Sunday assorted links

1. The Saudi monarchy as private firm.

2. Noah on YIMBY vs. NIMBY.

3. Obit of Hegelian Duncan Forbes, one of the best I’ve read, from 1994.

4. What kinds of secrets does the average person admit to keeping?

5. How fake are nature documentaries?

6. The culture that is Northwestern:

Student protesters shut down a sociology class at Northwestern University on Tuesday, after a professor invited an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) public relations officer to be a guest speaker.

The protesters, chanting and waving banners, argued that the officer’s presence on campus represented a threat to undocumented students. But the professor — who canceled the class during the protest because she was concerned for the speaker’s safety — said she had been hoping to start a dialogue.

“The goal was to bring in somebody who was familiar with how that agency is structured,” Beth Redbird, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology…

Addendum: The same professor wrote #7 here.

7. I thought Tower was a superb and original movie, documenting the shooting episode from UT Austin in 1966; here is one good review.


Go Noah, go!

How much of yimby is about the deep and long memories of the last time someone tried to 'fix' cities? These places are actually liveable, albeit expensive. There is a real possibility that the cities could be rendered unliveable by increased crime, as well as corrupt city politicians. These people own city hall, and damn if they are going to let someone else ruin it for them.
And ruin is a very strong possibility, even a certainty.

I don't know. For me, and probably many, those plans were played out long ago and far away. It would be foolish to rate them higher than local experience.

Where I am in SoCal, rich communities and the Coastal Commission limit things near the surf line, but a mile inland we have tremendous dynamism.

And, zoning is a contract. If you buy into a community where the rule is no more than 4 houses per acre, who other than you are a qualified stakeholder?

Those that are into increased density fail to create a framework that makes this a win-win proposition. One example of such a contract is that current property holders are stakeholders and joint owners in the utilities that require community right of way, i.e. sewer and water systems and distribution and roads, and those that want to add high density housing, must buy newly issued shares in the utilities at market rates. The mechanism could be a combination of paying to current owners in proportion to their property tax obligation, and adding capital to the system to allow the increased demand. The other aspect is compensation to those nearby whose quality of life decreases from the increased density.

Why is a zoning contract not sacred, but a contract that obliges future tax payers to pay pensions they never approved is sacred?

"Why is a zoning contract not sacred, but a contract that obliges future tax payers to pay pensions they never approved is sacred?"

The zoning "contract" is not meant as an unbreakable promise, anymore than any other of the thousands of laws that have changed over the last 100 years.

So run for city council and change the zoning laws. That is how it is done, and oddly enough the people who live there are the ones who will vote.

Unless you think that someone far away, maybe in Washington, knows better than the locals and should impose some uniform centrally planned scheme. Akin to the Brown v Board of Education which worked perfectly from what I understand.

Noah, who from what I understand, lives there, should run for the mayoralty on the policy plank he is proposing.

It's best done at the state level, in Sacramento.

"Akin to the Brown v Board of Education which worked perfectly from what I understand."
I wonder when racists will let their frustrations go.

Milliken v. Bradley made Detroit housing far more affordable during the 70s and 80s.

Note that Detroit is the biggest major city with the most single family housing in the world, the place where home ownership is the most favored type of method of building wealth.

If affordable housing, capitalism, individualism, are the key to a great growing economy, Detroit is the place where those factors should deliver really high growth.

Housing in Detroit is cheaper than any place in Texas for home owners.

Trust me, mulp, capitalism and individualism were pretty hard to come by in Detroit from the end of WWII to the GM bankruptcy.

"Housing in Detroit is cheaper than any place in Texas for home owners."

No, it isn't. The *purchase* price of houses in the city of Detroit is so low because the other costs of living in Detroit are so high: property taxes (3.5% of market value), income taxes (2.4%), and auto insurance:

"Detroit ranked first in the country for car insurance cost with an average annual premium of $10,723.22. The next highest city on the list was New Orleans, at $4,309.61...To compile the average rates, Nerdwallet used a hypothetical 26-year-old male driver with no history of accidents, who would insure a 2012 Toyota Camry with extended coverage."

