Saturday, February 27, 2016

Clerking for Scalia

This piece from a former clerk, with different politics than Scalia, gives a sense of what it was like to work for him. I particularly liked this bit:
He forced us all to acknowledge that words cannot mean anything we want them to mean; that we have to impose a degree of discipline on our thinking.
Odd that this is controversial.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Trump v. Hitler

An amusing piece from a German site (but in English) on the important differences between Adolf and Donald.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Assorted links

1. Do snapchat like a teen.

2. How many degrees of separation? Lots of interesting bits on measurement and selection bias.

3. On working at Hooters. This would make a fascinating topic for a serious ethnography that focused on the implicit transfer of money for attention.

4. Yet another Camille Paglia interview, this time with Nick Gillespie of reason.

5. Dan Drezner's theory of Trump.

#2 via MR

Link on #5 fixed.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book: The Baby Boom by P.J. O'Rourke

O'Rourke, P.J. 2014. The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way, And It Wasn't My Fault, And I'll Never Do It Again. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

This book turned out to be much more autobiographical than I expected and less of a contribution to popular social science. I particularly enjoyed the bits towards the end about P.J.'s college years and the period immediately afterwards. If you like P.J., you will like this book, though for me it did not quite reach the level of Parliament of Whores, which is my favorite.

The earlier parts of the book, in addition to the humor, provide a picture of what childhood used to be like. I can remember going off to the local "wetlands" to catch frogs and lizards for hours with no particular designated time of return and no electronic devices by which my parents could contact me. That sort of free range play just does not happen any more, at least not in these parts.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dick Spady, R.I.P.

Spady was the founder of Dick's Drive-In, a delightful relic of the 50s that my parents and I both enjoyed in our respective college days in Seattle. The Seattle Times obituary includes some history of the restaurant chain.

Hat tip: Mike McCutchin

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Charles Murray on Trump

While not agreeing with everything Murray has to say, I found this piece thought-provoking. It pushes themes related to the decline of the working class in the US that have been on Murray's mind since the Bell Curve (though most critics ignored them there in their rush to talk about IQ).

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Assorted links

1. Ginger Ambition on life in silicon valley.

2. On the future of gastronomy.

3. Who marries whom.

4. Uncle Sam at the bar.

5. Atlantic on the science of bad science. Lots to worry about here.

Hat tip on #3 to ASAK

Friday, February 12, 2016

Canada for president?

I think this option dominates all of the remaining red and blue team candidates.

Hat tip: Shannon Seitz

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Immigration comedy

This is pretty well done. The one bit that is not explained is why we are not morally obligated to have open borders, which would seem to follow from the arguments he makes, absent other considerations.

Via MR

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On college admissions

The New York Post offers an entertaining bit on Yale undergraduate admissions by a former admissions officer. Missing from this article is any understanding that the optimal number of admissions "mistakes" does not equal zero. It is interesting despite that.

For a deeper treatment, from a somewhat different place in the academic pecking order, I can recommend the book Creating a Class by Mitchell Stevens. The author embedded himself in the admissions office of a good-but-not-the-very top liberal arts college. I found the background it provided really useful in thinking about academic college match.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl L

Some thoughts:

1. Defense wins championships.

2. Peyton Manning is a class act.

3. What happened to the Roman numerals? Last year was Super Bowl XLIX. This year, Super Bowl 50? Where were the angry mobs of high school Latin teachers demanding that the NFL "Go to L"?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On the water in Flint

Lots of incompetence (and concern with the daily battle of the talking points rather than with actually doing one's job) to go around at different levels of government and between the red and blue teams. This story by a reason writer attempts to allocate the blame.

This WaPo story seems more worried about loss of "trust in government" than about the health effects. No explanation is provided for why the residents of Flint should have trusted government prior to this episode.

Plus a nice piece from 538 detailing the roles of both local citizens and concerned professionals and a piece from David Warsh on the role, or lack of a role, of the press.