Thursday, January 07, 2021

Smoking Hot Takes on Jan 6, 2021

 Three hot takes:

1.  The lack of security at the Capitol was clearly a tactic. I'm not sure the Capitol Police are really at fault, though of course in retrospect it was a really bad mistake. During the BLM marches on the mall, there were fully fitted out infantry/police, 2 or 3 deep, on the Capitol steps. On Jan 6, very few police, and not wearing riot gear. The thought must have been that it would be better not to have a show of force, to avoid provoking violence. 

The police had no way of knowing in advance that Trump was going to throw them under the bus, actually telling his supporters to go to the Capitol and (implicitly) mob it.

I do have a question about the counterfactual: Suppose there had been a substantial show of force, and the mob had attacked (more than a few of the rioters were armed). There would have been dozens of casualties, on both sides. Would that have been better?

For myself, the answer is yes. The symbol of the relatively easy takeover of the Capitol is very bad. But having 5 police and 20 rioters killed and wounded (say) would have been pretty bad also.

2.  DJT made a speech at the rally yesterday. He said that being "weak" was bad, and now was the time for strength. Having the Capitol stormed by a mob, almost without resistance, and having the cops be sprayed with mace and beaten up, and having people breaking into secure areas and the offices of elected officials, is NOT strength.

The only way to make that strength is if you care only about Trump, and hate the U.S.

3. We are lucky that Trump is lazy, incompetent, and shallow. With a competent leader, capable of planning, yesterday could have been an actual coup. Imagine that instead of firing up the mob and then being surprised (I think) that they did something, Trump had in fact led the March to the Capitol. Imagine that he had quietly coordinated that march with even one dissident tank battalion. With 50 tanks, that march could have actually occupied the Capitol and held the Congress hostage.

Instead, Trump went back to the WH to watch TV, like he always does, unless he's playing golf. That's not what Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hussein, or Putin would have done. 

The best analogy is probably Mussolini's "March on Rome," where King Emmanuel likewise did not offer police or military opposition. It's very fortunate that Trump is not capable of carrying out a detailed plan. It could have been much, much worse, since it turns out that the Capitol was wide open for the taking.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

A memory: Murray Weidenbaum

In grad schooI, I worked for Murray Weidenbaum, at the Wash U CSAB, as a research assistant.  He gave me a hard assignment, on the costs of trade barriers. 

I did the research, and wrote a draft. It took about a month. 
It came back completely covered with changes, amendments, cross-throughs, and requirements for more research. There may have been three or four sentences, total, in ten pages, that were unchanged. (This was 1982, in the days of pen and paper revisions).
I was disappointed it was so marked up, and I guess it showed in my face. 

Murray saw that, and laughed. "Look, Mike. This is fine. If it had been bad, I would've made some vague suggestions and told you it was good. That would have been the end of it. And the end of YOU, frankly. I'm don't have time to train RAs."

"Instead, this is a workable draft. Remember: busy people only spend time on good first drafts. You did a competent job, so I spent time on it. Now go finish it." 

He added me as a coauthor (second author, but still). And taught me that no first draft is any good. The GOAL is to have a first draft worth marking up so much that it looks like red spaghetti. That's actually what success looks like!






Saturday, July 04, 2020

Frederick Douglass and the 4th of July

As promised, "something about the warts" of the USA on the 4th of July. In 1852 Frederick Douglass (one of my favorite libertarian heroes!) gave a speech. Below is a version of that speech, read by some of FD's descendants today.

 The great thing about Douglass is that he believed in America, at least in its potential. He believed in ideas, and thought that the values in Declaration of Independence meant just what they said. But he was disappointed, over and over. Even after slavery was ended, Jim Crow and other government policies betrayed Douglass's hopes. The end of slavery did NOT install blacks as full citizens; that took more than another full century.

And if you consider access to government programs, fair treatment in the courts and by the police, and place in society, not even then. That legacy of disparate treatment has prevented access to education and buying a home, the two things that have lifted so many other  citizens out of poverty and sent us (including me) up the stairway to the American dream.

The question is whether we all take the words of the Declaration, signed today nearly 250 years ago, mean anything. I hope they do. I think this is worth listening to. It's less than 8 minutes.

"What To The Slave Is The 4th of July?"

Monday, June 15, 2020

That State Ain't Gone Crazy. That State Gone STATE.

An essay in which I try to adapt the Chris Rock insight about the nature of things, or, if you will, "The Thing Itself."


And link to the Chris Rock bit, if you haven't seen it.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Unicorn: Sighted!

The video YOUR GOVERNMENT does not want you to see!

Because the truth is out there, people. And it has a horn in the middle of its forehead.

(From the most excellent Duke Political 2020 Graduation "Marking the Moment" video by Shaun King and Georg Vanberg)

Monday, May 04, 2020

Monday's Child

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  A piece on the future of universities. The point being that professors and their self-important classes are missing the point.

2.  So. I know what to do about the meat industry losing workers. Let the workers "price gouge," and charge much higher wages.  Because high prices are better than empty shelves.

3.  Bikeshedding.

4. "Alex, I'll take 'No, it isn't' for $500, please."

