Sports Numbers

Numbers always interest us.  Here are the basketball numbers: 14, 18, 13, 10, 6, 5, 6, 13.  Here are the golf numbers: 372 and 18.

We don’t care about basketball, and particularly college basketball.  In addition we think a 68 team tournament is a particularly bad way to crown a national champion.

Sidebar: when we saw the Syracuse won its first real game after winning in the first four we wondered if there was something to a momentum theory.  Although we haven’t looked at it rigorously, the MLB wild card winner seems to exceed expectations.  In college basketball there are 32 conference tournament winners in the NCAA tournament field.  All those teams are on a winning streak.  There are 16 teams left and six are conference champs.  Of course it would like a much more exhaustive study to make any conclusions about momentum but it doesn’t seem like it is a big deal.   End Sidebar.

The eight basketball numbers are the sum of the seeds in the eight games of the sweet sixteen.  If everything went according to schedule then there would be eight fives.  The maximum is 29 and there are none of those.  Since there is only one five thing have not gone as the NCAA expected.  We are rooting for the last six conference champs to go out so the Final Four has no conference champs competing.

The golf numbers are from Rory McIlroy.  He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday by shooting an eight under 64.  The 372 was his drive in yards on the 511 yard par five sixteenth hole.  It meant he had 123 yards to the hole for his second shot on a par five.  Yes, 372 + 123 is less than 511 because he cut the corner of the hole with his impressive drive.  The 18 is his score (five under) for the last six holes.  Three sets of 18 would be 54 and that would be an astounding score for 18 holes.  These guys are good as the PGA tagline says and Rory was amazing yesterday and especially so at the end when it counts the most.



Free Speech And Diversity

We are back from vacation and catching up on a variety of things.  One is David French’s excellent article at NRO recognizing that free speech empowers marginalized groups rather than the opposite.  Do read it all but here is the paragraph that is crux of it:

The true tension in the First Amendment isn’t between freedom and diversity or freedom and inclusion. History teaches us that the tension is between freedom and power. Free speech, by its very nature, leads to questioning, debate, and — eventually — accountability.

David is exactly right.  What we see at almost all universities is that the power is on the left and they want to keep it.  David explains and we agree that the best way to keep power is to limit speech.  The right agrees on the usefulness of such a strategy.

The Ultimate Gerrymander

Glen Harland Reynolds discusses state secession at the USA Today. He is talking about splitting states rather than leaving the nation.  Read the whole thing to see some of the current movements.  Glen says:

Splitting a state is hard. West Virginia managed because the existing Virginia legislature was in rebellion against the United States, making it easy for President Lincoln and the Congress to recognize the new rump legislature put together in Wheeling as the “official” legislature of Virginia, and accepting its approval (which the Constitution requires) for forming a new state out of part of the old Virginia. Such circumstances aren’t likely today, let us hope, though if states like Illinois or California went bankrupt, they might agree to a split in exchange for a federal bailout.

Glen left out an example and a related problem that makes splitting a state darn near impossible now.  The example is Maine.  Maine separated from Massachusetts in 1820.  Wikipedia tells us how it happened:

Formal secession and formation of the state of Maine as the 23rd state occurred on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, which geographically limited the spread of slavery and enabled the admission to statehood of Missouri the following year, keeping a balance between slave and free states.

Glen doesn’t mention it but we think that northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would make a peachy new state.  New states change the balance of power in the US Senate.  In 1820 it was free versus slave.  Now it is Republican versus Democrat.  All of the proposals to add a new rural state would be welcomed by the GOP but would never be supported by the Dems.  The one possibility the Dems might consider is changing California into six states and of course if the Dems support it then the GOP would be against it.  In every case one of the parties will block it.

This reminds us of innovative ideas from new faculty members, in some cases we were the new ones.  The answers from the senior faculty members were always the same, “We’re not going to die on that hill.”  Sometimes they added one more word to the answer, “Again.”  We think it is still good advice.  There will be no Miconsin.


