Monthly Archives: November 2013


Mormons are reaching out to the Amerindian tribes, through gardening.

Hell on Earth! Or, well, Hell in America.

San Fransisco is overflowing. Given the geographic constraints, this may be the only way.

As bad as our housing issues are, at least we’re not Britain.

Go Central, young man! To Omaha! Okay, it’s not for everyone, but there are some serious opportunities in the middle even away from the oil fields and outside of Texas.

I can’t say that I draw much in the way of conclusions from it, but this look at slave management and modern management technique is quite interesting.

Alex Payne takes a tough look at operating systems and their makers, both of the computer and phone variety.

Charter schools not only show improvements in test scores, but have better outcomes that cannot so easily be gamed.

A cool look at Salt Lake City’s unconventionally force-avoidant police chief.

Adam Ozimek and Megan McArdle make some good points about those complaining about the “corporate welfare” of food-stamps to low-wage employees. These are benefits we want some folks to have, which doesn’t necessitate an obligation on their part (low-wage employers) to obviate their necessity.

Mr. Feeny!

Texas A&M and Baylor have found evidence suggesting that America was populated in a way differently than previously supposed. The article is more interesting than my description.

Category: Newsroom


I was two when we left Peterborough. I wasn’t born there, as Mom was bound and determined not to have another child at the hospital where my brother was born and where she miscarried in between us. I have no memories of the place. But I have heard a lot about it over the years. Very little of it flattering. Dad was unhappy there. Mom liked being close to her family. But it was a relatively small town with not much to do (on comparison to the second largest city in the country, where they had moved from). There was one TV network and they talk a lot about how terrible the news program was there. (One broadcast, when Peterborough was suffering from power outages, they referred to “power outrages” the entire broadcast because their teleprompter had no editor.)

But the place has always had a mythical quality about it, to me. Having lived my entire life in Colosse, it was this weird other place that I had, though I couldn’t remember it, lived. That sort of thing touches your imagination when you are ten. In our computer-based baseball league, I put my team in Peterborough. When we determined that we were moving here, having Peterborough as one of the nearest cities was a plus (albeit a miniscule one). I thought I would be making regular trips the same way I did to Redstone when we were in Arapaho, but Royal Crossing, where we live, actually has most of what we need and Peterborough being a relatively not-wealthy town meant it had less amenities than equally sized towns about the same distance away (including the town where I was born), in a different state than Stonebridge and Peterborough.

cratestackWe have a bit of a problem in the Himmelreich-Truman household at the moment with the baby’s newfound ability and love of throwing clothes around. Combine that with her ability to move herself, and she just loves taking her clothes – placed in stacked openface crates in her room – and throw them around. It became apparent that we needed some chester drawers*. So I’ve been looking at Craigslist ever since. I found some at a used furniture-appliance place out in Peterborough.

I called my mother on the drive to ask the address of the old place. Though my time up there was limited, I did manage to stop by there**. It’s the first time I’ve actually seen the house that they brought me home to. I’d seen pictures before, but there’s never been any cause for us to go to Peterborough and see it. I was taken aback by how large the house was. It looks larger than the house I was raised in, which is interesting given that they didn’t even have kids when they moved there. It was also in a really nice neighborhood, which I was also not expecting. One of the things Mom talks about the most with regard to Peterborough was how absolutely terrible the local school was.

Overall, the trip was not a success. The chester didn’t fit into the Forester with the baby and babyseat. Because I forgot the milk, I couldn’t take my time there. I got some coffee for the drive home and it was awful. I went through nicotine withdrawal and the nice new ecigarette cartridge I opened didn’t work right. The sun was in my eyes on the drive home. My agitation brought out the agitation in Lain, who was crying for much of the drive home. I will probably be going back to Peterborough sans baby because the chester was actually pretty nice.

* – Yes, technically, it is chest of drawers, but when I was young I thought it was chester and I like that better.

** – I also drove by the prison. Peterborough is known for its prison insofar as the town’s name was shorthand for “prison” (“You’ll do a stint in Peterborough if you don’t cooperate!”) on a specific cop drama.