5. The end....of the beginning.

6. A video about a unicorn sighting in the wild.

7. How can he possibly think this makes him look good? I mean, forget the merits. Why SAY it?

8.  Parasites that turn their "hosts" into zombie slaves.

9.  Matt Ridley on "Innovation." Interestingly, Ridley is pretty concerned about the covid19 thing.

10. That ol' ceteris. She ain't paribus. At least in international comparisons. I'm not usually a stickler on the causal inference thing, but cross-sectional comparisons are worse than useless, without a lot of other conditions being met.

11. Makes you wonder. I hope the guy wears pants, at least. Even if that covers up his "image of God."

12. Lessons in diplomacy from General Mattis.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Hot Sauce

There is no reason to buy hot sauce. The hot sauce you can make is easy, stupid cheap, and way better.

Step 1: What kind of chili do you want to work with? There are many. But preparation may matter more than type; in a way, it's like tea. Varieties of tea are different, but the way the tea is manipulated is the source of the most interesting flavors.  Mexico is to jalapenos as China is to tea: millenia of messing around with different preparations. And, I don't actually think that there is any serious debate: there is ONE PARTICULAR PREP that stands apart.

The kind of chili you want to work with is the MORITA. You're welcome, I saved you all that time. Moritas are a subtype of chipotle, but if you ask for chipotle powder you will NOT get Morita.  You want the whole Moritas, with stems on. They are smoked red-ripe jalapenos, and they retain a little softness and fruitiness.

Step 2:  Ingredients:
2 cups of chopped morita
1 apple, cored and chopped but peel on
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
Tablespoon of salt.
Honey or sugar to taste

Step 3:  Create
Heat a cast iron skillet, and put the whole dried moritas in the skillet. They will smoke a little, and swell up. Shake them around (no oil or water, just dry!). Remove them and put them on a cutting board. As soon as they are cool enough, remove the stems and the hard part where the stem connects, roughly chop the chiles. (I leave the seeds. But up to you. Seeds are hot, without much fruity or smoky flavor. But they do add some texture)

Put in a steep sided microwave safe bowl. Add the vinegar, water, salt, and apple, and stir around until everything is at least moistened. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3 minutes on high.

Remove from microwave and let sit for 10 minutes.  Then do that again, 3 minutes on high, let sit for 10 minutes. (The apple should be somewhat soft by now).

Use an immersion blender or food processor to reduce everything to a thick paste.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey, blend it in, and give a taste. Add more sweet or salt as suits you. And add more water if it is too thick.

Cover tightly and let sit in refrigerator for at least two days.

Stir up the mixture if it has settled. Go!

It works spooned on tacos, or in burritos. But it is also a great side sauce on eggs, or any kind of meat. And one of the best uses is as a marinade/cooking sauce on grilled chicken or grilled steak. It's thick enough that it will stick when you cook, and help create some great bark on the chicken skin. You immediately get a smoked flavor as if...well, you know. As if it the meat had been smoked.

A note of warning: this sauce is hot. It is not ketchup. The heat is a subtle, smoky, fruity hot, but it's still hot. Be cool with it. (I usually freeze about 2/3 of this batch, in two containers, so that I can thaw them and use them later).

Friday, January 17, 2020

Mungowit's End

I created a YouTube channel, with short videos based on some of my essays on economics.

Fun to make, and I'm learning a lot about videos, to help me teach students how to do "video papers," a much more useful application of their time than writing academic papers.

So far:

Everybody Loves Mikey

I'll Stick with These

They Clapped

The Mancgere

More every week, on Friday mornings!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Monday's Child is Full of Links!

1.  A new version of the "broken windows" fallacy?

2.  There was a complaint, kids sledding on road. Cops sent their best undercover unit.

3.  The market-based "liberal" system has created so much prosperity, and that prosperity is so widely shared, that the two greatest problems facing the poor at this point are (1) obesity and (2) population growth resulting from reduced infant mortality. But the market system can fix that, too: the next stage is to pass the wealth threshold where obesity and birth rate fall. Plus, market systems will fix the environment, and through the same logic.

4. I'm always surprised when people are surprised at the reluctance to switch to "clean energy," which is expensive, inefficient, and not always all that clean.

5. Standard transitional gains trap stuff here. The demand for corn, without ethanol mandate, has been stagnant. So eliminating ethanol mandate (which is hugely expensive and harmful to the environment, since corn is not sugar cane) would cause bankruptcies of many farmers. It does NO GOOD, it's EXPENSIVE, but eliminating it is POLITICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. Welcome to Public Choice, folks!

6. Quite a lot going on here. Prairie ship, that's all Ima say.

7. A dog that plays Jenga. Not everything has to be complex, or ironic, you know.

8.  Top 3 episodes of Liberty Law Talk for 2019.

9.  A Tale of Two Cleveland Suburbs.

10.  Models of legal sex work (Cato podcast).

11. They had a bad day on the road.

12.  They had a bad day at a dock on a bay.

13. Pretty amazing "David" story.

14.  I am always surprised when people take T-Pikk seriously.

15.   Dave Barry's "Year in Review."

16. And the best year in review column I know of, from David Collum. Yes, the Collum column!
Here's Part I, and here's Part II.

17. One way to end the illegal selling of humans is to make sex work legal. These people (mostly women) need rights, not rescue. 

18.  Brett Stephens steps in it.

Grand Lagniappe: Camel shadows. Hard for a second to understand the perspective....