Assorted Links (11/26/2013)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading, videos that I have been viewing, and podcasts that I have been listening to lately:

Hearing impaired baby’s reaction to cochlear implant being activated.

This is definitely a tear-jerker… “Hearing impaired baby’s reaction to cochlear implant being activated.”

C. S. Lewis on the salvation of Susan

“One of the unsettling details in the Chronicles of Narnia is that Susan, one of the original four children who stumble into the wardrobe, does not go into Aslan’s country at the conclusion of the series.”

Professor Sees Parallels Between Things, Other Things

“AUSTIN, TX—University of Texas professor Thom Windham once again furthered the cause of human inquiry in a class lecture Monday, as he continued his longtime practice of finding connections between things and other things, pointing out these parallels, and then elaborating on them in detail, campus sources reported.”

The man who used to walk on water

“AN AMERICAN president’s most important power is not the veto pen or the ability to launch missiles. It is the bully pulpit. When a president speaks, the world listens. That is why Barack Obama’s credibility matters. If people do not believe what he says, his power to shape events withers. And recent events have seriously shaken people’s belief in Mr Obama. At home, the chaos of his health reform has made it harder for him to get anything else done. Abroad, he is seen as weak and disengaged, to the frustration of America’s allies.”

Wear: Obscure committee setting Austin’s path for rail

This is shameful – Austin American-Statesman columnist Ben Wear reports that while Austin voters will (perhaps???) have the final say on whether a prospective passenger rail project gets funded, final decisions on routing will be made by a 16-member committee appointed by (and including) Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Quoting Mr. Wear, “This is no knock on those committee members, who have spent a lot of time working on all this for no pay. But none of them, aside from Leffingwell and fellow Council Member Bill Spelman, have ever received a vote for public office.”

The vulnerability of

“Dissecting the critical security problems with the website, with TrustedSec CEO David Kennedy. “It will take a long time to address some of the critical and high exposures on the website itself,” he says.”

Puddleglum and the Savage

“Two deaths were overshadowed by the death of J.F.K.”

A federal judge’s significant decision: Clergy tax-free housing is not constitutional

“A federal judge has ruled that clergy’s exemption from paying taxes on housing is not constitutional, an exemption currently applied to an estimated 44,000 ministers, priests rabbis, imams and others. If the ruling stands, some clergy members could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay.”

Mark Steyn – Knockouts High and Low

“Without self-restraint, we slip toward barbarism.”

In Gallup’s latest poll, 40% approve and 55% disapprove of the Affordable Care Act.

From the good folks at the Gallup organization… No surprise here…

Insurers Cut Doctors’ Fees in New Health-Care Plans

“Insurers are slashing payments to medical practices in many of the plans they sell through the new health-law marketplaces—sparking worries they will attract fewer doctors.”

Joe Rigney – That Hideous State

November 22 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of C.S. Lewis as well as JFK. This National Review article provides a fascinating (political philosophy) retrospective of the some of C.S. Lewis’s greatest works (particularly Chronicles of Narnia and Screwtape Letters. I love (and agree with) the following quote in particular, “For those who share Lewis’s love of the freeborn mind and the society it births, we do our children (and ourselves) a great service when we feed their imaginations a robust diet of Narnian truth, goodness, and beauty. In the long struggle between the debauched statism foreshadowed by Kennedy’s Camelot and the high nobility of Cair Paravel, we must all choose sides. As for me and my house, count us among the free Narnians.”

The Obamacare Crisis

You know there’s a problem when even the editorial page of the New York Times is throwing Obamacare under the bus…

Was US Inequality Caused By The Rise In Divorce?

This is a very interesting observation – perhaps income and wealth inequality has more to do with demographics rather than the usual causes cited as conventional wisdom. See also Russ Roberts’ original Cafe Hayek posting upon which this Forbes article is based (available @; Roberts also provides another post @ that makes the intuition behind the effect of divorce on inequality even clearer.

Charles Krauthammer – Our ‘Sucker’s Deal’ with Iran

“The so-called interim nuclear agreement is a rescue package for the mullahs.”

Daisy Ad 2013: Senate Filibuster Nuclear Option Remix

“What a difference eight years and a Senate majority makes.”

