Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Links!


  • This seemed like a really good idea when I read it a few days ago, but as I revisit it now, it seems like a less good idea. However, a comparison of cinematic Nixons is an excellent idea.
  • Its times like this that remind us that corporations really have no special abilities or magic that make them better than normal people, or even politicians, for that matter. The difference between a successful corporation and an unsuccessful one is that the unsuccessful ones go out of business. Unsuccessful people linger, and unsuccessful politicians can stick around for decades if they have an incumbent friendly district. That is why I will trust Unilever 1,000% more than any politician on any prediction they care to make.
  • I am not certain that this piece provides any value-added. That is to say, Romney fans can look at this and reinforce their pre-existing viewpoints while being a flimsy enough argument that Obama supporters can see right through it. It is this sort of writing, not the invective fueled commentary, that drives the partisan divide in this country, IMO.
  • This makes my job harder. Redistricting is a joke. Everyone involved knows that there are only two considerations when producing a map, maximizing red vs blue (or vice versa), and protecting the incumbents who are drawing the map. The fact that there were a bunch of racists living in Texas fifty years ago makes not the slightest bit of difference. The article notes that Hispanic incumbents got moved? That's because A) Hispanic concentrations grew around the state, meaning that the lines needed to be redrawn anyway and B) Hispanic voting patterns (at least in Texas) are becoming less solidly blue, meaning that Team R can redraw the lines and grab some 45% red districts that could be competitive in a cycle or two. This didn't happen to the white incumbents because East Texas is a stagnant backwater, and also the white people have more seniority (because Texas really was racist 50 years ago) meaning that they are the ones doing the drawing meaning that they are particularly invested in their own seniority. Neither the defendants nor plaintiffs care about black and white, they care about Red and Blue, its just that Team Red botched the process and are getting called on it. As long as politicians get to pick their voters instead of the other way around, [end of sentence redacted for excessive profanity].
  • This is a great website, run by the XKCD guy. This one looks at the math of soulmates.
  • A debate on poverty. Very interesting. None of it is new, but they are holding a very pedestrian argument on a fairly sophisticated level. I am not sure who is right.
  • This is what inspired last Wednesday's post, though I never got around to linking it.
  • ROAR! When there are this many laws, everyone is a criminal. Bet you won't see famous politicians suffering the same fate. Also, when the judge in 1963 handed down whatever punishment he thought was appropriate, he handed down something that was, presumably, proportional to the crime (two days in jail). Do we think that the judge would have handed down the same sentence if he knew that this man would be categorically denied a range of employment by federal law? This is why A) laws passed to deal with emergencies that have already occurred are universally terrible and B) laws should be kept at the most local level possible. In this case, the judge was much closer to the crime than the federal government and handed down a vastly more appropriate sentence.
  • Politicians doing what politicians do, now with people calling them on it!
  • I have a love-hate relationship with online surveys. They can turn out like this. But there is also a growing high web-use demographic that is much harder to reach by cellphones and often impossible by land line. It is important that screw ups get disseminated far and wide so that we can at least know what not to be doing. Now we just have to figure out how to build web surveys of the general public that are as reliable as telephone surveys were in the 1980s.
  • Team Coke battles it out with Team Pepsi. Seriously, if both sides think that it is the purpose of government to keep auto plants open, and both sides believe that the government should have the power to keep them open, why would I vote for anyone except Gary Johnson? On the other hand, Median Voter Theorem is alive and well.
  • This is what the government has power to do. The founders assumed that everyone was a dick, but lacked the power to express it. Modern pundits seem to think the same thing, except that their political party is immune to dickishness. This is why we need a political Golden Rule: Do not give the government any power you would not want to see in the hands of your political opponents.
  • People blame the free market for our troubles. A free market would not be perfect, but it is not, in fact, the cause of the particular set of troubles we face.
  • Voters get the government they deserve. They get it good and hard.
  • Wrongful convictions happen every day. In part because humans are fallible. In part because of the incentives system faced by prosecutors.
  • One more death in the war on drugs. This time it was someone who tried to build a career helping people. Our dear Uncle Sam would like to remind everyone that helping people is the sole province of government and you will undermine the fabric of our nation if you take it upon yourself to be happy.
I should note that the captions for these links are fairly off topic. Today is, I guess, official Free Association day at the EA.

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