To Patronym Or Not

As we have discussed before, Icelanders have an interesting naming system.  As Wikipedia says in discussing Yrsa Sigurdardottir:

This is an Icelandic name. The last name is patronymic, not a family name; this person is referred to by the given name Yrsa.

Thus, in the Icelandic phonebook (do they still have those?) you would find her under the Ys.  What should librarians in other countries do?  Should her books be in fiction under SIG or YRS?  At the local library they have come up with the worst solution.  Some are under SIG while others are under YRS.  So when you are looking for Arnaldur or Yrsa you should probably go patronymic first but check both names.  Our next visit to the library should be fun.

Another Williamson Lament

When you belong to the smallest of fringe groups, capitalistic orphans, it would seem unwise to split the group but we are going to do it today.  Fellow orphan Kevin D. Williamson has an article at NRO, Trump isn’t A Nazi.  He’s A Failure.  Kevin says:

Which is to say, on the core issues of economic growth, trade, and immigration, President Trump is a failure by his own criteria. [Emphasis added.]

We wish that capitalistic orphans were a bigger group and that economic growth was a core political issue.  Economic growth is obviously not a core issue for Democrats.  All the major Democrat candidates for president in 2020 want to ban it or restrict it.  Most of those favoring restriction want substantial restriction on fracking.  Foolish is a really kind word to describe such policies.

Why does Kevin think The Donald is a failure?  He says:

In 2016, Trump promised Americans sustained 3-percent economic growth, but the economy has not met that standard. He promised a shrinking trade deficit, but the trade deficit has grown. He promised to build a wall along the southern border and to make Mexico pay for it, which he has not done.

Fair enough, 2.86 is not three.  Of course, us capitalistic orphans don’t care about the trade deficit but The Donald campaigned on it.  We agree with Kevin that

A more intelligent approach for Democrats (and for us lonely few anti-Trump conservatives) would be to concede that the president’s positions on issues such as illegal immigration and trade speak to concerns that are genuine and legitimate while pointing out that his actions have been in the main ineffective or genuinely destructive.   [Emphasis added]

Kevin agrees with us that hoping for a more intelligent approach from the Democrats is futile at this time.  Republican alternatives are equally bad.  Where we part company is on the bold item, in the main,  that we are willing to support The Donald because he has done things to support economic growth (and some foolish things like trade wars) and restricting illegal immigration.  As Kevin well knows, changing the course of the federal government is incredibly difficult.  The Donald is far from perfect but he is currently the best on offer.  We think he is worth supporting in 2020.

Yrsa And Iceland’s Soul

There is always a problem with observations.  First, it is hard to get enough to make an inference and second it is hard to make random observations.  Our inferences on Iceland is that it is full of awesome places and beautiful people.  We weren’t in Iceland long but there are not many people there, 360,000 these days, and we were in the heavily populated part and went to see the men’s national soccer team play so we got to observe a really big sample of the Icelandic population in a short period of time.

After visiting there we understand why there are Icelandic tales about trolls.  MWG or any of our ancestors would surely be mistaken for trolls compared to the big, beautiful Icelanders.  The sparse population and the dangerous beauty of rivers, volcanos, geysers, and weather make it easy to understand why Icelanders are mindful of actual and potential tragedies.  A local couple went there on honeymoon and both died when one fell in a river and the other tried to save the first.  It is a dangerous place.  We loved our first Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indirdrason and his tragic police sleuth, Erlendur.  Erlendur loved the coldest of cold cases.

Sidebar: As the link tells you:

This is an Icelandic name. The last name is patronymic, not a family name; this person is referred to by the given name Arnaldur.

This makes it easy for MWG because we refer to folks by their first name all the time except for a few nicknames.  Thus we have Arnaldur, Erlendur, Yrsa, and Thora to discuss.  We must give you the patronym once because you will need it to find the books.  End Sidebar.

So we decided to try another Icelandic writer, Yrsa Sigurdardottir.  We shall properly refer to her as Yrsa and her lawyer sleuth as Thora.  We started with Yrsa’s second novel, My Soul To Take: A Novel Of Iceland, because we couldn’t find the first.   She has also written children’s books.

