Not a while lot to report this week.

The water went out briefly Wednesday, and until further notice we’re on a boil advisory. As it happens, our water went several months ago and I purchased some jugs of water, that have been sitting in the basement ever since. And now we get to use them!

Lain woke up barfy on Thursday. Not barfy-barfy, but spitting up green liquid. I think she was more confused than anything.

College Football started! The first two games I saw were North Carolina versus South Carolina, and Central Florida versus Florida International. Both UNC and USC were wearing their colored jerseys. UCF was wearing gold and FIU was wearing white. As I’ve previously mentioned, I think, UCF’s gold jerseys should never be the colored jerseys because they’re so light as to be indistinguishable from white. For those who care, FIU pulled off an upset and South Carolina beat North.

Clancy wonderfully gave me some time off on Thursday. I went to the coffee shop and hung out for a couple of hours. It’s… awfully hot… to be outside for as long as I was. Also, I was next to some train tracks that seemed to be very busy and loud. Even so, it was really nice to get away. It was honestly really weird to be driving anywhere without Lain in the back seat.

Category: Home

The ecigarette movement would actually do better actually without evangelists dressed like Jesus actually.

The ecigarette movement would actually do better without evangelists dressed like Jesus actually.

Sweden’s tumble in the international education rankings has been blamed on school choice, but could at least some of it be immigration?

Nima Sanandaji argues that Scandinavia’s success as a social democracy is exaggerated, and it’s success was despite rather than because of its welfare state.

As oil prices tumble, drillers are finding ways to cut costs. The refrain, though, never changes.

From a consumer standpoint, I’m glad that they’re making breakthroughs in storage space… but memory is the bigger hold-up lately and given the industry trends towards streaming that’s likely to remain the case. On the other hand, presumably cheaper storage will allow for better cloud usage and the like, maybe?

Julia Belluz looks at the evidence we do and do not have surrounding ecigarettes, and the different approaches between the US and UK.

The “Gig Economy” thing may be more myth than fact, as there has been no increase in self-employment among Millenials.

Will Boisvert makes the case for California keeping its last nuclear plant.

Oh thank god.

The high cost of cheap pork.

One of the arguments that confounds me is “Who cares if the threshold of proof is low and the standards of evidence are stacked against you when the only consequence you face is getting kicked out of a college?” The logical next step, though, is that it not be just one college.

Amy Tuteur argues that obstetricians may have gone too far in trying to prevent elective early deliveries.

How can those left behind rebound?

Maybe the solution for Puerto Rico is to ditch the US and rejoin Spain.

Category: Newsroom

I have been meaning to post about this since the trip to Alaska, but it slipped my mind.

I didn’t have very many preferences when it came to the wedding. It was mostly as Clancy wanted it because when she wants her wants more than I want my wants, she gets her wants. She wanted to have it in Genesis, preferred that it be done by a judge. Fortunately, the things I did want were things she wanted just about as much. I wanted a crawfish boil involved, as did she. We both wanted Ben Folds’ The Luckiest played, and so it was.

One of the things I did want, though, involved the readings during the service. Specifically, I did not want the Corinthians passage played at every wedding ever (“Love is gentle, love is kind…”). Also, I wanted Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 read. They go as follows:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Sounds simple, right? Except that I got my desire on neither of these things. The judge we hired had two “services” to choose from, both of which included Corinthians. The only difference is that one had part of the verse and one had the whole verse. The decision on which one to go with was made entirely to minimize the amount of Corinthian in said service. As for Ecclesiastes, that was held up by something else.

Originally, Clancy’s two sisters were going to be her maids of honor. A friend from high school and a friend from college were going to do the reading. That became a problem with Ellie, Clancy’s middle sister and the one who was married in Alaska, announced shortly before the wedding that she was going to be getting a divorce. That was not wholly unexpected, but unfortunate nonetheless because everybody liked the guy. I didn’t realize that it would end up a problem for Ecclesiastes.

The first effect was that Ellie announced that she no longer wanted to be a maid of honor because, since she was going through a divorce, it made her feel hypocritical to be front and center in somebody else’s wedding. Ooookay, I though. No biggie. The next one, though, was that she would be glad to read. There was, however, one rule: Nothing from the Bible. At all. Now the other reader, Clancy’s friend from high school, already had something picked out that specifically meant something to her and Clancy as a part of their friendship. So that wasn’t going to budge. We couldn’t pick another reader entirely because family.

And so… no Ecclesiastes.

I have oddly had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about it ever since. Nothing that prevented me from forming an absolutely great relationship with my sister-in-law. But… dangit, I just wanted one thing and her stubbornness at a couple of points prevented that from happening.

