10 March 2010

Tab Clearing

This graph is all over the internet, but I run this place as much to keep track of cool stuff for myself as for you readers (there are people reading this, right?  you all exist?), so here's the best graph of the week, tracking water usage in Edmonton during the Canadian gold medal hockey game.  (From Pat's Papers.)

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Quoted in full:
rantings of a randomscrub | randomscrub | An Excellent Question

Via Instapundit, Cato@Liberty has a question for the President:
The rationale for your proposed tax on high-cost health insurance plans is that it would encourage people to purchase less-comprehensive coverage and thereby reduce health care spending.

If that’s a good idea, then why is it bad when insurers raise premiums?
(I'd also add "Why the hell is it any of your business how much of my compensation I want to spend on healthcare?" but that's just me.)
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Here's a great re-examination of Mohandas Gandhi by Tim Hulsey. It's widely recognized (thought not widely enough for my tastes) that the first counterargument to Gandhi and pacifism in general is "But what would you have done about Hitler?" Hulsey expands on that, from the perspective of someone who was a member of a neo-Gandhian movement but saw the light, as it were. He righty points out that Gandhi's half-baked philosophy only worked because he was fighting an over-reacting and overly-violent British government, but not one so violent that they would control the press, which was left to report to a British people who had an image of themselves as enlightened defenders of liberty.

PS I also like how Hulsey references Rushdie's questioning of people with new ideas: "What happens when you win?" That's a more specific form of Garrett Hardin's "And then what?" and it should be the first thing asked of any reformer.

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I like today's 4-Block World.

I also never noticed cartoonist Tom McMahon's tagline for his site: "Chuckles and Angst." Love it.

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Cafe Hayek | Don Boudreaux | An Open Letter to President Obama

CBS radio news this morning ran a clip of one of your recent speeches. In it, you criticize insurance companies because they “ration coverage … according to who can pay and who can’t.”

My first thought was “not exactly; coverage is rationed according to who pays and who doesn’t.” Ability to pay isn’t the same thing as actually paying, and what insurers care about is the latter. Many folks – especially young adults – have the ability to pay but choose not to do so. They get no coverage.

But further pondering of your point leads me to look beyond such nit-picking to see fascinating possibilities. Not only insurers, but all producers who greedily refuse to supply persons who don’t pay should be set aright. [...]

For example, the typical worker rations his labor services according to who pays and who doesn’t. That must stop. Oh, and supermarkets! Every single one rations groceries according to who pays. Likewise with restaurants, clothing stores, home-builders, furniture makers, even lawyers! You name it, rationing is done according to who pays. [...]

You can only distribute scarce goods according to market prices, dictatorial fiat, queueing or random draw. If you abandon market pricing for something you are obligated to argue that one of those others is better. See also this afternoon's post about attempting redistribution through sneaky work-arounds rather than upfront transfers.

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Via Kempt, Young Man/Old Man on the silliness of the fetish for Made in America, or what I call "foppish nationalism" or "coxcomb protectionism." I wanted to comment on that trend when I saw this article on "Hipster Patriotism" in Apparel.com, but I never got around to it and YM/OM does it very well. The implicit racism of making "imported" interchangeable with "low quality" particularly annoys me.
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The Week | Gene Weingarten | The last word: Why old dogs are the best dogs

I have lived with eight dogs, watched six of them grow old and infirm with grace and dignity, and die with what seemed to be acceptance. I have seen old dogs grieve at the loss of their friends. I have come to believe that as they age, dogs comprehend the passage of time, and, if not the inevitability of death, certainly the relentlessness of the onset of their frailties. They understand that what’s gone is gone.

What dogs do not have is an abstract sense of fear, or a feeling of injustice or entitlement. They do not see themselves, as we do, as tragic heroes, battling ceaselessly against the merciless onslaught of time. Unlike us, old dogs lack the audacity to mythologize their lives. You’ve got to love them for that.
That's from Weingarten's Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs (with photgraphs by Michael Williamson). I've been meaning to read it, but I think I need to wait until I have a new pup, since I'm anticipating it making me pretty nostalgic for Gus.

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In discussing Avatar last weekend, I mentioned that the floating mountain thing had been done before by Star Wars: Ewoks and the Transformers cartoons, but I totally blanked out on a prime example: Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky. That's a double shame, because his corpus is such a huge and obvious influence on Avatar. ("Influence" is putting it kindly.) Besides Castle in the Sky, there's Princess Mononoke, NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind and Howl's Moving Castle.

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