We take Yrsa at her subtitle that this is a novel of Iceland.  It rings true to us.  There is danger from the elements.  There is the possibility of the supernatural.  The sins of the parents and grandparents have an impact on the present.  Children are in danger and sometimes don’t survive.   The Venn diagram for dark soul of Iceland that Arnaldur and Yrsa see overlap almost entirely.

The Venn diagrams for Erlendur and Thora hardly overlap at all other than both are divorced.  Erlendur is a brooding, damaged loner who is obsessed with his cases and unable to connect with his family or anyone else.  Thora didn’t have a happy divorce and her children far from perfect but they are at least one order of magnitude less on the disfunction meter than Erlendur’s family.  Thora is also working on a relationship with Matthew, a German banker, who provides some light touches and, because he doesn’t speak Icelandic, some opportunity to move the plot along.  For example, Thora tells the sex therapist that Matthew is impotent to help the questioning process.  It leads to confusion later on.

One small problem is that the novels are written in Icelandic and translated into English.  It is English English so you get a few terms like “spanner in the works.”  It is not a big problem but an American reader needs to pay attention.

The mystery slides through generations and a variety of interesting folks.  All of the interrelationships convince us that this is the soul of Iceland.  Iceland is a big small town because people rarely leave or enter.  We are hoping that Matthew will be one of them that enters.

We recommend Yrsa and My Soul To Take.  It has an Icelandic soul.  It is dark without being hyper violent.  Yet it has some joy in Thora and other characters.  We are left with some hope that we can escape past sins.



Role Models

We enjoy Mesut Özil as a soccer player.  He is one of the most talented and creative players in the world.  He is controversial because of his behavior on and off the pitch.  He hates to shoot on goal even more than he loves to make the amazing assist.  His relationship, or lack of it, is one of the reasons that Unai Emery is now the former coach of Arsenal.  It has been a dark time for us Arsenal fans.  And we get Manchester City shortly.  Update: we are down three at halftime.

Mesut plays(ed?) internationally for Germany but he has Turkish heritage too and is a Muslim.  He has been in the news recently for commenting on both China and his fellow Muslims as reported by the English newspaper The Mirror:

[Mesut] took to social media to add his voice to the wave of international outrage about the treatment of the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

The Uighur population in the region has been subjected to a campaign of religious and ethnic persecution by the Chinese authorities, with claims that more than a million have been held in detention camps.

[Mesut said] “But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”

We salute Mesut for bringing up this problem in China but especially for asking questions (as they say in soccer commentary) of his fellow Muslims.  We generally don’t take cues from athletes and so on but to have one stand up to China and his fellow Muslims in one fell swoop is pretty amazing.

And what does his employer, Arsenal, think of his comments?  The Mirror tells us,

“Regarding the comments made by Mesut … on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it read.

“The content published is [Mesut]’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”

Arsenal has not covered itself in glory but it hasn’t gone NBA either.  The Mirror also made the connection between this tweet by another Arsenal player and the Arsenal reaction to it:

On Thursday, the day of the general election in the UK, Hector Bellerin [a Spanish player for Arsenal] tweeted: “Young people across the world have a chance to change what the future can be. Today’s the chance for all the British people to influence what your future and those living here holds. #F**kBoris #GoVote.”

Arsenal did not issue a statement in response to Bellerin’s tweet.

Sidebar: We don’t know the answer but it is an interesting question.  What will be the tax impact of Brexit on folks still in the European Union, like Hector, but working in the UK.  End Sidebar.

Mesut twice spoke up when it would have been more popular to be quiet.  Arsenal did fairly close to the opposite.  Now if Mesut can get us some goals he could be a real role model for folks.



Document The Obvious

Congratulations and good luck to Boris in implementing Brexit.  In discussing the British election yesterday we noted the extreme reaction of Labor supporters to their loss.  We said that the left tends to lash out at electoral losses.  Today, John Hinderaker at PowerLine reports on a UK poll from YouGov to convince all of us on the applicability of our observations.

