Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, March 24, 2017

Three Things

1. To drink or not to drink? That is the question Stone's Full Circle Ale presents to me:

Stone Brewing is breaking new ground by becoming the first to try making beer using water that "comes from the toilet."
In lieu (hah!) of my occasional beer recommendation, I ask because all water is recycled, and this wouldn't be newsworthy but for two possibilities: (1) environmentalists are enamored of recycling regardless of whether it is actually wasteful (i.e., more expensive than other alternatives); or (2) the brewery, based in San Diego, which did not suffer from California's drought, could be celebrating the innovation accountable for this fact. Regardless, the new beer will afford a chance for some interesting conversations once it hits the fan -- I mean, the market.

So my question comes not from a place of squeamishness, but from moral opposition to environmentalism, which is not the same thing as the wise use of resources.

2. What am I doing right now? Well, my daughter has yet another ear infection. Her waking up caused my son to wake early, so guess where he is. Here's a hint: "HOw To Workk From Home Wth Yor Chil,d SittiNG ON Yoour/ Lappppppp." Luckily, about half of this was already done.

And yes, I'm quite "focsed." Thanks for asking.

3. The other day, I raised my voice at my daughter, whom I was having to correct for at least the third time. My son, who is three, but very protective of his older sister, darted into the kitchen almost instantly and told me to "Calm down."

Weekend Reading

"When you focus on the things you feel you did wrong, you begin to overlook the things you did right." -- Michael Hurd, in "Leave those Regrets at Home" at The Delaware Wave

"Alcoholism, while not a disease, is not a choice in the normal sense of the term." -- Michael Hurd, in "Addiction: How Much is Too Much?" at The Delaware Coast Press

"If his presidency accomplishes nothing more than exposing the media as the dishonest, immoral and largely unaccountable bunch of sycophants for the leftist-socialist cause that they are, Donald Trump will have done America a heroic service." -- Michael Hurd, in "Left's Efforts to Censor 'Fake News' Real Threat to Free Speech" at Newsmax

-- CAV

I'm Happy for You

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Working my way through Barbara Sher's insightful I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, I encountered the following helpful observation about child-rearing:

[F]ew parents realize that pride in a child's accomplishments can be a tricky issue: it implies ownership. You wouldn't walk up to a famous athlete and say, "I'm proud of you." You know he or she isn't yours to be proud of. (84)
Sher correctly notes that "your children ... belong to themselves," and suggests a better way of expressing happiness about their achievements: See the title.

Yes. My son is only three and it is only potty training. (Finally!) But the time to start cultivating this habit is now, now that I am aware of the issue with this very common expression.

-- CAV

P.S. And don't get me started on the trendy, too often meaningless, "Good job," which does avoid the problem noted above. I noticed it was way over-used when my daughter wasn't even two, and decided never to use it myself. Indeed, my daughter surprised me one day by jokingly saying "good job" in a patronizing way. That let me know I was right to avoid that particular knee-jerk phrase.

Empathy vs. Feelings of Persecution

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

So much of the current crusade against bullying really isn't, and often itself amounts to bullying. Given the backdrop of combative hothouse flowers this is breeding, it is refreshing to hear someone speak about bullying and empathy and yet, at the same time, make an excellent point:

If you feel bullied, take the time to think about why the bully did what they did and if there is another viewpoint to the situation. What would you do if you were the other person? Why? If you're the person doing the conflict resolution, use empathy to help both parties understand where the other person is coming from.
Suzanne Lucas is absolutely right: Bullying is less prevalent than many people think it is. While it's important to learn self-assertiveness and other skills to shut down (or at least blunt the effects of) bullying, knowing how to spot the real thing is arguably more important.

-- CAV

Portlanders Soon to Feel More 'Utilized'

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

One of the bloggers at Hot Air comments on a proposal by the city of Portland, Oregon, to induce home owners to let homeless people live on their property. The inducement comes in the form of a free-standing mother-in-law apartment placed on their property by the city. The property owner can lease the "tiny home" after five years of allowing the city to send homeless people to live in it.

While this sounds, quite frankly, pretty creepy on the surface, I suppose there's nothing immediately disqualifying about the approach. The government isn't forcing anyone to put one of these makeshift shelters in their yard, but rather seeking volunteers who are willing to do so. And in theory, it's conceivable that willing homeowners might get something out of the bargain. If the tiny house is still livable after five years of being occupied by a stream of homeless persons, the landowner could then legally rent it out to paying customers for supplemental income.

But how likely is that? Looking at the conditions in the tent cities, not only in Portland but at homeless gatherings around the nation, this is not generally a clientele one would expect to take good care of the space and work to keep property values up. I'm sure there may be exceptions to the rule but the trends seem undeniable. And this doesn't even begin to address the question of having unknown persons who frequently may have a history of "interactions with the police" tramping around your property at all hours of the night and day. It's interesting that the director of this project describes the locations for these tiny houses as "underutilized space" in the interview. I have some underutilized space in my backyard as well. I call it my backyard and I don't generally open it up for strangers.
Agreed. This is creepy, but two things immediately strike me as not just "disqualifying about the approach," but outrageous: (1) A substantial part of the money funding this has been looted from private individuals, who should be free to decide whether or not to spend their own money on such an endeavor; and (2) What recourse might one have if a next-door neighbor decided to do this, and the occupants happen to be criminals who don't politely confine their activities to a single yard? Even if all the normal remedies to such a situation remain, the city is foisting people of questionable character on any neighborhood with a resident who will stoop to anything to get a "free" outbuilding, or wants to pat himself on the back for being such a great humanitarian -- as if the absence of such a program was stopping him from helping the homeless in the first place. And again, it is doing this at the expense of any victims involved.

