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On Self-Delusion

From the excellent James Baldwin:

“The importance of a writer is continuous; I think it’s socially debatable and usually socially not terribly rewarding, but that’s not the point; his importance, I think, is that he is here to describe things which other people are too busy to describe. It is a function, let’s face it, it’s a special function. There is no democracy on this level. It’s a very difficult thing to do, it’s a very special thing to do and people who do it cannot by that token do many other things. But their importance is, and the importance of writers in this country now is this, that this country is yet to be discovered in any real sense. There is an illusion about America, a myth about America to which we are clinging which has nothing to do with the lives we lead and I don’t believe that anybody in this country who has really thought about it or really almost anybody who has been brought up against it-and almost all of us have one way or another—this collision between one’s image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish. Now, I don’t want to keep you any longer. But I’d like to leave you with this, I think we have some idea about reality which is not quite true.”

“White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Biden’s goal is for more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not necessarily fully reopened – by Day 100 of his presidency.”

We are living in a failed state. Have a nice day. My prediction is that 2021 will be worse than 2020.

World Politics Hitting Close to Home.


Bobo is a friend and fellow employee at the institution I worked at before I got to the U of Rochester. He is one of the kindest, hardest working individuals I have ever known. He came to America after being incarcerated for several years as a political prisoner in Myanmar (Burma). He started in the US working in Berkshire County Massachusetts taking any job he could, while earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees and came to work as a researcher for American Investment Services.

He re-entered Myanmar several times at great risk to assist his family, an even started an orphanage following the cyclone in 2008 in which over 80,000 people perished. He went on to earn his PhD in London and until recently has served as Governor of Myanmar’s Central Bank.

He has now been re-imprisoned following the recent military coup.

This is a man who truly knows the value of freedom because for most of his life he lived without it.

Please encourage your congressional representatives to seek the release of Bobo Nge. Here is some suggested language: “

I am writing to express my concern for the safety of Bo Bo Nge who was arrested and has been detained in the military coup and crackdown in Myanmar, and to ask that you do all you can to seek his release. Mr. Nge is a true friend of freedom and democracy. After many years in the United States he returned to his native Burma to lend his education and technical expertise in the building of a free civil society and institutions. He deserves to be free.”

Worth While

Arnold Kling hits this one out of the park. Here he is on “creating worthlessness”:

The gap between the college-educated and the less-educated is arguably due to differential treatment by government programs and billionaire philanthropists. We create a well-paying job for a college-educated ZMP in the “sustainability office” of a government agency or industry trade group. Then that sustainability office destroys a less-educated worker’s high-paying job related to fossil fuels and tells the resulting ZMP to find employment installing solar panels.

The Dude Abides.

And is dead.

Tony Timpa.

Why Don’t You Know His Name?


“Help me!” “Help me!”

As cars drive by, fellow officers watch, knee on back.

He “settles down” at 11:30.

“I’ll drive the ambulance” … “Ha ha ha ha ha” “He said, “you’re gonna kill me” but he tried to kick me”

13:00 “Is he asleep?” then laughing

13:43 they start making fun of him, “I don’t want to go to school … first day can’t be late … rutti tutti frutti waffles … he’s out cold now” They put him on stretcher at 15:30 and they ask, “Is he knocked out … he didn’t just die down there did he? I don’t think he did.

“Is he breathing?” “I hope we didn’t kill him” “What’s with this we shit” 16:50 EMTs “He’s not breathing” 17:10 “He’s dead” 7 minutes of compressions

27:00 “Sorry, we tried”

And that video only has < 200,000 views.

As we suggested earlier, “they” think you are dumb.

Reposted from my Next Door app. Only 13 years and counting to get a single apartment complex built. No excuses. Now imagine building out Terawatt scales of new electrical power in the next three decades. Imagine building out high speed hyperloops above or below ground. Rolling out new forms of communication, transportation. Imagine building out autonomous cars, and drone delivery and all of the new technologies that are right on our doorstep.

It … will … not … happen. If you are a politician or an entrepreneur, your number one priority ought to be rebuilding our ability to build. Fast. If by “Build Back Better” you mean anything else, you are the problem.

