Saturday, January 7, 2017


Before liberalism, almost all governments were thieves.  The news to my gentle social-democratic friends is that most of them still are.--McCloskey

In 1928 Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, regarded by most as the first lesbian novel, was judged by the British courts to be obscene. Johnathan Cape had published the book at the end of July. Three weeks later, the editor of the Sunday Express wrote that he "would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel" of "unutterable putrefaction" and "contagion." This, of course, caused a rush of sales. 
Without being asked, or telling Radclyffe Hall, her nervous publisher sent the book to the Home Office for examination; the authorities then began a series of raids and seizures, resulting in a call to trial. Hall responded by renewing her vows to smash "the conspiracy of silence" on the lesbian issue, and to defeat censorship "on behalf of English literature."
She had a terrible time of it, not because of the subject matter but because the artistic community hated the quality of the writing. Even Sackville-West demurred. So no one defended it in court. (The best refusal came from Shaw who said he was too immoral to be a witness. He did initiate an attempt to refine the definition of obscenity.)

A group of Chinese scientists injected a human being with cells genetically edited using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This is the first time CRISPR has been used on a fully formed adult human and it’s encouraged a biomedical battle between China and the United States. The scientists from China are hoping the genetically edited cells will help their patient fend off a virulent type of lung cancer in hopes it might work on other cancer patients who have not responded to chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments.
This is really dangerous stuff.

There is an article written by Peter Boettke that notes the election was misjudged by experts. What if experts are wrong in areas we think them experts in? Ever since the Wilsonian period, the progressive agenda has come with trained experts who by design are immune from direct democratic pressures.  This is most evident in the Independent Regulatory Agencies -- CPSC, EPA, FTC, FAA, FCC, FERC, Fed Reserve System, FDA, ICC, NLRB, NRC, OSHA, SEC -- but it is an embedded attitude in our universities, our legal system, our politics, our media.  Experts are expected to lead the way based on their expertise in the policy sciences.

The structure of the American government was an  analytical move to build institutions that would ensure that "bad men would do least harm".  This means  "good men" will not be granted the power to pursue actions unchecked even if that good man was about to do the objectively "right thing". So we might be deprived of "the good man's" "good acts." But that trade-off was understood by Madison when he wrote that if men were angels there would be no need for government, and if government were to be run by angels there would be no need for restraints, but precisely because men are going to rule over other men, we must first empower, and then constrain that power.
These institutions--and our faith in experts--run counter to this basic principle.

In 1851, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick was published. The British edition, entitled The Whale, had appeared the previous month but, through a number of mistakes, it had a rearranged and incomplete ending. The critics looked upon the botched ending as the last straw in a book already too unusual and obscure. The upshot was that Melville's masterpiece, the book he was counting on to rescue his reputation and his finances, was so belittled and slandered in the crucial first weeks following publication in America that it never had a chance. The American critics accepted the European reviews and the book--and Melville--never recovered.

Who is....James Clapper?

In 1777, after 16 months of debate, the Continental Congress, sitting in its temporary capital of York, Pennsylvania, agreed to adopt the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Not until March 1, 1781, would the last of the 13 states, Maryland, ratify the agreement. This was a loose federation, really too loose to govern, and  in the following decade would be peacefully replaced--the government was peacefully replaced--by the Constitution.

An interesting take on the election: "But those of you who are shaking in your Birkenstocks over the election of Donald Trump should consider the possibility that if the office of the presidency is that important to you, then perhaps the most intelligent course of action is not to pin your hopes on controlling it always and forever (something unlikely to happen under truly democratic processes) but to work toward making it less important – to you, and to everybody else, too."--Williamson

The spinning jenny, the use of coke in iron smelting, and the steam engine did not need Newton’s calculus, Harvey’s theory of the circulation of the blood, the heliocentric approach to astronomy or other scientific advances of the day. Deirdre McCloskey’s great “Bourgeois Equality” (2016) suggests it was ultimately liberty that made England’s leap forward so unique. --Vedder's review of Mokyr.

Obamacare has some peculiar aspects. Two key provisions of health-insurance regulation essentially destroy health insurance as health insurance: the combination of guarantee issue and community rating. Guarantee issue demands coverage be provided regardless of risk, community rating demands that people be charged the same regardless of risk. Either one, taken separately, allow insurance to exist, but combined makes insurance impossible. It just isn't what insurance is.