I did more or less get over it, which lead to my laughter in Alaska.

Lain hides in the wedding gown.

Lain hides in the wedding gown.

I had to leave the hall to take care of Lain, who was a getting fussy. I mean, I was kind of giddy that she was able to string together the sentence “Want to go home” but… oh well. So I took her outside. So I was only barely able to hear Clancy’s mother, reading, at Ellie’s wedding…

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—
a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Category: Church

In a conversation about Jared Fogle, Sheila Tone said something to the effect that maybe[1] only perverts take a personal interest in children that are not theirs. The rules would presumably be different for professionals and non-nuclear family members (special uncles, aunts, etc). It got me thinking because to me there is nothing odd or unusual about adults taking an interest in kids. Even a personal one. It’s not for certain where an interest becomes an inordinate interests, though obviously there is such a line.

I had three people I would call “auxiliary mothers.” One, my adopted brother’s mother, could be included in family perhaps. The other two fell into a category that may be atypical or might be my own manifestations of something that is typical. Both involve the BBS.

In one case, it was a mother who held an overnight party of BBSers where she mostly stayed out of the way noticed that I was upset and asked me about it. We became close after that in a completely non-creepy way. I would almost chalk it up to “I was involved with her daughter” but that didn’t really happen until later. But I regularly made trips out to her house just to spend time and hang out and I’d even spend the night there as it was way on the other side of town. She was somebody on the outside that I could talk to things that I couldn’t talk about my parents to. Clancy has an uncle (technically a cousin-once-removed, but an honorary uncle) with whom that is the case, though I suspect she was not as open with the uncle, but the dynamics were there. Anyway, this woman would later meet my wife and attend my wedding even though we had drifted apart by then. I still think of her very fondly, though I haven’t talked to her in some time.

One that I think of less fondly, Cyclone, did have aspects that might be considered inappropriate. Once again, it was someone who had kids my age though I was not very close to either of them. Her primary insertion into my life was that she was heavily involved in the BBS. In retrospect, her involvement was kind of weird. Specifically, there were a lot of things going on that would put most adults and most parents on-edge. Perhaps it was less surprising because she was surrounded by young people all day in her job as a science teacher.

Be that as it may, the BBS environment included a lot of things that were scandalous in some ways that shouldn’t have been but in other ways were rather illegal. Specifically, statutory rape laws were publicly and brazenly disregarded. Not Romeo & Juliet Law Exempt stuff, either. If you ever want to know why my freak-out reflex on large age differences tends to be relatively dormant, that’s why. Young adults had sex with high schoolers and no attempts were made to hide it. It was considered as close to normal as any of us could be. Which wasn’t very, because we were mostly freaks and outcasts. But while state law said that sex was wrong if one of the participants was under 17 and there was a larger than three year age difference, our norms were that age difference alone didn’t raise any alarm bells until we were talking about an age difference of at least seven years, someone under the age of 14, or someone over the age of 25. There were relationships of large age differences that were considered inappropriate, but they dealt in part with the particulars of the situation. One of the cosysops (assistant system operators) was nineteen and his girlfriend was fourteen and there was nothing considered to be untoward about it. The guy who ran it, Excalibur, was 24 and his girlfriend was 17 and they’re now married with 3 kids.

And it’s a bit interesting to look back and notice the schoolteacher who was aware of all of this, and objected to only those outside the bounds listed above. She was very hawkish about the 30 year old dude who was obviously sniffing around. She was worried about a sixteen year old who seemed to be trying to groom 12 and 13 year olds. But those were things that were pretty transparently wrong, and her role – to the extent she had one – was to make sure that something was done about it. Would I behave differently if I ran across an online community of youngsters? Well, given the environment in which I came of age and my thoughts on it, probably not. But I am about the same age now and she was then, and you couldn’t pay me enough to spend that much of my free time socializing with kids. Which perhaps helps make Sheila’s point. Of all the weird things, that she was there at all – as much as or more than her kids – is perhaps the strangest thing of all. And yeah, if I found out someone in my community was there, I would probably look askance.

But Cyclone never had sex with kids. Never tried, as far as I know. And I’d be surprised if she did. I say that I remember her less fondly, and that’s only tangentially related. It turned out that much of the time, she was sexually involved with Excalibur, who was fourteen years her younger. More to the point, though, Excalibur was like a brother to me. And when an auxiliary mother is sleeping with your auxiliary brother, the dynamic is lost. But there was no question of consent. No question that he was an autonomous individual who chose that relationship (indeed, his previous girlfriend had also been in his thirties and had a child in her teens). So I find myself not exactly thinking less of her, and if she friended me on Facebook I would probably friend her back (her daughter did, and I did, though I was never as close to the daughter), even if things around me were not exactly as I perceived them to be at the time.

