Did anyone else play Mike Tyson’s Punchout? To me, the most suspenseful part of the game is when you have the other guy down, and you’re waiting to find out if he’s going to get up. Sometimes they will start to get up and then fall back down. So you’re waiting to see if they (a) start getting up and then (b) get up completely.

Lain doesn’t nap easily. The hardest part is putting her in the crib. So there is the very suspenseful moment, after I put her down, where I’m waiting to see if she starts to get up. Sometimes, she doesn’t. More often, she will start to get up and then literally collapse into dreamland. Sometimes she will get up-up, and that there will be another round…


Category: Home

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Oh, signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs
Blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

When we first started taking these trips to Shell Beach, there was a paucity of development around here that is kind of surprising in retrospect. What used to be our condo and a condo a couple miles in each direction has since become wall-to-wall condos. Hurricanes knock them down, developers put them back up two-fold.

This is not entirely inconvenient. For instance, we have a side balcony that the neighboring complex wonderfully blocks the sun for. The sun has more buildings to hide behind in the early evening, and so I get more shade-time. But mostly, it was better for us before all of this. We could walk miles in each direction in near-complete peace. Mom could watch the sunset.

What’s happened since, though, is what happens with more people and density: Rules.

The latest addition is that of the property line. Each development, more or less, has put up signs on their beach making it be known that so-and-so area of beach is for guests of Such & Such Condo Development.

And the sign says, “Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight”
So I jumped the fence and I yelled at the house
Hey, what gives you the right?
To put up a fence and keep me out or to keep mother nature in
If God was here He’d tell it to your face, man you’re some kind of sinner

20140919_174024_SI’m in solidly red country. I’m from solidly red country, though a different state. The beaches back home are protected, to some extent, by Open Beaches law. Not perfectly protected, as there is a constant stream of conflict between land owners and beach goers. But the position on the field of the debate seems to be far more generous to the latter group than here.

Which, perhaps growing up where I did, strikes me as it should be. Beaches should be open! Communism uber alles!

More seriously, we’re talking about a pretty limited resource and a place where wealth is. Public access to these things justifiable to me. Because of the reasons I can put forth? Or because it’s a communism that I am used to? (I am aware that I am using the c-term with ridiculous breadth, but I do so anyway because I enjoy the irony.

Looking up state law here, apparently “public beach” is only really defined as the wet part of the beach, with a theoretical (but apparently ignored, according to the paper I read on it) nod towards an easement.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s the case that the resorts here are going to call the police on anyone who crosses the property line. It certainly doesn’t seem to be enforced like the condo pools are enforced (and even that doesn’t require a key or anything, just a guy who keeps an eye on things) Thinking it through, I suspect it’s mostly about two or three things.

First, having the latitude to kick out people who are causing a ruckus. It’s hard to have rules like “no boom boxes” without the ability to enforce the rules, and it’s hard to have the ability to enforce the rules if you have to open the beach up to the public.

Second, monetizing! Our current resort has taken to lining up some pretty nice recliners and tents for a nice little fee. Having more control over “their” beach allows them to prevent people from setting up anything blocking the view from these nice recliners. To be fair to the condo, they actually seem to be pretty reasonable on their expectations. I’d put up a much bigger fuss if they were trying to keep all non-payers off the beach (though that might cost them condo business?), instead simply saying that your tents and towels must be behind the recliner/tents and can’t be above the not-entirely-unreasonable size of ten square feet.

The possible third is liability concern.

So with all of this, I suppose the system works, more or less. They haven’t cut off public access to the beach area, even if your ability to go left and right is hindered once you’re there. The signs are up, but security isn’t bird-dogging it.

There are also, of course, arguments in favor of private ownership and control of beaches, along the lines of how private ownership of forests is good for forests.

Even so, I find the proliferation of signs to be something of a bummer, and I hope that it doesn’t ultimately go further than it already has.


Category: Elsewhere

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Much nicer than the boxed up rooms we have at home.


