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Linky Friday #143: Rise & Shine

[Ed notes: Comments this week will be monitored very closely. Please be respectful. Also, a new feature has been added, “Tweet of the Week”, which speaks for itself as to what it is. Sometimes it will be a very well made point. Other weeks it will be something along the lines of the below.]

Health:

Lil Lain

Lil Lain

[H1] Nobody knows how the FDA deeming regulations are going to work in practice, which has been great cause for concern. I’m happy to see that the general counsel to HaloCigs seems somewhat optomistic.

[H2] Here is some reason to be pessimistic about antibiotic resistance.

[H3] The American Society of Anesthesiologists has announced that fasting is no longer needed during labor. To which my wife said “Halleluja!”… she’d not been enforcing it anyway because it was pointless. Also, a hospital in California explains how it reduced c-section rates. Clancy takes a non-interventionist tact, so she could certainly approve.

[H4] Opponents to DST: Farmers, cows, and babies. (Also, right-thinking individuals everywhere.) Also, here are some helpful maps and charts.

[H5] A stupidity virus exists, apparently.

Education:

fish photo

Image by DonkeyHotey

[E1] Woohoo! Seattle is moving back school start times.

[E2] The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at how student loans are subsidizing college athletics programs and its arms race.

[E3] I’m actually just a slight bit sympathetic to this spoiled young lady, if her story is accurate: her parents really should have taught her better.

[E4] I understand why colleges like out-of-state students, but don’t understand why so many students want to go to college out of state. Isn’t cost supposed to be a pressing issue? I understand some cases, if you live in Wyoming or something (though usually then states will often help you go out-of-state if they don’t offer your program), but there seems to be something else at work here.

[E5] Marcus Winters takes issue with Hillary Clinton’s portrayal of charter schools as succeeding-through-skimming.

Business:

fish photo

Image by Petteri Sulonen

[B1] The currency route, the Norwegian prince, and fishmongering.

[B2] The rise and fall of Subway. And that was before Jared blamed his pedophilia on his sandwiches. There’s actually a case that this is less about Subway and more about the state of affairs of those who are not well off.

[B3] Alex Tabarrok takes issue with Ursula K Le Guin’s anti-Amazon screed, and makes a good point.

[B4] It seems to me that there ought to be a middle ground to Facebook’s real-name policy.

[B5] From Jaybird: This story about the CEO who paid everyone $70K turned WEIRD.

Politics:

mitt romney photo

Image by DonkeyHotey

[P1] This tool that allows you to input voting totals and get delegate totals for the GOP primaries is cool, but alas did not tell me what I wanted to hear. Rather, it convinced me that I have to take a Trump nomination more seriously than I had been.

[P2] Is Mitt Romney the only person who can beat The Donald? Somewhat relatedly, perhaps, Republican voters don’t separate into establishment and outsider as cleanly as we sometimes assume.

[P3] The Jewish need no longer fear, Chris Deerin says The Corbyn Show is over, though one way of looking at it he might be doing better than Miliband. Cameron doesn’t seem worried.{More}

[P4] Argentina turns to capitalism.

[P5] At last! Gilmentum!

Government:

john roberts photo

Image by DonkeyHotey

[G1] Do gay rights advocates have Chief Justice John Roberts to thank for Obergefell?

[G2] David Roberts praises the non-neutrality of Alberta’s carbon taxes. Some of you may recall neutrality is a dealbreaker for me.

[G3] The latest in Pennsylvania: You do not have a right to see pornographic emails at the attorney general’s office, despite Kane’s efforts.

[G4] No slippery slope here. They just jumped right on down.

[G5] It turns out, legalizing pot leads to more pot-related hospitalizations.

Society:

[S1] With the Fifth of November come and gone. Bradley J Birzer writes about how V for Vendetta represents the graphic novel at its best.

[S2] Also, the secret history of the graphic novel.

[S3] An… enterprising individual figured out how to use 23andme’s website to allow webmasters to block people from websites on the basis of their ancestry.

[S4] Neil Strauss, known for designing “The Game” (of the seducing ladies sort), has repented and settled down. As with Tucker Max, the whole phase may have something to do with his mother.

[S5] Gabrielle Glaser takes aim at Alcoholics Anonymous. I hear mixed things about its effectiveness, but I assume regardless it will endure because it makes for good television so it will probably always have popular culture at its back.

Tweet of the Week:


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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176 thoughts on “Linky Friday #143: Rise & Shine

  1. Romneybot is not happening.
    He has no time. He has no constituency. He’d have to self finance it. He’s a two time loser and the absolutely LAST thing the GOP establishment needs is another candidate in the pool fracturing the establishment vote; and they know it.

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    • He also missed the deadline to get on the NH ballot.

      That said, I consider the poll revealing in a number of respects. It points to the thinness of current polls, the muddiness between “establishment” and “anti-establishment”, the possible effects of a Romney endorsement… and supports my contention that Romney could have been a forbidable candidate had he entered before the window closed.

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      • I’d agree it definitly points to the still entirely fluid nature of the GOP race. Have you seen the endorsement tracking at fivethirtyeight.com? It’s striking. Virtually none of the GOP establishment figures have formally endorsed anyone.

        I remain skeptical about Romney being formidable candidate. I don’t see a constituency he could command that is ill served by the existing posse of candidates.

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        • And yet a would-be frontrunner! I think his strength is that he’s the guy a lot of different people could get behind, and he has the stature to avoid the need to build the momentum in the first place. He’d have started off at or near the top. Trump may never have even reached frontrunner status.

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          • Had Romney kept his powder dry until 2016, I could see him being a juggernaut and capable of taking out both Trump and Hillary.

            Doing that would have required restraint on the part of the Republican Establishment, though. (And the ability to recognize that there is a long game that they’d rather play than a short one.)

            And so here we are. Romney is a “loser”, Trump is the frontrunner, and the Republican Establishment is whispering about whether they can really support that SOB if he actually starts winning primaries.