75 Monroe Development information. I am posting this for the benefit of all resident of the village and the town of Pittsford. This posting represent the latest information regarding the potential development at the 75 Monro Avenue location. What follows is a timeline of the events in a simplified explanation and was made available by the village of Pittsford. In December of 2020, Supreme Court Justice John J. Ark issued two major rulings in favor of Village of Pittsford. By upholding the decisions of both the Village Planning Board and Historic Preservation Board to deny project approval, Judge Ark has paved the way for the Westport Crossing project to move forward. In the past, the project developer refused to negotiate in good faith to resolve material defects in their project proposals. The developer also embarked on a campaign of litigation to circumvent basic Village Code requirements, permitting issues, and New York State environmental law. The developer, Pittsford Canalside Properties (PCP) now has the opportunity to comply with the Village Board Special Permit – which was also upheld – and to provide the community with the project they had originally promised.

PROJECT TIMELINE Late 1990s – The Town and Village of Pittsford sue the Monoco Oil Company to stop the toxic emissions from the asphalt facility at 75 Monroe Avenue. After an investigation revealed the company illegally shut off emissions control equipment and dumped waste on the property, Monoco Oil files for bankruptcy and the property is auctioned.

2008 – The Village annexes the property and rezones from industrial commercial to residential to reduce traffic generation from future development and to make better use of the waterfront location.

2012 – The Village Board grants Pittsford Canalside Properties (PCP) a special permit to develop a 167-unit apartment complex and a waterfront restaurant at 75 Monroe Avenue.

2013 – PCP submits a project design to the Village Planning Board that significantly differs from the design authorized by the Special Permit issued by the Village Board. In accordance with New York State SEQR Law, the Village Board identifies fourteen major changes, including larger buildings, reduced landscaping, more pavement, and determines that a new environmental review is required.

2014 – After the Planning Board grants final Site Plan Approval, the Village Historic Preservation Board denies a Certificate of Appropriateness for the project on the basis that the bulk, mass and scale of the proposed development is incompatible with the historic context of the village and the Erie Canal, both of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

2015 – The Zoning Board of Appeals upholds the Historic Preservation Board’s denial of Certificate of Appropriateness for the project.

2018 – The Planning Board rehears the site plan application (as directed by the Court) because the applicant failed to submit a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) Consistency Application with the original site plan submission. Under New York State and Village law, a LWRP consistency review must be conducted before site plan approval is granted. The Planning Board determined that the proposed project was not consistent with the Village’s LWRP and therefore also denied site plan approval.

2019 – The applicant requests the Planning Board rehear the LWRP Consistency Review. The Planning Board does so, and again denies it. LITIGATION The project review process has been significantly delayed due to litigation brought against each of the three independent Village regulatory boards. The Friends of Pittsford Village has filed two lawsuits challenging the 2012 Special Permit granted by the Board of Trustees and the 2014 Site Plan Approval granted by the Village Planning Board. The developer, Pittsford Canalside Properties, has filed numerous lawsuits challenging fundamental governmental jurisdiction and a variety of procedural issues. The Village has initiated none of the Westport Crossing project litigation. However, the Village Board has a legal responsibility under New York State Law to respond to all lawsuits filed against the Village, including those filed against the two other independent Village boards. Members of the Village Board are legally prohibited from interfering in the decision-making process of the other Village Boards. Since the receipt of the original application, the various boards of the Village of Pittsford have insisted the Westport Crossing Project comply with Code requirements, fit within the established historic character of the community, and enhance the unique canal-side location. THE RECENT COURT DECISIONS In the decisions that were issued at the end of December, 2020, Justice Ark upheld the Village’s actions, dismissing two major lawsuits brought by the developer, PCP. The Court upheld the Village Historic Preservation Board’s (formerly the Architectural Preservation and Review Board) 2014 denial of a Certificate of Appropriateness and the Village Planning and Zoning Board’s 2018 denial of the project’s consistency with the Local Waterfront Revitalization program. In each case, the Boards had previously issued determinations that the Project was not consistent with the Village’s criteria for approval. The Developer sued to challenge those determinations. The Court ruled that both Boards had a rational basis for their determinations, which were neither arbitrary nor capricious and will not be overturned. Specifically, the Court rejected the Developer’s argument that “zoning approval somehow limits historic and architectural review,” and noted the developer had “offered no arguments regarding the reasonableness (or alleged lack thereof) of the APRB’s determination.” Because both approvals were required for the Westport Crossing Project, these decisions strike a major blow to the Developer’s chances of proceeding with the Project as currently proposed. THE PATH FORWARD  The three Village boards remain committed, as they have been throughout this process, to bringing a quality project to the site. Members of the three boards have spent hundreds of hours in numerous negotiations and have clearly conveyed to PCP the type of project that would meet Village Code requirements and the design criteria that would ensure the project would fit harmoniously on the unique canal-side property at 75 Monroe Avenue. In the time since the decisions were issued, the three boards again have worked to provide PCP with an outline of acceptable parameters. In the past, PCP has refused to provide plans in accordance with the Village’s criteria. They have now indicated their willingness to do so and the ball is again in their court. The three Village boards will continue to stand for the principles upon which the community has insisted, and what other developers have routinely followed. Adherence to these principals over many years has created the historic, livable, walkable, and vibrant village we enjoy today. The recent Village wide survey also indicated that this remains the preference of a significant majority of village residents. The path has finally been cleared to build a development that fits harmoniously with its unique canal setting and provides additional housing options in our community.