People haven't abandoned houses in Detroit neighborhoods and moved to the suburbs for no reason. They've moved for sound financial reasons (and the ones moving back into downtown lofts and condos are doing the same -- they're getting enormous 'enterprise zone' property tax breaks). Poor people manage to live cheaply in Detroit by a set of strategies that includes not owning cars, not carrying insurance (they buy temporary policies and cancel as soon as they update their registration), and not paying property taxes (why worry about foreclosure if you can move on to the next $15,000 house -- or you may even be able to buy your own house back at the tax auction for far less than the property taxes owed).

As for Milliken vs Bradely, Michigan's 'schools of choice' law has resulted in large numbers of Detroit kids attending school in suburban districts:

You're a pseudo nazi without the intelligence. Tarantino lampooned you racist idiots already. You have German envy, you have the hate but not the IQ or efficiency.

There's no such thing as race traitors. There's low class human garbage and normal people. Collecting all the white human trash won't give you a win. You've just grouped all worthless white peolke into a racial grievance group.

Funny how this kind of white insecurity led to white on white violence!

This is a Thiago moment. They turn on themselves.

Americans do those things, don't they? Political-motivated violence is all but unheard of in Brazil.

Funny how you didn't actually read the article, just assuming the "violence" was from Trump supporters, when in fact that threats of violence were from your side.

I am pretty sure these are disaffected Trump supporters, those who believed his healthcare promises.

R on R violence.

He has the wrong thought experiment. It's wrong to destroy the costly property. Instead destroy the monopoly profit that it's location affords, which is probably the park the houses overlook, or the schools for the kids who live there.

So, truck in Trump's really bad dudes from Mexico, deported gang members who already lived in the US since age 6, and arm them under the second amendment with as much ammo and guns as they can carry if the build and defend squatter shanty towns in the parks next to the expensive real estate. Even if they are removed and deported in a bloody battle with Federal swat and State militia, the park will no longer be valued, and the history will induce fear that destroys the monopoly profits embodied in local real estate.

After all, aren't shanty towns built cheaply on public land and defended by the people needing cheap housing without government interference just exactly what economists railing against government regulation are calling for?

Or, bus in poor non-white kids while busing out the white kids to poor minority schools. Five years of Federal ordered bussing will destroy the monopoly profits embodied in houses from the segregated wealthy white only schools.

Even bringing in a few upper working class blacks will destroy the prices of housing owned by upper working class whites. Look at how quickly housing prices fell in Detroit which had housing that individually would sell for a million dollars plus in coastal cities based on lot and house size. But based on non-whites in the neighborhood, houses that cost $50,000 to construct sell for $5000.

4. "[I]t is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection." Even our secret lives are prospective, namely thoughts of having illicit sex in the future. It's a relief that I'm not responsible for whatever issues my son may have in his life, him being prospective and all. If we can't blame our parents, who are we to blame?

#6 - Those students should be expelled for opposition to free and open discussion and/or rank stupidity. If not, then Northwestern should be bombed and made into a parking lot.

Alternatively, Northwestern's student protestors might be rewarded with tuition discounts next year for having (even briefly) disrupted a single class in sociology.

Likely these overeducated but not very smart students will be the bureaucrats of tomorrow. Maybe even working for the Immigration department. Their deep understanding of the issues as well as a demonstrated ability to handle a variety of situations and people will be reflected in the quality of service their department provides.

Alas they have hit on an effective method of achieving their goals, however closed minded these are. I expect this will only become more widespread.

"Democracy has terrorism for its means and totalitarianism for its ends." On the other hand, they are all stupid rich kids, and large batches of stupid rich kids have rarely been the victors over the course of history.


I'm old enough to remember the 1960's and 1970's when students were on the other side of the free speech wars and closed down universities to force them to open dialog to a different set of "unpopular" memes. Such actions could be rewarding if one was screwing up a class and wanted final exam cancelled.

How is that a reward for the students? The discount would accrue to the parents or whomever pays the tuition, not the students.

I have a number of "ideas" for better uses of my time than sitting through a sociology lecture. They include chug-a-lugging a fifth of Scotch Whisky, which at my age, could prove fatal.

Me too. But remember that they weren't exactly agitating for freedom for all ideas, let alone all unpopular ideas, but for the subset of political ideas that THEY believed in.