Labour voters (41%) and Remain voters (40%) are much more likely to judge someone else negatively for voting differently to them than Conservative voters (19%) and Leave voters (13%) 

We have the evidence from our observations and now more generalized data from a poll in a single country.  It should be confirmed in the US.  Then the next question would be why are folks on the left intolerant and judgmental about political issues?

A Good Day For Freedom

Today, yesterday over there, citizens in the United Kingdom voted for a new parliament.  We love their efficiency.  The election was set in the fall and the voting was December 12.  In the US we have had a number of debates for the primary season that starts in February.  Our general election isn’t for 11 months.  And, in the US, you can start voting several months before the election.  We like our Constitution more than their parliamentary system but we have room for improvement.

We would like to talk about the UK results and the losers reaction to those results.  The election was largely about Brexit.  Jim Geraghty at the Morning Jolt set the stage this morning before the results:

The stakes for the Conservatives and pro-Brexit forces may be win big or go home. There are 650 seats in the U.K. Parliament, meaning to win a majority and control of the government, a party needs 326. The YouGov poll estimates that Conservatives could win anywhere from 367 seats to 311. {Emphasis added]

As the UK has ten parties that have won seats it is hard to get a majority with a single party.  As the Conservatives and UKIP (zero seats to date) are the only pro-Brexit parties, the stakes in the election are high.  Early in our evening the exit polls had projected the Conservatives at 368 seats.  That is one more than the maximum in the quote above.  More recent projections have the Conservatives down a few at 362 and they have just hit a majority, 331 with 49 seats left.  The results should give Boris and the Conservatives control they need to get Brexit done.  Equally important, it would deny Jeremy.  Freedom will be advanced by Brexit.  Then there will be the issue of Scotland and if it should be set free.  The Scottish National Party has tightened its grip on Scotland by gaining 12 seats so far.

Everyone hates to lose.  Especially handball players.  The good thing about most handball players is the only question is usually, “Whose serve or when do we play next?”  The left cannot bear to lose elections and they seem to take the worst possible route in blaming the electorate.  We have seen it in person, “It was the worst day of my life when [some Republican] won.”  We see it in the media and on the media.  Watch next November’s election returns with the sound off and only look at the reporters.  You will know who won.  Here are some comments collected by the Spectator with a few [of our comments] set off:

I cannot imagine how so many people in England can have been quite so stupid. [and how do you feel about Wales, Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom?  Then again, the conservatives did really well in England.]


BBC exit poll predicts Tories to take 70+ seats. If so – a victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour, selfishness over the planet. Scotland will leave UK. However it does not feel right compared to on-the-ground.  [Calling folks racists and selfish is a strange way to try and attract voters.  Perhaps you need to widen your ground to fix the last sentence.]


This country is utterly, quadrilaterally f**ked.  [Emphasis and ** added.  We don’t understand the adjective in bold.  What four sides are we talking about?]


This looks abysmal. The result will be devastating for communities like mine all around the country who are now facing five years of Boris Johnson with unchecked power. I am more fearful for our country than at any point in my lifetime. [How come the right (Conservatives or Republicans) gets unchecked power when they win and the left does not?]

And here is one from PowerLine (they also have most of the ones above):

The country is going to be staggeringly and bitterly divided now.  Worse than under Thatcher.  [It is the biggest conservative majority since Maggie.  How can big majorities lead to bitter division?  So when the right wins, and especially if it wins big, then the country is divided.  When Labor (the big party on the left in the UK) wins the country is …. what?  We wonder how these folks would describe the USA under the 44th president?]

It is amazing how folks that want your vote can insult you and yet they seem to think that this will help them win in the future.  And yet Labor (and the Democrats) will win before too long.  We hope they are neither bitter nor vindictive when they take office.

