No, it just means the prosecution screwed up
The very first question was, "Did this decision vindicate your client?" And the answer was, "Yes, of course, absolutely." What is the possible point of asking such a question, given that the Andersen attorney couldn't have said anything else? In fact, why are you giving interview time to someone whose job it is to advocate, not commentate? I'm not trying to criticize any interview or press conference of an attorney about a case they're on, there are ways to distinguish this case from one's that aren't totally useless.
...and a dollar short.
Give them some time for reflection, and then if you want, move on to the, "Is it appropriate to criticize (or to try to boost support for) the Iraq War on Memorial Day?" debate. Sub-debates include, "Is it more problematic to do this if you specifically question what the recently dead soldiers gave their lives for? Is it more problematic for Kieran Healy to do this than it is for the President? Is the fact that the President did it (if you correctly agree that he did) a justification or excuse for Kieran Healy doing it, if one of those were needed?"
Yes, yes, no, no.
Revenge of the Interpreter............. (sorry)
New York looked great in the interpreter, not quite as good as Nicole though. Has anyone figured out where her apartment was? I kept trying to get my bearings and failing. The only time I knew exactly where they were, other than an at the UN, was when she was having her Vespa fixed. I used to live right near that garage. Most contrived moment: Kidman's Silvia leaves blood on her face for a really long time for no imaginable reason other than to set up a touching moment in which Tobin Keller (Penn) cleans the blood off her face. When the medical personnel checked her for wounds (not shown, but absurd to think they didn't in that scenario), they would have had to clean other people's blood off of her face as well. The political message(s) were fine, didn't really get in the way of the plot. Penn's character was a less interesting version of Kevin Bacon's Mystic River character, and I'm neutral about Bacon's character from that. The theme about the proper way to greive/mourn/pay tribute to/ forget the dead is the most interesting thing going on, but the film is quite ambivalent about it (perhaps rightly so for such a complex topic). For instance, the characters have implicitly repudiated tribal wisdom of, "We don't say the names of the dead," by the end of the film, though it's not clear they realize they have. But the logic beyond repudiating that also calls into question Silvia's choice about shooting the dictator, Zuwanie. That theme and a pretty, possibly overly pretty, New York are the positive takeaways from the film.
Having written too much there, I'll be brief on Sith: The dialogue is still truly terrible, but doesn't manage to drag down a lot of the more adrenaline pumping parts. It's nice to have closure on the films as well. Is Yoda's line about Qui-Gon just meant to explain Episode IV's "If you strike me down I'll become more powerful than you can imagine?" If so, it's not that great an explanation, I have to say. It'll do in a pinch. Or is the more background on that line in the extra-cinematic canon? Padme's, "You're breaking my heart!" reminds me of a great line from the Robot Devil on Futurama. "Your lyrics lack subtlety! You can't just have your characters announce how they feel. That makes me feel angry!" Also, Anakin's, "From my point of view, you're evil." Just infuriating.
No answers here
Another Saturday Night...
What I'm Watching: Miami Blues was just on some movie channel, and I'm quite happy I chose to watch it. Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance is quite moving, especially when she describes how to make vinegar pie. I am not kidding. Netflix users, add this film to your queue. I quite like both Beatle Juice and State & Main, but I feel pretty confident that this features Alec Baldwin's all time best performance, and a welcome contrast to his wooden work in, for instance, Team America (I know, groan). Oh, and rather than imply by omitting that I'm not a big fan, I don't think Baldwin is particularly good in Glengarry Glen Ross, though I am a big fan.
What I'm Reading (Bound paper edition): Austin, How to do things with words (2nd. Edition). I was fairly impressed that a local Borders was carrying this in their philosophy section, and couldn't resist buying it. I'm only through the first two lectures so far, and since the first one covered almost everything I knew about Austin's work before I started it (except for some of his analysis of promises), I expect to learn quite a bit.