            I honestly thought I’d see the Democrats split before I saw the Republicans do so.

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            • Nah, he’d either be Jeb Bush or be forced into saying the same stupid things as everybody else to stay alive with the base. Again, the 2006 version of Mitt Romney I’d be scared of, just like I’m scared of the Marco Rubio of some of his Senate campaign. The Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney who have to genuflect to the 40% of their party that have turned into purely id-based animals? Not that afraid at all.

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            • Well Lord (Lady) knows the only people happier than me to see Romneybot running again would have been Team Clinton and the Democratic Party. Those 47% adds write themselves, hell they’re already written.
              But I just don’t see it personally. Romney would be Bushlike albeit without the absolutely terrible debate performances. Can you imagine what Trump and his Trumpkins would do with a candidate who LOST to Obama once already? The savaging.
              Anyhow, my core point is this. The current split of the race is not due to the establishment GOP lacking an acceptable candidate to pick; it lies in them having too many. Adding another to the mix would just further fragment the field.

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              • One third of Trump’s NH supporters flip to Romney! I don’t think Trump would have the field day that he imagines.

                A lot of Romney’s prospects would come down to why he lost the last time around and how solid his rebound has been. That he lost in itself just doesn’t seem like it’s going to hurt him. But he would carry in some of the same weaknesses he did before. But some of them will have lost their salience or will just be old news. Which is to say that Romney having made the comments about the 47% wouldn’t have all that much traction, but that Romney is the sort of guy where that’s a vulnerability wouldn’t go away.

                I think his vulnerabilities and suggestions that he’d obviously be a weak candidate are overblown. He’d be running against a better economy, but wouldn’t be running against Barack Obama. The biggest concern I’d have, to be honest, is the clown-suit.

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                • Will Truman: One third of Trump’s NH supporters flip to Romney!

                  Could be, for example – assuming the poll respondents aren’t putting much thought into their responses at all (a distinct possibility!) – that 2/3 of Trump’s supporters originate in his unusually high name-recognition and -familiarity advantage over all of the other candidates except Romney, and that the two split those voters (much less interested in fact than most of us) ca. 50/50.

                  We need to see a) where Trump stands in the polls as the first primaries approach, and b) how well his support, wherever it stands and whatever it means, translates into actual votes (in polls or caucuses). If he hasn’t collapsed before then, and he continues to lead the field after NH, then I’ll begin to take him more seriously. If, as some campaign professionals predict, he’ll underperform his polls – since the typical Trump supporter has the profile of the unreliable voter – a collapse may occur quickly, if not too early for the “message” to have been sent.

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  2. I have a lot of respect for UKLG as an author, but I think Tabarrok has it right, its probably more about ghe commodity of books, the opening of the field, and the decline of the author as a household name.

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  3. B5: When I first heard about the CEO who paid everybody $70k/yr, I immediately thought that it would have a lot of unintended consequences and I wondered if the guy would be leading the way to a brave new world where these things would spider out into wider culture or if it was prelude to the company crashing/burning or some other thing that I hadn’t even considered.

    I never expected to read about waterboarding.

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  4. B2:

    But in some ways, Subway’s money-making challenges look even sharper than those of the Golden Arches. The average Subway sold $437,000 worth of subs, sodas and cookies last year, the smallest haul in half a decade, and about a fifth as much as the typical Mickey D’s, which pulls in $2.4 million per store.

    Well, this is a stupid comparison. It may not be as bad as, say, comparing the Washington Post revenue stream with the Falls Church News-Press, but it’s the same sort of error.

    Subway franchises invariably have a much lower overhead than McD’s franchises. Subway has smaller physical space in their retail locations – and never, in my experience, in a stand alone location like McD’s always used to be, and the model that still dominates. Subway doesn’t have anything in the way of a ‘kitchen’, nor does it have nor does it need the safety features you need when working with boiling oil. They also have a staffing level that can decline to a single individual during off-peak hours, if the location nearest my house is any indication.

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  5. B2: There is no great mystery to the decline of Subway. It dominates its market niche, of “acceptable if nothing better is available”. This is a great niche to own, up to the moment something better becomes available.

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  6. E4:

    [E4] I understand why colleges like out-of-state students, but don’t understand why so many students want to go to college out of state. Isn’t cost supposed to be a pressing issue? I understand some cases, if you live in Wyoming or something (though usually then states will often help you go out-of-state if they don’t offer your program), but there seems to be something else at work here.

    They didn’t have in the stat in the article, but it seems to me that the majority – perhaps even overwhelming majority, of 4 year ‘traditional’ undergraduate students *do* go in-state. I mean, just based on the fact that the flagship public schools of most states reserve 2/3 to 3/4 of their enrollment spots to in-state students seem to indicate to me that the numbers need to work out that the majority of students are attending post-high school education in their home states.

    As for going out of state, there is, as you said, a competition on price between staying in state and going out of state. But there is also, as the article states, a competition between going out of state to a private university, and going out of state to a flagship public university (i.e. ‘the public ivies’). In that competition, the public university has been cheaper option.

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    • With the exception of elites, I look at private schools similarly as out-of-state. Privates do have a class and (even non-elites) selectivity component, though, that I can understand… up to a point. I can see what private schools offer in terms of learning environment – including classmates – being maybe substantially different. Less so when it comes to going to the University of Iowa instead of the University of Nebraska or even the University of North Dakota (does FBS football matter to you that much?!) But in all cases, is the difference really worth the price tag?! If so, what does that say about “the cost of college”?

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      • Bear in mind that these decisions are in part being made by 18-year-olds. Both my kids wanted to get out of state, not out of any rational calculation based on value, but because staying in state felt like staying at home, and they wanted to go someplace new (and not see a good chunk of their high school crowd at college too).

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        • My wife went out of state partially for that reason. She had a full-ride scholarship, though. I can understand wanting to get out of your town, but states are big and even small ones have lots of people.