We had a lovely evening with the Lady de Gloves in the 77 square miles surrounded by reality.  For dinner we went to the Tempest Oyster Bar.  It was excellent although we didn’t go for the oysters because we were going to An American In Paris.  If it was Singing in the Rain we might have had to try them.  We had scallops for an appetizer and jerk swordfish and trout for dinner.  Everything was perfect.  The Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac was a great finish.

Then we were off to see the touring version of An American In Paris at the Overture Center.  It is about a GI staying in Paris to paint after WWII.  We were never a big fan of the movie so we went with some trepidation.  We haven’t seen the movie in some time so we don’t have our criticisms at the ready but our recollection is that it was OK but given the music it could have been better.

The play is S’wonderful.  It is fast paced (OK, the ballet in the second act is the exception) with wonderful music, terrific dancing, stunning gowns, and great sets.  We are not quite sure how all of the mirrored sets with video work but they worked well.  It has the little touches that make a show ratchet up a notch.  One of the fake names used is Oscar Levant, who played Adam in the movie.  It dabbles with some bigger issues like the fate of the collaborators, without being preachy.  It differentiates between the resistance (and doesn’t diminish it by tying it to the current appropriation) and saving Jews.  It appears that local folks view the former as good while the latter is not entirely virtuous.  Of course, two of the main characters are Jewish.

In short, the play is great fun, beautifully presented, and has a good heart too.

Republicans Versus Conservatives

We came down hard on The Donald for his tariff increases and rightly so.  We also said that we are happy he won in 2016 and we are even happier that his predecessor is gone.  Jonah Goldberg in his G-file tries to make it a problem with populism:

The funny thing is that this move toward protection is celebrated or condemned as a fulfillment of Trump’s “populist” agenda. I get that we label protectionism “populist” these days — though I’m old enough to remember when protectionism was a technocratic cause. But populism is supposed to mean putting the interests of “the people” first. (The problem with populism is that populists never mean all the people; they only mean their people.) And this move isn’t in the interests of most people.

It isn’t.  It is a problem with elections and Republicans in particular.  Reagan and W are the two most conservative presidents since Coolidge and he was not a free trader either.  Almost everyone remembers that W did some backsliding on tariffs:

The temporary tariffs of 8–30% were originally scheduled to remain in effect until 2005. They were imposed to give U.S. steel makers protection from what a U.S. probe determined was a detrimental surge in steel imports. More than 30 steel makers had declared bankruptcy in recent years. Steel producers had originally sought up to a 40% tariff. Canada and Mexico were exempt from the tariffs because of penalties the United States would face under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Additionally, some developing countries such as ArgentinaThailand, and Turkey were also exempt. The typical steel tariff at the time was usually between zero and one percent, making the 8–30% rates seem exceptionally high. These rates, though, are comparable to the standard permanent U.S. tariff rates on many kinds of clothes and shoes.

Holman W. Jenkins, jr. in the WSJ reminds us that Reagan made much more extensive choices than W:

Reagan slapped import quotas on cars, motorcycles, forklifts, memory chips, color TVs, machine tools, textiles, steel, Canadian lumber and mushrooms.

Holman argues that it didn’t matter because they were negotiated.  Perhaps.  What does matter is that Republicans backslide on tariffs because there are intense big winners and widely dispersed small losers.  Sadly, protectionism is a good political game and our most conservative presidents including Reagan have played it.  The Donald does too.  We are rightly worried about The Donald continuing to play it because he is not a conservative.  We will continue to encourage him towards free trade while reminding everyone that free trade was not supported by either presidential candidate in the 2016 general election.  Yes, it would be better if this was Mitt’s second term but that was not a choice in 2016.


Decisions Without Theory

We knew when we supported The Donald in the general election that we would have to take the good with the bad.  It was better than taking the bad with the worse.  The problem is that The Donald does not have any theoretical background.  He has created a majority by picking and choosing positions.  We still like our vote in the 2016 general election but we don’t like his position or recent actions on tariffs.  Since the two candidates in the general election shared little except for the same positions on tariffs we still like our vote in 2016 because of The Donald’s actions prior to increasing tariffs. Unfortunately, The Donald’s lack of theoretical background means that we get tax reform (yea!) and the opposite, protectionism (boo!).