Also, Penn Warren, All the Kings Men. I may be the only person in the world with a copy of this book signed by the person who signed mine. He's a currently living ex-President of the United States, and a Democrat. I'm oddly proud of this fact despite not having actually done anything to cause it. Sort of like being proud about a lightening strike.
What I'm Reading (Blog edition): John Emerson's first substantive post at the Weblog is neatly written. Yglesias needs to change this post to credit me, since I asked the question he's answering, not some Joe Smith person. I'm being somewhat annoying about asking to have it changed (this is now the third place I've made such a request), but I thought it was pretty clever of me to think back to that particular hanging thread.
What Word I'm Overusing in This Post: Quite.
But being accurate is hard...
This would probably be a better argument if she hadn't made it up out of thin air. It only appears to get off the ground by acting as if support for the widely supported war in Afghanistan is exactly the same as support for the war in Iraq. It also conveniently ignores that feminists were among the, if not the, first opponents of the Taliban. They were the ones calling attention to how terrible the Taliban was prior to September 11th. So it's fallacious argument and I would be skeptical about trusting claims Crittenden makes in the future. Some of her posts are rather funny, but whenever she's commenting about politics she seems to just repeat Republican talking points.
Now, I can recall the episode of West Wing where CJ told the press that there were no plans for a particular military strike and it turned out that there were such plans. But she wasn't lying, because Leo made a deliberate decision to keep her out of the loop. Maybe Di Rita has also been kept completely out of the loop, which is the charitable explanation for his remarks, as opposed to him being a liar. But even if that is the case, why should the Press ever attend another briefing he gives? They have no reason to expect the truth from him. If they attend, at every breifing, every question should be, "What did you know and when did you know it?" This isn't the worst mendacity by a member of the Bush administration, but it is the most recent.
I read about Saletan's piece via Prof. Volokh, who implies that Saletan is being intellectually dishonest, or at least coming close to it. He does this because Volokh thinks that a) the distinction between the life of a guilty person (death penalty context) and an innocent person (stem cell research context) easily explains Bush's position* and b) Saletan knows this, since some of the Bush quotes Saletan excerpts were said very soon after Bush himself had mentioned the guilty/innocent distinction. Furthermore, Volokh notes that the guilty/innocent distinction is such a standard rhetorical move in this sort of debate I'm not saying that Volokh himself draws this distinction and therefore opposes stem cell funding (I would guess he favors it), but that he thinks it's a coherent argument for someone to make and not at all hypocritical.
This is too quick a "gotcha!" on Volokh's part. The guilty/innocent distinction can be used to support the death penalty and oppose stem cell research, but not to support the death penatly on deterrence grounds and oppose stem cell research. To say otherwise is a conflation of deterrence and retributivism. All of Saletan's quotes are of Bush or one of his press secretaries saying that the support is on deterrence grounds. Guilt isn't involved there, cost/benefit analysis is. If Bush were to say, "I support the death penalty because certain crimes have the result of forfeiting the criminal's right to live and we should never destroy some lives for the benefit of others," that would be coherent. But deterrence is logically independent of guilt or innocence, and Saletan's article asks a valid question.
*On a side note, see Yglesias on why Bush's position is not principled at all. No principled position under consideration leads to not funding stem cell research, they lead to either actually banning it or encouraging it. Not funding is purely political and non-principled.
Powerline makes me want to claw me eyes out
Maybe you're thinking, "Washerdreyer, you're being unfair. He said the left, not Democrats." But John is a helpful sort who wants to avoid problems like that. In the immediately preceding post, he listed the following people as, "a pretty good roster of the far left."
Senators "BIden [sic], Boxer, Cantwell, Corzine, our own Mark Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Levin, Lincoln, Murray, Reed, Sarbanes and Stabenow." If these seventeen senators are the far left, I think I'm being charitable in saying he's only accusing Democrats of not caring about soldiers dying. He's probably accusing far more people than that, I would estimate half of the United States population or so. As for his actual claim, rebutting an absurdity requires pretending that it's within the realm of reasonable discourse. Also, it's only verifiable by telepathy, which I haven't learned yet.