          (One of the places my wife cosnidered a job was Laramie, Wyoming, which is where UW is. The University of Wyoming is the only university in the state, and Laramie isn’t that big. In those circumstances, I probably would have been supportive of the University of South Dakota or something, if they wanted to do that. (I think USD may have special tuition rates for bordering states, though?)

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        • I can see this as a genuine consideration, particularly for kids in small states. I chose my school in part on the basis that it was close enough to my hometown that travel to and from for holidays would not be overly burdensome, but far enough away that there would be little temptation (from either side) for a quick weekend trip. This was easy for me to calibrate while staying instate, but then again I was in California. Someone performing the same calculation, but who lives in Delaware would have a harder time of it.

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          • Yeah, I grew up in CA and had the same thought process — home was LA, went to college in the Bay Area, happy to be sort of close but not too close. One negative of that, though, was that I was a young male adult with a car and a reason to drive a fixed long distance several times per year, so of course it was essential that I keep track of my fastest time for the trip and try to break the record each time. I almost became another statistic on Pacheco Pass a few times.

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      • Again, I want to stress that I think the market is mostly ‘rational’ – i.e. most people are going to in-state schools because of cost, and because in-state schools (traditionally, not sure anymore) have a more accessible admissions policy for in-state students.

        What we’re talking about is the margin of the margin. (also, what the article didn’t talk about are the other cash cows, international students). And there’s a difference between going out of state and staying in the same region, and going out of state to experience an entirely new region. (for instance, my father, the limited time he went to college, went to school in the Big 10, despite growing up in the Northeast).

        I’d also argue that many of the students that decide to go out of state are more discerning customers, exactly the because they are paying more. And by ‘discerning’, I’m mostly talking about ‘knowing what they want to be when they grow up’. These types of students are selecting certain highly regarded programs at otherwise middle of the pack schools. For instance, a family member went to the UNC system (and not Chapel Hill) instead of their own neighboring in-state system (like other family members did), because that UNC campus had a highly regarded music education program. And that’s what that family member is still doing for a living.

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        • Yeah, I get that most aren’t doing it, but that there are enough that there is essentially a recruitment market for it, and (though less so in this article than in others I’ve read) facilities are being beefed up to attract them.

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          • The article, though, is mostly about the supply side. From the school’s point of view, it’s wholly rational to find people that will pay more for the same product. (and as the article says, there’s the secondary benefit of better students means a better school reputation, and more better students, etc). Whatever demand there is, the schools are the ones that are trying make that market even bigger. Also, I don’t think this is particularly new. My public university was doing to same thing, trying to improve its rep with more out of state students, over twenty years ago. Now, the demographic difference between then and now may have played a role (i.e. the Gen X baby bust left a bit of unused capacity throughout the education system over those years which the powers that be needed to fill for financial reasons), but my sense it was mainly about reputation and better revenue per student.

            (this ties into an aside about the facilities arm race that I thought about the other day. A lot of the building going on in universities is inevitable, even if a bit gold plated. The post-WW2 baby boom happened, concurrently with that generation the percentage of people going to college went way up, and the percentage of women going to college – and any college, not just teacher’s/nurse’s schools went way up. Thus a big building boom in the 60s and 70s. Then the Xers came, and were a lot smaller generation, so physical plant capacity wasn’t an issue, and most things were new enough. Then the Snake People started to go college, and you had the dual forces of larger aggregate number of students, and the buildings from the 60s and 70s starting to run to the end of their useful lives. (esp if you cared about stuff like insulation and air conditioning, not the mention asbestos and lead). So of course everyone’s going to have to start building in the first decade of the 20th century, to keep up with enrollments and to renovate/replace the older infrastructure)

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      • Will,

        I think you may just be failing to account for how much more cost-conscious you were at 18 than many kids are. Lots of kids look to their parents for a binary okay/not-okay on their ideal college plans, and lots of parents don’t want to tell their kids that what the kids want for college, which is the thing they (the parents) held out as the reason for kids to stay home studying rather than go out cruising, isn’t okay. It’s what they worked so hard for! So the parents find reasons and ways to say it’s okay. (“Hey, at least out-of-state State School isn’t East Coast Elite!” (even though if they can get into the ECE that might be the better financial choice between the two).)

        Then, when people come back around to express concern/outrage about the costs incurred, it’s on a blanket principle of something like an idea that the cost of attendance at any public institution (even an elite one across the country) should never place a near-lifelong debt burden on a student. (I do think that people understand that attending private colleges might do that, though I’m not sure they realize they might actually be a bit more likely to prove enough aid to help avoid it.)

        But AFAIU, even Bernie Sanders doesn’t intend to institute that, though (large-debt-free attendance at any public). All he wants to do, if I understand his proposal correctly, is to make your in-state universities (whichever ones you can get into) free. People should understand this.

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        • …So, maybe the moral(e?) of the story is: in order to discourage (or just not encourage) more willingness on the part of kids (& as a result parents) to heedlessly spend on college, we should encourage more cruisin’ and other forms of time-wastin’ & fun-havin’ among high-school students – and less studying!

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    • I find myself a little baffled by E3. I don’t think she’s anywhere near as wasteful as people seem to think.

      I quote the actual article ‘Kim has one year left of school and no way to cover her remaining $20,000 tuition balance.’

      That means she spent $60,000 of the $90,000 so far on tuition. And let’s be uncharitable with her phrasing and spending and assume by ‘tuition’, she means the entire cost of the school including dorm room/apartment.

      That means she spent $30,000, or $10,000 a year on…everything else.

      Including food. If she, like most college students, doesn’t know how or have the time to eat cheaply, and spends about $10 a day on food (Please note that’s nowhere near ‘privileged rich kid’ levels’, that’s Subway and McDonalds level.), that’s about $2500 a school year.

      So now we’re down to, *at most*, $7500 a year she’s wasted. Oops, we forgot college books….$7000 a year.

      Apparently no one managed to asked her exactly *how much* her trip to Europe cost, or actually try to figure out if she wasted a lot of money.