Sidebar: Herself ran as a protectionist although her husband was willing to sign on to reductions in tariffs.  Given her dishonesty folks might have hoped that her articulated positions would not be implemented.  We see no solution to hoping that she was dishonest about tariffs.  End Sidebar.

The WSJ editorial board has a good summary:

Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his Presidency Thursday by announcing that next week he’ll impose tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This tax increase will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.7% on the news, as investors absorbed the self-inflicted folly.

We have a few quibbles.  We don’t know that it will divide his coalition and it will help a few workers but hurt the majority so we are in agreement with the WSJ.  The Donald became a hero, and rightly so, when he reduced taxes on corporations and, to a lesser extent, on individuals.  We wish he made another choice but we are not surprised given his rhetoric.  The oddest quote came in this WSJ article:

“This is going to be effectively a tax increase,” said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen.  [Emphasis added]

There is no need for modifiers.  This is a tax increase.  It will help a few substantially while hurting many a little.  The problem is that The Donald has no theoretical grounding so he cuts some taxes while increasing others.  On tariffs, providing lots of protection for a few while hurting many a little might make political sense but it makes no logical sense.  Cutting corporate taxes benefitted many without hurting any particular group.

This is how it will be for the next seven years.  The Donald will do some great things and some stupid things.  It is better than the last president and better than the 2016 alternative.  We would prefer it wasn’t so but it is.  We would prefer that we had an optimal choice in 2016 but there wasn’t.  We hope he will change his mind on tariffs but we are not holding our breath that he will undo this colossal mistake.

Non-Local Politics

The headline in the local paper was: “This Is Not Hypothetical.”  Then they go on to talk about how Mayor Tim Kabat of our modest hamlet had decided that he needs to help the The Donald with climate change.  We hate to go all Webster on folks but says hypothetical means:

1. assumed by hypothesis; supposed:

a hypothetical case.
2. of, pertaining to, involving, or characterized by hypothesis:

hypothetical reasoning.
3. given to making hypotheses.
4. Logic.
  1. (of a proposition) highly conjectural; not wellsupported by available evidence.
  2. (of a proposition or syllogism) conditional.

We left the fourth definition in to give some hope to the headline writers.  They were trying to discuss a logic problem.

Climate change, nee global warming, is part of science and science is about hypotheses.  Climate change is a hypothesis or a bunch of hypotheses.  It is exactly a hypothetical.  In science a hypothesis is accepted until evidence leads to its rejection.

Sidebar: An enormous problem with climate change is the lack of precision.  For example, the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) has weak, semi-strong, and strong versions.  We suggest, partly in jest, that climate change adopt historical, reasonable, and hysterical.  End Sidebar.

There is also a second level of science: economics.  Once we decide about climate change then there is the issue of economics.  The cost to have a substantial impact on hypothesized climate change is large.  Is it worth the cost?  For example, we would support a modest carbon tax because the cost is small and the incentives are right.

The local paper has tied Mayor Tim to the local head of the Sierra Club:

Van Gaard warned that without immediate and drastic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, millions of people will be left without clean water and food and millions more will be refugees as a result of extreme weather events.  “This is not a hypothetical. This is already happening. This is our future if we don’t take this seriously right now. Fuel efficiency standards are a necessary step to move us away from that future,” Van Gaard said.

We are unconvinced that the fuel efficiency standards are a necessary step. We need to analyze the alternatives.  Immediate and drastic actions will have enormous costs.  The millions and millions have turned out to be wrong several times.  The Sierra Club is welcome to try to influence policy.  It doesn’t look like a good trade-off but let’s look at the full cost of the alternatives.  It is hypothetical and we need to consider the alternatives and the risk involved. Meanwhile, we need our mayor to be worried about serious city stuff.