AOTW, Powerline is 21 in Technorati's top blog rankings.
I see London, I see France...
I buy the overall point that the Democratic position can be better presented as "abortion should be each woman's choice, not each politicians" or same variant thereof. But I find the empirical claim highly doubtful that there are people who call themselves pro-life and don't think that abortion rights should be significantly restricted relative to their current legal status.
(more from Jack O'Toole, via Drum)
Why Can't We A Have A Better College Republican?
For far more, including some original research which catches her plagiarizing another article she wrote after the whole incident took place, follow the link at the start of this post.
Grey skys are gonna clear up
And trying to be optimistic about this probably ignores Daniel Davies' oft-cited one minute MBA. But what the hell, let's assume that things are going to be great, and that somehow the so-called "greenhouse effect" (the Linda variant to be precise) doesn't only affect Supreme Court appointees.
An offer they couldn't refuse
Update antepenultimate: This keeps getting worse, Janice Rogers Brown is eminently worth of a filibuster, but instead she gets a floor vote and essentially guaranteed passage from the President's followers.
Update penultimate: I still maintain my stance that a compromise in which one party agrees not to do something which violates the rules and the other gives up certain legitimate rights is not a good deal. I would honestly have preferred to see if Frist could get his fifty, and let the chips fall where they may. That said, a large cross-section of the Republican supporting blogs appear to be furious, which warms my little heart. Aaah, schadenfreude. I hope that all Democrats with more of a public voice than me (which is to say, all of them), continue to pretend that this is a victory and that the White House has suffered a blow. With the deal having already been made, it's the best strategic option, independent of its truth.
Update ultimate: Yglesias at Tapped links to a New Republic piece which does an excellent job of explaining the way in which the compromise isn't. Key sentence is: But by bracketing the debate between two right-wing extremes--confirm every nominee except for a handful or confirm every nominee through use of the nuclear option--the Republicans had won before they'd even begun. Read it all. For something completely different, see Matt's pretty powerful argument on why one type of health care reform won't work, along with the comments on that post.
No Monarchists Allowed
On the Ethicist, I 'm completely nonplussed by the second letter. How could someone reveal their political preference, other than non-monarchist, by proposing a voting system? Discussing the relative merits of different methods of allocating representatives based on preference, comparing first past the post, instant runoff, or what have you has nothing to do with one's political beliefs. Can anyone think of an example of what the letter writer is worried about? Maybe supporting campaign finance reform or something, but that's not part of the voting system per se. The first letter is a little tricky, and the third is a snap.
First, he was talking about how the riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan last week show the difference between civilized people and non-civilized people. Within five minutes of this, he says that he'll be discussing the filibuster later in the show, and when he does this he'll talk about how "Chuckie Schumer" is a bigot and has taken on the role of "a 1920's Southern Sherrif," because he's blocking the nomination of a single black woman. Within ten minutes of that comment, he said that it was a huge mistake to pay any money in Tsunami relief because the Tsunami only struck "Muslim lands," and were a message from God that the Muslims need to reform their ways.
To speak bluntly, anyone who says these things is scum, deserves no respect from anyone, and the fact that people listen to his radio show for any reason other than to be astonished by how crazy he is terrifying. Oh, he also described liberalism as a mental illness and said that it's a religion of the irreligious. More importantly, he really managed to show that he couldn't care less about actual racism or any other illegitimate distinction. If you think it is perfectly acceptable to talk about Muslims as lesser people and then to turn around and accuse others of bigotry for decisions that you have no reason at all to think are motivated by racial reasons, you're showing that you believe that "bigotry" is just a political issue and not something to actually be concerned with.
I need a philosopher of language
Update: It would actually be helpful for me to know whether or not people reading this post read (1) as meaning exclusively (2), (2) or (3), or some other un-prompted understanding.