      Meanwhile, I will state this unequivocally: She literally did not have enough money to start with. You cannot attend a $20,000 a year college with only $90,000! That is not possible!

      Now, yes, she shouldn’t be *broke* at the start of her fourth year, possible. Except, wait, we don’t know that she’s actually broke. All we know is she can’t cover the $20,000. Maybe she’s just got $19,000 in the bank.

      Wait, let’s do the math of what she already spent: $90,000 – ($60,000 in paid tuition so far+ $7500 food + $1500 books) leaves her…$21000! So, assuming she never bought anything at all besides food and books her entire college career, she would have had enough to pay for that year tuition and get her books and then slowly starve to death!

      Stone the wastrel!

      Now, yes, in reality, she probably took a $10,000 trip to Europe or something, but seriously, she did not have enough money to start with, no matter what she did.

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  7. E4: NYU has long been attractive to students who want to be in NYC but can’t make it into Columbia. Same with the New School and Fordham. Cal, UCLA, Michigan, UVA, are great public-ivies. I think it makes sense to choose Cal over SUNY-Binghamton. Schools (and their towns) develop reputations and personas. Cal for social justice and activism, Penn State for partying, etc. So I would say, location, reputation, and some thoughts on what college should be like make people go out of state. Again this goes back to the pragmatic v. romantic arguments about what college is or should be like and there are a substantial number of people (maybe not a majority but a decent sized minority) who do have romantic dreams of what the platonic idea of college/university is. These people probably will go looking far for college, maybe they see it as a way to shed any baggage from home and start new. The way you think about this seems to be much more practical/pragmatic and focused on costs above all.

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      • Most University of California campuses, not just Berkeley, have a better academic reputation than all SUNY campuses. New York has a lot of great private universities and colleges but our public ones besides Cornell’s public colleges have a meh reputation even if that might not be deserved.

        A lot of kids really want to go relatively far away from home for college as a first step of adult independence or some other personal reason.

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        • SUNY at Stony Brook ain’t bad. (discl: I know someone teaching there).
          Penn State and University of Pittsburgh really do attract people from everywhere.

          Never did understand why people from New Jersey would pay out of state tuition to go there, though…

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  8. H3 – An interesting article came actually casting doubt on the common wisdom that c-sections are bad:

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/optimal-country-level-c-section-rate-may-be-as-high-as-19-percent-to-save-lives-of-mothers-and-infants/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12.03.2015%20(1)

    Of course, it’s an ecological study, so it doesn’t say anything about causality; and there are lots of potential confounders, such as hospitals with higher rates of c-sections probably also have better intensive care. But it’s interesting, at least.

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    • Is it common wisdom that c-sections are bad? Speaking as someone whom our doctor told us early on that one would be necessary for us (and he was right!) I got the impression that they are routine – and in fact in some places/cultures/countries are perceived as being the preferred option, in terms of safety/ease (I want to say I’ve heard this of the Philippines).

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      • At some point, they were routinely used where they shouldn’t be. As a c-section counts as a preexisting condition (even one 40 years ago), it made for trouble. Because if you don’t report all preexisting conditions, your insurance company could deny your claim.

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      • The prevailing wisdom is that there are a lot of unnecessary c-sections, that they are necessary in about 10% of pregnancies, and that vaginal deliveries lead to better medium-term and long-term outcomes.

        In general, it’s thought that the natural way of doing things is best, all things else being equal.

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        • Yeah, I can see that, and my wife did have some complications from the C-section. But like I said, we really had no choice (though my wife gave it the old college try for a couple hours’ labor before we pulled the trigger on C-section).

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          • In general, I think the more you invasively cut someone open, the greater the chances of complications. Which doesn’t mean that you don’t sometimes have to cut someone open, just that the decision to do so should be done with some care and wisdom.

            I know that from my research into this topic for a piece a few years ago, C-sections were being used as a tool to run a hospital more profitably more than they were out of necessity for the mother or child.

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            • I should add that it’s not just a matter of insurance/gov paying out more for a C-section, but that they’re *efficient*. They are planned! You can have everybody in the same place at the same time to make it happen. You can reserve the room. All systems are go!

              As I’ve mentioned, Clancy is a non-interventionist generally. Not just avoiding c-sections when she can, but avoiding early interventions that lead to c-sections being indicated (interventions beget interventions). The result is not only do her employers get less money than they otherwise might, but in Arapaho she would be up all night, along with staff, waiting. Which, in turn, might mean that she would have to cancel appointments* the next day. Which costs money. And, of course, sometimes she was waiting during clinic hours.

              They never pressured her about her low c-section rate specifically, though the incentives were always there: More sleep, more likely to get a performance bonus, and less likely to catch hell for having to cancel clinic waiting for a baby to be ready to come out.

              * – The cutoff was 4am. If a baby came out at 3:55, she’d basically have to finish up paperwork, go to sleep at 5, wake up at 8, start clinic at 9. If the blessed little one was born at 4:05, she could sleep in. The cutoff for afternoon appointments was 8 and it as the same for 7:55/8:05.

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  9. E2: Its probably more accurate to see the high ranking teams as a football or basketball team with a university attached.

    B2: I had no idea that Subway was this old. Subway’s struggles are understandable. It’s ingredients might be of higher quality than the typical fast food joint but only slightly so. The décor is around the same level as a typical fast food joint. Chipotle, Shack Shake, and other higher end fast food restaurants have much higher quality ingredients and better décor. Subway really can’t compete using it’s original formula.

    B3: Ursula Le Guin is a product of her times and maintain a lot of the anti-capitalism of 20th century leftism. Since she is an anarchist rather than a Marxist, she also inherited a suspicion of fancy technology like Amazon.

    I find the market for rare and obscure books on Amazon to be weird. Its easier to find rare and obscure books on Amazon than it is in a chain book store, and Borders was always better than Barnes and Noble when it came to having obscure books on the shelves, but if you can find an obscure book in an independent book store the price is often a lot lower than Amazon’s, like thirty dollars or so.

