URLs du Jour


  • Indispensible Geraghty notes in yesterday's Morning Jolt that Impeachment Is a Drag. Everyone is bored. And I thought this to be an insightful observation:

    Chad Pergram, a Fox News reporter on Capitol Hill, reported, “a member of Pelosi’s leadership team today told Fox that the backlog of bills up this month in the House ‘works against’ a December impeachment vote. And the Democrat noted that impeachment ‘doesn’t fit the holiday spirit.’ That means impeachment could wait until 2020.”

    First, if Trump is this law-breaking menace to the Constitution, who is such a clear and proven threat to American values and the processes of our government that this cannot be left to voters . . . why is he getting a reprieve for Christmas?

    The House pushed back its holiday vacation from December 12 to December 20. Right now, it isn’t scheduled to reconvene until January 7, 2020.

    Why, it's almost as if Democrats don't believe their own rhetoric.

  • A glum story in the New York Times: ‘It Just Isn’t Working’: PISA Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Education Efforts.

    The performance of American teenagers in reading and math has been stagnant since 2000, according to the latest results of a rigorous international exam, despite a decades-long effort to raise standards and help students compete with peers across the globe.

    And the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening. Although the top quarter of American students have improved their performance on the exam since 2012, the bottom 10th percentile lost ground, according to an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics, a federal agency.

    Almost needless to say: this, after "No Child Left Behind", "Race to the Top", "Common Core", "Every Student Succeeds" and the accompanying billions of taxpayer dollars.

    All pretty much a waste.

  • Rational Optimist Matt Ridley lays out The plot against fracking. It's not just greenies, who don't like anything that once might have been a dinosaur fart. It's…

    The Russians also lobbied behind the scenes against shale gas, worried about losing their grip on the world’s gas supplies. Unlike most conspiracy theories about Russian meddling in Western politics, this one is out there in plain sight. The head of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the Russians, as part of a sophisticated disinformation operation, “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations — environmental organisations working against shale gas — to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas”.

    The Centre for European Studies found that the Russian government has invested $95 million in NGOs campaigning against shale gas. Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”. The US Director of National Intelligence stated that “RT runs anti-fracking programming … reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.” Pro-Russian politicians such as Lord Truscott (married to a Russian army colonel’s daughter) made speeches in parliament against fracking.

    How much fracking opposition in the US is funded behind the scenes by Putin?

  • The Bulwark takes a break from its relentless anti-Trumpism, and looks at a popular Democrat freestuff campaign pledge: "Free College" Isn’t About Free College.

    College is, as a sector, broken. This isn’t an opinion. It’s just a fact.

    If you bought a car in 1985, you probably paid about $27,000 (that is, in 2016 dollars). If you bought a new car in 2016, you probably paid about $27,000 (also in 2016 dollars). In the intervening 30 years, the real price of cars moved around a bit, increasing and decreasing. And the average price for light trucks mostly increased. But not by all that much, relatively. [Graphic elided]

    And over that period, the cars got a lot better. Cars in 2016 are more fuel-efficient, more reliable, less expensive to own in total cost, and much, much safer.

    Now let’s do college. If you went to a public college in 1985, you paid about $8,000 a year (again, we’re using 2016 dollars). If you went to a public college in 2016, you paid about $17,000 a year. That’s a real-dollar increase of more than 100 percent.

    And was your college degree “better” in 2016? Probably not. For one thing, it became more common. For another, over that period there was a proliferation of soft majors resulting in degrees that don’t really help you in the job market. I mean, have you been in a college classroom recently?

    Both my kids recently volunteered, unprompted, that they found college to be much easier than high school.

    I didn't say anything, but if I had it would have been something like: "That's because you went to a challenging high school, and chose a unchallenging university/major."

    It's OK, they turned out fine. But…

  • Good old Wired battles those politically incorrect algorithms: Senators Protest a Health Algorithm Biased Against Black People.

    In October, a bombshell academic study questioned whether widely used software could cause racial bias in US health care. It found that an algorithm some providers use to prioritize access to extra help with conditions such as diabetes systematically favors white patients’ needs over those of black patients. Democratic presidential candidate and senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Senate colleague Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) are now demanding answers.

    I'm not saying it's true in this case, but I wonder if describing an algorithm as "biased" is shorthand for "gave results that didn't comport with our ideology."

    No problem. If you don't like what your algorithm does, it's easy to change (as Google demonstrates). So what if people die as a result?