This is my long winded way of saying that I despise the '68 generation Marxists, as they are known in Europe.

Protestors rewarded, sure, but with discounts in tuition? I believe there's a saying about hell freezing over...

Provide evidence or go away, shill.

It's all over Faux News!

Maybe if you watched real news instead of that lamestream crap you'd know these things.


It's refreshing to see a lefty who is ashamed of his tribe's actions.

Thanks for that!

Nonsense. Might be a viable theory if the target was an author with a book to peddle, like Yiannopoulos or Coulter. Unlikely with some no-name ICE agent.

I could see it if it were just some signs but with actual Left-wing protestors? They don't make costumes that good.

I must be getting old or something, but I agree with the sentiment. That's not to say these kids should have their ability to protest undermined--but they can't be allowed to literally shut down a class.


The point of protest is not to register opposition. The point of protest is to invoke the right of the heckler's veto. Maybe you understand the left, maybe you don't. I'll break it down for you:

There is no right to free speech. Speech that disagrees with the opinions of the zeitgeist are hate speech. ICE enforces the law against illegal immigration, which is a form of violence. Defending (via speech) a federal agency that enforces laws against undocumented immigration is literal violence.

The key to note here is that speech is a form of violence and oppression. I'll never forget sitting in a mandatory ethics class for my grad program and listening to an Ivy League tenured ethics professor explain that there is no such thing as free exchange. There's always a power differential, so freedom benefits the most powerful at the expense of the least powerful. No two people/groups ever have the same amount of privilege, and thus the one with more power is immoral in its actions. By definition that's exploitation. Oppression. Violence. Remember, definitions are changed in accordance with the utility of past literal associations. Speech you disagree with is violence. People voting for things you disagree with is oppression and fascism.

Freedom is slavery. Welcome to the future.

Your speech is violence. My violence is speech.

I never called you a "libtard." I assumed you were a liberal, "left." I'm also not a conservative. You're projecting partisan motivated reasoning on someone that thinks both sides deserve condemnation and disrespect.

Let's break down your logic, or lack thereof as the case may be.

College campus viewpoints capturing the zeitgeist: not representative of the left. Massively popular conservative idiot/blowbard is representative of the right.

You're pulling the trigger on the no true Scotsman fallacy, which is disappointing coming from a thoughtful Democrat.

Republicans own blowhard anti science, incapable of logic Hannity. Liberals own Speech is violence and deserves violence in response idiocy. Like an unhappy family, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each is incredibly stupid and wrong in its own way.

Speech is violence is a mainstream liberal belief now, just as science is #fakenews on the right.

Libertarians are manchilden that don't understand public goods or the tragedy of the commons.


"There’s always a power differential."

Michel Foucault's baleful legacy...

Along with the idea that truth is itself constituted out of power relations, rather than innocent.

Upshot? You cannot challenge my views, or subject them to a searching investigation, because then you are a bully.

I think one response would be to expand the Solomon amendment to all federal law enforcement. The students can choose if they want their education subsidize by the taxpayers or not.

The universities are not only allowing this to happen, they are actively encouraging it:
( From the horse's mouth: )
Even a technical university like MIT isn't immune from this wave of nonsense. We recently had a day-long official 'event' for this stuff:
Note "Session #24: Multicultural Stories and Activities for Kids", which is basically naked indoctrination. Imagine a Soviet university with this event (replacing "Multicultural" with "Marxist", of course).

“Those who want to get an education, those who want to teach, should be protected in that at the point of a bayonet if necessary.” -- Ronald Reagan.

The school should reschedule the session and protect it from anti-learning terrorists with National Guard troops.

Voters rewarded Ronald Reagan with the presidency, and SI Hayakawa went from an obscure English professor to US Senate due to his courage in protecting academic freedom. Today's mealy-mouthed academic administrators should look at him as a role model.

6. How is it that Chicago and Northwestern could be located in the same city? My diagnosis of the problem with Northwestern is the Big Ten. What? Sports. The Monsters of the Midway got rid of big time sports long ago. Northwestern would do well to follow the lead.