-- CAV

Precrastination vs. Planning

Monday, March 20, 2017

Over at Fast Track, I have learned of a new word, precrastination. The post there is a round-up that also points to a post on the benefits of procrastination, although it is debatable that putting things off always deserves to be called procrastination.

Semantics aside, the first two items in the list do a good job of highlighting a common theme, which is that how far in advance one performs a task is much less important than thinking it through. Regarding "procrastination," the author notes:

... Procrastination can also cut out unnecessary work if things change between the time work is assigned and the time it's due; can give your ideas time to percolate and improve; and can lead to higher quality, better thought out work. If you're not convinced, [Larry Kim] also points out that in ancient Greece and Rome, procrastination was highly regarded; you were thought to clearly be a leader if you had time to think things over and refrain from acting until you had fully thought out a decision. [bold added]
This theme is reinforced by the commentary on precrastination:
... Bob Pothier writes in Inc. that you might be a pre-crastinator if you reply right away to emails about problems rather than waiting until you've thought it through; if you start on major assignments right away rather than waiting; and even if you start buying holiday gifts before Thanksgiving. The issue, of course, is that jumping on things immediately isn't always good; waiting to answer an email until you have time to think, for example, can lead to a better answer. Pothier argues that waiting is especially important when a project requires creativity of innovation... [links in original, bold added, format edits]
I have always hated to be rushed, particularly at the start of complicated projects or those likely to change in scope. Both situations make it hard to prioritize and require the kind of thinking that simply can't be goaded. I think the two items together are useful for thinking about when to start projects generally, as well as making oneself ready to counter the rash urgings of the precrastinators in one's life.

-- CAV

Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, March 17, 2017

Three Things

1. Alex Epstein has challenged Bill "The [Self-Proclaimed] Science Guy" Nye to "debate ... on the morality of fossil fuels," and has graciously offered to handle all the logistics.

To the best of my knowledge, Sir Robin -- I mean Nye -- has failed to respond in the nearly three weeks since.

2. There is a new blog called You Can and Did Build It, which focuses on free will:

This blog's entire purpose is ..., put positively, to prove, defend and promote the idea that [man] can choose his direction, make his own life and succeed on his own. Fundamentally, it will defend the idea that man has free will, or volition. This is a broad philosophical abstraction, and as such needs to be defined, put in context and concretized, which this blog will do over the course of many articles -- supported by philosophical argument, as well as historical references and concrete news stories.
The above comes from its introductory post. You will find new posts linked directly in the blogroll as they appear.

3. I'm way late to this party, but this toddler video-bomb is too good to pass up. The fun starts at 1:45.

As my mother put it after I texted this to her and a few other members of my family:
If you could watch adult TV, you would have seen it on the local and national news... Reminds me of something that might happen to you!
Hah! Right on both counts.

Weekend Reading

"On the basis of this classic moral justification for all property rights -- that people should have the fruits of their productive labors secured to them as their property -- early American legislators and judges secured stable and effective property rights to innovators and creators." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Patents Are Property Rights, Not a 'Bizarre Regulatory Lobby'" at Townhall

"Parents might not have the opportunity to send their child to a Montessori school, but these enlightened ideas can still help kids navigate through the early years of life." -- Michael Hurd, in "It's Not All about the Warm Fuzzies" at The Delaware Wave

"To fight these ideas and the culture they've spawned on campus will require more than complaining about college 'snowflakes' or political correctness." -- Steve Simpson, in "Why Our Campuses Are Boiling Over in Left-Wing Rage Instead of Discourse" at The Hill

"Therapy, or some similar commitment to ongoing self-change, is the only sure-fire way to move beyond mere functioning and into the realm of actual happiness." -- Michael Hurd, in "How to Improve Yourself WITHOUT Excuses!" at The Delaware Coast Press

-- CAV

Oasis Spotted by Nation Thirsty for Freedom

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The good news: Virginia Postrel has seen Trump's proposal to roll back gas mileage regulations, and raised him with a call for outright abolishment:

Automakers won't ask politicians to scrap the CAFE standards. They're used to them. But Trump and his allies have promised to shake up Washington. If Trump and Congressional Republicans are going to pick a fight over fuel standards, they might as well go all the way.
The bad news lies in the context of the above, which completely undercuts the bold-sounding proposal. The whole rest of the article focuses on how fuel standards fail to achieve narrow policy goals. This may be true, but it takes for granted (a) the propriety of the government ordering everyone around, and (b) the practicality of central planning:
The more you examine how CAFE standards work, the more convoluted and absurd they appear. A rational approach would either raise the price of gasoline directly with additional gas taxes per gallon, offset by tax cuts elsewhere, or levy an emissions tax, payable with one's car registration, based on the age and model of the car.
I don't intend to single out Postrel for failing to see the forest of central planning for the trees of one failed policy or another. Many voters complained about Barack Obama's "incompetence" when they should have asked whether (a) they wanted someone to deprive them of freedom more competently, and (b) whether it is even possible for one tiny group of politicians to run a country -- at least anywhere but into the ground. The GOP, too, is guilty of this problem, as shown by the fact that they seem content with merely tweaking ObamaCare, rather than planning for a transition to a free market in medicine.

I do agree that, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth Trump's proposal will surely provoke, it hardly "shakes things up." But neither would pursuing any other policy aimed at a task outside the proper scope of government. If we continue to let people for whom freedom is an impediment set the terms of our political goals, they will keep winning, even if they don't have enough sense to realize it.

-- CAV