Tropic of Cancer
I don't particularly have an opinion on this library book kerfuffle overall (briefly, for those too lazy to click a link: the library book rules allow users to take out as many books as they want for as long as the user wants to, is there something wrong with taking out 100+ books for six months or so?), but I think at least one part of the argument proceeds too quickly. At a couple of points, when discussing the recall system, Will assumes fully informed preferences on the part of other library users. What if they don't understand just by reading the title and whatever other information is available in the card catalog how much they'd enjoy the book or how useful it would be for their project, but would discover this if the book were physically present on the shelf? Granting partially informed preferences block a couple of steps in the argument, though I don't think they rebut its conclusion.
The last refuge of the desperate blogger
"I should prefer not to discuss that over the phone."
"Can't you give me some idea? Montemar Vista is quite a distance."
"I shall be glad to pay your expenses, if we don't agree. Are you particular about the nature of the employment?"
"Not as long as it's legitimate."
The voice grew icicles. "I should not have called you, if it were not."
A Harvad boy. Nice use of the subjunctive mood. The end of my foot itched, but my bank account was still trying to crawl under a duck. I put honey into my voice and said: "Many thanks for calling me, Mr. Marriot. I'll be there."
I've said it before, but I like Chandler. This is also a case of Marlowe just being a cool cat. I'd quote from the other thing I'm reading, but the Stoppard quoting blogger gig is already taken, and this is the first play of his I've read.
Bill James: ...my friend Dan Okrent, when he was editing Sports Illustrated, ran a cover story on Maddux, entitled "The Best Pitcher Sincer...?" The thesis of the article was that Maddux was the greatest pitcher, certainly the greatest right-handed pitcher, in many years.
I might have been a part of the article, except that I didn't buy the premise. Greg Maddux, as great a pitcher as he is, has never been the equal of Roger Clemens. Maddux has had, throughout his career, quite exceptional Earned Run Avrages, compared to the league norms. The best of these are:
1994 1.56(Maddux) against 4.21(League) .371
1995 1.63(Maddux) against 4.18(League) .390
1997 2.20(Maddux) against 4.20(League) .524
1998 2.22(Maddux) against 4.23(League) .525
You have to go back many years to find ERAs as low as this, relative to league, and this is the basis of the argument for Maddux as the greatest pitcher of his generation. Maddux's best relative ERAs are better than Clemens':
1997 2.05(Clemens) against 4.56(League) .450
1990 1.93(Clemens) against 3.91(League) .494
1998 2.65(Clemens) against 4.65(League) .570
1986 2.48(Clemens) against 4.18(League) .593
Maddux is ahead by about .07 times the league norm, which is a difference of seven or eight runs for a pitcher pitching 250 innings.
But while relative ERAs certainly are a valid indicator of pitching excellence, they are not a definite measure of a pitcher's contribution to his team. There are at least three other things which might be considered, which are:
1. Park Effects.
2. Innings Pitched.
3. The contribution of the defense to the prevention of runs.
Both Maddux and Clemens have pitched most of their careers in hitter's parks, so the adjustment for park effects is minor, but it favors Clemens by 1%.
The larger question is, is pitching at this level for 200 innings the same as pitching at this level for 250 innings?
Of course it is not. Maddux is hardly a wuss; he has led his league in innings pitched five times, and has pitched 250 innings or more in a season four times.
Still, in his busiest seasons Maddux has pitched 268, 267, and 263 innings. Clemens has pitched 281, 271, 264, and 264. In his four best relative-ERA seasons, Maddux pitched a total of 896 innings. (It would have been more except for a strike, but that's spilled milk.) In his four, Clemens pitched a total of 981.
So who do you want: a pitcher with a 1.90 ERA in 224 innings, or a pitcher with a 2.20 ERA in 245 innings?
