Category Archives: Espresso

But the coaching business is booming, with affluent parents being the best customers. If the payoff is really so small, why has the market judged coaching to be so successful?

Most obviously, parents who pay for expensive coaching courses ignore the role of self-selection: the students who seem to profit from a coaching course tend to be those who, if the course had not been available, would have worked hard on their own to prepare for the test.

Then parents confuse the effects of coaching with the effect of the basic preparation that students can do on their own. No student should walk into the SAT cold. It makes sense for students to practice some sample items, easily available from school guidance offices and online, and to review their algebra textbook if it has been a few years since they have taken algebra. But once a few hours have been spent on these routine steps, most of the juice has been squeezed out of preparation for the SAT. Combine self-selection artifacts with the role of basic preparation, and you have the reason that independent studies using control groups show such small average gains from formal coaching.

Source: Abolish the SAT, Charles Murray

Category: Espresso

Emphasis, on “bastard”.

It turns out that if you are using Google Chrome, you CANNOT block Google properties. Rather than using the DNS your computer specifies, Chrome routes around your DNS for Google properties. Rather than checking the local hosts file first, it checks its own properties first, and ignores the hosts. Parental controls are overridden by Google, and Chrome will take you directly to their sites regardless of how you try to block them.

So I decide I will uninstall Chrome and force him to use Safari. BUT!!!, says I, he knows how to install Chrome, so he would just go put it back. So I add to the hosts file figuring he can use Bing for search if he needs to.

EXCEPT, Google has inserted itself into NEARLY EVERY GODDAMN SCHOOL DISTRICT with Google Classroom, and you cannot block if you want your kid to be able to access their f**king homework!!!

Category: Espresso

Category: Espresso

Amazon Takes Over the World (Wall Street Journal)

Amazon’s strategy of break-even operations also means that it has virtually no profits to tax. Since 2008, Wal-Mart has paid $64 billion in federal income taxes, while Amazon has paid just $1.4 billion. Yet, while paying low taxes, Amazon has added $220 billion in value to the stock held by its shareholders over the past 24 months—equivalent to the entire market capitalization of Wal-Mart.

Something is deeply amiss when a company can ascend to almost a half trillion dollars in market value—becoming the fifth most valuable firm in the world—without paying any meaningful income tax. Does Amazon really owe so little to support public revenue and public needs? If a giant firm pays less than the average 24% in income taxes that the companies of the S&P 500 pay, it logically means that less-successful firms pay more. In this way, Amazon further adds to the winner-take-all tendencies plaguing our economy.

Category: Espresso

The following is an explanation I gave for why it would be so hard for a US state to do single-payer even though comparably sized countries elsewhere can do it:

I am pulling these numbers out of air, just to give an idea of the flows I am talking about.

Let’s say we have a hypothetical state (“Bannack”) that gets back roughly what it sends to Washington. Bannack’s citizenry pays $7b a year in taxes, $2b to state and local governments, and $b to the federal government. The federal government turns around and spends $2.5b on health care in health care in Bannack, while Bannack is spending $.5b. Health care in the state in a given year costs $3b. They simply can’t do that with a $2b budget. They can’t raise taxes by $2.5b because the people just won’t pay it because that would be on top of all that money they’re sending to Washington. They’ll get some money by taxing businesses the money they’re no longer spending on health care, but anything more would be a tax hike and the same problems apply.

The best they can do is ask the federal government to say “We want that $2.5b in cash.” I think if they could get that, they could make it work. But the $2.5b is for one year and is going to fluctuate. And some states send in a lot more than they get out of Washington, and vice-versa. So it’s a real hornet’s nest of headaches. You can come up with a block grant formula, but that’s going to be difficult and going to be political. It’s much easier for DC to say “We’ll pay for this and we’ll pay for that. We’ll give you block grants for Medicaid but no way for Medicare and of course the VA system is different.”

Now, if Bannack were a country, it would be a lot simpler and they could do it even if they are not an especially large nation. They’re risk pool would still be a lot larger than many insurance companies’.

I didn’t put enough focus on how much other programs, like Medicare and the VA, complicate things. If you can’t fold them into your single-payer, you’re losing a lot of potential bargaining leverage.

Category: Espresso

It’s a very helpful site shopping for used cars, but I would not recommend it at all for new cars. It sets itself up like a sort of Lending Tree for cars where it suggests filling out the thing will have dealerships give you offers, but instead it basically results in dealerships falling all over themselves to contact you without actually giving you any prices.

Category: Espresso

There are a lot of criticisms of modern country music. Much of it comes from people who don’t actually listen to it. Bo Burnham very, very obviously does.

Category: Espresso

FDA’s proposed smokeless tobacco nitrosamine regulation: innumeracy and junk science (part 1) | Anti-THR Lies and related topics

Before getting to the substance it is worth noting that this is really the first bit of genuine regulation proposed by the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) in its eight years. Despite CTP reportedly approaching $4 billion in cumulative expenditures, it has only implemented a few inconsequential rules that were specifically required by the enabling legislation, and has never actually created a standard or specific requirement like a real regulator. Instead, everything it has done has been what I have dubbed weaponized kafkaism. The variation on the word “kafkaesque” refers, of course, to Kafka’s horror stories of bureaucratic (in the pejorative sense) rules that create injustice via impossible procedural burdens. “Weaponized” refers to turning something that is harmful but not malign into a tool for intentionally inflicting harm. CTP has turned filing and paperwork hurdles into a weapon.

It is bad enough when sloppiness, laziness, and incompetence create cost, inefficiency, opaque or even impossible requirements, and uncertainty. But in this case, those results — throwing sand in the gears of the regulated industry, making whatever they and their customers want to do difficult and uncertain — are the goals of the agency. Sloppiness, laziness, and incompetence tend to cause kafkaesque burdens to pile up if no effort is made to push back. They also perfectly camouflage the malevolence of intentionally created burdens.

The march toward a near-ban of e-cigarettes is an example of this. Products will not be banned because they violate some standard or other substantive requirement. CTP is simply taking advantage of the administrative rules that any products that were not on the market in 2007 (i.e., all e-cigarettes) must receive approval as a new product. Requiring new product approvals is not itself particularly unusual or problematic regulation until you observe that CTP has no rules about what makes a new product approvable. It is not even clear what an application should contain. Any application can, and probably will, be arbitrarily disapproved. This is even worse than the oft-noted fact that the new product application process is prohibitively expensive for anything other than a very promising mass-production product, which >99% of e-cigarette products are not, though that also is a kafkaesque burden.

Category: Espresso

Category: Espresso

But part of the disastrous campaign for the Lib Dems was the fact that its leader was constantly interrogated for his religious beliefs, beliefs that had little to do with his public leadership. Farron had a long record of supporting gay rights and access to abortion. But the media wanted to know whether he thought they were sins. Farron would get on television wanting to talk up a second referendum to be held upon the results of Brexit negotiations. His media inquisitors wanted to talk about personal morality.

Guardian columnist Rafael Behr explains that Farron’s “problem was that the culture of contemporary liberalism is avowedly secular.” That tells part of the story. The entire elite culture and much of the popular culture is secular in a quite specific way. It is not a secularism that encourages public neutrality while maintaining a generous social pluralism. It’s a secularism that demands the humiliation of religion, specifically Christianity. And in Britain it has a decidedly classist flavor, one that holds it impossible for an Evangelical like Farron — one of those people — to represent the better sort of person.

Source: Tim Farron’s Resignation & Liberal Christianity — Liberal Democrat Party Leader Resigns | National Review

Category: Espresso