URLs du Jour


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  • Chris Edwards introduces an interesting new study at Cato: Which States Provide High Quality Schools at Low Cost?

    If you pay state and local taxes or have kids in public schools, you will want to check out this recent Cato study on education spending and education results. Looking across the states, the study by Stan Liebowitz and Matthew Kelly found no significant relationship between per-pupil spending and student performance when you adjust for state cost of living.

    Spoiler: when you correct for cost of living and demographics, New Hampshire does, at best, a mediocre job of educating its students. We can console ourselves (somewhat) by looking across the Salmon Falls River. The Cato authors have a much different result than was obtained by the rose-spectacled U.S. News:

    There are substantial differences between our quality rankings and the U.S. News rankings. For example, Maine drops from 6th in the U.S. News ranking to 49th in the quality ranking. Florida, which ranks 40th in U.S. News’, jumps to 3rd in our quality ranking

    Maine apparently does very well in the nonlearning components of U.S. News’ rankings; its aggregated NAEP scores would put it in 24th place, 18 positions lower than its U.S. News rank. But the aggregated NAEP scores overstate what its students have learned; Maine’s quality ranking is a full 25 positions below that. On the 10 achievement tests reported for Maine, its rankings on those tests are 46th, 45th, 48th, 37th, 41st, 40th, 34th, 40th, 41st, and 23rd. It is astounding that U.S. News could rank Maine as high as 6th, given the deficient performance of both its black and white students (the only two groups reported for Maine) relative to black and white students in other states. But since Maine’s student population is about 90 percent white, the aggregated scores bias the results upward.

    In comparison, U.S. News unfairly slagged Florida, which does a pretty good job by Cato's lights.

  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson writes [NRPlus, sorry] on the complacency of American tech companies toward totalitarian regimes. The latest example: Repressive Cosmopolitanism.

    Netflix is at the moment being criticized for suppressing an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, which was critical of Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman. The decision came after complaints from the Saudi government, a monarchy that proposes to continue taking itself seriously. Netflix took the usual corporate weasel route, issuing a statement reading: “We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law.” The statement is false on its face: A company that “strongly supports artistic freedom” would have done something in defense of that freedom.

    I think the episode has just been taken down in Saudi Arabia, still visible in these parts. Still, I wish Netflix were a little more aggressive in standing up for the rights of willing customers to watch content critical of their polities.

  • A belated LFOD item from Christian Britschgi at Reason: America's Insane Patchwork of Fireworks Regulations Can Crimp Your New Year's Eve Celebrations.

    Millions of Americas will say goodbye to 2018 by setting off a few dozen of their favorite fireworks. What kind of fireworks they'll be able to use, how old they had to be to buy them, and whether they had to smuggle them across state lines are all highly contingent on where they live.

    Take age limits, which vary widely across the country. In "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire, you must be 21 before buying fireworks, while South Carolina law considers 16-year-olds capable of both buying and selling these mini-explosives.

    Interesting: NH is an island of prohibition for "recreational" marijuana in New England, but is fine with letting you buy stuff that will blow your fingers off. Massachusetts, on the other hand, is fine with pot, but bans fireworks for even adults.

    Does that make any sense? No.

  • Commie Radio has the story: City of Keene in Dispute with Local Restaurant Owner Over 'Pho Keene Great' Name. Explaining the joke:

    The City of Keene is asking a Vietnamese restaurant slated to open this spring to change its name.

    The restaurant has a lease with the city to operate out of the same building as City Hall.

    But its proposed name, Pho Keene Great, has prompted complaints, said City Manager Elizabeth Dragon.

    Pho, pronounced “fuh,” is a kind of Vietnamese soup. “Pho Keene” is intended to sound like a profanity, Dragon said.

    Maybe someone with a name like "Dragon" shouldn't point fingers at other peoples' choice of names.

    Where's "Free Keene" when you need them? Oh, never mind! They are all over the story, good for them.

    [Amazon Link]

    Longtime readers of Free Keene will remember Isabelle Rose who made headlines when her Vietnamese food truck began accepting cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. For more than a year, Rose has been working hard on transitioning from food truck to full-service restaurant in downtown Keene! Unfortunately, the people calling themselves the “City of Keene” have decided to make Rose’s life much more difficult.

    On Christmas Eve, Rose received a call from the new city manager, Elizabeth Dragon, who in a bid to apparently look more ridiculous than her predecessors, demanded Rose take down the recently-placed sign in the windows of her new location announcing her restaurant was coming soon… right next to city hall.

    They have t-shirts too. Amazon link at right, and if you buy one I'm sure some of the money will wind up with Isabelle Rose..

  • We're still clearing the hopper of New Year items. Like Veronique de Rugy's latest column: Here's to Making 2019 a Year for D.C. to Remember. Number one on her wish list is fixing fiscal insanity:

    I want to believe that many Republicans and Democrats are aware of our fiscal condition and that, deep down, they know that they must start to legislate responsibly. It would be amazing if they could, for a change, speak up and take the first steps toward finding a solution. Sadly, the incentives of politics are so biased toward fiscal irresponsibility and big government that meaningful reform will be difficult, borderline miraculous. However, I still have a little of that Christmas spirit left in me, so I'll allow myself to dream for the span of one column.

    Hey, I have a new Congresscritter, Chris Pappas. Maybe I'll work up the gumption to ask him what he's going to do about fiscal irresponsibility.