The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Oddity

At the North Country Gazette (the online journal trying to make its very own copyright law), one of the headlines is "Lieberman Widening Lead Over Schiavo's Candidate". [No link; the site does not seem to support them.] The article mentions Schiavo nowhere else. I don't understand this bizarre headline at all.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mi Casa Es Su Casa (VI)

Actions speak.

Early adopters:
Dale Franks
Neolibertarian Network
Frank Cagle
Ilya Somin chimes in

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bedfellows (test case: Glenn Reynolds)

I'm toying with an algorithm to get a flavor of what inputs bloggers are using. Follow each link they provide to a blog post, then go to the previous post (thus testing not what they are linking, which you can see by reading the blog, but who they are reading). Take the longest sentence (excluding quotations) from that previous post. Concatenate a decent sample, say, ten of these.

My first test case, naturally, was "Instapundit" Glenn Reynolds. The result:

Beijing has information on a budding reform movement, one that would replace the personality cult of the "royal family" with an authoritarian but rational government based on post-Communist states in Eastern Europe, especially Romania. But donation rates are far less dismal at the U.S. military base in Landstuhl--and as Americans die on the base from injuries inflicted in Iraq, their organs are ending up in German bodies. But, in reality, today, as his poll numbers keep going south and the country is plunged into the continued politics of polarization, the younger George Bush more accurately parallels Richard Nixon than either Ronald Reagan or his father. Check out my podcast interview with David Zucker and Myrna Sokoloff about their infamous suppressed political ad featuring Kim Jong Il and Madeleine Albright. It is bitterly ironic that instead of building on that momentum by continuing to make his case against Lieberman, Lamont has let himself become enmeshed in the same consultant-driven culture of caution and blandness that has produced a steady stream of modern candidates more worried about stepping on the land mines laid out by their opponents' campaign teams than stepping forward to lead. Most of the time where military action was unquestionably justified, China abstained from a UN vote, or when there is some anti-U.S. support brewing in the UNSC against military action, China joined the crowd. Payne offered no explanation as to why the group didn't apply that standard to Nifong--who, after all, indicated he was "very pleased" to have a citizens' committee co-chair who opposed health care for partners or gays and lesbians on the grounds that all gay and lesbian people get diseases and die young; or opposed adding gays and lesbians to a statewide anti-discrimination statute on the grounds that all gay and lesbian people are cross-dressers. I had a wonderful time yesterday with Mary Katharine Ham, Michelle Malkin, and Kirsten Powers, a pro-life Democrat, Christian, and one of the nicest pundits I’ve ever met. Take a wild guess whom I'm betting on. As the Nuke the Moon™ essay becomes more relevant than ever (does America want to be laughed at or feared like gods?), the Nuke the Moon™ t-shirt has come back into print (its third printing).

This seems oddly, well, balanced.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Minority Views

Conservative principles to disagree with, at Chequer-Board.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Table Scraps

Related to my recent post on Sign Error, I have added further thoughts in a separate post at Chequer-Board.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Pejman Yousefzadeh and I are having some disagreement as to the degree, if any, to which big government is a natural ally, rather than a hindrance to big business. The opening sallies are here, attached to Mr. Yousefzadeh's comments on Markos Moulitsas's unlikely new incarnation as a libertarian. Responding to my criticisms, Mr. Yousefzadeh says:
... sadly, big government is never an ally of business -- big or small. No business favors or welcomes the massive amounts of regulation that is brought about thanks to the interventionism of big government.

Well, Timothy Carney would disagree. [Also here.] So would Daniel Gross, writing of old-line companies dumping their underfunded pension obligations onto the government. So would Robert Caro, who described in The Power Broker how Robert Moses enlisted the support of New York's main banks and construction firms for his political aims by overpaying them.

Let me also give an example from my own experience, dealing with the second-worst legislation of the young millenium: Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. These cost my employer a few tens of millions of dollars yearly in direct costs, and perhaps five times that in lost productivity and time wasted in ass-covering. To me, as an employee, they are an unmitigated negative. But my employer is a very large investment bank, and can afford the SOX regulatory costs (especially in the current environment) much better than its smaller competitors might be able to. This helps to preserve the oligopoly power of the top-tier firms; limited competition leads directly to higher profits.

All this illustrates a structural principle: governments do not generally innovate, and they do not change the basket of goods they consume in response to innovation by others. Money raised in taxes and spent on public works is, to a certainty, being transferred to established outlets and paid, in the end, to established companies -- without the need for those companies to innovate.

Sign Error

Megan McArdle says, aside in a long post on the progress of Marxism,
And richer societies can afford to do more. One of the (to me) more compelling arguments in favour of new welfare programmes is that we are so rich, as a society, that we can afford to waste relatively large sums on government incompetence and deadweight loss in order to produce even small improvements in the lives of the truly unfortunate. And if the number of needy shrinks, we can do more for the ones who remain.
This would be accurate if programs to help the needy did, in fact, shrink the number of needy. But with any program we currently know how to design, this is not likely to be the case:
The more dysfunctional a family unit (usually a single, unwed mother and her various children) the more caregiving it is qualified to receive. On top of that the dominant theory in "social services" is the preservation of this family unit guaranteeing that the children are exposed to the dysfunctional values of the mother. [...] The sons thus frequently grow up as petty criminals when young and violent criminals when older. The daughters find themselves pregnant long before completing school and the entire process starts over again having replicated itself with the help of "benevolent" handouts.
Theodore Dalrymple has written most compellingly on this; start here.

[Update 9 August: see also Table Scraps.]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Best Comments Section

Stephen Bainbridge posts on the media's somewhat skewed follow-up of the HP leak investigation, and who should show up in comments but [apparently] George Keyworth's attorney.

I love the internet.