Three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens, according to Greg Phillips of the organization. I have no idea who he is or who his group is. But his statement is reported and now part of the culture.

Lindsey Vonn crashed and broke her arm. She tweeted this: " least my knees are ok and I will return to the slopes as soon as possible." Secretary of Defense.

In an interview with the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ which aired in Britain recently, Edward Snowden spoke in detail about the spying capabilities of the UK intelligence agency GCHQ. He disclosed that government spies can legally hack into any citizen’s phone to listen in to what’s happening in the room, view files, messages and photos, pinpoint exactly where a person is (to a much more sophisticated level than a normal GPS system), and monitor a person’s every move and every conversation, even when the phone is turned offThese technologies are named after Smurfs. Cute.

Pleonasm: noun:1. the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; redundancy. 2. an instance of this, as free gift or true fact. usage:    

As the standard of mentality has risen, just so has the dictum of man gone forth that he must and will do his own thinking. He no longer wishes to have the thought iterated and reiterated and hammered in upon him again and again. Pleonasm is repellent to him.
-- Jack London, "Phenomena of Literary Evolution," The Bookman, Volume XII, September 1900–February 1901

Golden oldie:
Employment rates for the over 55 year old cohort are rising. Rising. As the older generation continues to find they can not afford to retire...

In competitive market economies the only people who profit are those who serve other people well. In international markets that is also true. So inhibiting free trade will serve the customer less well. Wealth and growth are not aided by making products and services less abundant. Yet the anti-free trade movement was supported by both major candidates this year.

Bill and Hillary had a vicious fight over her blaming FBI Director Comey for reopening the investigation into her emails for her slump in the polls, reveals a source close to the ex-president. Bill faulted Robby Mook, John Podesta and Hillary herself as he claimed they were  tone-deaf about the feeble economy and its impact on millions and millions of working-class voters. (my main news source, the Daily Mail)

“Do you think he would have married me if I wasn’t beautiful?" Melania's Quora-quoted answer to Barbara Walter's question, "Would you have married Mr. Trump if he were not wealthy?"

Leon Wieseltier is the Isaiah Berlin senior fellow in culture and policy at the Brookings Institution. In June he wrote an article in the WashPo trying to understand the attitude of the American voter as he approached the election. He thought he had insight after watching "The Deer Hunter," seeing an isolated, involuting and declining white community. (He saw the emergence of personal suffering over reason.) But the movie was not about that. The middle class suffered at the hands of its own leadership mindlessly, (in that particular instance by the Vietnam War--a shameful event where the government victimized the American citizen and his family-- ) and every single social structure failed them. They were on their own.
Wieseltier's point is that damaged people and communities hit back when they are hurt, collapse on themselves and turn against everyone who is not them. Perhaps that is true, but that did not happen in either the movie or this election. Racism, bigotry and xenophobia might have been a factor in this election but I doubt it was a large one. The middle class saw a government that made less and less sense to them, spoke of them only with hostility, had vital concerns they never dreamed of, had spokesmen who thought Beverly Hills was Olympus, and demeaned them whenever they said they did not get it--all this when they had some serious problems of their own to address. I doubt Trump is an answer, but these people do not seem to even know the questions. One starting place might be to give the backbone of the nation a little respect.
Obama made a plea for the end of divisiveness, just as if the DNC were not paying agitators to fight at the Trump rallies.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will introduce legislation when the Senate comes into session that would eliminate the Electoral College. The Electoral College is sort of an un-agreed upon test of whether or not you understand the country's founding principles.

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is resigning. Clapper condemned Snowden for damaging the US ability to collect intelligence and for giving away US secrets to enemies.
"What Snowden has stolen and exposed has gone way, way beyond his professed concerns with so-called domestic surveillance programs," Clapper said to a hearing in January 2014.
"As a result, we've lost critical foreign intelligence collection sources, including some shared with us by valued partners."
But he also said separately that the revelations sparked a debate over balancing government spying powers and privacy rights that "actually probably needed to happen."

AAAAaaaaaaannnnnndddddd.....a chart:

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