Being a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I grew up with science fiction being firmly rooted in action and spectacle. What little I'd seen of Star Trek seemed boring … having watched the original series, I find myself in the unfortunate spot of having to admit I was wrong.
I was honestly not expecting much from it.
I’m excerpting heavily to make the point below:
… Star Trek can be slow and often falls on the side of the odd. …
That said, the show generally does well at turning its frequent absurdity into something watchable and often intriguing. …
… The show uses quality writing to overcome its sometimes zany premises.
There are countless episodes like this one where I was skeptical going in but wound up utterly committed to the story by its ends. It's one of the most skillful uses of episodic storytelling I've ever seen in a show …
… Without fancy and expensive effects to fall back on, Star Trek instead had to rely on its writing and the strength of its actors' performances. …
… There is, simply put, a sincerity and genuineness to Star Trek that is infectious. It's intelligent but lacks cynicism. It gives grandiose speeches but also has quiet moments of personal revelation that stick with you. It's a science fiction show, but one built on a foundation of likable characters and human drama. …
My impression of this is that if I deleted all the references to Star Trek, you might think that this guy has gone in skeptical, and come out a believer, after going to a week of performances at one of the better Shakespeare companies.
I use schizophrenic metaphorically, as an adjective: we should recognize that the desire to tax internet transactions is bizarre behavior that should be corrected.
True schizophrenia has many features. For this metaphorical use I want to focus on just one: reversing the ordering of concepts of primary and secondary importance. We’re (metaphorically) schizophrenic about government finance because our priorities are backwards.
When we make purchases, why and what we buy are primary, while who and where and how are secondary.
For example, assume that no one would (reasonably) argue that buying broccoli is worse for you than buying Fritos. That's primary. How you pay for those is secondary, and shouldn't trump the primary decision: you're not better off with the Fritos because you paid cash for them while you charged the broccoli.
Yet this is exactly what we do when we think about government: we completely avoid the primary question of whether its spending is good or bad, and focus on the secondary choice of whether we finance that purchase out of tax revenue or bond sales.
(Now I'll digress and note that I'd prefer a consumption tax to an income tax, and so I'd be fine if they were going to delete some income tax to replace it with a tax on internet purchases. But, of course, that's not what they're doing.)
So if this goes through, it's a victory for bean-counting moralizers — who think they can improve the quality of government purchases by funding them with tax revenue — and a loss for people who do this funny thing called thinking.
Mark Helprin thinks Benghazi was a bad sign. Me too, but in an unstimulating article I found two quotes I liked.
Here’s some antimetabole On Hilary:
… possibly the next president, comprehend this. Her record-air-mile tenure as secretary of state, in which restless ambition was the cause of unambitious restlessness, brought one of the most confused approaches to the international system ever foisted upon the long suffering Republic, unless you think donating Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood was Napoleonic genius. [emphasis added]
On the busy-bodiness of the Obama administrations military endeavors:
History and the present tell us unambiguously that we require vast reserves of strength used judiciously, sparingly where possible, overwhelmingly when appropriate, precisely, quickly, and effectively. Now we have vanishing and insufficient strength used injudiciously, promiscuously, slowly, and ineffectively.
Read the whole thing, entitled "Benghazi's Portent and the Decline of U.S. Military Strength" in the April 10 issue of The Wall Street Journal.
What do you want to bet that society has done essentially zero to address any of them, while technology moves forward and obviates them.
UPDATE: So the gun was tested, the plans were uploaded, 100K people downloaded them in the U.S., the plans are now on servers hosted outside the U.S. and have had about a million downloads … and then the government objected. Do we need more evidence that bureaucrats are controlling reactionaries? This bit of news has been brewing for months … so if you believe banning this is a good idea, the government has just proved they’re willing to provide you with the appearance of doing something rather than the reality. I hope you find that satisfying.
Asking about something that is already in the syllabus.
What’s on my list (all of these are in the polls, but weren’t the top vote getters)?
I never, ever, experienced this in other parts of the country, but students in Utah don’t knock before entering your office. This goes beyond annoying — I think it’s unsettling.
E-mailing assignments without your name … or class … or assignment number … in the filename.
Expecting individualized testing (make-ups).
Expecting me to bring their papers to class repeatedly, so they don’t have to retrieve them from my office because they skipped.
This one has faded a bit with new technology, but students who leave messages without a contact number (or e-mail address), yet still expect a response.
Here’s one that’s growing: students who can’t be bothered to check what they got wrong on their exams. I am now having whole classes where no one even asks to see their exam. Baaa … baaa
Here’s another growing one: students who are doing poorly but won’t even try the extra credit. I only give extra credit in classes where they’ll need it because I already know it’s a tough one … but now the sheep won’t even try the extra credit.
And one more odd one:
I’m totally OK with students calling me by my first name. Except that the only ones who actually want to do that are already either clueless about boundaries, or out to get something. It’s like the perfect litmus test for a student who will have other undesirable behaviors. I have had large numbers of students who are smarter than I am, graduate and get better jobs, and will still call me doctor or professor years down the road … because that’s just what conscientious people do.
Confessing that you don’t understand (but asking questions so close to the exam that I can’t help you is annoying)
Sending late/weekend e-mails (expecting immediate response is definitely annoying)
Disagreeing with me
Asking to see your exam, or go over stuff you missed
Asking for letters of reference (although many students seem to base this on whether or not they liked the professor, rather than on whether or not the professor knows them well enough to say something that might be helpful).
Pointing out my mistakes in lecture
Here’s a late edition: I’m not really bothered by students who only want to get a certain grade out of a class, and are willing to do enough work to get there, but not more. I call that having priorities.
What do all these have in common that has been neglected?
NONE OF THEM ARE PEER-REVIEWED!
I am not making this up.
While the American Economic Review is the flagship journal of our profession, the annual papers and proceedings issue, is made up of very short pieces that do not undergo peer review. Rogoff has this piece listed on his webpage simply as AER, which is very un-needed bit of resume padding.
Similarly, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, is a publication designed to provide popular presentations of research questions. On its webpage it states, “Articles appearing in the journal are normally solicited by the editors and associate editors.”
Everyone inside the economics profession knows this. Either R&R did not seek to publish their results in a peer reviewed journal, or no peer reviewed journal would accept them.
I think there’s one poorly written sentence here: “Everyone inside the economics profession knows this.” When I read that, I think Kevin is referring to everyone know Rogoff and Reinhart pulled a fast one. I think what he means is that everyone knows those 3 outlets are not peer-reviewed. But, for my part, I never put it together that they went 3 for 3.
Meanwhile, out here in the hinterlands, I don’t count anything I do as serious unless it’s peer-reviewed.
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