    S5: From what I read, a lot of alcoholics prefer the AA method to the more scientific, pharmaceutical method of treating alcoholism. They want to go totally dry for the most part while scientists seem to think that turning alcoholics into moderate drinkers through drugs is a more realistic and better treatment. AA states it can deliver total abstinence.

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    • scientists seem to think that turning alcoholics into moderate drinkers through drugs is a more realistic and better treatment

      If excess can be turned into moderation, that seems like a better option to me as well. I know for some (maybe even many or most) people that it must be all-or-nothing; but that’s a tough row to hoe, when alcohol is so deeply-woven into our culture.

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      • I mean, to a certain extent, that’s what Prohibition did. According to all statistics we have, total and average usage of alcohol by American’s went down significantly even after the end of Prohibition comparing to pre-Prohibition timelines, largely because people got used to drinking less alcohol.

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      • I know for some (maybe even many or most) people that it must be all-or-nothing;

        How do you know this? My guess is that this is what they report to you, and I don’t doubt their sincerity. But it is also the standard live that AA has been pushing for the better part of a century, and it was the standard line of prohibitionists long before that, who preached that there was no middle ground between total abstinence and lying drunk in a ditch. It is possible that 19th century moralists also hit upon a scientific truth, but I am skeptical. This looks suspiciously like an entrenched ideology rather than a research conclusion.

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        • I know someone who comes from a long line of alcoholics. It takes discipline for him to stay on a single drink a day limit, despite the cravings. But it really can be done.

          Richard, I think we ought to understand that alcohol affects people differently, in a genetic sort of way. And that not all approaches work for all groups of people.

          Which reminds me, I really should write an article about modern eugenics, and how much we like them.

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          • Eh, you quickly get into a morass of subjectiveness there.

            For instance, we know that pain tolerance varies between people. You might be a 10 on your pain scale, but the exact same stimulus might only peg a 7 on the guy next to you. You’re not a wuss, he’s not some superhuman master of ignoring pain — you’re just wired differently.

            So when it comes to the concept of “willpower” and “cravings” — whether it’s for food or booze or drugs or whatever — how can you compare? It’s going to be different. You might be feeling very proud, for instance, of sticking to a diet (craving level 5 on a 1-10 scale) while someone else fails (craving 8 on a 1-10 scale) even if everything else is identical.

            Is it really willpower and discipline that let you resist when another person failed? Or just the fact that, due to a quirk of personal genetics and environment, when faced with an identical problem you didn’t have nearly as rough a time?

            We like to think we’re all the same, on the inside. That when faced with an identical problem, we view and feel it the same way — whether it’s an addiction, an injury, or simply a craving for something. But it really seems to be that it’s entirely subjective — what works for Bob won’t work for Tina, not because Bob’s a better/stronger/more disciplined person — but because Bob is simply not Tina.

            Everything else might be identical, and Bob simply has a much easier time of it than Tina.

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            • For some things? Yes it is willpower and discipline. Dieting, for example, and keeping the weight off. You can look at the 95% of people who fail, and then look at the 5% who succeed. (Humans are not generally good at the discipline thing).

              Of course there are environmental aspects to everything, and people always vary.

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              • You just flat out ignored the stuff you didn’t like.

                I JUST pointed out that it appears that it’s not “you succeed because you have more willpower” it’s “you succeed because you need less”.

                Pain tolerance, addictions, cravings for food — it’s not an objective measure. We can be identical weights and start the same diet, and one of us simply has a much, much, much harder craving. The one who lost weight didn’t necessarily succeed because they had “more discipline” — they might as well have succeeded because they had less to overcome.

                You can assert it’s “Just discipline” all you want. It’s a nice story to tell yourself (because if you succeed, it’s because you’re just a better person!) but the research into such things indicates that people simply don’t feel identical stimuli identically.

                Maybe you ARE a better person. But maybe you just lost weight on easy mode.

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                • If you need to rely on self-reports to say something isn’t objective, you’ve got a problem in the first place (self-reports being notoriously unreliable).

                  Got some objective evidence that it’s subjective?

                  /empiricist

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                  • Yes. See any research into pain tolerance. Use Google. Or here, randomly: is one article.

                    Individual differences in pain sensitivity have long remained a perplexing and challenging clinical problem. How can one individual have a sensory experience that is vastly different than that of another, even when they have received similar sensory input? Developing an understanding of such differences and the mechanisms that support them has progressed substantially as psychophysical findings are integrated with measures of brain activation provided by functional brain imaging techniques. Continued delineation of these mechanisms will contribute substantially to the development of combined psychophysical/psychological models that can be used to optimize pain treatment on an individual-by-individual basis.

                    Note — it’s taken as a given that pain sensitivity varies.

                    Or tobacco:

                    There was a wide range of effect sizes both across and within domains, indicating that the acute tobacco abstinence syndrome is not a monotonic phenomenon. These findings may be indicative of the relative magnitudes of signs and symptoms that the average smoker may exhibit during acute abstinence.

                    You’ll find similar studies on alcohol, hunger — which is pretty obvious once you think about it. Why WOULD those sensations be identical. Our brains aren’t identical. Our biochemistry isn’t identical.

                    So why would you think that? I mean, you’ve had sex, right? Same bits and pieces, but have you ever been with two partners who liked it identically? Just going by my rather small sample of past partners, I can assure you that not only are they highly varied in their physical responses to identical stimuli — their enjoyment was entirely different.

                    Why do you think hunger is magic, and unlike every other sensation, somehow identical across people?

                    Why would hunger pains — craving for food — be different than craving for tobacco? Then pain tolerance? Then sexual enjoyment?

                    I mean OTHER than the fact that we can feel superior for handling those things better than someone else. It’s really easy to look a guy with what looks like a tiny injury acting like he’s hurting more than you, with a worse one. It’s ego-flattering to assume he’s just weak, unable to handle pain like you can.