It's close--maybe too close to call. If the league ERA is 4.20, the former pitcher is saving 57 runs relative to the league average; the latter, 54 runs. But if you compare the pitcher not to the average but to the replacement level, you get a different answer: 102 runs a year for "Maddux," 103 for "Clemens" (assuming a replacement level of 6.00 runs/9 innings).
The other issue, the contribution of the fielders behind a pitcher to his ERA, is a trickier one. To extricate a pitcher's ERA from the fielding behind him is virtually impossible, and I certainly could not claim to have done so in a logically compelling manner. Nonetheless,
(a) my statistical method shows that the defenses behind Maddux have contributed more to his success than the defenses behind Clemens,
(b) I don't really think there is any doubt that this is true.
The Atlanta Braves' pitching of the last ten years has been great--but their defense has helped. Clemens has not had those kind of defenses behind him.
Maddux has not only exceptional ERAs, but also exceptional won-lost records. However, since Clemens career winning percentage is better than Maddux's (.647 to .640, through 2000), it is hard to make that into an argument for Maddux. Clemens has a better winning percentage although he has pitched, overall, for teams which were not quite as good.
Clemens' best seasons, as I see them, are 1997 (32 Win Shares), 1986 (29), 1987 (28) and 1990 (also 28). Maddux's best seasons are 1995 (30 Win Shares), 1992 (27), 1994 (26), and 1997 (also 26). I'm not suggesting it is cut and dried or that Maddux is not a worthy candidate. But in my opinion, Roger Clemens is the greatest pitcher of this generation.
If you're still reading after all that, me again. All of the above was written to reflect events through the 2000 Baseball season, but may have only taken Win Shares into account through 1999. Since then, the two of them have had the following results:
|Maddux||ERA+||IP||Win Shares||Clemens||ERA+||IP||Win Shares|
So far this year, Clemens is way ahead of Maddux. It's still a tough call, but it doesn't look to me like Maddux had done enough to pull ahead of Clemens from 2000-02, and now Clemens looks to be playing significantly better. Maddux can't be the best pitcher of all time, because he's not the best pitcher currently playing.
For a counterpoint, see: I,II,III.
The platonic ideal of this post was much cleverer than its actualization.
Hat tip: Apostropher.
Monday Reading List
The last five or so posts on the site whose name I try to avoid writing, though they appear to have given up on the name changing project, or at least moved it behind the scenes. With all the talk about China recently, the scenario I'm interested in but haven't seen anything about (though I haven't been looking all that hard): Chinese civil war not involving, or not primarily involving, an invasion of Taiwan. I'm wondering if China won't just have another one of its periodic upheavals at some point in the next twenty or so years. Maybe this is impossible because (I assume) the government has very tight control of who has access to weaponry, but even that wouldn't prevent a civil war if a couple of general split off. I'm quite a neophyte in this area, so people who know what they're talking about may well find this laughable.
Arlen Specter's Op-Ed on the Asbestos trust fund bill. It appears to be partially recycled from a similar op-ed he ran in the Washington Times in March, with the new portions addressing Dick Armey running ads against the bill. The bill looks surprisingly meritorious, though it's problematic that the fund won't pay out based on the liklihood of future illness, but rather only on actual existing harm. Since pay-outs based on potential can be used for medical monitoring and other preventative measures, it seems plausible to me that they would decrease the fund's total liability. Maybe the bill sponsors have ran the numbers on this and concluded otherwise. If so, I wish Specter had decided to mention that in the op-ed. I may write more about this issue if I find a good source of information other than the bill's primary proponent.
Wine makes odd friendships
Judges in dissent: Thomas, Rehnquist, O'Connor, Stevens.
If one has a strong commitment to the idea of liberal judges who vote one way and conservatives who vote another, it would be quite odd to see Stevens with the conservatives and the conservative/ centrist O'Connor, while Scalia joins with three of the nominal liberals and the conservative/centrist Kennedy. Of course, Linda Greenhouse wrote an article my junior year in high school about how Kennedy is the key vote on the Supreme Court, and she hasn't been proven wrong many times since. I also doubt that article was the first of its genre, though I know its the first I was aware of. Then again, one opinion doesn't disprove a trend.