As a Michigan alum, I think it is important for NW to leave the Big Ten for two reasons. 1) They usually suck at sports. They're not Rutgers, but still. 2) There needs to be less, ahem, competition for academic leadership in the conference.

Northwestern's main campus is in Evanston, which borders Chicago. The law school and some other grad programs are in downtown Chicago.

Lol at Rayward's takeaway from reading 6.

#4: The numbers here are weird. In particular the infographic seems to suggest that about 80/600 (or ~13%) of respondents have "experienced an abortion". This seems high for Britain.
Although that is probably for a year, #4 is over a lifetime.

Shoot, check abortion rates in Russia

I thought the fetii experienced abortion. Women don't "experience" abortion. They exercise their freedom to choose.

The half formed gestating human experiences abortion. And I say this as a 100% constitutional right to abortion voter.

Passivity implies lack of responsibility. Words matter.

And I say this as a 100% constitutional right to abortion voter.

There is no 'constitutional right' to an abortion. There is merely a judicial ukase. "Women exercising their freedom' are engaged in a grossly immoral act, as are the perverted gynecologists they hire.

Very roughly, about 1/4 of otherwise-would-go-to-term pregnancies end in abortion. If 50% of people are women and most of them experience pregnancy, that looks in the right ballpark. (Although these are the numbers you would see at end of life, as opposed to sampling adults from throughout their lives.)

5. Very fake. I do wildlife photography as a hobby. It is extraordinarily difficult to get close, in good light while something interesting happens. I have from time to time, and it is amazing, but having a second person, or lighting equipment, etc. for high quality production means that you have to manufacture them.

I remember seeing a doc on wolves ~20 years ago, likely National Geographic, and the story was astonishing.

Young wolf gets caught trying to mate by the alpha, and is thrashed and sent off from the pack. He spends a lonely winter foraging and almost starving, until he meets a wandering female who joins him and helps him to hunt. Strengthened, he returns to the pack in the spring and overthrows the alpha to take over with his queen. The End.

It was all so perfect and well-covered that I've since assumed it was just random dog footage twisted into a Hollywood tale.

7. Terrorism as well as charity begins at home. Trump lectures Muslims about exporting "Islamic terrorism", but most of our terrorists are grown locally, Charles Whitman being the granddaddy of them all.

I know it may be complicated, but you are describing two separate issues, each with it's own exigencies and solutions.

A question. Has Europe been changed by Islamic terrorism?

You may be right based on hundreds of bombings and attacks on police/armored cars staged by pro-communist, US radicals in the 1960's and 1970's.

Think about 3,000 deaths and billions of dollars of damage wrought by 19 Saudis on September 11, 2001. And compare that to about 50+ years ago, when Whitman killed 14. But, hey! Whitman wasted as many Americans as the San Bernardino jihadis killed in December 2015.

I heard he also has plans to visit Germany. What a Nazi.

Well, he should be fine, unless these people show up in a beer hall -

Islamic terrorism is a distraction. They can murder innocents every once in a while. Who cares?

Barely justifies the TSA. Certainly does not justify war and intervention in other countries. A humane policy would say no immigration or tourism from X places, but also no bombing of X places. Invade/invite the world is the least humanist and dumbest policy. But it's the equilibrium. Liberals get to feel good and get voters, cons get to bomb people.


Barely justifies the TSA.

The TSA undertakes functions which have been performed since 1973. It's just that no one complained prior to 2002 about it.

I think only 15/19 were Saudis. If we are going to use offensive and childish phrases like race traitors, they should be applied to all presidents since 2001 who didn't punish Saudi Arabia, and each congress since 2001 that didn't declare war against Saudi Arabia for its blatant support of islamic terrorism, and to every UN representative from supposed enlightened nations.

Why would you declare war on Saudi Arabia (a country with which we have had businesslike relations for 70 years) due to the acts of a collection of renegades?

All I ask in these stupid "if you actually cared, we'd invade Saudi Arabia! Diatribes is this.

What would improve if we invaded? What possible good outcome would be realized?

What possible leadership could Saudi Arabia have that would be more oriented towards our interests ? Think it's bad now? Imagine democracy. Really. Imagine a democratic Arabia.

