Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, February 17, 2017

Three Things

1. Last week, I credited the Waze app with taking much of the frustration out of driving in DC, but I didn't mention another app that also helps a bunch. Parking there would be a nightmare even if you knew the streets like the back of your hand. For that, I highly recommend Parking Panda. That and two other things: (1) Check your email (which is stored on your phone) for your reservation if you find yourself at a pay booth a mile underground, and (2) Allow yourself an extra half-hour of lead time when using an unfamiliar garage. The first tip comes from quick thinking and the second from hindsight.

2. It was nice for once to see someone with an academic interest in the subject consider the idea (via Marginal Revolution) that customers of check-cashing (aka "payday loan") stores may actually have solid reasons for using them:

"The implication of that" -- the biennial surveys of the "unbanked and underbanked" by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation -- "was these people were making poor decisions," [University of Pennsylvania professor Lisa] Servon recently told Business Insider. "I knew that the people I had worked with closely who don't have very much money know where every penny goes. They budget things. They know where to get the best deals on things. And so it struck me that if they were using check cashers, there must be a good reason for that." [link dropped, format edits, italics added]
Servon decided to learn more by working for months in such an establishment, and her conclusions make it clear that these stores benefit their customers, buttressing Thomas Sowell's past defenses of the same.

3. 3-D printer not required:
Applying an electric charge across the strip causes cells in the sample to separate according to their electrical properties, allowing researchers to isolate certain cell types. This could be used to separate out tumour cells circulating in the bloodstream, for example, and catch certain cancers at an early stage.

If researchers want to switch experiments and start counting cells instead of separating them by type, they can simply pop in a different electronic strip. "You can just draw [the strip] out on the computer and print it," [Rahim] Esfandyarpour [of the Stanford School of Medicine] says. In the future, he'd like to see a shared online database of different designs that can easily be downloaded, printed out and put to use. [link omitted]
The article notes that a regular printer with electrically conductive ink can produce one of these "printed 'labs on a chip,'" meaning this idea is a potential boon for the developing world.

Weekend Reading

"This ominous episode underlines how students are learning to be contemptuous of intellectual freedom." -- Elan Journo, in "UCLA Banned My Book on Islam From a Free Speech Event" at The Hill

"Having to rely on the ignorance of others doesn't sound very healthy to me." -- Michael Hurd, in "Lying Doesn't Feel Right When You're Mentally Healthy" at The Delaware Wave

"[J]obs are just the means to an end." -- Michael Hurd, in "The Job Isn't the Career" at The Delaware Coast Press

"Don't listen when some non-Binswanger tries to tell you that outsourcing means you don't have to cut your own hair, clean your own home, raise your own farm animals, sew your own clothes, cobble your own shoes, and fabricate your own microchips." -- Harry Binswanger, in "It's Time For All Binswangers to 'Buy Binswanger'" at RealClear Markets

"In a letter to ARI, the UCLA Law School issued a formal apology for the incident, and it explained that the decision to ban the book was inconsistent with its vigorous commitment to freedom of speech and respectful debate." -- Elan Journo, in "After Banning My Book, UCLA Explains Itself" at The Times of Israel

In More Detail

I am glad to see both that Elan Journo won a skirmish in the fight for freedom of speech in academia and that the event he covers above (twice) is "part of a wider campaign."

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Payday loan operators were targeted by the Obama DOJ in operation Choke Point.

I like the summation that JD Vance wrote on pg. 185 in his book Hillbilly Elegy.

"To me, payday lenders could solve important financial problems...

"On that day, a three-day payday loan, with a few dollars of interest, enabled me to avoid a significant overdraft fee. The legislators debating the merits of payday lending didn't mention situations like that. The Lesson? Powerful people sometimes do things to help people like me without really understanding people like me.

If you have the time, the book is well worth the read. Consider it a concretization of Charles Murray and Thomas Sowell in their works on issues of race, class, and culture in America.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Yes. I'd heard that Obama had done just that.

Thanks for mentioning that book. I'd heard about it a couple of times before, but with your recommendation, I'm adding it to my list of recommended books. It will come some time after The DIM Hypothesis, which I (finally) started today.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

I found The DIM Hypothesis to be a fascinating read. It certainly expands your philosophical detection tool box.

I don't know if you ever find time to listen to 'casts when you can't read, but the Objectivism Seminar tackled DIM back in September of 2012 and ran with it for 30 weeks. Sessions generally run about an hour with some current event rat-holing at the beginning of each session. If you find other people's jawboning to be of interest, here's the archive page.

And if you're looking to put another book on your reading list, I just finished The Cave and the Light: Plato versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization by Arthur Herman. I considered it an expansion of Leonard Peikoff's article on the contest between Plato and Aristotle from a non-Objectivst POV. He does mention Rand favorably in a chapter on the 20th Century.

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks again.

Podcasts and the like I currently listen to only sporadically, such as when I have to go to DC and have to drive, but that could change, so I'll file away both recommendations.