Category: Road


I was out shopping the other day and I realized that I needed some Mountain Dew. The problem is that the Mountain Dew at Walmart was ridiculously expensive. I would be going to a competitor in a few days, but needed something to tide me over until then. I ended up getting a six pack of Cola.

As you can see, I don’t mean Cola as short-hand for Coca-Cola or Pepsi and I don’t mean that I got Sam’s Choice Cola. I mean that I got Cola. That’s what it’s called. In white lettering with silver outlining and red shadow on a blue can with black dots. Cola. They didn’t even feign an attempt at trying to brand it something the way that various convenience stores do (Big K Cola, Sam’s Choice Cola, etc.). The only indication of its mysterious origins is that it was bottled by Cott Beverages, of Tampa, Florida.

It’s so generic it almost makes me feel like I am in a movie. Because absent product placement, all their cans usually say is “Cola.”

Category: Market


The Big Sort has an economic angle. Especially when you have kids. Economic segregation is on the rise.

Salt Lake City is a hub of economic mobility.

Joel Kotkin argues that the burbs are back!

I love how we can’t raise gas taxes because the people will never stand for it, so we must instead find new ways to tax people for driving.

PolicyMic has an interesting map on where the disconnected youth are.

UPS’s security questions are creepy.

Anthony Esolen argues that we learned the wrong lessons from Prohibition.

Some history and present of South Korea’s education history. There’s a lot familiar in there.

There is apparently a movement to couple social justice and math. Which, to me, sounds like a great way to give some people another reason to tune out of math by turning it into something that can be disagreed with.

A charity is working on putting homeless people in shipping containers. To live, not to be shipped.

China’s smog crisis is reaching titanic proportions.

Category: Newsroom

James Hanley says that he will not be voting for Chris Christie, on the basis of his lacking foreign policy experience. While I am a bit wary of Christie’s likely foreign policy, it’s the policy end that matters more to me than the experience. His foreign policy experience doesn’t, to me, seem notably deficient compared to five of our last six president. My main concern is that Christie is going to stake out the hawkish ground to differentiate himself from Ron Paul and Ted Cruz, combined with some… concerns… about his ability to effect diplomacy.

An interesting tidbit about Christie. As an undergraduate, he attended the University of Delaware, which is Vice President Biden’s alma mater as well. Which means that in the (relatively unlikely) event that Christie is our next president, that means that we will have a vice president followed by a president who attended the University of Delaware. Not exactly the school you would expect that from. That said, the University of Delaware has a very solid ranking with USNWR so we’re not talking about the University of Toledo here. Presidents that come from public colleges are, in general, pretty rare. The last elected one we’ve had was Lyndon Johnson, who attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University, home of the Bobcats and not the Armadillos). Before that, I think you have to go all the way back to Benjamin before you find another state college graduate elected to the White House.

The specific phrasing excludes Ford who was not elected, Ike whose public school wasn’t a state one, and Wilson who didn’t graduate. Taft got his legal degree from a school that is now a state college, but wasn’t at the time. I’m not 100% positive that Harrison qualifies since I am not rock-solid sure that Miami University as a “state university” at the time. I count it because was founded in part by legislature action. James K. Polk is the last president prior to Harrison to qualify.

In all likelihood, though, our next president graduated from Wellesley and Yale.

Category: School, Statehouse

Michael McIntyre explains what people with kids don’t know:

Once upon a time, if I wanted to go out for a sandwich, I would say “I would like to go out for a sandwich” and I would go out and get one. Now, if I want to go out for a sandwich, I say “I would like to go out for a sandwich. I think I will, within the next few days, go out and get one.”

I am not a big fan of pieces that start off with the notion that “You just don’t understand my life!” even in a comedic context. That said, I did get a good laugh and it touches on one of the most striking things about parenthood that I didn’t expect. I expected inconvenience on some levels. Having kids means that it becomes harder to travel, go to sporting events, and so on. What I wasn’t fully prepared for is how much more complicated it makes every day tasks. The things I used to be able to just do that I now have rather tight windows for and require substantial preparation.

