Is college education the next bubble?

Lately, when I've had occasion to walk around college campuses, I've gotten the sense that a lot of money is being spent. New buildings, luxurious gym facilities and so on.

From the Washington Monthly:
the average price of attending a public university more than doubled over the last two decades, even after adjusting for inflation. The steepest increases came in the last five years.
One of the untold stories in higher education is that the cost of teaching is starting to decline, but virtually none of those savings are being passed along to students and parents in the form of lower prices.
The bottom line:
This is a classic unsustainable trend.
Via Glenn

UPDATE: Lots of other people seem to be thinking the same thing.


"Green Building Impact Report"

This looks interesting. Just came out. It's written by Rob Watson, known as "the father of LEED" and is available online. He also seems to have an Amory Lovins connection.

via Joel Makower


Conor Friedersdorf talks about Culture11, a new online magazine

He's an impressively well-spoken young guy.

Culture11 hopes to cover politics, culture, arts, religion & faith from a broadly center-right perspective. Other's have described Culture11 as a conservative Slate. Friedersdorf likens it to a "demilitarized zone" where people of many different conservative & libertarian subcultures can exchange ideas.

He also sees a need for conservatives to engage the press and make it better rather than "bypass the press and discredit it. His solution: fewer conservative journalists and more journalists-who-happen-to-be-conservative.

Amity Shlaes on the Great Depression: "Government made it worse"

Peter Robinson interviews her for the Uncommon Knowledge series. She talks about her new book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.

In the interview, she finds fault with both Hoover and Roosevelt, and does it in an engaging and convincing way.


Indian Math Online

Interesting online concept, presumably similar to the Japanese-based Kumon franchise. Co-created by the guy who made the excellent film "Two Million Minutes."

Via Joanne Jacobs


Baltimore Sun would put "significant conditions" on auto aid

Amazingly, today's editorial -- "Conditional auto aid" -- makes no mention of union work rules or executive abuses. Here are the conditions they do mention:
Congress should name an experienced, respected executive to monitor GM's performance, and GM's leaders should move quickly to reshape the company. If they falter or courts interfere, federal aid should end.

Some of the steps that GM should take are obvious, such as reducing their brands to increase efficiency and cut costs. Health benefits for retirees, to be financed from an $80 billion trust fund established by the company and run by the UAW, also should be pared back.
The Sun's editorial board might try reading Ryan Grim of Politico to get some ideas:
"Emergency assistance to the automobile industry would be conditioned on executive compensation restrictions, a prohibition on golden parachutes, rigorous independent oversight, and other taxpayer protections
UPDATE: Congressman Ruppersberger talked yesterday about the bailout/rescue on the Ron Smith show. For audio, of Dutch, see the six links on the side.

UPDATE:Brian Faughnan at RedState intuits another purpose for the bailout: to protect the flow of UAW union dues. And Bill Hobbs thinks Congress should stop trying to run the car companies and start fixing laws that handcuff them:
why not figure out how to reform the tax and regulatory structure so that Ford, for example, could make money producing and selling that 65-mpg car here?


How to get from Point A to Point B in Baltimore using public transit

Now Google Maps can tell you. They cover all MTA modes including bus, light rail, Metro subway, and MARC commuter rail trains. And they explain how it works in this video.

Since Google collected schedules as well as routes, they can also tell you how long your public transit trip will be at specific times of day.

Very nice.

Some Baltimore-related examples here, like how to get from the Security Square Mall to 500 East Joppa Road in Towson at 7:00 PM. It also works for trips between Baltimore and DC.

Via Megan McArdle.

Palin's economic claptrap not unique & Don't trust pundits at election time

Gary Jones at Muck & Mystery points out that Cafe Hayek has a nice take on Sarah Palin that I hadn't seen elsewhere:
Mr. Zakaria is correct that Gov. Palin's recent answer to a question about the economy "is nonsense - a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head." ...