This failure mode of thinking comes from an assumption that non democratic governments in no way reflect the will of the people. Everyone is a little American on the inside , just dying to get out. Which is absurd. Saudi Arabia is Saudi Arabia because it's filled with saudis. If anything, the government channels and mitigates the cultural tendencies of jihad and violence elsewhere (see Syria, Yemen).

The ghost of Woodrow Wilson and his democracy-evangelical crusade haunts us. To this day. Neocons think dictators in the Middle East are the cause of the problem and not a reflection of their society. Liberals think we should poke and prod and refuse ties to entire swaths of humanity because they aren't #feminist #woke. And fund government overthrows.

What we need is stability. And more stability. Not a crusade to make everyone #woke or #freedomisntfree.

We have a solid relationship with Saudi Arabia? Good. Why wouldn't we.

I would like to believe that Trump actually knows that Saudis attacked America on 9/11, Saudis funded the Sunni insurgents in Iraq who killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers, and Saudis continue to fund Sunni extremists including ISIS who have slaughtered thousands of Christians, Jews, and Shiite Muslims. I'd like to believe it but I don't. Was Trump speaking to his Saudi hosts in his speech today about Islamic terrorism? Not a chance. He was speaking to Shiite Iranians, who were not invited to the summit. Does Trump know that Shiite Muslims constitute less than 15% of Muslims worldwide, Sunni Muslims more than 85%? Does Trump know that ISIS and al Qaeda are Sunni Muslim organizations? The Saudis welcomed Trump as a hero because Trump is moving America back to the arms of the Saudis and away from the Iranians. And he blessed his Saudi hosts with $100 billion of sophisticated weaponry. What's wrong with this picture?

Yes he knows it. It doesn't matter how many billions of dollars of arms we sell to the Saudis. They have no idea how to use the stuff we sell them. It's all part of petrodollar recycling.

Saudis funded the Sunni insurgents in Iraq who killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers,

Which Saudis?

You do realize, don't you that had Trump torn them a new one, to use your sophomoric phrase, you would have been on here decrying Trump's lack of manners.

I don't think terrorists typically: fear what they are capable of, desperately seek psychiatric help, confess in advance in hope of getting the right drug to stop it, or request in their suicide notes that their brains be autopsied so somebody can figure out what the hell is wrong in there.

I watched a moving documentary about Sandy Hook, and the townspeople's experiences of the massacre, that did not once use the killer's name. It was very pointed and probably appreciated by the families of the victims. It probably also shielded the filmmakers from pushback in another direction, from advocates for the mentally ill or impaired.

However, I think you forfeit some element of Greek tragedy if, as this movie evidently does, you choose to tell the story of the Tower shooting without reference to Charles Whitman's mental state, and his own, frightened, apparently helpless, awareness of the pathology of it.

# 6. Those rightist false flags at universities really need to stop before they hurt someone and are exposed for what they are.

1. The Trump administration as private firm.

Pacem, rayward.

You are (I think) a lawyer. I'm a retired accounting, banking, credit, finance, real estate appraisals, type of guy.

You and I know about business forms both legal and capitalization/financing dimensions.

So, what the Hell is a private firm?

I think the author/degreed dunce was drunk-driving at "family business" in the pejorative sense. Think Corleone.

That being said, the two Bushes too-many terms and the Clinton administration and foundation/rackets are better examples of family businesses than the glorious Trump administration.

#2. I see this Noah guy can't even do simple arithmetic. 500 (rich) people (assumed independent) do not move into 400 luxury apartments. His predicate that the city is closed to growth in its population is self-serving. It not only is not useful in this context, but contradicts the fairly basic assumption that housing supply < housing demand in urban areas (although applying this to some of the ghost cities in China might be interesting) . I am not familiar with this person's writings, and the quality of his exposition here indicates that is a good thing.

3. Explaining the unexplainable, the challenge of Hegelian commentary.

5. I have been a dedicated "Moment of Nature" junkie since childhood. During a recent CBS Morning Show they aired a piece about Norway's Slow TV. The comparison between our expectation of nature and true appreciation of the mundane is stark. Just look at our news, reality TV, or overamplified sexuality in all media/entertainment. We are constantly ratcheting up the drama. Life on the other hand is ordinary and beautiful.