Category: Elsewhere

fakemarriageThe corrosive, traumatizing effects of high school.

A lot of fracking workers think that frack-work is a-okay.

Michael Lind wants to take the Six Californias nation-wide, breaking up all of the states. I’d argue that the reason it’s unlikely that California will choose to split up sheds light on the misdiagnosis: Large states lose in the senate, but they benefit it other and important ways (House delegations, producing presidents) that add significant value.

Private schools in India are an antidote to their caste system.

Gouging in New York prison phone call pricing causes people to lose parental rights.

Kath Scanlon writes about how to bring down housing prices in London.

The BMI is an inaccurate measurement, but the best doctors have got. My understanding is that the BMI is pretty accurate in the aggregate, just not in the individual.

Thank goodness, it turns out that tablets are not going to take over computing after all. As I’ve said previously, it would say something atrocious about our society if that revolution had occurred.

China is seeking a baby boom that may not be coming. It seems that governments have much more ability to suppress fertility than to increase it.

The Organ Detective, Nancy Scheper-Hughes has made a mission out of tracking down the organ trade market.

Democrats are declaring a ceasefire on “War on Women” rhetoric.

According to Matthew Hennessey, younger Millenials may lean to the right the way that older ones lean to the left. The evidence is weak, the rationale possible, and Romney did apparently win 19 and 20 year old voters.


Category: Newsroom

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So today Scotland is expected to vote against independence, though polling is more uncertain on the sorts of elections irregularly held.

Prime Minister David Cameron and the government appears to be willing to promise the sun and the moon to get them to stay. They were, apparently, not expecting this vote to be as close as it looks like it might be.

Meanwhile, Spain is under increasing pressure to allow a vote in Catalonia. Catalons are tying themselves to the referendum. It’s no wonder that Spain, looking at what is happening to Cameron and the UK, is particularly keen not to let that happen.

As independent statehood becomes more popular, due ironically to increasing globalization, it touches on one thing that the global community hasn’t figured out: We have no generally recognized method for legitimate secession. Leaving it to constituent nations can be problematic.

Here in the United States, of course, we have particular reasons to be suspicious of it, though I think we would be hard-pressed to refuse a request on the part of Hawaii to secede. For example. And I think the international pressure on this sort of thing will increase with time, depending in big part on the reasons for the secession.

I tend to agree with Steven Taylor that the bar set for Scotland is awfully low. It’s hard to say what the appropriate bar is, though it seems to me that counting non-voters as “no” votes might be appropriate. That’s a very high bar, but secession is a very radical and complicated step.


Category: Newsroom

On the wall of his office, my father has a Mensa certificate. Which I have always found kind of odd. Not because he is smart enough to be Mensa, but because he never struck me as the kind of guy to actively seek certification for such.

I was talking to my mother, and she actually answered my curiosity. My father’s oldest sister was struggling to make her way as a woman in a time when it was not easy for women to establish themselves. One of the things she tried was getting Mensa certification.

And once she had it, Dad couldn’t not get it. That does make sense. It speaks to the particular way he is a proud person, while just going out and getting Mensa certification didn’t.


Category: Home

If you’ve never watched ABC’s TV show, Scandal, I can’t honestly recommend it too hardily. It weaves together drama and politics, so it’s right up my alley in that respect, though three seasons in it has become too exasperating to care about.

One of the great things, about it, though, is how much it helps me appreciate the political leaders we have. Obama, Romney, McCain? I would vote for any one of them over any of the candidates in Scandalverse’s last election. The guy I would have voted for, Governor Samuel Reston (D-Md), was guilty of killing a man and letting his wife go to prison for it… and yet he was still preferable to President Fitz Grant (R-CA) and Vice President Sally Langston (R/I-GA).

fitzgrantWhile my reasons for not liking Sally Langston are manifest, Grant is a bit tougher because on paper he should be the perfect Moderate Republican style candidate for me. His biggest problem, though, is that he has the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old boy. Reston might bomb Ulaanbaator because it will improve his re-election odds, Langston because Jesus speaks to her and told her to… but Fitz would bomb Ulaanbaator because he’s sad and he doesn’t want to be president anymore and he’s sad.