Mamet Was Right

We saw David Mamet’s Oleanna at our former university some years ago.  It was about a power struggle between a male professor and a female student.  It makes an important point about power and about relationships. We got the point and recognized that is is a big deal but weren’t big fans of the play because we thought that with just two actors the story got redundant.  The professor loses in David’s play.  The same story has played out in reality at the same university recently.  Yesterday we found out that an art professor had resigned over charges of sexual misconduct rather than face the music. Today, the lawyer for the professor fired back:

In a fiercely worded statement Wednesday, La Crosse-based attorney Cheryl Gill said [the professor] was a victim of “cancel culture” and that the investigation into his conduct was neither fair nor balanced.

Sidebar: It is our policy to refer to folks by their first names.  We didn’t think it was appropriate to bring that level of jocularity to the professor.  End Sidebar.

Well, you would ask, why didn’t the professor fight it? It might be because he is guilty as charged but there are two other alternative reasons.  First, as David shows us, the university is not a court of law.  With a criminal charge you must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  We know of no criminal proceedings against the professor.  Both public opinion and the university’s responsibility to its students tells us that the professor’s innocence is not the default option.  In David’s play it was easy to deny the professor tenure. Of course, the faculty wouldn’t offer a lifetime contract to a person accused of sexual misconduct.   In the real case it was a bit more challenging because the professor was tenured.  Removing a tenured professor is a challenge.  We know because we were involved in a situation that had a similar outcome: retirement rather than adjuication.  Still, it was up to the professor to prove his innocence.  That is a very difficult task in a situation with no physical evidence and only one witness.  In our situation we had multiple witnesses.  Hate crime hoaxes can be uncovered because there is physical evidence.  Sexual misconduct is a vexing problem as David pointed out.

Second, there was a substantial financial risk to the professor if he fought the charges because it could lead to termination.  Resigning or retiring is a much better financial deal than being terminated for cause.  The story says:

[The professor] resigned from his position Tuesday, his attorney said, after learning that he might lose his accumulated sick leave, which is valued at thousands of dollars.

In the University of Wisconsin System accumulated sick pay is turned into a pot that can be used tax-free to pay for health care in retirement.  Our pot will pay our (MWG and Lady de Gloves) health care for about 50 years.  We don’t expect to use it all.  The story doesn’t mention regular retirement but we assume he would lose that too.  After over 20 years of service the total between sick days and retirement is likely well into six figures.  That is a big number to put at risk.  Especially if you think the probability of winning is low.

We have no inside information on the charges.  It could be an evil professor preying on young women.  It could be an evil young woman asserting her power over a professor.  It could be somewhere in between.  The only thing for sure is that you must be obtuse or a risk lover to be in a room with a single student and the door shut.  And that is too bad because, as faculty, some of our best work is advice to students in private about personal or professional matters.



Details On Common Good Capitalism

Us capitalistic orphans are, as we discussed in a previous post, a small faction.  We are unwelcome among the Democrats and rarely a priority with the GOP.  Over the last forty years the GOP had capitalism as a goal although action was less regular.  Now that is changing as contenders for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination like Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley are disavowing capitalism.  Marco’s speech on what he calls Common Good Capitalism has been a lightening rod.  Some folks like it while others, including MWG, don’t.  In the last post we discussed the principle.  Today we take up Ramesh’s nine questions about Marco’s proposal.

First: Should government intervene in markets to advance the common good?

We have a hard time believing it but Ramesh seems to have made an article error. We wish we had a sidekick to confirm this because somebody at NRO should have noticed.  It would be like confusing a doctor with The Doctor.  Ramesh gives highways as an example of an indefinite common good.  We can debate if the government should build highways but that is not what Marco is talking about.  From Marco:

What we need to do is restore common-good capitalism – a system of free enterprise in which workers fulfill their obligation to work and enjoy the benefits of their work, and where businesses enjoy their right to make a profit and reinvest enough of those profits to create dignified work for Americans.  [Emphasis added.]

We don’t see why Marco is worried about reinvestment.  When money is distributed to stockholders it is not lost.  Those humans are unlikely to bury it in their backyard.  They will invest it or spend it.

Marco says The common good requires firms to reinvest profits to create dignified work for Americans. We have been a laurel picker (you don’t pick it when it is flowering), newspaper deliverer, egg collector, and live chicken handler as well as a professor  We are not sure if any of those jobs are dignified work.