New Grads: Good Luck Finding a Finance Job

“Sluggish finance hiring is dragging down the job market for new college graduates.” Related article is available on the web at

How the GOP Should Fix ObamaCare

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins writes that Republicans can create real choice, real competition and real savings while protecting those who need help.”

The effect of demographic change on measured progress

Demographics play a very important role in the debate on income inequality, as documented here. H/T to my colleague Jim Hilliard…

Worse Than ObamaCare

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that President Obama’s biggest failure is that he hobbled the U.S. economy.”

Study: You Should Invest 0% Of Your Assets In Art

“Art market indices mostly track high-performing works, and ignore the duds — skewing both risk and return figures, a new study says.” Interesting summary of fascinating new empirical research by Stanford finance professor Arthur G. Korteweg and colleagues from universities in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The research paper referenced in this article is available (for free) on the Internet at Korteweg and his colleagues document (quite persuasively) that the conventional wisdom claiming 10% average annual returns to collecting art is grossly exaggerated due to systematic sample bias.

Team Management: Think Small And Agile

“In an age of swiftly moving technology, teams become more important, not less.”

Top Obamacare IT Official Says 30-40 Percent of the Federal Exchange System Hasn’t Been Built Yet

“In a congressional hearing… Henry Chao, the Deputy Chief Information Officers for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Rep Cory Gardner (R-Co.) that 30-40 percent of Obamacare’s Marketplace—the federal insurance exchange system that covers 36 states—has not been built yet.”

New High: 56 Percent Say it is Not Govt’s Job to Ensure Americans Have Healthcare

“Just 5 years ago Gallup found only 28 percent of Americans thought government did not have the responsibility to “make sure all Americans have healthcare.”

Victor Davis Hanson – Obama’s Noble Lies

“Stop worrying whether the president’s statements conform to ossified standards of truth.”

Woman Who Obama Cited as Obamacare Success Story Now Says She Can’t Afford Health Coverage

“Jessica Sanford, who is self-employed, tells CNN that she now plans to avoid purchasing health insurance entirely, because it’s simply not affordable on her budget.”

Fouad Ajami: When the Obama Magic Died

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami writes that there were no economic or cultural bonds among the president’s coalition. He was all things to all people. Charisma ruled.”

Police in Columbia, South Carolina and 499 Other Cities Get “Free” Tanks

“The Columbia, South Carolina police department – along with 499 other municipalities across this sweet land of liberty – received a “free” MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle featuring bullet-proof skin and a rack capable of holidng a 50 caliber machine gun. Such vehicles cost about $658,000 but this one was gifted to the police by the Department of Defense.”

Deaton on Health, Wealth, and Poverty | EconTalk

Here’s Econlib’s description of this week’s Econtalk podcast: “How can you help the world’s poor achieve longer lives and better health care? Check out Deaton’s suggestions. Don’t miss the interesting aside on the measurement complications of wages versus benefits as health care becomes an increasingly large share of the U.S. economy.”

Obamacare Debacle Derails President’s Credibility

“Further evidence that government that governs best governs least.”

Seven score and 10 years ago

“November 19 marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—rightly judged to be the greatest speech in America’s history. And while there have been innumerable books and articles written about the content, language, and rhetorical sophistication of Lincoln’s remarks, far less has been written about why he chose the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, some four and a half months after the battle itself, to deliver the speech he did.”

Social Security and Medicare taxes and benefits: Things change, but we’re still going broke

“Gene Steurle and Caleb Quackenbush of the Urban Institute have updated their figures showing the lifetime Social Security and Medicare taxes people pay, based on when they’re born, and the lifetime benefits they can expect to receive.”

Why liberals are panicked about Obamacare

“If Obamacare fails, it will take down more than one president.”

A testament to the resilience of markets: World stock market capitalization is back to pre-recession, pre-crisis level

“Compared to the recessionary low of $29.1 trillion in February 2009, the total world stock market capitalization more than doubled to the current level of $62.64 trillion, recapturing almost all of the global equity value that was lost due to the severe global recession.”

WASHINGTON: Roiling health care waters, Obama’s fix could make matters worse

“Facing growing outrage from Americans, President Barack Obama reversed course… and offered to let insurance companies sell existing plans even if they don’t meet the minimum standards set by his new problem-fraught health care law.”