Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Just an assortment today.

  • Not sure what to make of this. On one hand, there are only four historical sources of arts funding. Government funding has serious potential consequences, which America has fortunately avoided, but is also a very conservative source of funding. Commercial art is flourishing like never before, but I suspect that none of these people would consider it "high art". Starving artists do not have nearly as much fun as is often portrayed, and the starving bit certainly hurts their productivity. The highest periods of visual arts have been funded by the very patronage that these people are rejecting (or the city-state patronage of the Greeks, which I would contend looks more like Medici patronage than NEA funding). On the other hand, it seems clear to me that the high visual arts are A) not generating radically new ideas and B) at a ceiling in terms of technical proficiency, since there are already artists that can produce photo realism in a wide variety of media. Given this stagnation (or perhaps assuming it), I can't imagine that a radical structural change in the provision and funding of high art can seriously damage the current low level of innovation, and may generate improvements. 
  • A reminder that money is not the end in politics, only a means of speech. It is not speech that counts on election day, but sentiments, and speech is only useful to the extent that it can shape sentiment. It is this, far more than things like GOTV infrastructure, that underlie the huge amount of political influence among unions.
  • Our president is fairly monstrous. "No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Says Man Who Regularly Bombs Pakistan and Yemen
  • Sensationalized? Yes. A problem nonetheless? Absolutely.
  • The president absolutely knows that what he is doing is wrong. But that doesn't stop him.
  • Data point on the correlation between strong families, personal responsibility, and inter-generational success. Not sure the dependent variable is the strongest possible, but it may have been the strongest available, and is relevant in any case.
  • A conservative imagines a debate between a moderate and a liberal. I would prefer to see this article written by Krugman, Greenwald, or Chin.
  • I have to say: We have the largest prison population on the planet. Obama murders people willy-nilly. And Our President issues the first and likely only pardon of the year went to a turkey. As a photo op, I don't really care, but as a stage show it really bothers me this time around. Certainly a good deal of mood affiliation going on, but seriously, are there no cases of injustice in America?
  • The ghost island which sank into the sea countless ages past where dread Cthulu slumbers. IA! IA! CTHULU FTAGHN!
  • Black Friday as a truly American holiday.
  • Intensive vs Extensive margins. Consider this a reminder of an underutilized model.
  • Der Speigel on the decline of America. I have little patience for this article, but especially the claim that our infrastructure is crumbling. I live in Texas, so perhaps I am missing something, but our roads are almost uniformly excellent and the ones that I notice to be in the worse shape are the heavily trafficked downtown roads that would seriously disrupt traffic flow were they to be closed down. I can tell you that when I was interviewing for teaching (high school) positions last summer, perhaps a good half were undergoing renovations and almost all the rest had been renovated or built in the last decade. Wisconsin seemed pretty well maintained as well when I was there, as did the thousand miles of highway down Illinois, across Missouri and Oklahoma, and down into Austin. Hardly a scientific survey, but contrast that to the article's first reference. Thomas Friedman (there is the first mistake) talks about the poor infrastructure on the Acela line from NY to DC. There he was, riding a straight line through high tax, unionized blue states that spend money on prestige rail projects but cannot find the funds to sustain their infrastructure and have been in almost constant decline since the 1950's. Again, anecdotes are not science, but these are the data points which inform my priors on the issue, and said priors leave me in askance whenever calls for more infrastructure spending are issued. Perhaps Brian Caplan's point in my second bullet point above plays a role.

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