It's also an interesting example of the court being quite divided even on issues which aren't subject to much public (as distinguished from legal) controversy. I haven't looked at the opinions yet, but I'm somewhat surprised this didn't feature a Scalia opinion concurring in the judgment. Given the lineup, I'd expect the majority to use reasoning that Scalia doesn't accept.
Update: Despite a timestamp nine minutes later, I had not read this PrawfsBlawg post making my main point until after I posted.
*This is not meant at all as an anti-Bush screed, but really as an absract contemplation. Nevertheless, some elements of my low-opinion of the current President may accidentally intrude.
This does not deserve its own post|
When balance runs wild
Update: See also Matt Weiner's thoughts on this topic. Not as funny as Kieran's, nor intended to be, but pretty interesting.
In which the blog lives up to its URL
Art blogging. Because I'm sophisticated.
Via Tyler Cowen, a semi-interesting quiz on moral intuitions and proper exercise of state power. My results were:
Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.13.
Your Interference Factor is: 0.00.
Your Universalising Factor is: 1.00.
What do these results mean?
Are you thinking straight about morality?
There was no inconsistency in the way that you responded to the questions in this activity. You see very little wrong in the actions depicted in these scenarios. And anyway you indicated that an act can be wrong even if it is entirely private and no one, not even the person doing the act, is harmed by it. So, in fact, had you thought that the acts described here were entirely wrong there would still be no inconsistency in your moral outlook. However, there is a tension in your responses in that you indicated that you do see at least minimal harm in some of the activities depicted here. Given that the actions described in these scenarios are private and it was specified as clearly as possible that they didn't involve harm, it isn't clear where you think the harm might lie. More about this below...
Assuming I understand correctly how they determined that I think acts can be wrong even if no-one is harmed by the act, I'd like to explain my reasoning. It seemed to me that some of the acts described are harmful to valuable societal institutions (the most obvious one being promise-keeping), and that the breakdown of those institutions is harmful in the long run, even if no one in the specific example is harmed.
Flypaper theory as categorical imperative
One benefit posited for the American presence in Iraq is to fight the terrorists there before they show up here.
For a change of pace, there's an actual point to the title of this post.
My high school alma mater has fallen fourteen places since the 2003 rankings, despite administering .279 more tests per graduating senior. I wanted to take a broader look at results over time (I know we were in the top ten in the early days of the ranking, oh how the mighty have fallen, etc.) but I can't find any results prior to last year's online.
*Percentages are, of course, made up.
Update: While looking for historical (historical meaning seven or eight year old) results, I did find an old Slate article in which James Fallows criticizes the rankings, Jay Mathews (the Newsweek reporter who's been the bylined writer on the rankings articles since at least 2000, if not earlier) responds, and Fallows sums things up. Unfortunately, the link to Mathews' response is broken, so it's a rather one-sided debate.
The kids are all right
Stylistically, I think there's something really wrong with the transition between the first two sentences of the first paragraph of his first answer and the second two sentences. But it seems so off to me that I don't know how an editor would have failed to catch it, so I'll assume it's a purposefully odd style that I just don't like.
Update: A reader suggested to me that I'm not being critical enough of Cohen, which is not something I ever expected to hear. In particular, he's worried about Cohen's claim that, "But it would be no more ethical for you to read her journal surreptitiously than to skulk around her campus hoping to pick up snatches of her conversation." Cohen goes too far with that, but I'm not as confident that he's wrong about his overall point. The reason is that I think people have different obligations to their family than they do to society at large (that should be wholly non-controversial), and that those obligations can meaningfully be described as ethical. If I had to flesh out that second claim, I'd do so on a pseudo-contractual theory that by interacting with someone in the mode of a family member you're implicitly or explicitly agreeing to responsibilities which you don't have to others.
