URLs du Jour

2018-04-20

[Amazon Link]

  • Hey, kids! How do you feel about collective guilt? Proverbs 14:34 provides it:

    34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
        but sin condemns any people.

    That's easy to make fun of, but there's a kernel of truth there. Specifically (since I am at least a part-time libertarian), let's see what James Madison had to say:

    To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.

    On my more pessimistic days, I think that the US is severely testing that assertion.


  • A new issue of American Consequences is out, with quite a few P. J. O'Rourke articles. I liked his take on Greed and Fear.

    Markets are ruled by greed and fear. Or so they say.

    For example, Warren Buffett famously declared, “Two super-contagious diseases, fear and greed, will forever occur in the investment community… We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”

    Which is just a wordier version of the old stock trader maxim: “Buy on fear, sell on greed.”

    And since Pun Salad has long been interested in risk, I enjoyed the bottom line, as expressed by P. J.'s friend Jay Caauwe after they attend a heavily technical session on "Risk Management":

    The quants talked about portfolio performance alphas, volatility betas, standard deviation sigmas, and all the risk sensitivities and hedge parameters expressed in Greek letters – delta, vega, theta, rho, lambda, epsilon… I felt like I was in some awful fraternity initiation shotgunning coffee instead of beer.

    I said to Jay, “I can’t understand a single word they’re saying about measuring risk.”

    Jay just smiled.

    “P.J.,” he said, “if you could measure risk, it wouldn’t be risk.”

    Wise words there.


  • Why, it's almost as if our government's actions to stem opioid abuse are wrong-headed! Because, as Jacob Sullum notes at Reason: As Opioid Prescriptions Fall, Opioid Deaths Rise

    The decline in opioid prescriptions that began in 2011 accelerated last year, according to the latest data. Meanwhile, opioid-related deaths continue to rise. The opposing trends show the folly of tackling the "opioid crisis" by restricting access to pain medication.

    Fearless prediction: the people who assured us that restricting opioid prescriptions would save lives will not accept any responsibility, nor incur any penalty, for their role in increasing pain and death.


  • I know you've been wondering: should conservatives try to punish radical professors for offensive speech? At NR, David French has the answer for you: No, Conservatives Shouldn’t Try to Punish Radical Professors for Offensive Speech. The recent test case is Fresno State's Randa Jarrar, who tweeted out attention-seeking vileness on the occasion of Barbara Bush's death. (Warning: picture of Prof Jarrar at the link.)

    But culture drives law, and law drives culture. Every time that we refuse to tolerate offensive expression, we incentivize the culture of crocodile tears. We motivate government officials to expand state power over speech until the silencing exceptions swallow the free-speech rule. California’s recent efforts to compel crisis-pregnancy centers to advertise for free or low-cost abortions represents what happens when the people, to borrow my friend Greg Lukianoff’s excellent phrase, “unlearn liberty.” Periodic conservative efforts to expel radical professors from the academy demonstrate the pernicious effects of a “fight fire with fire” mentality. In both cases, a culture of coercion triumphs and liberty loses.

    French's solution: deny the lefty trolls the attention they crave. The worst punishment of all.


  • Philip Greenspun has a semi-contrarian view on the recent airline accident: Southwest 1380: think about the flight attendants.

    If you’re looking for heroes, though, think about the flight attendants. They’re in the back of the plane with 140+ screaming passengers. There is a hole in the airplane. At least one person has suffered injuries that will prove to be fatal. Others are injured as well. They have received no training for this scenario. (Most flight attendant training, as I understand it, is directed at evacuations once the aircraft has landed.)

    Not to take anything away from pilot Tammie Jo Shults, but she'd be the first to tell you that a single-engine failure is something pilots are extensively trained to handle via simulator, without drama.


  • And the Babylon Bee reports news from the other side of the state: Libertarian Careens Car Through Back Yards, Open Fields, Off Cliff To Avoid Using Government Roads

    LEBANON, NH—In a calculated move intended to demonstrate the power of the free market, libertarian man Patrick Wallace drove his SUV through dozens of other peoples’ back yards, across several open fields, over a stretch of rocky terrain, and even off a cliff into a small ravine in order to avoid using any government-funded roads, sources confirmed Thursday.

    According to witnesses, the man got into his vehicle to head to work, started it up, and immediately barreled across his lawn, down his neighbor’s side yard, through a row of back yards, and right into an adjacent wood, all while carefully preventing his tires from ever touching any road built by tax dollars.

    Heh! I'm pretty sure, though, that a True Scotsman Libertarian would have more respect for private property rights than that demonstrated by Mr. Wallace.