Going Round and Round

Links seen round about.

  1. So. What constitutes “brilliant”. It is indeed difficult often to notice brilliance in an endeavor with which you don’t have expertise. For example, although Mr Obama is touted by the left as very smart, like dentistry, I for one have no clue what “brilliant” or even “smart” means with respect to law. Do we judge him by results, in which case, “meh”. Do we judge by rhetoric, which is unusually dishonest … and certainly pedestrian. Do we just depend on the testimony of other experts in that same field. In which case, partisanship likely over-rules honesty.
  2. This is an unusual observation of suburban vs urban demographics. Not very compelling future it paints as well. This quote “Suburbia is the slave quarters of the postmodern plantation, where most of the people that create wealth live.” Really? I deem actual slaves (which we are told by those watching such things) are more numerous than 200 years ago would dispute the notion that those in suburbia are slaves.
  3. So, is this an viewpoint that is a point of commonality between left and right, or right only? I wonder if any survey has been done comparing the views of what defines abstractions like dignity, rights, good, evil and so on between those prototypical of left and right.
  4. An epitaph.
  5. Apparently young white liberals are measurably racist. Who knew?
  6. Mr Trump’s candidacy. I suspect that the reason he’s #2 is cricket race contamination by the other team. But perhaps that is just because I want to think of voters in a charitable way.
  7. A result from fake data and science gone wrong (in the shootin’s too good for him category, I deem)
  8. Apparently the PC (translation: stupid) backlash against the battle flag of Virginia did indeed have consequences for trashy comedy. Here are some outsider’s thoughts on the matter.
  9. Grist for the slipping marriage slope discussions.
  10. Tech gets down and dirty … and big.

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19 comments

  1. Chemjobber says:

    I gotta know – how did you get to my post?

  2. Boonton says:

    1.So. What constitutes “brilliant”. It is indeed difficult often to notice brilliance in an endeavor with which you don’t have expertise. For example, although Mr Obama is touted by the left as very smart, like dentistry, I for one have no clue what “brilliant” or even “smart” means with respect to law. Do we judge him by results, in which case, “meh”.

    Perhaps the best evidence of brilliance is to measure how the bar moves. Is the standard of success being increased or decreased? For example, take Obamacare. Metric for failure back when it was passed? Well hurding us all into Death Panels, doctors quitting in mass, skyrocketing premiums, massive unemployment, etc. etc. Now we hear things like “will the recent cost declines stay down or go up in the future”. So we’ve gone from the world is coming to an end to Taco Bell may raise Dorito taco prices $0.10 five years from now.

    Contrast this to Bush in Iraq. We started with ‘mission accomplished’ and ended with arguments that maybe another surge will lower casualities. A steady downgrading of expectations/measure of success indicates bad outcomes. This is important to consider since it helps us compensate for our unstable subjective judgements. Over long periods of time we lose track of how our expectations shift so when we say we are happy or unhappy we are failing to correctly measure the baseline.

    That, of course, applies to an outcomes based measure of brilliance. I’m not sure that’s the best way to do it. Einstein’s greatest discoveries were more or less over before WWII. Most people would have still called him brilliant. Here I think you’re into subjective measures and cherry picking incidents hoping to make a case for a larger pattern.

    Several antidotes I would toss out here would be:

    Obama’s handling of the primary w/Clinton. Texas, I believe, has a joint system where some delegates are assigned by caucaus and others by a vote. Hillary advertised heavily for the vote but neglected to utilize her volunteers to make the most of the cacuses. As a result Obama either won the state in delegates or took enough delegates to damage what should have been a deciding win for her. What was interesting IMO was that not only was it a win rewarding the party that worked harder, it was a win that came from learning and using the more difficult to understand aspect of the system (caucuses are essentially like crowd sourcing, clubs gather in people’s homes, they take votes and then award their delegates at the end of the night) while the other party concentrated on the easy to understand part of the system (people go in a voting booth, push a button, get more votes and you win more delegrates).