In a different timeline, Mark Sanford could have been president. He was the exact sort of candidate that the very conservative voters were lacking. Conservative, ambitious, well-informed, and with a modicum of the credibility Newt Gingrich lacked. Then, of course, he went hiking down the Appalachian Trail.

MarkSanfordYou don’t get to be president after something like that. But initially, my thought was along the lines of a guy who otherwise might have been okay as president who might have simply gotten caught up in something that disqualified him. And even though I never thought he should have been elected back to congress, with the damage done I did kind of wish him the best on his new marriage and his second chance at happiness.

Pretty much everything that has happened since has convinced me that he is the real life Fitz Grant, minus the moderation and good looks. While I can understand the frustrations of dealing with an angry ex-wife and custody arguments, there are certain things you don’t do even if your spouse is in the wrong (I’m not saying she is – I’m just saying that it doesn’t matter if she is).

At the very least, he seems to have some pretty significant impulse control problems, and a tendency to over-indulge his emotions. Which makes me glad that he was denied the opportunity to run for president, regardless of the Trail Hike.


Category: Elsewhere

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Robert O’Connell writes an ode to Just Shoot Me and mediocre sitcoms. Relatedly, Jason Lynch wonders why TV shows peak around Season 3.

The Google Glass is merely the latest entrance into wearable tech that began with… the pocket watch.

Old Urbanist Charlie Gardner writes about mobile homes and the role they can play in increasing density (because anti-density regulations tend to be looser for mobile homes than regular ones).

It takes a village to self-publish.

Laws against texting and driving still don’t work.

Two things I did not know: The Iroquois invented lacrosse… and are a current superpower in the sport.

It’s commonly said that Israel is going to have to play nicely with the Palestinians because of the demographic timebomb. What if that simply isn’t true?

Crime may or may not pay. Low-skill crime increasingly doesn’t.

Ray Fisman says that Sweden’s freefall in the international education testing ratings is proof that school choice is a bad idea. Andrew Coulson begs to differ. A report released by the University of Arkansas gave charter schools great points on cost-effectiveness.

Foreign countries are apparently really frustrated with the American government’s demands at access to bank accounts.

Adam Ozimek takes issue with Mark Bittman’s piece on the “true cost of hamburgers.” Negative externalities is quickly becoming one of the economic terms I am seeing used with increasing sloppiness.

Why do iPhones suddenly start feeling more slow when a new one comes out? (Curiously, it doesn’t happen with Samsung, so it’s not the most obvious answer.)

Annie Murphy Paul says that ed tech promoters are generalizing too much from how they learn. I think this is true, but is also true of the education establishment as well.

Allastair Bonnett has written a book about ghost cities and secret cities that sounds quite interesting.

Bigger cities taking on more aggressive housing expansion policies would be good for the national economy.

On the horizon… self-repairing plastic?

Maureen O’Connor writes about the ethical minefield of “ethnic plastic surgery.”

Meanwhile, in Calgary, the only local fertility clinic refused to allow multi-ethnic inseminations on the grounds of it constituted “designer babies.” Razib Khan response.

Norton A Schwartz and John K Hurley write of the juggernaut that is the American economy.

Most Americans now sufficiently ashamed of drinking soft drinks so as to claiming they try to avoid it.

How Teddy Roosevelt saved football.

Suburban homebuilders are encroaching on urban development.

Should baseball change the rules to account for defensive innovations stiffling offenses?

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry explains the appeal of Ayn Rand.


Category: Newsroom

Anna North thinks it’s time to ban middle school:

But separating middle schoolers out may actually be counterproductive. Mr. West said his research couldn’t pinpoint the exact reasons for the cliff, but the most likely explanation was that “there’s something about concentrating early adolescents in the same environment without the presence of students of different ages that creates challenges for education.” Essentially, throwing a bunch of 12- to 14-year-olds together with nobody else to mitigate their 12-to-14-ness might be a bad idea.