                    It’s ego-flattering to think that, if you conquered an addiction or a craving, that you’re superior to those who didn’t. But ego-flattering doesn’t mean “true”.

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        • I think the statement as written, “some”, is nearly-unassailable – as in, for almost any addiction, there will always be a portion of people whose only options are “quit entirely, or suffer absolute ruin”.

          Leaving aside the nature of the substance, and the neurochemistry of addiction, people vary widely, and for at least some people it’s always gonna be all-or-nothing.

          I’ve said before that I am also deeply suspicious, however, of the universal applicability of this; and I welcome any opening of possibilities for moderate consumption and/or harm reduction, and a wider variety of solutions for a wide variety of people.

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        • There are probably a handful of people for whom this is true. (Of course, there are probably other handfuls of people for whom it is not.)

          Way back when we hadn’t perfected medical science yet, we didn’t know how to help some sub-group of addicts. There was this sub-group that just couldn’t get/stay clean through social stigma. AA (and Narcanon) had some small success with some small number of these people.

          AA is useful because it was something that worked for some people when nothing else did.

          There seems to be this assumption out there that everyone can be fixed and a solution that doesn’t fix everyone isn’t a real or useful solution. As a working assumption, it’s important (because we need to treat everyone as if they can be fixed and not give up on anyone) but I am not sure that a solution that has worked in some cases (when nothing else did) should be shrugged off.

          “Why did it work in these 10% of cases?” is a more interesting question than “why didn’t it work in these 90%?”

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        • Many addicts seem skeptical about the idea that their addiction problem could be helped by drugs rather than whatever AA does. They happen to be wrong but my reading indicates that a plurality of addicts want to go totally dry rather than become a normal drinker. They don’t seem to buy the idea that they ended up as addicts because of a quirk in brain chemistry rather than an external factor.

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    • Addicts will continue to be addicts when you take their drug of choice away — half the time they wind up addicted to video games or something like that. AA is pretty much like a cult, one shouldn’t be so surprised that addicts gravitate to it as a support network.

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        • I know at least two people who replaced their addictions (one alcoholic and one with a rather bad eating disorder) with exercise. Hard core gym rat types. They get twitchy if they don’t get in at least an hour a day, and most days it’s considerably more.

          I do wonder what’s going to happen when they can’t hit the gym like they do now. Hopefully they’ll gradually transition to gentler forms of exercise, but…..

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          • I bet it transitions to equally intense forms of mental exercise, as decreased-intensity physical workouts will noticeably fail to provide the dopamine rush.

            Hopefully that doesn’t mean they abandon physical exercise altogether once they’re forced into lower intensity at it. It probably won’t mean that, I bet.

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            • I can’t really tell if they do it to fill the time, or it’s some sort of self-imposed bargain, or what.

              Then there’s the person I know that goes to all those weird work-out rally things. I can’t remember the name, but good lord. 90% of what she posts on Facebook is about her, weights, and a crowd. Everyone needs a hobby, but I have a hard enough time trying to jog without shin splints.

              I can’t imagine the hours she puts into weights, running with weights, and whatever other crazy exercises they do.

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          • Watch the way dry alcoholics clutch onto their cigarettes and coffee cups sometime. There’s a reason they call tenuous sobriety “white-knuckling”.

            RE: transitioning – hopefully your friends may simply age out of their worst addictive tendencies – a lot of addicts that don’t completely wreck their lives or die, eventually age out of it by mid to late thirties (which of course confounds figuring out what other methods do or do not work and how well, since if you join AA at 33, relapse once, then get your life together by 35, you may credit AA, rather than aging).

            The other thing that gets all mixed up is this: there are a few functional addicts who do (for example) manage to successfully switch from (say) hard liquor to beer – they are still alcoholics, but they are able to control/downgrade their addiction enough to somewhat set things at a manageable level.

            There are others who will simply then drink enough beer to replace all of the alcohol they are not getting from whiskey anymore (or they will just go back to hard liquor); and for anyone who’s dealt with addicts, watching them go through the whole “bargaining” phase (“beer only for me, from now on!”) is not only depressingly familiar, but it very frequently falls through.

            IOW, true “relative moderation” or “harm reduction” is difficult to distinguish from plain old addict bargaining and self-delusion.

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      • Makes sense – replace the addiction that could cost you your life, with an addiction that will probably cost you a lot of Monday and Thursday evenings.

        That can free you up to address the trauma that underlies the addictive behaviours in the first place, though AA seems to be determined to keep that out of their remit.

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  10. S5: Why is it a problem when someone craves beer, but it’s not a problem when they crave potato chips??
    One gets labeled as an addiction WAY QUICKER than the other one. And they’re both self-medicating… (potatoes give tons of potassium).

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          • I was honestly looking for the picture of the homeless stockbroker with empty snack bags all around him…

            Do you have the link?

            /sucks at google. this exists online, dammit!

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            • I know why OWS used Quaker hand signals and had a batsign.

              You only count as a conspiracy theorist when that’s the reason you joined the Freemasons. (A Friend of mine really did this, he was doing research, and who better to ask about the Illuminati mythos than someone who constantly gets mistaken for them? — the Illuminati being too tiny and boring to ask themselves).

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      • Pringles like all salty foods cause thirst. People drink beer to quench their first. Therefore, Pringles leads people indirectly towards getting drunk and is also indirectly the cause of driving while intoxicated and other crimes. Ban them.

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      • “What are we bringing to eat on our drive from Atlanta to San Diego?”

        “Umm… we’ve got 40 cans of BBQ Pringles and… well, that’s it.”

        “Oh God, you know how I am with Pringles. I can’t stop eating them!”

        …3 hours later.

        “Oh God, my stomach. I shouldn’t have eaten all 40 cans of Pringles. It hurts so much…”

        “Watch the road?”

        “What?”

        [Crash.]

        Therefore Pringles are deadly.

