Two of the top five are Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, both recipients of unjustifiable contracts from the Washington Wizards a few years ago during a period of bizarre management over-confidence in what was, at the time, a totally mediocre team.
Courtesy of an excellent Nancy Folbre post:
Increased bicycle use is practical and feasible, especially if it can be combined with effective public transportation for long-distance needs. As John Pucher of Rutgers University (dubbed Professor Bicycle by some of his fans) explains, about 40 percent of all automobile trips in metropolitan areas are less than two miles – a distance easily biked.
I will say that I think the current trend in cycling policy in the United States somewhat tends to overemphasize things like bicycle lanes. It seems to me that if cities acting to remove subsidies and mandate for automobile parking, that this would on its own do a huge amount to spur people to rely more on bikes for appropriate trips triggering the all-important safety in numbers phenomenon. Naturally if lots of people are riding bikes around your city, you should make some lanes. But I think that’s a secondary issue.
I missed that this actually happened earlier this weekend: “The fast link, which has been hit by safety concerns and graft, is opening a year ahead of schedule and will be able to carry 80 million passengers a year — double the current capacity on the 1,318-kilometre (820-mile) route.”
Safety concerns and graft are all well and good, but the fact of the matter is that they built a 820-mile train route in a little bit over three years. It connects two of the world’s top twenty cities, and it goes 190 miles per hour (they hope to get that up to 220). The trip will take five and a half hours. And the intermediate stops aren’t slouches. Tianjin, Jinan, Xuxhou, and Nanjing are all cities of over 2 million people.
John Taylor has an analysis of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which shows that ARRA didn’t actually lead to a substantial increase in government purchases and therefore failed to do a huge amount to boost GDP. He concludes:
More generally, the results from the 2000s experience raise considerable doubts about the efficacy of temporary discretionary countercyclical fiscal policy in practice. In this regard the experience with the stimulus packages of the 2000s adds more weight to the position reached more than 30 years ago by Lucas and Sargent (1978) and Gramlich (1978, 1979).
Paul Krugman and Noah Smith both rightly critique the last sentence here. Per Smith, “Lucas, Sargent, etc. thought that government purchases wouldn’t raise GDP” which is the reverse of Taylor’s conclusion. ARRA didn’t boost GDP because a temporary boost in government purchases won’t boost GDP, and ARRA didn’t boost GDP because it didn’t lead to an increase in government purchases are incompatible positions. They’re just both criticisms of ARRA and therefore perhaps emotionally satisfying to people who dislike Barack Obama.
That said, I really do think Keynesians need to pay more to Taylor’s first quoted sentence here. It seems clear that, in practice, we cannot and should not count on discretionary fiscal stimulus to be the centerpiece of our stabilization strategy in the event of short-term nominal interest rates hitting zero. The case that engineering a dramatic, rapid temporary run-up in government purchases would be a good way of responding to a downturn seems to me to be fairly solid. It’s much less clear to me that such a thing is doable in a Madisonian political system that features a large level of partisan disagreement about the appropriate size and scope of the government. We need to work on improved “automatic stabilizers,” we ought to be targeting a higher level of inflation so that hitting zero is less likely, and we need to explore the unorthodox monetary tools.
I saw The Trip this weekend, which for reasons very particular to me, may be the movie I’ve enjoyed most so far this year. I liked Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop just fine, but The Trip is an even better movie about the craft of comedy. Much of the movie is Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon doing things like this:
The combination of the appeal of American popular culture filtered through the refinement and intelligence of English humor is sort of irresistible to me. But the movie also hit the sweet spot of something I’ve been thinking about a lot: the treatment of friendships as secondary to romances in most movies and television shows. It’s so rare that the relationship between friends is the most important thing in a movie. Friends are usually a facilitator to the traditional end of a comedy, a marriage (or at least permanent-seeming partnership) rather than the main event. I think that’s one of the reasons Bridesmaids has been so successful: it’s the friendship that matters, and the romantic and sexual relationships that are at the periphery. The groom in the titular wedding doesn’t even have a line.
In The Trip, there’s a pair of interesting imbalances between Coogan and Brydon. Coogan is more successful professionally, but he’s dissatisfied with his failure to make the leap into the first tier of actors alongside people like Michael Sheen, and he’s divorced and in the process of being left by his current girlfriend. Brydon, by contrast, is less famous, but he’s reconciled to it, making money off an iPhone app based on one of his characters, and incredibly happy with his wife and new baby. So even though Coogan has more material resources, he needs Brydon more than Brydon needs him, and he’s obviously deeply uncomfortable with that, and expresses that discomfort by being something of a jerk. But the malleability of friendship means that they can deal with it, that they can work through Coogan’s behavior to get to the root of his sadness, even if that means dealing with it obliquely by singing ABBA and testing their octave ranges. Anyway, it’s a warm, terrific movie, the cure for the common action movie.
A July 4 question from Jonathan Bernstein: “Who are your great American (political) heroes? I’ll take anything — those who you think are obvious but deserving, those who are obscure but shouldn’t be, past or present, whatever.”
To start with the obvious-but-deserving, the longer world history rolls on the more remarkable George Washington’s peaceful assumption of power and departure from office looks. I believe the current understanding is that he did this in part out of a motivation to be remembered as a Great and Honorable Man by history, so it’s worth paying tribute to him if for no other reason than to try to inspire other powerful people around the world to consider the option that doing the right thing may be your best strategy.