But Mr. Zakaria is incorrect to suppose that these traits separate Gov. Palin from other candidates for high political office. Calls by Senators McCain and Obama for cracking down on "speculators" are full of classic and wrongheaded catchphrases, as is Sen. Obama's vocal skepticism about free trade. Gov. Palin is merely less skilled in passing off inanities and claptrap as profundities.
The same post links to Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias:
Before becoming a pundit someone may spend a long career as a trustworthy academic or journalist, giving careful measured evaluations of the small issues before them. As a pundit they may even usually give thoughtful reasoned commentary on issues of moderate importance.

But every four years, when a major election is at stake, or when a big crisis appears, styles change. In their world folks mutter, "pull out all the stops, this is really important." They may retain the outward appearance of keeping to their previous standards, but in fact they start to say whatever it takes to push "their side."

Gary adds in agreement:
People that I've come to depend on for sound analysis and useful insight turn into partisan idiots just when their value as careful thinkers would be greatest. They screw up at the worst possible time and lose all credibility.


Glenn explains why *everyone* with income should pay at least some income tax

He suggests that:

everyone should pay something in income tax, and that the amount they pay should go up or down with total federal spending. Otherwise nobody has any incentive to control spending, and we wind up . . . well, where we are.

This makes so much sense -- it seems sooooo obvious -- that I don't understand why more people don't make a big fuss about it.

He was responding to this question.


10 Insightful Web 2.0 books

Compliments of Ed Cone. Via Glenn.

National "River Rally" comes to Baltimore this spring - May 29, 2009

It's a good conference, put on by a national group called River Network.

Past River Rallies have been held in idyllic spots like the Columbia River and the base of Mt. Washington. But the Baltimore edition will be the first held in an urban setting, so I expect it will tread lots of new ground.

Should be interesting.

When: Friday May 29 - Monday June 1
Where: Baltimore Hyatt Regency (which is next to the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore)

Defending Ron Smith

Bruce Winand wrote an excellent letter in the Sun this morning, defending Ron Smith against charges of "sneering":
Mr. Smith thoughtfully cites the failures of past presidents for comprehensive health reform and supports his argument that there are limitations on what the executive branch can do.

In an edition where few criticisms of Mr. Obama could be found, the writer seized upon a headline that was neutral and not praising of Mr. Obama and denigrated Mr. Smith and his talk-show medium.
If you listen to Ron Smith's show for any length of time, it's pretty obvious that he is not the sneering type.

Books I'd like to read: "Stealing Elections" by John Fund

From an Amazon review of Stealing Elections:
I was hooked from page one ...

Fund chronicles a rash of voter scandals from across the country ...

Funds [looks at electoral law through Thomas Sowell's lens of] competing visions of human nature ...

One need not be a member of a particular party to appreciate [the arguments in] the book ...

Fund provide[s] some key insights into what really happened in Florida once the dust settled [after the Bush-Gore election of 2000] ...

Fund discusses [...] recent election reforms prompted by the Help Americans Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)
Fund is a clear, level-headed thinker. He also wrote a good series of articles a few years ago about the Yale Taliban.


Coleman's lead shrinks in Minnesota Senate race -- before recount has even started

John Lott investigates. He doesn't like what he sees.

No more raking leaves

Instead of raking leaves this weekend, we tried mulch-mowing them. To do it, you just run your regular grass-cutting mower over the leaves to chop them up. It works pretty well and saves a lot of time.

The left part of the photo shows untouched leaves and the middle swath shows the results of two passes of "leaf mowing". The mower shown is the CMM1200, a battery-powered electric model from Baltimore-based Black & Decker.

The benefits:
  • faster and easier (no raking, no bagging, and no lugging bags to the curb)
  • cheaper for you (no bags to buy and the cost of electricity to power the mower was less than 3 cents)
  • cheaper for the county (nothing for trash trucks to pick up & no space taken up in county landfills)
  • provides nutrients for the lawn
What's not to like?