    Another would be opening the door to Iran and Cuba. Both somewhat counter-intuitive yet strategically more intelligent than useless saber rattling.

    A third would be the drumbeat to ‘do something’ about Russia and the Ukraine a few months ago couples with the angst that Russia was ‘on the rise’. Not too long after that Russia collapsed with falling oil prices. Granted the Ukraine is still an issue but resisting the call for action, IMO, requires a mind more capable of strategic thinking rather than gut emotional thinking (a brilliant person can do both but brilliance of some type is required for the first but not for the second).

  3. Mark says:

    Well, It’s kinda roundabout. My daughter has just finished her 2nd year in college and is studying chem .. and … via XKCD in a post on very unstable chemicals the author their linked to “In the Pipeline”. Anyhow, at some point he linked you and I put you in my RSS feed, so now I at least get the headlines of every post you write. If the headline and first few sentences grab me I read it. So, I guess you could say I’m a subscriber to your blog.

  4. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Well that’s a strange litany. The claim for his brilliance predated his Presidency, yet reasons for it have nothing to do with that .. and are somewhat dependent strange list. You completely fail in a parallel between Iraq and Obamacare (and this is a strange thing to compare for “brilliance” if your analogy was patchable from the somwhat sloppy analogy you raise as that would imply only that Mr Obama might be “brilliant” in comparison with Mr Bush … an odd comparison. Mr Obama is a lawyer. Apparently, by your lights, a brilliant lawyer when compared to Mr Bush’s legal talents. To which a reasonable person might offer that’s somewhat low bar).

    Your comparison (Obamacase/Iraq) is flawed because in the first case you compare the worst of the right’s expectations (low bar) against the costs are rising (they are). On the other side, you compare Mr Bush’s declaration that Saddam has been ousted (he was) contrary to the left’s expectation that this would be very hard (it wasn’t). Ending with, quote, “ended with arguments that maybe another surge will lower casualities” … which alas is a strange thing to tout as casualties were always throughout the entire conflict very very very low. To do this right, you should be comparing either opposition expectations to results on both sides or same side expectations to results. For example (as noted) the opposition expectations were that the overthrow would be very long and difficult and that casualties would be very high (it didn’t and they weren’t). For Obamacare, same side expectations would be that health costs would reduce (they haven’t) and other things like ER usage would decline … (it hasn’t), now as you observe, you’ve lowered your bar to apocalyptic predictions by the far right have not come to pass.

    Einstein’s greatest discoveries were more or less over before WWII. Most people would have still called him brilliant.

    Hmm. Factually incorrect.

    The left and you defended Obama as brilliant during his first election. Why? On what basis do (and did) you even think he is of above average intelligence?

  5. Boonton says:

    The claim for his brilliance predated his Presidency…

    It would be odd if a person was brilliant for one moment then ceased to be, wouldn’t it?

    On the other side, you compare Mr Bush’s declaration that Saddam has been ousted (he was) contrary to the left’s expectation that this would be very hard (it wasn’t).

    I think you’re getting your wars confused. This was a consideration during the first Iraq war, not the second. Given the fact that the first war was easily won and Saddam’s regime withered under sanctions and periodic air strikes for over a decade since, I don’t think anyone expected the actual war itself to be much of a question.

    The Bush administration did see the war, though, as 95% of the effort and that turned out to be sadly, and stupidly wrong.

    In contrast costs for Obamacare are not rising and have come in lower than projected.

    But try to take a step back. The problem with claims of brilliance is, of course, that they are colored by one’s partisanship. How to get at something more objective? My proposal is to note that our standards are not stable. Over time we slowly raise or lower our expectations so it isn’t very important if we say things are good or bad today, it is more important to ask is what we consider a good outcome better today than it was in the past or worse?

    The left and you defended Obama as brilliant during his first election. Why? On what basis do (and did) you even think he is of above average intelligence?