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  11. LeeEsq: if you can find an obscure book in an independent book store the price is often a lot lower than Amazon’s, like thirty dollars or so.

    This is due to search costs. Someone selling a rare book on Amazon pretty much gets his listing seen by everyone in the country who wants to buy it. If there’s someone willing to pay $60 for a copy of a book, he’ll search Amazon and find it. A brick-and-mortar seller has to wait for a buyer to come into the store and find it, or at least call and ask. If there are only a hundred people in the country willing to pay $60 for it, the odds of any of them finding it are very low. To move the book, the brick-and mortar seller has to offer it at a significantly lower price.

    The real mystery is why the brick-and-mortar seller doesn’t put that book up on Amazon. I wonder if it’s a sort of loss-leader, where the seller tries to create a reputation for the store as a place where you can get good deals on rare books if you’re lucky.

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    • The real mystery is why the brick-and-mortar seller doesn’t put that book up on Amazon.

      Actually, I understand why they don’t use Amazon, it’s a competitor.

      What I don’t understand is why they don’t use *eBay*.

      I wonder if it’s a sort of loss-leader, where the seller tries to create a reputation for the store as a place where you can get good deals on rare books if you’re lucky.

      Well, something has to get people in, I guess. I know that’s basically why I often went to a used-book store…they sold books for a percentage of the cover price, and often the book was so old the cover price was literally a third of what it currently would be. (I stopped going when, uh, I finished the store, and realized their incredibly slow turnover meant there wasn’t any point in me going back.)

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  12. [G2] There was a news story recently about the Alberta government’s carbon tax plan, specifically the (per Vox “so Canadian”) endorsement it received from both prominent environmental groups, and prominent oil companies.

    It turns out, entirely unsurprisingly, that the consultation process behind the drafting of the plan included some negotiation beforehand between the above mentioned parties, whereby the Pembina Institute and possibly other environmental groups agreed to drop their objection on principle to all pipeline projects, while the oil companies agreed to drop their objection on principle to all carbon taxation – both dropped their objection that was unreasonable but heartening to their base, and got the thing they were calling for that was reasonable. You know, the stuff of basic good governance.

    So, this story paints this as some kind of sinister backroom deal that we should all be highly suspicious of (whereas if the above process hadn’t happened, the same writer would presumably have condemned the high-handed lack of consultation).

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/secret+deal+alberta+oilsands+emissions+limits+divides+patch/11560202/story.html

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    • How much of this is because the matter gets settled at the provincial level in Canada? I live in a state with significant oil/gas/coal production — not one of the biggest players, but it’s a significant policy topic — and my perception is that without the possibility of the feds overruling, the oil/gas/coal companies and the environmentalists would be able to reach this kind of compromise.

      Granted, a new state tax would be a messier proposition in Colorado than most places, since such a tax would have to go on the ballot as a referred (or initiated) matter and be voted on.

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      • I don’t think it’s a requirement that it be settled provincially – it’s just that the feds have been the petro-tories for the last decade, so any action that did happen, happened in spite of the feds.

        I think the reason is actually that there are a lot of people in Alberta who are very very angry that we have an NDP government now, and some of them work for newspapers, while others make idle facebook death threats against (probably not coincidentally only female) members of the Alberta government.

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    • Yeah that is one hell of a WTF. Someone, likely multiple people, really tripped the Fail O Meter. That includes the reporters. Of all the dumb things to occur this wouldn’t have been in my top 100 predictions.

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      • Arrest these people.
        Arrest these people.
        Arrest these people.

        My god. This is one of the reasons we actually have police in the first place and they are screwing things up so very monumentally that I find myself boggling.

        Holy crap.

        Arrest these people.

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        • Am I missing something? From the article:

          Lourdes Arocho, spokesperson for the FBI Los Angeles field office, told Mashable: “The search is over at that location.”

          and

          During an afternoon press conference, FBI Los Angeles Assistant Director David Bowdich said that the federal investigation at the property had ended.

          Bowdich said investigators had seized several pieces of evidence from the home but had turned it back over to the owner.

          “Once we board it up, anyone that goes in at that point has nothing to do with us,” said Bowdich.

          If the FBI’s done, what’s the issue? Let Geraldo go look for Al Capone.

          Is it your contention the FBI’s NOT done, even though they say they are?

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          • Popehat is boggling at the stuff that wasn’t taken (including, of course, the IDs found at the scene and a trashcan filled with a post-shredder document).

            It did strike me as somewhat likely that they might find something that would make them say “hey, maybe we should go back to that place and look in a place that we didn’t look.”

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            • I get you, I’m surprised that they were done with it so quickly as well. But I’m not a LA FBI investigator, who hopefully knows what they are doing.

              Is it your thought that the FBI are SAYING they were done with it to save face, because they released it back to the owner too quickly or failed to properly secure it? (I’ve seen enough TV to know that that yellow “CRIME SCENE – DO NOT ENTER” tape is insuperable! They should have used that.)

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          • Would they likely admit to not being done if they actually weren’t and were confronted with footage of reporters rummaging through the fridge? Maybe, I don’t know.

            There’s also the fact that, however likely it is that these are the shooters, they haven’t been convicted. I really hope that if the police ever executed a search warrant on a rented home of mine and then arrested me, my landlord wouldn’t let dozens of random idiots wander through my home and rifle through my possessions while I was awaiting a trial and trying to get my life organized around affording a lawyer.

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            • I really hope that if the police ever executed a search warrant on a rented home of mine and then arrested me, my landlord wouldn’t let dozens of random idiots wander through my home and rifle through my possessions while I was awaiting a trial and trying to get my life organized around affording a lawyer.

              Well, the suspects are dead, so at least that’s not an issue.

              But that’s still just bad landlording, not an FBI problem.

              And I suspect that is correct – if they truly weren’t done, the place would have been under 24-hour armed guard. This is a really high-profile case.

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              • And it seems to me anything the media finds might have some admissability problems. Or, since it’s all on tape, maybe not?