Before, when I wanted to go shopping, I went shopping. Then I had to figure out how to shop with the baby, which was particularly hard for a while though now that’s become easier since she can sit in the little shopping cart seat (and greatly enjoys the experience). Going out to eat is different. I had a hankering for IHOP the other day, after reading Curious George Makes Pancakes, and I had to figure out exactly how I would go to IHOP. I went, told the waitress what I wanted and that I wanted to go ahead and pay for it and wanted to-go packaging in case the baby became irate and I needed to leave in a hurry (turned out that I didn’t).

I don’t have the same struggles referred to in the routine. Not yet, anyway. The baby doesn’t have shoes (which makes me feel a little trailer-parky, but oh well) so I don’t need to worry about those. She does love to take off her socks, so I have to scrounge those up at the last minute. But that’s a different bird. The things that get in my way are nap and food windows. I am trying like heck to keep the baby on a consistent schedule with three hour windows. Typically, ideally, that means that she wakes up from a nap (or overnight sleep) and after one hour she gets milk and after another hour she gets solids, and an hour after that she gets back to sleep. I cannot do much stimulating right before she goes to sleep. If shopping is going to take more than an hour, I have to figure out how to make sure that she doesn’t get hungry in the middle of it. The ideal time is right after she wakes up (I can more easily put off both meals than one or the other) but she usually wakes up when I am right in the middle of something. I have comparatively little flexibility as far as nap times go because we try to fit two of those in per day, they can last up to a couple of hours, and she needs about three hours between them to be able to nap again. That I don’t know how long they’re going to last is why I am often in the middle of something when she wakes up.

This isn’t a pity-post because I enjoy fatherhood and it is a part of the road to making me a better person. It also gives me a greater appreciation of those things that I took for granted. Sandwiches don’t get much better than the ones you have to plan for a day or two in advance.

Category: Kitchen


Douglas Rothschild writes about the Juggalo Ethos and how it’s our future. This touches on some of my greatest fears with regard to inequality and what it will mean for our culture.

Deer-crossing and children-at-play signs don’t work. Sensible state that it is, Minnesota is getting rid of them.

According to the Atlanta Fed President, we have too much job stability.

Shockingly, receiving oral sex on an airplane will hurt your reputation.

Reservations contain almost a third of coal reserves west of the Mississippi, and some tribespeople are not pleased about the War on Coal. Government policy aside, the gas boom is taking its toll on Coal Country.

Esquire talks about our political center.

The government overreach implicated in banning a harmless product because its testing regimen isn’t good enough to distinguish yogurt from mind-altering substances is apparently lost on the people who make decisions about such things.”

The Chinese like the American optimism of 2 Broke Girls think the French lazy are lazy. Some of the French are actually anxious to maybe work more.

The Denver Post on solar and wind. I will remain skeptical of such things until they actually start to compete with other energy sources on a similar level of subsidy, but I do remain hopeful.

The return of the flophouse!

Are our public universities going private?

Category: Newsroom


If you’re a liberal upset at your insurance premiums rising under PPACA, fortunately you have dKos contributors to tell you how stupid and ungrateful you are.

Right now, all of the talk is about how PPACA will affect individual coverage. The other side of the coin is that it will affect group coverage, as well.

The story of the octopus that almost ate Seattle is interesting on a number of levels. Steve touches on the more interesting angles.

How a non-consensual rat/duck tryst created a flesh-eating platypus that terrorized Australia.

Hold on tight, we may be about to undergo a Sriracha shortage.

A lot of smartypantses have been pointing out that there was no mass panic over the War of the Worlds broadcast. A world in which that did occur is more interesting than a world in which that did not occur, so I choose to ignore them.

The Dutch welfare state is getting some increased scrutiny. The King says it’s over.

The remarkable story of Megabus, the unsubsidized bus system that appears to be making a lot of gains fast.