Courtesy of the Morning Consult:

In other research via Marginal Revolution:

Bureaucratic politics is a politics of privilege. By 1956, the wages of the highest-ranking party and government personnel were set at 36.4 times those of the lowest rank. (By way of comparison, the highest wage in the “corrupt” Nationalist government in1946 was 14.5 times that of the lowest wage.)

Happy Friday.


Your politicians and the elites who move them think the American people are stupid. Policy has to be dumbed down to make it understandable and supportable by the masses. That, itself, is, to be frank, stupid. We have to pander on the minimum wage, when it is awful policy. And even if it wasn’t awful policy, we all understand that the $15 number is not sensible to apply uniformly across states. Costs vary dramatically across states, even within states, and therefore the beneficial effects of the mandated wage, and the costs of the mandated wage, will be wildly difference based on where it is being applied. For example, even here in the lower income portion of New York, our local Walmart is offering starting pay at $14 per hour WITH paid time off, job training, educational benefits, health benefits. My local McDonalds is offering $13.25 for entry level jobs, with benefits. So even here those mandated wages are nearly meaningless, at least for the large businesses. Tell that to a store in rural Appalachia, or Puerto Rico.

Plus the $15 number itself comes from whole cloth. It is not the result of any analysis that shows this to be the “best” number according to a particular policy preference. The national rhetoric doesn’t even dignify the steel man version, “I know these policies raise costs on businesses, I know they will encourage businesses to find ways to mitigate those cost increases, and I know it distorts the important information flow embedded in the system of market pricing which indicates where resources are needed and where they are not, nonetheless I think these costs are worth incurring because X, Y and Z.” We don’t get that. We get dangerous class rhetoric, disingenuous claims about living standards stagnating, ridiculous stories of obscene worker abuse by businesses and so on. I tell you, I’d support a policy, even a stupid one, if we had the capacity to have an open, intelligent and honest debate about it. But we seem terminally incapable of hauling that water. It’s sad.

They think we are stupid. They have to “dumb down” policy proposals and rhetoric to make it understandable to the masses. That is not how we run a democracy, or how we should run our classrooms. What does it say when the elites and politicians think you are stupid? Is it an indictment of their beloved “public” school system? After all, they had all of us captive for 13 years in that system. Maybe it’s because the radical libertarians who run the country had successfully defunded schools for all of those years and deprived them of the monetary and mental manpower to run things?

Is it an indictment of our filthy American culture? Something else?

Demand better. They think we are stupid.

Ban Plastic Pics

So, many drink companies have replaced their plastic straws with paper ones. No biggie I guess, I don’t use straws. But for some, the other benefit of a plastic straw seems to have been that it is easier to jam a hard plastic straw through a rigid lid than a floppy paper straw.

One of my great students found a Bubble Tea shop whose customers got frustrated with the paper straws. So, now all of their teas come equipped with a … plastic … lid pricker …

As they say, have a lovely day.

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