    First and second. My basis? I know it when I see it. But I grant your challenge is valid, how to move from a subjective judgement to something more measurable and objective. I’ve tossed out a few ancedotes. Do you have a counter? Care to make the case that Bush was more brilliant than Obama?

    Einstein
    Factually incorrect

    Not seeing it, perusing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein it seems all the major discoveries he is known for were pre-WWII (whether you date WWII from 1941 or 1939 or even the early 30’s).

    If you want to argue his most brilliant work was post-WWII you should tell us what he did that beats:
    Photoelectric effect
    Brownian motion
    Special relativity
    Matter and Energy being equal.
    the Bose–Einstein condensate

  6. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    It would be odd if a person was brilliant for one moment then ceased to be, wouldn’t it?

    Indeed. So before he was president why did you think he was smart (and say, Bush was not).

    In contrast costs for Obamacare are not rising and have come in lower than projected.

    Untrue.

    Regarding Einstein, I thought you meant 1914 (WWI, not WWII). Saying that about WWII is silly. He was 60 in 1939. Suggesting that someone is less intellectually sharp at age 60 isn’t news or proof of anything. Actually it is rare for any brilliant people in maths or physics to do their best work after they are 30. Einstein (and Witten) are unusual in that regard as they continued to produce work which, while not for them the best, would if done by someone else would establish them as a “name” to be regarded highly. If you wish to claim the same for laywers … then what seminal great papers/works did Obama do or produce in his 20s? Actually what did he do at all that is remarkable in law outside his political career (or for that matter anywhere in his life prior to his Presidential election)?

    Care to make the case that Bush was more brilliant than Obama?

    Nope. I’ve never claimed Bush was brilliant. I’ve just never seen any justification for the claims of Mr Obama’s high intelligence. As noted, that is not a claim that he is not because I’ve always accompanied that with by noting that I’ve no idea how any lawyer is identified by his peers as brilliant (or even smarter than average).

  7. Boonton says:

    Indeed. So before he was president why did you think he was smart (and say, Bush was not).

    Yes and Yes. But my point is that a brilliant person is likely to be brilliant both before and after so if you find cases of brilliance pre-election, that’s evidence of brilliance post-election.

    Obamacare

    Untrue.

    I guess we’re using your imagination again as a subsitute for evidence.

    If you wish to claim the same for laywers … then what seminal great papers/works did Obama do or produce in his 20s? Actually what did he do at all that is remarkable in law outside his political career (or for that matter anywhere in his life prior to his Presidential election)?

    Not much, but then Obama never concentrated much on a career either as a lawyer or law academic. I’m sure Obama knows how to play chess but he has not contributed any great new openings that I’m aware of either.

    Nope. I’ve never claimed Bush was brilliant. I’ve just never seen any justification for the claims of Mr Obama’s high intelligence.

    How would we justify Obama being smarter than Bush then? I think almost everyone believes he is but how do you actually prove it or measure it? This assertion does not require you to believe he is highly intelligent nor does it require you to agree with any of his policies but how would you go about establishing it or refuting it?

  8. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Not much, but then Obama never concentrated much on a career either as a lawyer or law academic. I’m sure Obama knows how to play chess but he has not contributed any great new openings that I’m aware of either.

    So what thing on which he did concentrate impressed you with his intellectual grasp? To what did you compare him when you made that assessment? On what basis did you assert that claim?

    This assertion does not require you to believe he is highly intelligent nor does it require you to agree with any of his policies but how would you go about establishing it or refuting it?

    ‘Tis not my claim. I claim there is no evidence he is at all intelligent (or that he is dumb). Therefore your (and your “sides”) claims that he is brilliant were without foundation.

    I guess we’re using your imagination again as a subsitute for evidence.

    Right back at you. You gave no evidence either. Oh, wait, You said “we’re”. True enough. We are both using imagination and not evidence. You’ll now cite how ER usage has dropped and that mortality rates among the insured have changed measurably. Oh, wait, you’ve shifted the bar to the “the web site works”, eh (in which works probably is again a much shifted lower bar)?