“It seems that there are benefits to students in early adolescence of the presence of much younger students,” he explained. “Perhaps that provides opportunities to be a leader, to be involved in mentoring relationships that are beneficial to students as they make the transition into adolescence.”

Middle schools may have some benefits for districts, Mr. West noted, like creating a diverse environment by drawing from multiple elementary schools. And until we know why middle school is bad for kids’ achievement, we can’t necessarily be sure getting rid of it will fix the problem. But, said Mr. West, “our research and that of others makes a strong case that districts should seriously consider alternatives to stand-alone middle schools.”

The logic makes sense to me. To me, one of the nuts I have yet to crack is a need for school, combined with the dangers of social norms being developed by youngers in large part due to their interactions with other youngsters. Having those awkward 12-14 year olds all together could exacerbate it.

Middle school is as close to hell as some people will ever see. This is known.

One of the big surprises, when I was doing the substitute teaching thing, was how much I liked middle school. It was probably my favorite assignment. If you’d have told me that before I started, I would have laughed.

The grade school kids are fun, no doubt, and it’s always an adventure. The high schoolers are more developed, and you can communicate with them in more of an adult fashion. But it’s a bit hard to connect with grade schoolers, and by the time they get to high school, the light in their eyes has dimmed. Grade schoolers have an enthusiasm for school and often for learning. By the time they get to high school, they’re in the holding tank. Middle school is that happy middle ground between the two. Happy for me, though probably as unhappy for them as it was for me when I was their age.

I don’t have strong opinions on whether or not middle school is something that should be done away with. My experience is that middle school was a very different environment from grade school because of the whole “switching classes” thing and the measure of independence that came with it. Independence which I consider to be a good thing.

My own middle school was grades 6-8. In arapaho, it was 7 and 8. I know in some places it is 7-9. Sixth graders were, in my view, too old to be in grade school, and too old to have the structure that goes with it. I actually think the same is true of fifth graders. If you were to collapse K-8, I’d prefer to see it done in a way that mitigates that. The problem is that having a bunch of students wandering the halls in between classes requires a degree of segregation that I am not sure doesn’t negate the alleged benefits presented for doing away with middle schools.

On the other hand, the data says what it says, and maybe delaying the autonomy is outweighed by other benefits?


Category: School

Today was spent mostly in transit, as we take our annual family trip to the beach.

Lain has officially kissed a boy, for the first time. I didn’t see it because Clancy and I had split up duties and I had parked the car and was walking to the gate. But evidently she made a friend. Lain has learned to kiss I guess by watching Clancy and I, and had taken to trying to kiss us. Well, she kissed the boy, who was a little under a year old.

The other thing, which is slightly less interesting but was more fun for her, was that she got to sit in the deck of a fighter plane (of sorts). They had one at the airport of our final destination. She seemed to enjoy pulling on the nobs and levers. My primary observation – independent of her enjoyment – is that it’s a good thing I never had designs on being a naval or air force pilot, because I would never fit in one of those things.

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I was operating on less than five hours of sleep, and felt it every bit of the day.

I find that I have completely lost the ability to sleep on planes, no matter how tired I am. If I couldn’t do it today, where I was so sleepy I was almost in pain, I simply can’t do it.

Lain didn’t sleep on either leg of the flight plan. She did nap a bit on the drive from the airport, but that was about it. She’s really excited to see her grandma and grandpa.

Taking a vacation in the middle of a move is both great and terrible. It’s great because you need the break. It’s terrible because trips involve packing, and packing is best done when you know where everything is.

Because we got here so late, we didn’t get a chance to go out on the beach. Which is just as well, because last week a couple of friends shared the following two images:

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Those would be stingrays. Stingrays are a thing where we are. I’ve never seen them in that number, but at least in that number you know to stay the heck away. But now I’ve got stingrays on my mind.


Category: Road

Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


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