Which leaves me in the position of thinking that she was mostly just unusual. She was married to a guy who was good and decent and did not at all make her happy. The BBS was as much an escape for her as it was for us. Her continued presence was probably related to her ongoing whatever it was with Excal more than anything. Her relationship with me (where, once again I would go and visit her and hang out though I never slept over because it was a much shorter drive) was of the adult-child variety.

So… did any of y’all have auxiliary mothers? Do you think such relationships are creepy even without the specificities of Cyclone? And for those of you who are parents, what sort or nature of attention would it take before you started getting nervous?

[1] I had somehow missed the word “maybe” in what she said, so the original post did not include this word.

Category: Ghostland

buzzaldrinAstronaut Edgar Mitchell believes that nuclear war was averted by peace-loving aliens. (Also, Buzz Aldrin, nailing it.)

Sarah Kliff of Vox watched all of the Planned Parenthood videos (up through 8/13) and put together a surprisingly fair report. I hope she does so again after they were all released.

Chris Cuomo put his finger on the real problem with the ISIS/sex slavery story… it feeds negative stereotypes.

The EPA holds polluters accountable, but who holds the EPA accountable?

I tend to assume those politicians that talk about keeping Chick-Fil-E and such out of their town are chest-pounding for the cameras. Turns out, looks like they mean it.

I will absolutely watch Dante’s Devine Comedy film(s), but I will absolutely go into it with low expectations.

“Unless the doctor’s pay is somehow linked to performance, there is a good chance that the quality of care in the public sector would be worse than in the private sector.”

This makes sense: Vox reports that during recessions, college students pick money-making majors.

A look at data and elections, from Texas.

If you’re worried about political self-segregation online, it’s apparently nothing compared to real life.

An all-important question has been answered: On Friends, how much does Joey owe Chandler.

Well, I suppose bribery may indeed be an inelastic good.

Tina Rosenberg looks at the kidney market in Iran.

Razib Khan looks at the history of the British and the Caste System of India.

Meet Moore’s Law’s evil twin.

Category: Newsroom

Senator Claire McCaskill made public the widely known secret that her campaign did what it could to help Todd Akin become her Republican opponent in 2012:

So how could we maneuver Akin into the GOP driver’s seat?

Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a “dog whistle” ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people. I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad—and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad. {…}

If we were going to spend that kind of money on ads for Akin, I wanted to get him nominated and start disqualifying him with independent voters at the same time. By that prescription, our ad would have to include Akin’s statement that Obama was a “menace to civilization” and that Akin had said of himself that he was “too conservative” for Missouri. This presentation made it look as though I was trying to disqualify him, though, as we know, when you call someone “too conservative” in a Republican primary, that’s giving him or her a badge of honor. At the end of the ad, my voice was heard saying, “I’m Claire McCaskill, and I approve this message.”

This is hardly the first time that this has been done. The GOP has been known to pump money in Green Party efforts to split the left-of-center votes. And, of course, there is always at least talk of crossing during the primaries in order to vote for the weaker candidate on the other side’s roster. And while it’s been done before – or tried – it’s also going to be done again.

This may be sketchy, but it is presumably legal. Isn’t it? Rick Hasen, who initially believed it was, had second thoughts:

On reflection, I think the stronger issue is whether McCaskill made an unreported and excessive in kind contribution to the Akin campaign by sharing the results of her polling data. If she gave the campaign something worth more than the limit (which was probably $2600 in that election) she’d be giving an in-kind contribution, and a contribution worth that much would have to be reported.

Well did the Senator give Akin something of value? It looks like it. After all, we know it is valuable to him because the Senator writes “Akin did not have money for polling,” and she provided the information he needed to clinch the primary (at least in the Senator’s telling). Elias’s response to this point is: “There’s no suggestion she shared ‘polling data’. She only ‘gave clearance, allowing [pollster] to speak in broad generalities.” Perhaps that distinction will work, but I still think the issue is a serious one and merits a fuller analysis (and certainly fuller than I can give it now). I’m not suggesting the Senator broke the law, but there is enough here to justify a closer look.

I wanted to buy into this argument, and it may indeed be legally correct. However, if I am being honest with myself, if this is in fact illegal it’s likely against a law that I oppose or would oppose application in this particular case. This strikes me as free speech and free assembly on a pretty fundamental level.