Young entrepreneurs, meet the tax-collectors. (Kids told they have to explain why they don’t owe $200 on $14 they made at a craft sale.)

Darius Tahir argues that we should lift doctor-licensing restrictions. While opposition to this is always chalked up as financial – and often is – I’ve heard pushback on this even from doctors who genuinely want the shortage alleviated. There are other factors at play, both bad (professional arrogance) and good (concern over care).

That different country called the past: Rebecca Rosen unearth the internal memo that allowed IBM’s female employees to get married.

Category: Newsroom


I actually agree with the bulk of Phi’s post on sexual market value, taking issue with a chart that appears to show roughly equal SMV among men and women over lifespans, but with women peaking sooner than men. Phi’s objections seem to be (1) the chart assumes equal buying power among both sexes, and (2) a lack of recognition on the chart for de-facto polygamy.

I’d argue that these two, to the extent that they exist, are actually functions of the same thing. Which is to say that if women are in general less excited about casual sex (more on the casualness in a minute, as well as the reasons for lack of excitement), then it absolutely makes sense that they would be more discriminating. And that in a buyer’s market, they would hold out for better while men who are not better would be forced to shop “downmarket”[1].

If you’re a guy whose primary purpose is looking to get laid, this is a problem. I’d argue, though, that the problem is with male priorities far more than it is with female priorities. Both from the guys at the top who are apparently too indiscriminate if they are sexing downmarket, to the midmarket and downmarket guys who are feeling shafted by being unable to have sex with women like the upmarket guys can.

I focus on casual sex because that’s where a lot of the numbers are going to be moved. I’m defining casual sex as that which is (a) outside that of a committed relationship of even the medium-term, (b) outside that of a new relationship that is reasonably expected to become a committed relationship. Aspirational sex, wherein someone holds the feint hope that a relationship will occur due to the sex that is occurring, is mostly folded in with casual sex provided that there is not a reasonable basis to assume that the goal is going to be attained in this manner. “Casual” is not actually the best word here because sometimes it’s anything but, but it’s the word that I have.

While most sex might not be casual sex, I suspect that most partnerings will be. People who have sex inside a committed or forming relationship are more likely to have a single partner for a duration of some degree while those of more casual inclinations will be having multiple partners. To use a personal example, I had one partner over the course of multiple years, followed by more than one partner over a much shorter timespan, eventually followed by my marriage and the one partner I have had since. There are exceptions to this (I have a friend who had more sexual partners during the course of a particular relationship than he’d had prior to it and than I think he has had since…), but as a general rule I think it holds.

While I’m not sure how sexual value is being defined here, I’d assume it’s some variation of “quality and quantity of sexual opportunities a man or woman has.” This being a value regardless of whether actual “sales” are made. AC Green and Tim Tebow are both likely to have very high SMV, even if the former remained a virgin until marriage and the latter is still one[2]. Even so, society often makes these determinations based on results. And, to an extent, sales are a function of selling, so we judge male sexual value by conquests. So we might judge someone who’s had twenty partners as having a higher value than someone who has had five, even though the former has such a high count because he “put himself out there” to a greater degree than the latter, either because of extroversion, different priorities, or fewer monogamous relationships of any length.

All of which is to say, it’s complicated. To bring us back to the main point, it is perfectly rational for women to withhold sex except when it is particularly worth their while. When it’s a particularly hot guy. When it’s a guy with whom there is substantial relationship potential. This is true for a variety of reasons, but mostly because when we look at the consequences of casual sex, they fall disproportionately on women[3]. We can talk about the specific risks men do face, but the more we rack them up, the more it becomes apparent that men should be more particular than they are. Men should hold out for either upmarket women, or women with whom they have a significant bond (making it no longer casual, of course).

Casual sex isn’t the same as committed sex, of course. So what I say above is of little help for the guy who says “But it wasn’t about casual sex to begin with. I’m looking for a relationship and the sexual marketplace – and the extent to which it has become a marketplace – has made all of this harder.”

