Random Links VIII

Education Credentialismhttp://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/bcaplan/e370/IO7.htm

http://www.cato-unbound.org/2008/10/10/bryan-caplan/murray-needs-a-model-how-about-mine/

Pournelle – and later Charles Murray – once suggested that employers nowadays basically use college as a de facto IQ test.  Caplan provides a theoretical basis for such a suggestion.

Demographic Winter, European Editionhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29Birth-t.html

Psychology of Hypocrisyhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/science/01tier.html

Bare Branches Watchhttp://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=06d65840-0997-482e-a84d-b09b61a7b0e5

Giving up on Africa:

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/africa-is-giving-nothing-to-anyone–apart-from-aids-1430428.html

Seeing as how Africa is largely irrelevant to US national interests, I don’t disagree.

Water Conservation & Pricing:

http://www.forbes.com/2008/07/14/california-supply-demand-oped-cx_dz_0715water_print.html

Lifetime Means Testinghttp://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2006/06/on-means-testing.html

Bad Apples & Social Programshttp://volokh.com/posts/1178545816.shtml

Foreign Agriculture:

Brazil:  http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/world/2008/05/08/brazils-rising-food-power-in-a-hungry-world.html

Russia:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=A1YourView&xml=/money/2008/06/20/cnrussia120.xml

Although written before the commodities bubble popped, these may still be worth considering WRT the long term.

Brazilian agricultural sciencehttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/science/02tropic.html

Energy consumption of the US food systemhttp://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2005/Update48_data.htm

Geoengineeringhttp://www.physorg.com/news135820173.html

Gun Control & Original Sin:

http://opiniojuris.org/2008/07/19/international-gun-control-efforts/

He’s right that “an armed society” isn’t always “a polite society”.  In order for these two to coexist, widespread gun ownership must be restricted to “decent” people who can be trusted to restrain their passions & baser impulses, & refrain from using lethal force when defense of themselves or others, or assistance to law enforcement, does not require it.  (Cultural norms spread via a “gun culture” can help accomplish this. ) Without the restraint enforced by either such norms or other means (e.g., gun control laws), widespread arms ownership amongst barbarians will simply produce chaos, domestic disorders, riots, insurrection, & civil war.

Dumbass Case:

http://www.casp.net/cases/Vogel%20v.%20Felice.html

Money quotes:

The accusation that plaintiffs are top-ranking “Dumb Asses” cannot survive application of the rule that in order to support a defamation claim, the challenged statement must be found to convey “a provably false factual assertion.” (Moyer v. Amador Valley J. Union High School Dist. (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 720, 724.) A statement that the plaintiff is a “Dumb Ass,” even first among “Dumb Asses,” communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation. It is true that “dumb” by itself can convey the relatively concrete meaning “lacking in intelligence.” Even so, depending on context, it may convey a lack less of objectively assayable mental function than of such imponderable and debatable virtues as judgment or wisdom. To call a man “dumb” often means no more than to call him a “fool.” One man’s fool may be another’s savant. Indeed, a corollary of Lincoln’s famous aphorism is that every person is a fool some of the time.

Here defendant did not use “dumb” in isolation, but as part of the idiomatic phrase, “dumb ass.” When applied to a whole human being, the term “ass” is a general expression of contempt essentially devoid of factual content. Adding the word “dumb” merely converts “contemptible person” to “contemptible fool.” Plaintiffs were justifiably insulted by this epithet, but they failed entirely to show how it could be found to convey a provable factual proposition. (See Franklin v. Dynamic Details, Inc. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 375, 385 [“the dispositive question is whether a reasonable fact finder could conclude the published statement declares or implies a provably false assertion of fact”].) If the meaning conveyed cannot by its nature be proved false, it cannot support a libel claim. (See ibid.; Sommer v. Gabor (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 1455, 1475-1476.)

Heh.

Electronic Cigarette:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126951.700-electronic-cigarettes-a-safe-substitute.html

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2008/pr34/en/index.html

http://www.freeclear.com/blog/post/2008/08/E-Cigarettes-Lack-Evidence-of-Health-Benefits.aspx

Money quote:

“While traces were found within the e-cigarette – most likely slipping in with the tobacco-derived nicotine used in the cartridges – …the concentration was no different from the amount present in nicotine patches.”

Assuming e-cigarettes could be made acceptable to smokers (in terms of cost, convenience, etc.), I wonder if there could be a public health case for encouraging their use vis-a-vis regular cigarettes – even for smokers with no desire to quit.

Quality Immigration:

http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/24/bobby-jindal-indian-americans-opinions-contributors_immigrants_minority_print.html

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