We vote no on the first question.

Second: How badly has our economy been performing?

We think Ramesh’s answer is about right but we think he misses something although he gets at it in question four.

This question isn’t decisive: Even if the economy has enabled many blessings, it might be possible to undertake reforms that would yield more of them; and even if our performance has been as bad as Rubio suggests, it does not mean he is on the right track in fixing it. But an accurate assessment of the economy is necessary to get a sense of the scale and nature of our problems, and Rubio’s is too pessimistic.

What Ramesh misses is the title of Jonah’s article, Opponents of “Unfettered Capitalism” Are Fighting a Phantom.  We are, as Heritage says, a mostly free economy. The bigger question is what direction should we go.

Our answer is that the economy has done well in the long term and OK recently.  We think it is likely that The Donald’s more (nowhere near entirely) capitalistic approach has helped.

Third: How important is economic growth anyway?

We can answer this one by ourselves.  It is crucial.  It doesn’t fix all the problems but it provides the resources to fix them.

Fourth: To the extent the economy has been unsatisfactory, how many of our dissatisfactions are the result of trusting free markets too much?

This is related to the second question.  Our first answer is none.  It is possible that there is a specific exception but we would need evidence.

Fifth: Should companies be run for their shareholders?

Yes.  The fact that there is lots of evidence that shareholders worry about a variety of things doesn’t change this.  It is their choice.  They might be trying to con us or they might be trying to help.  It is still their shares.

Sixth: How should economic policies change to promote the common good better than they currently do?

Well, that and the related what is an economic policy, is the question.  Some Marco’s items like the child credit and timing Social Security benefits are transfer schemes. The economic impact is uncertain and perhaps none.  Writing off the cost of investment (we think they mean the cost of plant and equipment) immediately suggests that economic growth improves the common good.  Nurturing a domestic rare-earth (or any other) industry is a bad idea.

The problem is that defining the common good is troublesome.  Finding priorities within the common good is even more daunting.

Seventh: Assuming that in principle the federal government has a broad role in pursuing the common good, is it prudent to grant it that role?

No.  Ramesh notes that Kevin D. Williamson scorches Marco for his previous behavior on sugar quotas (Ramesh doesn’t offer a link so we won’t but scorch is a fair description).  Ramesh puts the problem for conservatives:

But notably absent from [Marco]’s speech is the notion that what we know about government should make us cautious and restrained with respect to government power.

If we agree with Marco in principle then all is lost? Perhaps.

Eighth: How many of our problems are economic to begin with?

We agree that there are economic aspects to problems like opioid abuse but these problems are not primarily economic.

Ninth: Is this really the future of the Republican party? Republican voters have never been the dogmatic free-market fundamentalists of caricature — which is why all those previous attempts to redefine the party were conceivable and sometimes partially successful.

We have included the sentence after the question because it summarizes our thoughts.    We know that we will be conservative orphans.  We have never controlled the GOP and it is unlikely that we ever will.  We doubt Marco will change his mind before 2024. We hope there is a market champion out there that we can support.  Otherwise we will confront the dilemma that led folks to decide Never Trump.  We haven’t gone Never Marco yet and we hope we don’t need to consider it.


Crony Capitalism As A Principle

It seems Ramesh Ponnuru was a Never Trump person.  He wrote an article back in 2016 entitled “Never Trump.”  It ends:

In the end, though, the most important reason to back a conservative third-party run if Trump gets the nomination is not to affect the outcome of the November elections. It’s to demonstrate that conservatism stands for something better than Trump. Which is also a reason to strive to keep him from getting the nomination in the first place. [Emphasis added]

Well, it is a muted trumpet but everyone has their own writing style.  Because of Ramesh’s history we were interested to read his take on Marco Rubio call for crony capitalism (called Common Good) at NRO titled “Common Ground on Common Good.

Sidebar: We didn’t see any reference to Never Trump in Common Ground.  We wonder if he has changed his mind against Never in general or Never Trump?  We don’t know but we are curious.  End Sidebar.