I will also say, in defense of it, that it’s not strictly dishonest. McCaskill opposes Akin and all she did was say so! And it’s hard to get too excited about it, given the inevitability of Use Every Tool At Your Disposal, even if it involves things like improving your odds with reverse psychology.

Be that as it may, this comes across to me as sausage-making stuff and there is something unseemly to me about bragging about it. Harry Reid’s lies about Mitt Romney were constitutional, and a part of the game so to speak, but not exactly something to be proud of. The same goes for Jon Huntsman’s shot across the bow to Mitch Daniels, though in that case being silent about it while everyone blamed Mitt Romney was itself a bit of a problem.

This one at least has the virtue of assisting people, in a way, finding their preferred candidate. A plurality of Missouri voters preferred Todd Akin. And people who voted for Ralph Nader wanted Ralph Nader as their president or at least wanted him to make more rather than less of a dent in the tally. In addition to the other bad things it’s not, it’s not cheating.

It is, however, hard for me to overlook the bad faith. I have the notion that things work better when the elections are between the best possible holders of the position. “Best” is subjective here, but it seems unlikely to me that if McCaskill were to lose, that she would prefer lose to Akin instead of Brunner. That she would actually consider Akin rather than Brunner to be the representative of state. And it’s not inconceivable that Akin could have won, creating a Lester Maddox situation. As it is, of course, the gambles often pay off for the gambler. The voters in Missouri were left with McCaskill and a more undesirable option. Arguably, the responsibility of the party system, and the primary system, and the current state of the Republican Party, more than McCaskill herself… but a situation engineered in good part by McCaskill.

Perhaps it can be said that more light is better. That McCaskill’s fessing up merely makes the phenomenon more known and that maybe voters will avoid being manipulated – if we want to call it that – in the future. I personally see if as taking the dirty part of politics, and reveling in it. Finding something of a glitch in the system and bragging about its exploitation. Haha, we didn’t even like the guy, but we did everything we could to bolster his chances at becoming a US senator because it helped our odds somewhat. Aren’t we clever! A cleverness not only accepted, but celebrated.

I have a friend from Louisiana who argues – and truly believes – that Louisiana politics is no more corrupt than an any other state. It’s just that Louisiana is more open about it. It’s a function of honesty, rather than corruption, that Louisiana has the reputation that it does. No doubt corruption levels outside of the usual suspects (Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, etc) is higher than we sometimes believe, but the land of Edwin Edwards gets a lot of attention in part because it becomes so audacious that even Louisiana cannot ignore it. And even then, the voters accepted it repeatedly. Which is what happens when something becomes a norm and, to a degree, celebrated (“Edwards may be a crook, but he’s our crook!”)

All of that bringing to light Edwards’s last re-election, with the informal slogan “Vote for the crook, it’s important!” The slogan was bandied about because the alternative was David Duke with incumbent Buddy Roemer finishing third. Edwards got lucky because it’s unlikely he would have been able to beat Roemer. Perhaps today the wiser course of action would be to lend money to the Duke campaign, and give Louisiana the choice that favored him. With the added bonus of being able to express in a book how clever you are for lending support and aid to a fascist.

Category: Statehouse


The chair just snapped, landing me on the floor with a scraped arm. Other than that, no damage done. Lisby did her canine duty and came at sat by me. Lain did good, too, not echoing the F-word after I said it.


Lain is officially enrolled in preschool! After much perseveration about what we want in a pre school and trying to figure out what our options are, we basically discovered that there was only one viable option, the Episcopal Church’s school in a nearby college town. Which works for me! The limiting factors are that Lain will not be three until October, and that she is still in diapers.

After this year, we will have at least a couple other options. Clancy is a fan of Montessori and so that’s highly possible. There’s also a rigid academic problem where we can choose between math and science or the arts. Which seems silly for a 3 year old, but welcome to modern parenting I guess.


candidatedogI found a dog that we may (repeat may) be interested in adding to the family. The most immediate downside is that it’s up in Maine. It’s also younger (1.5 yrs) and larger (35lbs) than we would prefer, but options seem to be rather limited when you have a small child around. It seems like 3/4 of the postings I see recommend no small children.

It’s not a sure thing we’re getting another dog any time soon, or at all. We wanted to get two when we got Lisby, but the rental agreement only allowed for one. I regret not having pushed harder then for a second. One of the reasons we wanted to was so that we wouldn’t be leaving one behind. That’s less of an issue now since I am at home all day. On the other hand, I have less attention to devote to the dog and it would be good if she had a playmate. Back on the first hand, two dogs mean even less attention to devote to Lisby. Not sure of the tradeoffs.