Philip Randolph strikes me as an underrated player in the history of the civil rights movement. The tendency is to celebrate the people who played the biggest roles in getting the ball into the end zone, but in some ways the achievement of the activist leaders of the 30s and 40s who actually changed the trajectory of policy after several decades of continued advances for white supremacy are even more impressive. Also as union leader and a socialist and important reminder that on a correct understanding of human justice the idea of a sharp disjoint between “social” and “economic” concerns is badly misguided. In a related way, the “Radical Republicans” of the 1860s and 1870s were, at a minimum, hideously underrated by my high school history textbook. I’ll single out Thaddeus Stevens for, among other things, offering a useful manifesto for radicalism in general—”Prejudices may be shocked, weak minds startled, weak nerves may tremble, but they must hear and adopt it: Universal emancipation must be proclaimed to all.” Frances Perkins is incredibly impressive as someone who wasn’t just a pioneer for women in public life but also as a pioneering woman in public life stands out as one of the major architects of the American welfare state.
Last, let me offer up Gouverneur Morris a man of considerable merits who I want to recognize specifically for his role in the Erie Canal. People don’t generally recognize that New York City wasn’t simply fated to become the nation’s largest. Its status as the East Coast’s largest seaport, and therefore largest city, is pretty purely a consequence of the fact that this gigantic infrastructure project was undertaken which suddenly made its port much more valuable than those at Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Boston. There’s a tendency in modern America—a tendency that I find vaguely un-American, to use an ugly term—to simply refuse to dream big and believe that large change for the better is possible. Morris and the canal from the Hudson to the Great Lakes are the antidote to that. The canal opened in 1825 and now almost 200 years later the consequences of that achievement have still not been undone.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Okay, the Declaration of Interdependence sounds a lot like the Declaration of Independence.
By saying that it is a self-evident truth that all humans are created equal and that our inalienable rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, our Founding Fathers were telling us that we are all in this together, that we are interdependent, that we have a moral duty to protect these inalienable rights for all humans. President Lincoln, perhaps above all others, was instrumental in making clear that the second sentence of the Declaration was “a moral standard for which the United States should strive,” as Wikipedia puts it.
The double appeal to “Nature” — including the explicit appeal to “the laws of Nature” in the first sentence — is particularly salient. For masters of rhetoric like the authors of the Declaration, a repeated word, especially in an opening sentence, is repeated for the singular purpose of drawing attention to it (see “Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1“).
Yes, the phrase “laws of nature” meant something different to Jefferson than it does to us (see here). But as a living document, and as a modern Declaration of Interdependence, the words have grown in meaning.
It is the laws of Nature, studied and enumerated by scientists, that make clear we are poised to render those unalienable rights all but unattainable for billions of humans on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions. It is the laws of Nature that make clear Americans can’t achieve sustainable prosperity if the rest of the world doesn’t, and vice versa.
Ian Enting, Professorial Fellow at Melbourne University, looks at the front groups and writings of Australia’s deniers . This is an extended excerpt from The Conversation series on climate.
Many of us, including most of the authors of this series, have engaged with the arguments of self-styled “sceptics”.
We’ve looked at not just the blogs, but also the information from organised groups, the few published scientific papers and the books in which these their claims are presented in detail.
I would argue that any self-styled “sceptic” who claims to have a genuine case should do what normal scientists do and dissociate themselves from those who practise fabrication and misrepresentation….
The reality is that the most prominent pseudo-sceptical scientists are doing the opposite: gathering together to provide apparent respectability to front organisations that are designed to spread confusion.
This is the message from Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.
Authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, backed up by documents obtained in the course of tobacco litigation, show that not only was greenhouse denial using the same misinformation techniques as the tobacco industry, but that it was often the same groups and the same people. These anti-science activities hide behind names such as “Friends of Science”.
In Australia we have a similar phenomenon, with the additional twist of often using names that aim to capture a “martyr for science” image. They present themselves as being ignored by an entrenched establishment, when in reality they are ignoring or distorting the accumulated scientific knowledge.
Rec fishermen spent $18 billion on equipment and for-hire vessels in 2006 alone according to NOAA’s most recent figures. AP photo.
by Michael Conathan
Beneath recreational fishing’s bucolic veneer of a solitary angler alone with his thoughts—and perhaps a striper or two—on a desolate beach, the reality is that sportfishing is big business. Still, the perception remains that the effect of this hobby on the environment is far below that of commercial fishing despite the overall quantity of fishermen on the water.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, nearly 12 million Americans went sportfishing annually from 2005 through 2009, making about 80 million saltwater sportfishing trips per year. That’s roughly equivalent to the entire population of the five coastal New England states getting out on the water seven-and-a-half times apiece.
by Brennan Alvarez
A new study released by the Sierra Club found that Latinos are disproportionately exposed to toxic mercury and other harmful pollutants emitted from coal-fired power plants. Much of the risk is due to the fishing habits of Latinos, who traditionally fish in local waterways near their homes for personal consumption.
Representatives from the Sierra Club warn that “Hispanics in the United States should be especially concerned about the fish that they catch, since many local waterways have high levels of mercury pollution.” Additionally, according to poll results: one-third of Latinos fish in freshwater lakes, where mercury pollution levels are significantly higher, thus increasing the likelihood of mercury exposure.
According to the report, 76 percent of Latinos eat the fish that they catch and 64 percent share what they catch with their families, which often include children and women of childbearing age – two of the most vulnerable populations at risk of mercury poisoning.
A University of California study found that Latinos tend to fish in their immediate urban communities due to a lack of adequate transportation to safe fishing areas. Fish caught in these areas tend to have the highest concentrations of mercury; as a result, Latinos fishing in contaminated urban areas consume an average of 13.9 micrograms of mercury per day (twice EPA’s safe limit).