Blackford Oaks Plays Handball?

Recently NRO offered up some copies of High Jinx by WFB at a reasonable price.  We jumped and bought it.  Market efficiency (the paperback is $10.95 with used and electronic versions cheaper) means that NRO hasn’t cornered the market but it was offered in The Corner.  We have not read WFB fiction before.

Sidebar: We recognize the importance of WFB to the conservative movement but he was never our favorite.  We preferred George Will or Milton Friedman.  It was a matter of style rather than content.  End Sidebar.

It is a fun read.  Stalin is dead but Beria is still making mischief.  Ike is the President but Caroline is the Queen.  The author mentions himself and Brent Bozell in discussing Senator McCarthy.  But the most important part is on p. 24: “Master Sergeant “Newt” announced in an imperious voice that there would be a handball game….”  We know that there is team handball (we even got a shirt at the Olympics) but it seems hard to believe that WFB and his dashing hero would play such a mundane sport.  The text does mention team but that could be a (real) handball doubles team.  Since WFB isn’t around to answer the question, we conclude that Blackford Oaks is a handball player.  We plan to read the rest of the novels to see if handball shows up again.

The one disappointment in High Jinx is that there is no commentary on the matches. How does Blackford deal with balls on the left?  Who is the power server?

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Hope Or Defeat?

Elliot Kaufman, writing on NRO, has a story of a ray of hope at a university.  Do read the whole thing and check out the video that it links to.  A cynic might conclude that the cloud of the mob means that hope is forlorn at our universities despite a few brave folks.

The story: The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington describes itself as, “A progressive, public liberal arts and sciences college.”  It has a day of absence each year on April 12 when students and faculty of color meet off campus.  It also has a day of presence but that is not part of this story.  This year, allegedly because of the recent election, folks wanted reverse the situation and evict all the whites from the campus.  Elliot reports what happened first:

One liberal biology professor, Bret Weinstein, took issue with this change. Weinstein wrote a powerful e-mail to his colleagues on March 15. Deeply respectful and generous in tone, he made a simple point: There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and underappreciated roles . . . and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself. You may take this letter as a formal protest of this year’s structure, and you may assume I will be on campus on the Day of Absence.

You will not be surprised how these folks reacted to the professor.  Elliot says:

Students occupied and barricaded the campus library, and accosted Weinstein outside his classroom. As you can see in this video, the mob surrounded him, yelled at him, swore at him, and openly admitted they did not want to allow him to respond. In the video, Weinstein nobly seeks to engage in “dialectic” with the student protesters, hoping to use “disagreement to discover the truth.” For a professor of biology, this is rather impressive stuff. But he misjudges the mob. “We don’t care what terms you want to speak on,” one student explains to supportive cheers. “This is not about you. We are not speaking on terms — on terms of white privilege. This is not a discussion. You have lost that one.”

Elliot concludes by asking what the students, faculty, and administration will do about this injustice.  He reports that two students stood with the faculty member.  There is no report of the faculty or administration supporting him.  Eugene Volokh reports that an administrator confirmed that it would be safer for the professor to stay off campus.

Professor Weinstein and the two students are a small ray of sunshine.  The inaction of the faculty and the administration in response to mob violence against free speech and especially reasoned speech are an enormous cloud of gloom.  Universities exist for reasoned speech.  We know exactly why universities are currently held in such low regard.

 

Tie The Record

Craig Kimbrel of the Red Sox became the 72nd or 73rd (Wikipedia is inconsistent from paragraph to paragraph) pitcher to strike out four in an inning today.  Check the line here.  One inning with four strikeouts and the rest zeros looks strange.  Of additional note, Red Sox pitchers struck out 20 Rangers.  It has to be cool to own a record that will never be broken although it will often be tied.

Faculty Fail Again

From Tyler O’Neil at PJ Media discussing Mike Pence’s graduation speech at the University of Notre Dame:

But just as Pence began speaking, about 150 people, half students and half faculty members, walked out of the speech. [italics in original]

Sidebar: We could not find confirmation of the faculty walk out at commencement.  We did find this:

More than 1,700 University of Notre Dame alumni, faculty and staff had also signed an open letter protesting Pence’s commencement speech gig on similar grounds, claiming the veep “actively opposes this sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good.”

That’s enough to bring the faculty to account.  End Sidebar

Students can be excused for behaving badly with regards to freedom of speech.  They are still learning.  Faculty do not have an excuse.  This kind of faculty behavior hurts all universities.  It is a perplexing problem because faculty, like everyone else, have and deserve freedom of speech.  Unfortunately, they keep using it to identify themselves as nasty, intolerant, and committed to opposing freedom of speech.  It is not a platform to encourage university funding.

Ending Slavery

Richard Brookhiser has a history lesson for The Donald on avoiding the Civil War in the current (5/29/17) NRODT.  One part, ending slavery by buying them, fits into our expertise from almost 40 years ago.  We believe there was a financial opportunity to avoid the Civil Was that politics failed to find.  Here we only consider the financial cost but the human cost of the Civil War, like slavery, is huge.

Sidebar One: We wrote this paper for a grad class in economic history almost 40 years ago.  We don’t have the references or the exact details anymore so we are painting with a broad brush.  End Sidebar One.

It seems simple because the Civil War was extraordinarily expensive that the government could buy out the slaves and avoid the Civil War and everybody would be at least as well off.  For example, here is an estimate of the actual cost that comes in at over $6 billion.  So when Richard quotes estimates from $600 to $900 million it is easy to wonder why there was a war.

Sidebar Two: There is strong evidence of an efficient market in slaves.  Given the pertinent characteristics like age and gender, the value of a slave can be reasonably estimated based on prices of actual sales.  According to the census there were almost 4 million slaves in the US in 1860 so Richard is estimating an average cost of $150 to $225.  Of course, individual prices would depend on pertinent characteristics.  A 20 year-old male will be worth more than a 60 year-old female.  End Sidebar Two

The problem with this analysis is that it is after the fact or ex-post.  Nobody expected that the Civil War would be as long or costly as it was and both sides thought they would win.  The analysis needs to be ex-ante.  What did folks think the Civil War would cost before it started?  They, see Sidebar, expected it to last a few months and cost a small number of millions.  The financial solution, and this was discussed, was to free the slaves at birth and death (B&D).  The  B&D solution reduces the costs in two ways.  First, babies are cheap because they are not productive for several years.  Second, it reduces the present value of the expenditures because the amounts are paid later.  It also provides a plausible way out for both sides because it doesn’t end slavery immediately.  For the same reason, it will have negative reactions too.

The bottom line is that it would have worked.  The present value of B&D expenditures was less than the expected cost of the Civil War.  It was not easily avoidable but it was avoidable.    James Buchanan might have been worse that our Immediate Past President.

Free Finesses

The the bridge table yesterday we saw an example of how costly a free finesse could be. We were defending four spades and partner (West) led a diamond.  Dummy tabled the ace and three little ones.  Declarer had the queen and jack.  It was unlikely that partner led away from the king but declarer must have thought, “What is the worst that could happen?”

Sidebar: Because they are the only pair that regularly plays a version of precision they were the only pair to have the opportunity to make that mistake.  End Sidebar.

Declarer found out by playing low.  We produced the king of diamonds followed by the singleton ace of clubs and led a little diamond.  Partner ruffed the diamond and produced a club for us to ruff.  Trying to turn five into an unlikely six became down one as declarer ruefully claimed the rest of the tricks.  Free, finesses and otherwise, can be very expensive.