Either way, it would be mostly a selfless decision on my part to get another dog. I’m not itching for more than one. Selfishly, when Lisby goes I would not like to be dogless and depending on when that is there may be a gap for when we get another one. Also, I would prefer Lain not go dogless.

Dead Mouse!

I had a rash of mouse intrusions, which after toying around with a humane trap lead me to get a lethal one. I thought there were a number of mice, but after one was killed there was suddenly nothing, suggesting that the nightly catches were indeed of the same mouse. I did leave the trap out expecting not to catch another one. A month later, we did. By that point I had stopped checking every morning for dead mice. So we had a very, very smelly drawer for a mouse that had probably been in there for two days.

Petty Annoyance!

I have three Motorola Sliver II earpieces. The little band that goes around the part that goes into the ear comes off. I lost one, leaving me with two bands for three earpieces. Today one of the Slivers broke (not sure how it happened) and thought to myself “At least now I have two bands for two earpieces.

And literally moments later I dropped the damn thing, and it’s gone. So I have two earpieces and one band.

Category: Home


Sonny Bunch blames the rise of Donald Trump on pop culture and professional wrestling.

In Ferguson, some Oath Keepers decided to arm black protesters in solidarity.

Vice asks the very Vicey question: What are things going to be like for Jared Fogle behind bars?

When more than half of the stadium was empty, I thought that might register with media depiction of the event, but the media keeps letting him pretend the stadium was full.

Contrary to the claims of Trump and other lefty weirdos, Jeb Bush’s PAC did not actually photoshop him on to a black guy, and it was kind of a weird theory to begin with.

In the tenth anniversary of Katrina, Owen Courreges wishes that people would stop calling New Orleans better after the disaster.

I’m on board with re-evaluating the Confederate Flag and other things, but this is silly.

A bear poking its head through a doggie door? I’m going with scary.

A millionaire in the UK is fined after recycling gravestones for his patio.

South Carolina passed some rigid laws to prevent pesky calls, but a recent court decision has placed it in jeopardy.

George Orwell recently turned 110, and a Dutch Artist celebrated by putting party hats in surveillance cameras.

Even if they’ve made the long transition from scourge to the cute mascot of anti-global warming efforts, maybe you should hunt polar bears because polar bears will hunt you.

A couple that was getting it on fell in a moat and died.

You have maybe seen the videos of the bears playing in the pool. Uncle Steve makes a good point, which is that while it may be an exotic novelty to most, it’s probably a common plague to them.

Category: Newsroom

Yet another model has taken to blasting the fashion/modeling industry for body image & type concerns.  Given all the negative publicity & press with regard to how the fashion industry drives unhealthy & unrealistic female (& male!) body images, I have to wonder what the motivation is?  Do they not care?  Are they so insular/insulated that the criticism just rolls off?  Or is it a case of despite all the negative press, they still make truckloads of money & fame & why mess with something that works?

Category: Elsewhere

Tim Harford on chain proliferation:

But an alternative explanation is that large companies [like Starbucks] deliberately open too many stores, or launch too many products, because they wish to pre-empt competitors. Firms could always slash prices instead to keep the competition away but that may not be quite as effective — a competitor might reasonably expect any price war to be temporary. It is less easy to un-launch a new product or shut down a brand-new outlet. A saturated market is likely to stay saturated for a while, then, and that should make proliferation a more credible and effective deterrent than low prices.

A recent paper by two economists from Yale, Mitsuru Igami and Nathan Yang, studies this question in the market for fast-food burgers. Igami and Yang used old telephone directories to track the expansion of the big burger chains into local markets across Canada from 1970 to 2005. After performing some fancy analysis, they concluded that big burger chains did seem to be trying to pre-empt competition. If Igami and Yang’s model is to be believed, McDonald’s was opening more outlets, more quickly than would otherwise have been profitable.

And here I thought Starbucks was trying to bring about the end of the universe.

I can’t say that I dispute the findings of the paper, but I will say that there is a difference between having a Starbucks across the street from somewhere, and down the street. especially in populous areas, crossing the street is a pain in the arse! And it actually can be the difference between my choosing to stop off for coffee, or my choosing not to. It was better for me if the Starbucks was across the street, and therefore required a much-dreaded lefthand turn, but that would have been bad for Starbucks.

I miss the west. So few coffee places out here. But enough about coffee.

I still can’t believe that there are only two McDonald’s in Stone County (pop 30k). Especially given how ridiculously busy one of them is. If nothing else, having another McDonald’s – even one across the street or even just down the street – could help handle the overflow.

In other franchise/chain-related observations, an auto shop with a Popeye’s within walking distance is the best kind of auto shop.

Category: Market


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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