Given the above, while the reader who brought the under-critical nature of this post to my attention thought it was very persuasive that it's far more efficient for a writer to censor themselves rather than to impose self-restraint on each individual reader [I'm paraphrasing, I think fairly]; I don't find that to be a decisive consideration. It's interesting, but I'm not sure it gets the argument all the way to the desired conclusion. I don't have a fully developed theory of intra-family ethics (does anyone?), so I'm not certain where to go from here. Randy is too harsh to in saying that it's ethically wrong for a father to read his daughter's online journal/blog. On the other hand, it seems likely to me that a better outcome will follow from the father informing his daughter than otherwise, but when I'm talking about what the father is obligated (not-wrong) to do, that's not particularly conclusive either. If she's not blogging about anything that she'd mind her parents reading (and as I said above, in my experience most non-anonymous bloggers take into account that people who know them in real life will be able to find their blogs), there's no harm in her father telling her he found the blog, and it may help to build intra-family trust. If she is blogging about things which she wouldn't want her father to know, it's probably going to hurt their future relationship for him to know about it and either have to hide from her that he knows or confront her about it with her feeling that he's found out illegitimately. The only way I see a better outcome from not telling is the paternalistic case where she's blogging about things which she wouldn't her father to know, but he in some sense should know. This update is too long and I'm not sure how to wrap it up.
The Tuesday group meets on Wednesdays
I can still read Bierce
Replica, n. A reproduction of a work of art, by the artist that made the original. It is so called to distinguish it from a "copy," which is made by another artist. When the two are made with equal skill the replica is the more valuable, for it supposed to be more beautiful than it looks.
Two other acute judgments, though I don't praise them for their subtlety:
Impartial, adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two conflicting opinions.
Impiety, n. Your irreverence towards my deity.
The subject of the article also seemed quite bothered by incorrect facts not being marked off for, but that's somewhat off base. There are two reasons for not minding inaccurate factual claims. One is that the fact, if it were true, would do a good job of supporting the student's argument. This indicates that the student knows how to properly support a conclusion. Another is if the fact is being used for illustration rather than support, in which case it should really be neutral to the overall grading.
Anyway, read the article, it's good, and standardized testing is an important thing to be thinking about.
The American Radical Left
I read the Penal Code
This post will be updated with whatever frequency I find other provisions of the penal code odd.
I need an economic impact study
My guess, when a friend first pointed the change out to me, was that it had been hijacked to count down to a movie premiere. I was pretty far off, it's a countdown to when the Olympic committee announces the winning bid for 2012. The one thing piece of information I'd like before deciding on whether or not I'm in favor of the Olympics in New York would be how much of the added tourism to New York would be diverted from the rest of the United States versus from the rest of the world. Though now that I write that, I'm not really sure which way that information would cut. I can see arguments in both directions.
Now that I'm actually thinking about this, here is the truly relevant cosmopolitan ethical concern: How much of the wealth generated by the Olympics being in New York would eventually end up in the hands of the global poor, and how quickly would it get there, as compared to the wealth generated by the Olympics being in Paris, which is the relevant alternative. I would guess that New York has both more and a higher percentage of immigrants, and since remittances are a big source of funds for many of the poorer nations, this seems to favor New York.
On the level of looking at his personality, Bernie Williams has been one of my favorite Yankees for years. To emphasize the truth of this, let me point out that I own a copy of The Journey Within, and think it's a reasonably good album (that's supposed to build my credibility as a Bernie fan, not as someone with taste in music). During his 1995-2002 peak, he was a truly great player. However, since around 2001, his defense has been bad enough to negate his offense, even in a good year. The Yankees have had many opportunities to get him out of center field (actually out of the lineup) and some fans have been asking for it for years. For instance, when the Yankees signed A-Rod prior to the start of last season, many people wanted him to remain at shortstop, with Jeter moving to the outfield. Since Rodriguez was always the better defensive shortstop of the two, it was thought they would get the most value by leaving him at his natural position and giving Jeter a chance at either center or left, with Matsui taking the other. If I remember right, there were a couple of decent options for the Yankees at third base, and this arrangement would have improved the Yankees defense markedly.
