would allow people to get the things they need without those things being provided by government. We use that system every day during normal times, and we get lots of stuff from groceries, gas stations, and drug stores. But when there is an emergency, we use a whole dog's breakfast of different laws to prevent the market system from helping us when we need it most.
So, I've been getting quite a few incredulous, scornful, and even insulting emails from folks who object to the idea that prices should be allowed to rise to "solve" the gas problems in the northeastern U.S. The majority of my argument has been to claim that price will (1) induce people to buy less, thereby leaving some for everyone else, instead of the first few people in line getting all of it at an artificially low price; and (2) induce other people to find ways to supply more, by renting generators and rushing gas to the stricken area.
Obviously, I think this argument is persuasive, and even sufficient.
Suppose, though, that you aren't convinced. And a lot of you aren't convinced (I'm thinking of YOU, Hutter!) Let's do this your way.
Daniel Eisenberg et al.
Health Economics, forthcoming
Abstract: From a policy standpoint, the spread of health conditions in social
networks is important to quantify, because it implies externalities and
possible market failures in the consumption of health interventions.
Recent studies conclude that happiness and depression may be highly
contagious across social ties. The results may be biased, however,
because of selection and common shocks. We provide unbiased estimates by
using exogenous variation from college roommate assignments. Our
findings are consistent with no significant overall contagion of mental
health and no more than small contagion effects for specific mental
health measures, with no evidence for happiness contagion and modest
evidence for anxiety and depression contagion. The weakness of the
contagion effects cannot be explained by avoidance of roommates with
poor mental health or by generally low social contact among roommates.
We also find that similarity of baseline mental health predicts the
closeness of roommate relationships, which highlights the potential for
selection biases in studies of peer effects that do not have a clearly
exogenous source of variation. Overall, our results suggest that mental
health contagion is lower, or at least more context specific, than
implied by the recent studies in the medical literature.
I don't know about this "contagion" thing. First murder, now mental health? Phone call for Jonny Anomaly...
Some people on the left have an aversion to money, as reflected a
lengthy list of goods and services they don’t think should be exchanged
for money. Some people on the right have an aversion to unconventional
sex and recreational drugs. You might think that these two groups of people are very different.
Certainly there is a difference in the activities that they abhor.
Beyond that, they have something in common: a visceral desire to outlaw
activities that disgust them. I would only note that the term “moral” is often a thinly disguised
attempt to erect a cloak of ethical justification around what people
really want to do: outlaw behavior they don’t like.
Nod to Angry Alex
Abstract: This study examined the spatial and temporal movement of homicide in Newark, New Jersey from January 1982 through September 2008. We hypothesized that homicide would diffuse in a similar process to an infectious disease with firearms and gangs operating as the infectious agents. A total of 2,366 homicide incidents were analyzed using SaTScan v.9.0, a cluster detection software. The results revealed spatio-temporal patterns of expansion diffusion: overall, firearm and gang homicide clusters in Newark evolved from a common area in the center of the city and spread southward and westward over the course of two decades. This pattern of movement has implications in regards to the susceptibility of populations to homicide, particularly because northern and eastern Newark remained largely immune to homicide clusters. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.
Suppose murder were like a rutabaga. Then, it would be mostly dirty and underground, with a green leafy top. And you could stop murder with herbicide. If murder were like a rutabaga, that is. It's not. But then it's also not an infectious disease. As Röyksopp put it, "brave men tell the truth; the wise man's tools are analogies and puzzles."
Terese Lund & Eric Dearing,
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming
Community studies indicating that affluence has social-emotional
consequences for youth have conflated family and neighborhood wealth. We
examined adolescent boys' delinquency and adolescent girls'
anxiety-depression as a function of family, neighborhood, and cumulative
affluence in a sample that is primarily of European–American descent, but
geographically and economically diverse (N = 1,364). Boys in affluent
neighborhoods reported higher levels of delinquency and girls in affluent
neighborhoods reported higher levels of anxiety-depression compared with
youth in middle-class neighborhoods. Neither family affluence nor cumulative
affluence, however, placed boys or girls at risk in these domains. Indeed,
boys' delinquency and girls' anxiety-depression levels were lowest for those
in affluent families living in middle-class neighborhoods.
While members of our do-nothing Congress bicker, we are faced with a real problem: What are the estate tax implications of the zombie apocalypse?
I mean, are they dead, or undead? Do lost body parts count as "partially included assets," or something else? And how do you figure the unified credit if I blow up my zombie uncle's head, and then get the gold teeth? Are those heritable, or are they gifts? The IRS has no answers. And you can't very well ask your accountant, if he looks like this:
Lockhart is a mathematics teacher at
Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, New
York. He became interested
in mathematics when he was about 14 (outside of the school math class, he points
out) and read voraciously, becoming especially interested in analytic number
theory. He dropped out of college after one semester to devote himself to math,
supporting himself by working as a computer programmer and as an elementary
school teacher. Eventually he started working with Ernst Strauss at UCLA, and
the two published a few papers together. Strauss introduced him to Paul Erdos,
and they somehow arranged it so that he became a graduate student there. He
ended up getting a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1990, and went on to be a fellow at
MSRI and an assistant professor at Brown. He also taught at UC Santa Cruz. His
main research interests were, and are, automorphic forms and Diophantine
geometry. After several
years teaching university mathematics, Paul eventually tired of it and decided
he wanted to get back to teaching children. He secured a position at Saint Ann's School, where
he says "I have happily been subversively teaching mathematics (the real thing)
since 2000." He teaches
all grade levels at Saint
Ann's (K-12), and says he is especially interested in
bringing a mathematician's point of view to very young children. "I want them to
understand that there is a playground in their minds and that that is where
mathematics happens. So far I have met with tremendous enthusiasm among the
parents and kids, less so among the mid-level administrators," he wrote in an
email to me. Now where have I heard that kind of thing before? But enough of my