                Technically it’s still illegal. The estate could press charges, if they were so inclined.

                Another thing is that they didn’t blur out personal stuff for people who were not the actual shooters. For which they apologized. That’s a media ethics issue and not (likely) a legal one, though.

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                • it seems to me anything the media finds might have some admissability problems. Or, since it’s all on tape, maybe not?

                  Not sure. If I, as a random jogger, find a murder weapon in an alley, I assume that it can STILL be used as evidence, whether I was on camera or not.

                  Technically it’s still illegal. The estate could press charges, if they were so inclined.

                  Is it? Can a landlord open up a rental property if the tenants are dead? I assume he can, since sometimes their death in-house is WHY he has to open the property. And once opened, doesn’t he pretty much control who can access it?

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                    • When was the lease up? Did they go month-to-month? The month just rolled over.

                      And aside from coroners and family members (and police or firefighters), I would think that plumbers, electricians, and pest control people could also enter at the landlord’s behest, if needed.

                      Look, I obviously don’t know the legal angles, but this feels a lot like people flipping out because we need someone to flip out at, and the suspected perps are dead.

                      He may well be a bad landlord who’s gonna get sued by the estate, but as long as it doesn’t affect the FBI’s case, it’s not national news.

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                      • I assume it was up at the end of the month. I don’t know what provisions there were for the landlord to enter (there usually are some), but they probably did not include “and whoever the landlord wants to invite in.”

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                    • The next of kin or executors of deceased tenants will sue your pants off for giving the public access to their apartment.

                      Yeah, not in this case they won’t. The optics would be horrifying. Though if, as Glyph says, they bum-rushed the landlord, he might be smart to file complaints for trespassing to cover himself.

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                  • Can a landlord open up a rental property if the tenants are dead? I assume he can, since sometimes their death in-house is WHY he has to open the property. And once opened, doesn’t he pretty much control who can access it?

                    Unless the lease has a specific clause terminating it upon the death of a tenant, then it’s in full force and effect.

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                    • Right, but the landlord can enter under certain circumstances while the lease is in effect; and one of those circumstances is presumably if I die in my easy chair and the smell is getting bad, right?

                      So the landlord’s ability to enter (assuming the FBI released it) seems unquestionable to me.

                      The only question is who else he’s allowed to let in there, right?

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  13. P1:
    The tool is so hard to use because its impossible to figure out who is going to drop out. The major non-Trump non-carson candidates are all hoping to be the new choice once the GOP primary voters sober up–so they’ll stay in as long as they’ve got the cash because they’re convinced their tiny numbers are going to balloon upward. Minor candidates stay in to keep their issues in the voters minds even if they have no hope of winning, but that requires getting some spotlight, which is hard when Trump and Carson are in the room. How long does Paul stay in when people keep not paying attention to him? Ditto Huckabee and Santorum, given that there are two of them championing similar religious values, and there’s maybe not that much space between them and Carson on the religion-in-politics front.

    Last time, it was Romney and a bunch of candidates trying to be not-Romney. But those candidates didn’t very much because it was always going to be Romney and they were jockying for second place. If the GOP isn’t going to let Trump have it, though, this is a bunch of candidates jockying for first, with second already decided. That’s the kind of thing that can happen in a convention of delegates with multiple voting rounds, but it’s going to be messy and hard to predict. And even if Trump doesn’t get to be king, he may get a chance to be kingmaker.

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    • Well the basic rule, and the basic universal answer, is money. Candidates don’t drop out because they run out of ambition, desire, principle or voter support; candidates drop out when they run out of hard cash and can’t pay their staff anymore.
      I gather Santorum has a sugar daddy supporter who’ll back him up on a shoestring campaign pretty much for the run of the contest. Huckabee, Kasich, Christie and Paul, however, might have money problems eventually.

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  14. Next week, the Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of a male-only Selective Service registration system. My (quite possibly wrong) understanding of the most recent SCOTUS decisions on the subject upheld the male-only system because there were no combat positions for women. This case was filed a couple years back when some combat positions were opened to women. The District Court held in this case that male-only was still okay because there were some combat positions woman weren’t allowed to take. That ended this week.

    The current system is for registration only. An actual draft would require Congress to pass additional statute. I’ll guess that the Ninth’s decision won’t mention gender; they’ll rule that mandatory registration in a system that hasn’t actually drafted anyone for more than 40 years is improper. Especially since 99%+ of the relevant personnel could be identified from Social Security and IRS information within days of a decision to implement an actual draft.

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  15. Dave Regio:

    Can a landlord open up a rental property if the tenants are dead? I assume he can, since sometimes their death in-house is WHY he has to open the property. And once opened, doesn’t he pretty much control who can access it?

    Unless the lease has a specific clause terminating it upon the death of a tenant, then it’s in full force and effect.

    Wait…what? How does that work when the dead tenant stops paying? Does the landlord have to go through the normal eviction procedure?

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    • Maybe it’s to discourage the landlord from, you know, really TERMINATING a rental agreement, if you get my drift.

      “I’LL BE BACK…for the rent check.

      With an Uzi nine-millimeter.”

      “Sorry dude, you can kill us…won’t change the fact that we’ve still got 8 months left at the current rate, so…”

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    • Death doesn’t terminate the lease absent a clause in the lease agreement. The duty to fulfill the lease terms would fall upon the estate unless and until the estate relinquishes possession of the property and the landlord re-lease to a new tenant.

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  16. Another dash cam video of another black person killed by a Chicago cop to be unveiled soon. “Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office will investigate the possibility of criminal charges against the officer, her office said Wednesday.” Only 14 months after the fact.

    Rhambo!

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  17. P1: Is the Republican Party legally obligated to go through with and abide by the results of the primary, or can they just say, “Screw it. We’re running Rubio/Cruz/whoever, not Trump?” Not saying it’s a good idea, just curious as to whether it’s legal.

    I realize that the parties are private organizations, but the government has a history of disregarding trivialities like that.

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