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Oh, and regarding death panels … what? The IPAB was removed from the law? Who knew? Oh, wait, that’s your “imagination” at work.

  10. Boonton says:

    Oh, and regarding death panels … what? The IPAB was removed from the law?

    I will pay you $5 if you name each person put to death by the IPAB.

  11. Boonton says:

    So what thing on which he did concentrate impressed you with his intellectual grasp? To what did you compare him when you made that assessment? On what basis did you assert that claim?

    Well I understand he has tried his hand at politics, which requires amassing a lot of support to win elections and then navigating conflicting interests and resource limits afterwards to try to get your policies implemented and preserved.

    By this metric Obama has been much more successful than Bush or for that matter Bill Clinton.

    Right back at you. You gave no evidence either. Oh, wait, You said “we’re”. True enough. We are both using imagination and not evidence. You’ll now cite how ER usage has dropped and that mortality rates among the insured have changed measurably. Oh, wait, you’ve shifted the bar to the “the web site works”, eh (in which works probably is again a much shifted lower bar)?

    This seems to be implicitly accepting my metric. Wondering whether having insurance coverage lowers your mortality rate is something you do if your policy has increased coverage. That would be raising the bar from the initial question of whether coverage would increase or decrease (and more than a few claimed it would decrease because employers would dump coverage to send workers to the exchanges and the exchanges would become unaffordable due to ‘cost death spirals’ of sick people mobbing them).

    Also I don’t believe I looked at ER utilization rates but hospital re-admissions have dropped as have post-hospital stay infections, due to those ‘death panels’ telling hospitals Medicare isn’t going to pay to treat infections caused by hospitals sending patients home too soon after operations or poor procedures.

  12. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Again you point to after. Why did you think he was brilliant (or smart) during the first election?

    Wondering whether having insurance coverage lowers your mortality rate is something you do if your policy has increased coverage.

    And there are conflicting reports on increased coverage. I suspect it modestly increased. But prior to the passing great gains in health were touted. Have they surfaced … so is this “if your policy increased coverage” remark the sound of the lowering of another bar?

    That would be raising the bar from the initial question of whether coverage would increase or decrease

    That wasn’t the claim by supporters. They claimed both coverage would increase and there would be great benefits for the now insured. Surely this is measurable?

    due to those ‘death panels’ telling hospitals Medicare isn’t going to pay to treat infections caused by hospitals sending patients home too soon after operations or poor procedures.

    Cite? I googled around for actions and policies put in place by the IPAB and found nada. Their web site itself is somewhat disturbing, they don’t say what they do, just tout reasons for their continued existence and deflect accusations. You’d think they’d be lining up their accomplishments 5 years later. But nope.

  13. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Well, they’ve spent millions. Can you actually something they’ve done?

  14. Boonton says:

    But prior to the passing great gains in health were touted.

    Example please? Let’s think this through. Let’s assume coverage does equal better health. How would that be? Well the two prime mechanisms I would imagine would be being able to see doctors more often would lead to more prevention and better disease management and perhaps less stress from not being covered would lower diseases. Let’s assume both are true, what would one expect to observe? Well over the short term not much. If tomorrow your stress levels are cut in half it isn’t like you’re health problems will magically disappear. Likewise prevention today isn’t going to have quick impact. If today you start eating better to avoid diabetes, it’s probably not going to stop diabetes coming next week (if it was going to come next week) but odds are a year from now you will be a bit better than a person who didn’t follow that advice. Ten years from now the divergence in outcomes would be more dramatic.

    And there are conflicting reports on increased coverage

    What isn’t very conflicting is individual choice. When people have a choice they overwhelmingly opt for coverage. That does imply that coverage confers some survival advantage.

    Cite? I googled around for actions and policies put in place by the IPAB and found nada.

    So you’re saying they are a death panel that kills people by doing nothing?