#6. When people say they want to start a dialogue what are they actually talking about? What is the topic of the dialogue they are hoping to initiate? The ICE officer doesn't set policy, so what are they there to talk about?

While "I just wanted to start a conversation" is a typical weenie response to starting a shitstorm, it seems exactly what a professor who invites a guest speaker in to, well, speak is trying to do.

The ICE officer knows things about immigration policy and has personal stories the students aren't privy to. The potential for dialogue is obvious. I'm not sure if you're being deliberately obtuse or not.

Personal stories of what? Breaking up families and hamstringing businesses by throwing their workers out? Or is it all law and order SVU off to the rescue every week. I wonder if the professor understands how much danger they might put any undocumented students in for the sake of dialog.

"I'm the spokesperson for an agency that is empowered to jail and deport you" vs "I'm a student trying not to get deported to a country I hardly remember" isn't much of an equal footing to start a dialog.

It is very unlikely and legally dubious for a community relations officer of ICE to engage in suspicionless stopping or searching of students. Students would be free to ask the questions along the lines of what you raised during the Q&A. If ICE actually wanted to raid Northwestern University in search of undocumented students or staff, they wouldn't need the university's permission to do so although they would probably need a warrant.

" I wonder if the professor understands how much danger they might put any undocumented students in for the sake of dialog." Seems like the student put himself into that position by being here illegally.

I'll use that one if a cop ever stops me for drunk driving.

See, Andre gets that "speech I don't like is violence" trope perfectly.

#7...It looks excellent. Recently, I've been reading about the Tet Offensive and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Between the Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962 and 1970, how many truly sobering events occurred? These times simply can't seem as real to me as those years. Maybe we slowed down in 1970 because we were shell-shocked.

If you opposed the Iraq War but support a war against Saudi Arabia because of 9/11, please explain yourself.

I hear this position with surprising regularity and it has never made any sense to me.

I don't hold this position, but it seems fairly straightforward:

Self-defense the only valid reason for war.

Iraq did not attack the USA, so the Iraq war was bad.

Al Qaeda did attack the USA, so war on on al Qaeda is legitimate. The degree to which (elements of) the Saudi government supported al Qaeda is disputed, but there seems to be consensus that there was some support at some times. Greater degrees of support would implicate KSA in 9/11 and thus make a war with them legitimate.

The problem with Silicon Valley isn’t the $120 million juicer. The problem with Silicon Valley is that it chose the easy path to generating cash flow and is now addicted to it. Of course, the easy path is the advertising platform. $120 million juicers, like flying cars and spaceships to Mars, at least advance technology rather than another advertising platform. But these are the hobbies of billionaires, not the technology that can jump start the economy into another industrial revolution. Don’t get me wrong, technology won’t go anywhere if it can’t generate cash flow. I devoted several years to a telemedicine project (in particular, capnograhy) that had enormous potential to advance health care. The problem was in generating a cash flow that would support the investment. Silicon Valley figured out an easy path to generating cash flow (well, those who went first did, as they now capture most of the cash flow), and that’s great. Indeed, it’s possible that by pursuing the hobbies of billionaires Silicon Valley may stumble upon something useful. Something besides juicers, flying cars, and spaceships to Mars.

6. When I was a student, liberals were the open minded, tolerant ones. Times have done a 180.

6) :"The protesters, chanting and waving banners, argued that the officer’s presence on campus represented a threat to undocumented students."
But undocumented students should not be there in the first place. I don't live in the US so perhaps I am wrong?

You are correct.

So they are there illegally. And the students want to protect them?

Regarding the post on the Saudi Monarchy, it is worth reflecting on one of the most enduring and stable; the papacy - which has as its genius, a democratically elected monarch (through a conclave comprising appointed ecclesiastics) who has no issue

Actually, the BBC's investigative current affairs show 'Spitting Image' nailed the 'fake wildlife documentaries' thing decades ago.

I live in Beijing and have decided that my child should go to a Chinese university, where they will have more freedom of speech and face much less Marxist indoctrination. Many of their fellow students will be Christians and Trump supporters.

That was a superb obituary of Duncan Forbes. I wish I could have been a student of his.

At Northwestern knowledge is ignorance. They hire urban terrorists you know.

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