Economic anecdote

I saw a train load of coal the other day – can’t remember the last time, but it must have been around 1990. On the parallel track was another identical train of coal cars, going the other way empty.

Is Jahi McMath Alive? | National Review — Head Noises

Winkfield sued, but after an independent medical examination, the judge ruled that Jahi was deceased and allowed a death certificate to be issued. He also played Solomon, and worked out a settlement whereby Children’s Hospital transferred Jahi to her relatives while still on life support. We now know, she was moved to New Jersey, where she […]

via Is Jahi McMath Alive? | National Review — Head Noises

Sewing, rhetoric, politics, air travel

  • “The Vintage Patterns Wiki boasts more than 83,500 patterns that are at least 25 years old.” Seen here: I can’t believe it’s not Butterick.
  • “I worry there’s a general undersupply of meta-contrarianism. You have an obvious point (exciting technologies are exciting). You have a counternarrative that offers a subtle but useful correction (there are also some occasional exceptions where the supposedly-unexciting technologies can be more exciting than the supposedly-exciting ones). Sophisticated people jump onto the counternarrative to show their sophistication and prove that they understand the subtle points it makes. Then everyone gets so obsessed with the counternarrative that anyone who makes the obvious point gets shouted down (“What? Exciting technologies are exciting? Do you even read Financial Times? It’s the unexciting technologies that are truly exciting!”). And only rarely does anyone take a step back and remind everyone that the obviously-true thing is still true and the exceptions are still just exceptions.” — Two Kinds of Caution, by Scott Alexander
  • The Left’s Breaking Point? We might have found it with the transgender movement.”

    Maybe; maybe not. It seems like there have been several of these things over the last thirty years. “Surely this will be it,” the non-lefty things. “This is so obviously irrational that it will be the bridge too far.” Yet here we are.

  • I am beginning to think we need the Federal Government to step in and set up a Customer Bill of Rights (link goes to existing rules, which don’t do much more than prohibit the intentional killing of passengers). I don’t like more pointless government regulations, but I am starting to think that airlines can’t be relied on to maintain any kind of standards. They will keep compressing coach seats until passengers start suffocating, and then they will blame the passengers for buying tickets.”

  • How about standing-room-only on short flights? If it were $30 cheaper, someone would buy it.

Summer reading program

I had been slogging through Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, and made it to the last half of War and Remembrance. It’s good (The Caine Mutiny is better), but it’s too long. I’ve put it aside for now in favor of Anthony Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Paradise. The introduction is excellent; the original is on the facing pages; the footnotes are helpfully arranged with some on the page and some in the back; there are five appendices, and Dore’s illustrations. The translation I’m familiar with is Allen Mandelbaum’s. I’m no critic, but maybe Esolen’s verse is more accessible, and Mandelbaum’s more poetic.


The glory of the One who moves all things
permeates the universe and glows
in one part more and in another less.
  I was within the heaven that receives
more of His light; and I saw things that he
who from that height descends, forgets or can
  not speak; for nearing its desired end,
our intellect sinks into an abyss
so deep that memory fails to follow it.
  Nevertheless, as much as I, within
my mind, could treasure of the holy kingdom
shall now become the matter of my song.


The glory of the One who moves all things
  penetrates the universe with light,
  more radiant in one part and elsewhere less:
I have been in that heaven He makes most bright,
  and seen things neither mind can hold nor tongue
  utter, when one descends from such great height,
For as we near the One for whom we long,
  our intellects so plunge into the deep,
  memory cannot follow where we go. 
Nevertheless what small part I can keep
  of that holy kingdom treasured in my heart
  will now become the matter of my song.

Otherwise, while I’m in the car there’s The Adventures of Gerard, by Arthur Conan Doyle. The audiobook is from Librivox. It’s light stuff, but beats both NPR and contemporary music. On the nightstand is Mean Dads for a Better America, by Tom Shillue. These are funny stories about growing up in Boston in the 70s, and they are pretty funny.

UPDATE 10 July 2017: Jerusalem Delivered