• Economics,  Media

    Economics for five year olds

    Arnold Kling has a great post on explaining economic development to five year olds, with the hope that journalists understand it. The version he came up with was this

    There are lots of people in the world who will give us things that we want, as long as we give them something they want in return. This is called trading. Some of the things we trade are hard to see–they are like nice thoughts. Other people keep thinking up nicer things to trade with us, and we keep thinking up nicer things to trade with them. We keep trading nicer and nicer things. Many years ago, people had not thought up all of these nice things, so they did not have as much to trade as we do. That is why people who lived back then were poor, and we are not.

    Now if he’ll only do one for deadweight loss.

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  • Islam,  Media

    Meaningless op-eds masquerading as human interest stories

    From the article: Muslim women: My headscarf is not a threat after telling a story about rudeness at Walmart while wearing a hijab (which they put in quotation marks for some reason).

    Such stories are not altogether uncommon for Muslim Americans.

    Wow, not altogether uncommon! I guess it’s not unlike a problem of variable merit. There’s also the annoying use of the term Muslim American (implying ethnicity or nationality) instead of American Muslim.

    The rest of the story is of dubious logic and follows the same pattern as all other stories about group identity, which is

    1. An offensive incident
    2. A quote of data after some seemingly arbitrary date
    3. Quote from expert
    4. Further interview with subject, telling everyone that he/she wants to be different while remaining the same.
  • family,  Media

    The in-laws crack the mainstream media!

    Actually it’s my brother’s in-laws, but anyway, they were recently recognized by the Atlanta Journal Constitution

    Cobb couple showing soldiers they care

    Mary and Ed Ettel spend most weekends in their basement creating care packages for troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Kosovo/Serbia. In 16 months, they have mailed 376 boxes weighing 5,723 pounds and helping 6,365 service members.

    The east Cobb couple and about a dozen volunteers packed 16 boxes Saturday with snacks and hygiene items. During summer mailings, they add baby wipes, salty snacks and water bottles. They also put in Beanie Babies, candy and sometimes soccer balls for soldiers to give to the children they meet.

    The Ettels get requests for items through a program called Soldiers post items they need on the Web site and volunteers kick into action.

    How cool!

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  • Education,  Media,  rants

    Bashing the education system

    Reading the AJC’s education articles are always a source of malicious fun for me. The articles can be tedious, but the forums are always fun. For some reason people like to pretend that if only we could crack down on some group (the parents, the taxpayer, the students) the problem would solve itself. Grammar and spelling tend to leave quickly as well. This one was my favorite

    I’m a career educator with more graduate degrees that the detractors of public education.

    Let’s put it in a sports analogy so the neo-luddites can understand, break the legs of the starting offense of the GA Bulldogs and complain about why thy can’t win a championship.

    He starts off with a misspelling, and then misuses “Luddite”. Luddite is a proper name, and has no sports meaning.

    When one thinks about it, it’s amazing public education works as well as it does. When you have a system where the producer, the consumer and the financier are all different people, why should it work at all?

    One other thing that annoys me is the pejorative refrain of “teaching to the test”. Of course, teachers should teach to the test the same way drivers should “drive to the road” and cops should “enforce to the law”. That’s their job after all.

    As I’m in rant mode, I suppose I’ll share the other annoying shibboleth of the teaching establishment, which is saying someone is a good student “but doesn’t test well” which is like saying someone is very tall, “but doesn’t measure well”.

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  • Media

    Department of horrible statistics

    Case in point today, Jay Bookman of the AJC

    the influx of good-paying, high-tech jobs has had an enormous impact. Twenty years ago, per capita income in Ireland was 60 percent of the average in the European Union. Today, on a per capita basis, Ireland is the second-richest nation in the EU.

    Think of how meaningless that is. Were they already the second richest country per capita? Did they have a meager rate of growth and the rest of Europe went down? Who can tell?

    Bookman goes on cite things he approves of (of course) but doesn’t anyone edit these things?

  • Capital Punishment,  Media

    Willful blindness in the media

    I read the headline of this article Ohio lethal injection takes 2 hours, 10 tries and was thinking how tough that guy must be, after all, 10 tries! Then I read

    Death penalty opponents called on the state to halt executions after prison staff struggled to find suitable veins on a condemned man’s arm to deliver the lethal chemicals.

    The execution team stuck Christopher Newton at least 10 times with needles Thursday to insert the shunts where the chemicals are injected.

    Officials said the delay was due to Newton’s size — he weighed 265 pounds. In May 2006, the execution of Joseph Lewis Clark was delayed about 90 minutes because the team could not find a suitable vein. He was a longtime intravenous drug user.

    This is ridiculous. Not being able to find veins is quite common in any hospital, nursing home, or drug den. After a prolonged period of being jabbed with needles the veins (quite sensibly) appear to retreat and get much harder to find. A high percentage of body fat will makes it hard as well. It’s not like this guy withstood the lethal dose ten times or anything.

    This is why everyone should read The Corner.