The reason I'm talking about this is that Yankees management has responded to the Yankees weak April by taking Bernie out of the lineup. They did this in a very interesting, though possibly problematic, way. Matsui shifts to center field, where he should be able to perform the required defensive duties ably. And Robinson Cano comes up from the minors to play second base, which is going to be quite interesting, as he's a top prospect who I've wanted to see in action for quite a while. The not so great part is that Tony Womack, who a mistaken signing in the first place, is moving to left field. This may actually mitigate his lack of defensive prowess, since left isn't as important a defensive position as second, but he doesn't have nearly the kind of batting ability one expects from a corner outfielder.
Overall, this is going to make the Yankees a lot more interesting to watch for the next couple of weeks. A lot of their top minor league players have been getting at least a small chance. This includes Chien Ming-Wang, who gave a solid performance in his first major league start on Saturday, with yours truly attending.
But all of this has been already said. I want to pick a nit with the column and ask what purpose certain numbers he's using are supposed to serve. In particular, I think they're lazy writing used to make an obviously true point sound more meaningful, and more normatively forceful, than it is.
He says: The average worker - average pay now is $37,000 - retiring in 2075 would face a cut equal to 10 percent of pre-retirement income. Workers earning 60 percent more than average, the equivalent of $58,000 today, would see benefit cuts equal to almost 13 percent of their income before retirement.
But above that level, the cuts would become less and less significant. Workers earning three times the average wage would face cuts equal to only 9 percent of their income before retirement. Someone earning the equivalent of $1 million today would see benefit cuts equal to only 1 percent of pre-retirement income.
This appears to me to be a long way of saying that people with lower incomes get more out of social security. But there's nothing else there: since rich people have more money, and Social Security benefits are capped at a certain level, of course their benefits are less relative to their total income. Also, I think this is a situation where absolute numbers are really more relevant than proportions (this is also true of the original Jason Furman piece which Krugman is taking the numbers from, the numbers get apparent normative force from being written as proportions which they would lack if seen in absolute terms). So I really don't understand what, for instance, Mark Kleiman, is doing in his post about the column. I really understand that Bush's proposal isn't particularly progressive, but I don't see the normative force at all in, "or the people who got the most out of the tax cuts which blew the Social Security surplus, the hit would be much smaller, down to 1% at the million-dollar-a-year level." If those people had their Social Security benefits cut to zero, it would still be a small hit relative to their absolute income. So what's going on here? I also think the use of these figures may be part of what Andrew Sullivan means when he calls the column "flailing," but if so he is missing the forest for the trees, since the important part is the slippery slope argument.
Thinking out loud
It's because medical operations in a non-emergency situation are, without consent, a tortious battery. So if only a minor were to consent to an appendectomy and then something were to go wrong, the parents will have very good grounds for a suit based on common-law battery. Even if the medical personnel being sued followed procedure perfectly and have an air-tight case that what they did wasn't malpractice under the law in that area, the lack of consent problem is fatal. And consent from a minor will not be enough in many cases, because consent from a minor is presumed to not be fully informed nor fully voluntary. This leads me to wonder if pro-life parents have ever tried to sue doctors who provided abortions to their minor children on the theory of battery and lack of consent, and since I'm sure the answer is yes, what the result of the case(s) was(were). I don't have any more of a point to this post, and will stop writing for now.
Post written in reaction to posts at Lawyers, Guns and Money and by Bitch, Ph.D., respectively. Also, the post at Lawyers, Guns and Money two down from the one linked to includes a clever Sex Pistols reference.