Ramesh sets up to play the peacemaker.  He reminds us (we already knew) that us capitalistic orphans (people with a priority for free markets, free trade, and rule of law) are really orphans.  The left hates us and the right tolerates us but, as Ramesh details, doesn’t take us seriously so we don’t have much of a choice and rarely get what we want.  The Donald is far from perfect on economics but he has exceeded our expectations by reducing corporate tax rates and easing regulations.

Ramesh is telling us that Marco is just a little worse than previous GOP presidential nominees.  He is looking to find a majority because capitalistic orphans are a small group.  There is also a chance that we orphans might convince Marco to be more sensible over time.  The 2024 nomination is a long way away.

We shall see if Marco moves in a sensible direction.  Currently, we are considering Never Marco because he is opposed to us in principle.  He is against capitalism and we are for it.  It is going to be hard to split the difference.

In 2016 we voted for The Donald in the general election because he was a dominant choice.  He had positions rather than principles.  We didn’t like his behavior or position on trade but we would say the same of his opponent.  We did like his positions on corporate taxes, regulation, and judges.  And after clearing away all the hyperbole, we were closer to him on immigration.  So, for us, voting for The Donald did not involve any soul searching.  Pulling the lever for Marco looks to be a problem.  We think, to paraphrase Ramesh, that conservatism stands for something much better than Marco’s proposed economic policies. Making a decision to vote for either Marco or Josh in the general will be a tough decision because we would rather have the Democrat make those mistakes.

Next time we will talk about Ramesh’s nine questions.


A Walk Is As Good As A Single

Voting for the Baseball Hall Of Fame is a difficult thing.  Sabermetrics might make it less difficult but it is still a difficult call.  One starting pitcher in the HOF won 165 and lost 87 over a 12 year career.  He did little of note in his first six years.  In his last six years he became Sandy Koufax and won an MVP and three Cy Young Awards when there was only one in the majors.  So you can make the HOF with a short and great career but it needs to be really great.  Sandy’s was and he deserves the honor.

David Harsanyi at NRO thinks It’s A Disgrace That Don Mattingly Isn’t In The Hall Of Fame.  We might be concerned that Kirby Puckett is in but not that Don is out.  Here is what has us both upset:

This week “three or fewer” of the 16-person committee judging Hall of Fame entries for the “Modern Baseball Era Committee” cast votes for Mattingly, who could never convince even 30 percent of baseball writers to vote for him during his eligibility years. Dwight Evans, who played nearly twice as many games, and never hit over .300 (Mattingly did it seven times), never came close to 200 hits in a season (Mattingly led the league in hits twice, hitting 238 in 1986, a number that has only been eclipsed once since), and never won an MVP, garnered more votes from the committee.

David is upset because Don got fewer votes than Dwight.  We are upset because David has no reason to be upset. Both Don and Dwight were outstanding defenders with Dwight having one fewer gold gloves, eight.  Dwight played the more demanding defensive position, right field.  On offense, the main issue is walks.  Dwight got lots of them as he was over 100 in three different years.  Don didn’t get nearly as many as he topped out at 61.  Thus, on-base percentage favors Dwight.   Ted Williams is, perhaps, the greatest hitter of all time.  He never got 200 hits in a season but he is the all-time career on-base percentage leader.

Another Sabermetric is wins above replacement or WAR:

A player’s WAR value is claimed to be the number of additional wins his team has achieved above the number of expected team wins if that player were substituted with a replacement-level player: a player who may be added to the team for minimal cost and effort.

Dwight’s lifetime WAR is 67.1while Don’s is 42.4.  Even adjusting for the Don’s shorter career, Dwight has a slightly higher (3.36 versus 3.00) WAR per year.  But David’s argument is best six years so let us look at that. You can click at the top of the column on Baseball Reference to get a sort.   Don has the best year (7.2 v. 6.7) by a small margin and the best six by the narrowest of margins (33.0 v. 32.9).  Sandy’s best six are 46.5 or 41 percent above Don.  Sandy had a compelling case while Don and Dwight are really good players but the only argument for inclusion in the HOF is to compare them to the worst mistakes of the HOF voters.