To which, I am actually sympathetic. I think there is a problem here, in that since they are two different things, we’re not exactly talking about a singular marketplace anymore. We’re talking about the car rental market on one hand, and a car lot on the other.

There is a tendency to want to say “But women really desire in a mate the same thing they desire in a sexual partner.” That when women settle down with a different kind of mate than they slept with, it was because they dialed back expectations and wouldn’t have, if only they’d had the option. This is true for some, trivially true for most, and false for many. Some young women – like young men – never switch gears from asking “Is this a person I like getting hot and heavy with?” to “Is this a person I want to spend the rest of my life with?” It’s trivially true for most in the same sense that if they had the choice between hot good marriage material and fair good marriage material, they’d take the former (who wouldn’t? Except…). Others take a different track entirely, being suspicious of hot products more generally.

Phi’s previous (exemplary) post on moral universalism vs. particularism touches on this, and hits a perfectly true note for a lot of people (men and women, though in my observation more frequently the latter, YMMV). There’s an old saying that women get married believing he will change and men get married believing that she won’t (and they’re both wrong). But I have to say, that’s really not how it seems to have unfolded in the longer game. Among my cohort, at least. By and large, the majority of people I know settled down with people whom they were equally yoked (to repurpose a biblical saying). Lessons learned and people moved on.

The pathway to get there has winners and losers. Guys like Phi that probably would have preferred to settle down sooner (though a lot of the resentful had a… different set of priorities). I get the sense that a lot of the resentment I see is directed at women who take advantage of their increased leverage in their early to mid-twenties only to shut down the game and get married right when that leverage is gone. It’s an interesting narrative, and compelling from the guy’s point of view, but it doesn’t fully account for the ways that sex is logistically and socially (and perhaps emotionally) different. It seems a bit like looking back at my time with Evangeline and saying “See? He got all that excitement before finally settling down with a doctor!” There’s not a false word in there, but the narrative doesn’t actually capture the story. In my experience, my Story of Wasted Time is not all that different than women’s Story of Wasted Time. I can’t say that I’m entirely sorry for having gone through it[4], but its ignoble conclusion was not a tribute to lost leverage and a matter of settling.

All of which points to the downside of the new paradigm. Or the many downsides, plural. Doubtless, the answer for many is for women to gear their sexual activity towards the range of guys they are likely to marry (or as Phi would likely have it, not engage in sex at all until marriage). While I’d disagree with the parenthetical, I think there is something towards that so long as we include guys in the criticism. It would be a better world had my count were half of what it is, limited only to forward-minded encounters or special circumstances. It also would have been a better world where I hadn’t felt the pressure to be and remain sexually active to the extent that I did, and a better world where young women weren’t under similar pressure (from the same source, though a different direction). It’s not really the world we live in, though, and there is a lot of blame to go around for that and only a minority portion, if that, towards the sexual decisions of women.

[1] I’m not entirely conceding that this is the case. Sometimes it is. Particularly for those guys who want sex at more regular intervals. For my part, most of my relatively small selection of partners were roughly in range of my place in the pecking order. It is the case, though, that if I were to want to have sex as available to me as it would be to my female counterpart, I’d have had to sacrifice my standards a great deal more than I did. And that itself probably wouldn’t have been enough. I’d probably have had to pay for it.

[2] I don’t know if that’s true, but we don’t hear otherwise, which suggests that he has at least kept it to a minimum. I suspect that if he were promiscuous, that is something the media would find very interesting in a way that they don’t find interesting for other athletes. Ditto for Green, who was very vocal about his virginity and scores of women did not step forward.

[3] Women get pregnant while men do not. STD transmission is more likely from male to female than the reverse. Women face greater social scrutiny for prolific sexual behavior. Women are put in a position to be raped in ways that men are not, generally. There are ways in which they do have advantages, such as statutory rape when they are young and a greater degree of control over reproduction, but they simply don’t stack up nearly as high, in my view.

[4] There’s a bit of a paradox involved. If I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t be a person who could be sorry for going through it.

Category: Coffeehouse