    Anyway you can read a bit about the readmission program here (http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/05/20140507a.html). It was partof the ACA but I have no idea if the IPAB implemented it. Estimates of savings include 15,000 lives, 150,000 fewer readmissions and $4B.

    Their web site itself is somewhat disturbing, they don’t say what they do, just tout reasons for their continued existence and deflect accusations

    The IPAB? This is a good example of what I mean about shifting standards indicating success overall. We began with death panels killing people. Now you are fretting about an obscure element of Medicare’s org chart, not being able to figure out what they do and if they are successful. That clearly indicates radically shifting expectations. Kind of like worrying about whether your 14 yr old is going to get expelled from school and end up arrested and then flash forwarding 10 years later to show you’re worrying whether his decision to drop out of med school will ‘ruin his life’. The shift in the ‘Overton Window’ alone explains all that needs to be said.

  15. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Let’s assume coverage does equal better health.

    No. I will not assume that. It is your assumption but is unwarranted based on data (Ms McArdle pointed that out long long ago).

    So you’re saying they are a death panel that kills people by doing nothing?

    And you’re saying it saves hospital re-admissions by doing nothing.

    We began with death panels killing people.

    No. We did not. You pointed that out as a bar which Obamcare must pass, I pointed out that it was not … this was the opposition/same-side bar problem your example had. The bar for Obamacare started with “it will bring costs down and increase health for the poor/ininsured). You’ve already shifted “increased health” to .. “I can’t measure that”. Costs for middle class has certainly increased (I’ve seen reports of 20-30% increases this year in coverage costs in many states). How are you shifting that bar?

  16. Boonton says:

    No. I will not assume that. It is your assumption but is unwarranted based on data

    Thick aren’t we?

    The reason I said ‘let’s assume coverage equals better health’ is because we must know what to expect from the data if that statement was true. If you haven’t answered that question you can’t even utter a word about what the data says, you are in a state of absolute ignorance.

    And you’re saying it saves hospital re-admissions by doing nothing.

    Well as I pointed out the idea is to tell hospitals they don’t get paid for preventable infections and/or readmissions caused by discharging the patient too soon. This is what service dealerships do with cars. If you’re a mechanic and a car comes back with a defect from your own repair, you have to fix it off the clock so not getting it right the first time costs you money. Otherwise not getting it right the first time means another paying job. With hospitals having to come back means not only does the patient have to suffer an unneeded illness but also increases the risk of death.

    Costs for middle class has certainly increased (I’ve seen reports of 20-30% increases this year in coverage costs in many states).

    Nope you’ve seen no such reports.

  17. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Re assumption:

    Thick aren’t we?

    No. Data shows that coverage is weakly correlated to health. My parents had no coverage until I was about 10. Odd that we were healthy (although we did have some very embarrassed doctors who were abashed by the high charges they were offering in the light of what they did and what they charged).

    If you haven’t answered that question you can’t even utter a word about what the data says, you are in a state of absolute ignorance.

    And you are in a state of garbage in/garbage out. Strike one for the “reality based” party, in which they decide assumptions are better than data.

    Nope you’ve seen no such reports.

    Have too. See.

  18. Mark says:

    Boonton

    Well as I pointed out the idea is to tell hospitals they don’t get paid for preventable infections and/or readmissions caused by discharging the patient too soon.

    You also said this was due to IPAB but when it looks like they didn’t you now said it “somewhere” in Obamacase. Do you also want to recount all the cost increases due to Obamacare due to increased reporting and paperwork required by doctors? Oh, wait …, you only notice the “good” things. Nothing bad can come of it. Makes it easier to figger that it is a good law I guess.

  19. Boonton says:

    You also said this was due to IPAB ..

    I never said it was due to IPAB. It was part of the ACA but I don’t know if IPAB was tasked with implementing it or not. You are the one who brought up IPAB and suddenly made it very critical to know either if they were the mythical ‘death panel’ or if they were doing anything positive or not. I’m not sure why you think IPAB is very important to the discussion but you keep bringing it up so it’s on you to explain what you’re trying to get at.