Worn out phrases that politicians should retire

Before the 2012 campaign kicks off next week, I wanted to get something off my chest.

Whenever politicians let loose any of these phrases, my opinion of them nosedives. Presumably the words test well in focus groups. But more and more they are indicators of the speaker's laziness, condescension, and impending double-talk.

Dem favorites:
GOP favorites:
Bi-partisan favorites:
And the premier bi-partisan all-purpose indicator of imminent double-speak:


Election bonanza for triple-dipping Baltimore County employees

Did Baltimore County employees serving as election judges last week get paid 2.5 to 7 times as much as regular folks who did the same work?

It certainly looks that way.

When I asked a county employee why so many of his county government cohorts had signed up as election judges in our precinct, he told me that Jim Smith offered them a sweet deal. Apparently they got the regular poll-worker pay of $162.50 PLUS their regular salary for the day PLUS an extra vacation day.

If you assume county fringe benefits amount to 50% of salary, then an employee making $21k in salary would get the equivalent of $402. That's 2.5 times the amount paid to regular folks. And someone making $85,000 in salary would take in a whopping $1,122 for one day of work at the polls. That's 7 times the amount paid to regular folks.

Somehow, that doesn't sound fair.

Some good points Blair Lee made this morning

During his hour with Kendel and Bob Ehrlich:
*Anyone interested in reforming the redistricting process should be aware that the rules for updating US Congressonal districts in Maryland are controlled at the state level by our state senators and state delegates.

"The media's biggest nightmare..."

"...one victim group voting against another victim group."
Blair Lee on the Kendel and Bob show this morning, talking about the passage of Proposition 8 in California. In a close vote, African-American Obama supporters were the difference as California voted against gay marriage.
UPDATE: Another black-gay connection: the Bradley effect seems to have disappeared, but the gay community has discovered its cousin, the homo effect.

(h/t Mickey Kaus)

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan to Proposition 8 supporters like Melissa Etheridge: "Chill."

My take:

The only responsible way to go about changing an institution like marriage -- an institution that is so fundamental to our culture, so fundamental to human nature even -- is slowly.
The responsible way is to try it at the state level and see if there are any unexpected negative consequences.

Big props to Andrew for his advice to die-hard Prop 8 supporters this week. He has been admirably consistent with the conservative principles that he lays out so well in his book The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get it Back.
I recommend it without reservation, especially to Progressives, so many of whom are so ignorant about what intelligent conservatives really think.

UPDATE: Dan Savage is 100% wrong to assume that votes against Prop 8 (whether by blacks or whites) are fueled by homophobia. Just as it is 100% wrong to assume that votes against Obama are fueled by racism.

Thomas Sowell weighs in. As usual, he gets to the nub of the issue and writes more clearly than everyone else.


"Obama's likely most frequently repeated promise during the past three months"

Mark Tapscott reminds us what it was:
a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans.
Mark's conclusion:
When [Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid] forget – as they surely will – why their chief executive could not possibly have been elected without speaking in the language of tax cuts, it will again be clear that America remains a center-right nation.
He's also on target with this:
Millions of white Baby Boomers saw in Barack Obama an opportunity to prove once and for all that they were not racists.

NYT: static stretching bad, dynamic stretching good

Little league coaches take note:
The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them.
The new wisdom has two parts. First a warm-up:
A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively. They also withstand loads better ... Most experts advise starting your warm-up jog at about 40 percent of your maximum heart rate (a very easy pace) and progressing to about 60 percent.
Second, dynamic stretching tailored to your sport:
Stretching muscles while moving, on the other hand, a technique known as dynamic stretching or dynamic warm-ups, increases power, flexibility and range of motion. ...
Dynamic stretching is at its most effective when it’s relatively sports specific. “You need range-of-motion exercises that activate all of the joints and connective tissue that will be needed for the task ahead,”
Some examples of dynamic stretching include the straight-leg march, the scorpion, and handwalking. This video also shows the Spiderman.